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Diet Wars: Truce or Consequences?

June 17, 2004, Vol. II Issue 13

Dear Friends,

I usually have my morning oatmeal with Katie Couric, but she was on vacation this week, so it was Ann Curry who got my attention when I heard her interviewing Dr. Dean Ornish on the TODAY Show. It seems he’s trying to call a truce to the diet wars. Yahoo! It’s about time.

More on that and Zonya weighs in about the SUPER SIZE ME movie. Wait’ll you hear what her four-year old had to say. This just in, as another study reports obesity numbers are staying high.

It’s summertime and the heat is on, so remember to relax, visit your local farmer’s market for the freshest fruits and veggies and stay cool!

Yours truly,


In Dr. Dean Ornish’s call for a truce in the diet wars, he says than rather than listen to experts argue, most people want information they can use. Yes, oh yes, this is true! Please lead us out of confusion.

A TIME Magazine article (June 13, 2004) dubbed it “The Atkins Ornish South Beach Zone Diet.” Too funny (or is it?) Can there really be some consensus among all these controversial viewpoints?

Dr. Ornish says that while significant differences persist, a real convergence of ideas is happening and there’s more consensus than many realize. For all of the points, use the link listed below.

One of the points agreed on, is the importance of avoiding trans-fatty acids and partly hydrogenated fats (“bad fats”) in our diets. I loved his comment, which he said with a straight face on television and was lost on the interviewer, “They increase the shelf life of food products but decrease the shelf life of the people who eat them.”

Another gem: “What you include in your diet is as important as what you exclude. There are at least a thousand substances that help protect against chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. With few exceptions, those protective substances are found in good carbs such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.”

And another: “Lose weight in a way that enhances health rather than harms it. You can lose weight by smoking cigarettes or taking such stimulants as amphetamines, fen phen and ephedra, but they are nothealthful ways of doing so.”

For the complete list in the TIME magazine article, go to:,9171,1101040621-650746-1,00.html

Dr. Ornish is director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, the author of Eat More, Weigh Less and other best sellers.

SUPER SIZE ME: Zonya Weighs In

I couldn’t wait to hear what Zonya had to say about Morgan Spurlock’s SUPER SIZE ME movie, since she’s the one who alerted me to it in the first place. “The movie is quite simply, every parent’s and every school official’s responsibility to see,” she told me, after finally getting to the movies with her husband and 4-year old, Ridge (the babysitter fortuitously cancelled).

“I have to admit that at first, hearing about a guy who ate all three meals for 30 days at McDonald’s certainly sounded more like junk science than anything else,” [Editors’ note: spoken like a true dietitian, don’t you think?] “I mean, come-on! Does anyone really do that? And SO WHAT if he did?” she continued.

Beyond the fact that he went way overboard, consuming 5,000 calories a day, a 2,500 surplus over what he burns day after day, Zonya found it most interesting that his doctors (all three of them) were totally shocked that within only two weeks he was near liver failure. “This 2,500 calorie surplus alone, good calories or bad, is a major assault on the liver,” she said.

“It was one experiment,” she said, “and I’m hearing about other take-off’s on the theme. However, the biggest and best surprise about the movie was Morgan’s expert interviews and insight into school food service, and how advertising of junk foods to kids is flat out killingAmerica. All of America admits that our choice of foods available to kids inside AND outside of schools is in big need of improvement, yet we collectively look the other way.”

“It’s important for people to realize that all fast food restaurants (not just McDonald’s), plus a vast majority of food manufacturers, will make food as cheaply and as refined as possible, adding considerably large amounts of preservatives, flavor enhancers, sodium, inexpensive partially hydrogenated fats (trans-fats), and foodcolorings. Then they will market like crazy to you and your kids to buy their food, which is now SO FAR FROM THE FARM that it has lost much of its healthful ‘lifeforce.’

“This movie, to date, is the most poignant explanation of this dire problem in America that I’ve ever seen. Fast food restaurants are not the only problem,” she cautioned, “so is the soda pop they serve.School lunch programs need an overhaul. I urge you to get involved in your schools. To learn more and get support for your conversations with school officials, go to and order their DVD about testing healthy foods in school and seem what a difference it made in Appleton, Wisconsin. You’ll be amazed at what they found.”

And what did Ridge think of the movie? “As we were driving home, hesaid, ‘That man in the movie didn’t feel good … he needs more grow food.’ And just last night, two weeks after the movie, as Ridge and I were looking for a place to eat, he said, ‘There’s McDonald’s!’ (I, of course, cringed as even before the movie I didn’t like eating there). In the next second, as I was scrambling for a reply, he said, ‘I don’t want to eat there.’ What? Really? Could those really be the  words out of a 4-year old’s mouth? Whew! The cure! Morgan Spurlock, my hero, has done a great service in my opinion, and I whole-heartedly thank him.”

So, again, we say, grab your kids and family and head out to see SUPER SIZE ME. If it’s already left your neighborhood theatre, make a commitment to rent the movie and invite the neighborhood.

Zonya Foco, RD, is the author of the best-selling book, “Lickety-Split Meals for Health Conscious People on the Go.” She’s deeply committed to helping Americans create healthier lifestyles, despite hectic schedules. One of her programs, “The TOP FOUR Nutrition Problems Facing Our Kids Today,” addresses the childhood obesity problem and what you, as health professionals and parents, can do about it. For more information, call me at 503-699-5031, or email

Obesity Numbers Stay High

Isn’t anyone listening to the reports? All of the above continues to be relevant because the problem of obesity in America, particularly among children, persists despite all the attention it is getting.

According to a study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week, the latest numbers show no decline in the U.S. obesity rate, with 31 percent of adults and 17% of children seriously overweight.

The study found that 31.5 percent of children ages 6 through 19 were overweight in 2001-02, and 16.5 percent were seriously overweight or obese.

For details, go to:


Head for the Farmer’s Market

Summertime and the shopping is easy. I love Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market. The air is lush with the sweetness of fresh Oregon strawberries, not to mention the aromas wafting from the hot food vendors. The colors are gorgeous, everyone is in a good mood and it seems all is right with the world. Arugala, asparagus, snow pea pods, and even wild morel mushrooms, go home with me. I love to slice zucchini lengthwise, spray with some olive oil, sprinkle with garlic powder and fresh herbs and grill right along with the chicken or chops. It takes just minutes and it’s oh so good and guiltless!

Support your local farmers and load up on fresh produce this summer. It’s good for your heart, soul AND body!

Until next time, be good to yourself, eat your fruits and veggies, take a walk and enjoy the lazy days of summer, for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,


My vision for The Speak Well Being Group is to be a connector for speakers I know, love and believe in, with the audiences who will be inspired, motivated, and transformed by their perspectives, knowledge, empathy, compassion, information and, most importantly, capacity to enjoy the process, laughing at themselves and with you along the way.

You’ll find many of our speakers on our website.

Or please call anytime and let us assist you: 503-699-5031

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