Almighty veggie diet loses body weight and enhances wellbeing 

Posted September 16, 2022; Updated November 7, 2022. 

This story is about how I overcame addiction to foods, eating an almighty veggie diet that enhanced my immune system and minimized the risk of chronic diseases. You cannot talk about diets, food and weight loss without discussing food addiction.

Walter Sorochan
         Waltergood.jpg
HSD, MPH, MSc, BPE Emeritus Professor San Diego State University;
Health educator/independent researcher; behavior modification
I, almost 94 years old,  got a wonderful surprise when I visited my personal physician September 1, 2022. The purpose of my visit was to have him check my kidney function as I had pain in the right side of my back.

I weighed in at 169 pounds. The surprise was that I had slowly lost 9 pounds of body weight over a year when I least expected it. Body weight in 2021 was 178 pounds [normal]; compared to 169 pounds in 2022. It was in 2021 that I fine tuned my almighty veggie diet to nutrient dense foods low in calories.

There was more good news from my recent 2022 visit to the doctor: Blood pressure was 133/63 in 2022 while pulse rate was 54, BMI was 25.00, compared to 127/41 in 2021. My doctor concluded that I was in very good health. My arteries are clear and blood is flowing as needed to my heart, brain, eyes and other tissues.

During 2021-2022, I swam laps two to three times a week and also did stretching and flexibility exercises each day. I minimized walking as I have a broken lubricating capsule between my right hip-joint and right femur bone, resulting in slight pain and discomfort when I walk too much. Swimming in a non-gravity state allows all body muscles to be active, no pain or discomfort and activates deep breathing.

I ate the diet for a year and even did food analyses on these foods.

Although I have been a vegetarian for over 50 years, I would eat salads like many other persons. I would grab a ready made commercial salad from the grocery store and assume that it was made by persons with nutrition knowledge and that it had a mix of balanced nutrient vegetables. Instead, It was mostly green lettuce or spinach sprinkled with a few small tomatoes, cucumber, some diced carrots, a few olives and cheese that gave the salad a little color and taste but not balanced nutrition.

But in 2020, after reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman's book: Eat for Life  [1]  about nutrient density and low calorie level, I became informed about eating nutrient density foods very low in calories. Fuhrman wrote the book to help his obese patients lose weight and live to be disease free.  And I changed my perception from general salad to a salad with specific food ingredients low in calories.

I fine tuned my veggie diet to selecting nutrient rich vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts with low calories as the main meal this past year. I call it the Almighty Veggie Diet!

Yes, I have been on a nutrient dense low calorie vegetarian diet [loaded with minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, antioxidants and amino acids] for a year now. I had previously stopped eating addictive foods and drinks, had never smoked and seldom if ever drank alcoholic beverages.

Since childhood, I ate foods that tasted good, like pizza, French fries, spaghetti, ice cream, snacks, pies, cakes and cookies. I liked the taste of sweets. As a child my mother made puddings in an effort to have me eat more proteins. I did not like eating pork and beef meat. But I was not aware why I liked to eat certain foods!

Later as a young adult working on a paving gang, my foreman and I would go for a mid-morning coffee break at a nearby restaurant. I would have a sweet donut with my coffee. The next day, we would go for another morning break and I would relapse for another donut and coffee. Tasting a sweet donut and coffee was deceptive as it made me feel good. I did not realize that I was a sugar junkie!  [2]  

I also liked the taste of hot dogs; until I discovered that these were made from meat scraps and flavored with spices.

I confess my addiction to sweets, snack foods and pizzas was really based on how food tasted. I never once asked myself what nutrients were in a food I ate? Yes, although I stopped eating addictive foods loaded with fat, salt or/and sugar, my brain continues to remember the pleasure of feeling good after eating addictive foods. I do yearn for a pizza and sometimes breakdown three months later for three small slices of pizza. Eating addictive pizza loaded with cheese fat, cholesterol and salt once every three months is not healthy but the bad cheese fat would be used up quickly and not be deposited in the arteries. Although my almighty veggie diet broke the addiction stranglehold, I had become a fat and salt pizza addict for life! Once an addict, I now need to avoid eating this food regularly the rest of my life.

It wasn't until I reached mid-life when I started to research about nutrition, taste, and addiction that I found information that helped me to understand addiction to food. I realized that i was not alone in being addicted to certain foods.

The general population is addicted to foods, selecting food on the basis of taste and not nutritional merit. Doing so has resulted in the majority of people eating a high calorie but low nutrient diet, referred to as the Standard American Diet [SAD], with over 71.6 % of adults aged 20 and over being overweight and obese. [3]   That is an addictive problem most persons have today and our culture ignores Americans being addicted to food. We  have a serious food addiction crisis that is related to obesity!

Once I read about how sugar hijacked my brain,  [4]  giving up addiction to three linked addictions of donuts, coffee and restaurant setting, was actually easy. I went cold turkey! Giving up donuts was the most important of the three. This also made it easier to slow down eating other sweets like ice cream, cakes and cookies regularly, although I did indulge from time to time.

According to scientists using neuroimaging technology research, most persons have more than just one addiction to food. You may not be aware of this, but one addiction can be linked or transferred to another addiction; also referred to as cross-addiction.  [5]  Cross-addiction is a term that conveys the idea that a person can transfer addiction from one substance to another; from one food to another or from snacking a food to watching TV. In the TV example you have three linked addictions: addiction to watching TV, snacking while watching TV and addiction to food. When you turn on your TV program, the TV triggers wanting a specific food to eat in your brain. Addiction becomes a time clock to eat more and more.

Most persons have many different food addictions, making it difficult to stop addiction to foods. A side effect of major addiction is having a continuous feeling to eat something all the time or like watching TV and munching on junk food. Instead, they should try stopping addictive habits first, like watching TV when eating. Then they should have more success stopping addiction to one food at a time.

Try breaking a simple addiction such as watching a late evening TV show. Watch it for10 minutes and then change the TV channel or instead, go to sleep. That you can do this gives you, and not your brain, control of watching TV.

Compulsive overeating of foods that are rich in sugar, fat and salt is fueled by the release of chemicals like dopamine in the brain. These chemicals create an impulsive need to feel good and continue eating, which can cause unhealthy weight gain and other problems.

Those who are most successful in losing body weight gave up most of their other addictions prior to stopping addiction to food. These addictions included smoking, alcohol, drugs, medications, gambling, internet, video games, shopping and even risky behaviors. They relearned how to live!

Changing food addiction is much more complex than breaking the habit of watching late TV. Food addictions include sweets, drinks like coke, meats, cheeseburger, junk, snacks and processed foods [salted crackers, cooked meals, popcorn, potato chips and foods that stay on grocery shelves a long time]. Your mind-brain has been kidnapped by many of these foods and not realizing it, you are no longer in control of your eating destiny and life.

Some addictions, like different foods, are more important than others and probably easier to break. Breaking an addiction of any kind is very difficult because the brain saves the good feeling memory of addiction. It is the brain appestat that resists giving up it's happy memory days of addictive feeling good. One needs discipline, a meaningful purpose in life and a desire to be healthy to change! Since all addictions are psychological in nature and brain related, trying to lose body weight and addictions need special help from your family doctor. Those trying to lose weight often disrupt their electrolyte balance and this can cause many problems. So work with your informed medical doctor.

If you are a food addict, you will continuously feel hungry and the need to snack most of the time. Hunger occurs because the brain feels a need for nutrients that are lacking in the junk/snack diet. So you crave to eat more, usually empty calorie foods.

Those on processed, sweet and junk foods always complain about being hungry. Indeed, some persons never stop eating. But I never feel hungry now as my brain is not addicted to food. I eat to live ... give my body what it needs! Scientists now believe that many people feel hungry because their body is not getting the nutrients it needs. Hunger is for nutrients lacking in a diet and not for just any food.

Now most readers, and especially the overweight and obese ones, will assume that they can read Fuhrman's book and loose weight. Unfortunately, it will not work as well as they might hope.

How do you know which foods are best to choose for a good meal? To answer this question, Dr. Fuhrman created the aggregate nutrient density index, or ANDI.  [6]  The ANDI ranks many common foods on the basis of how many nutrients they deliver to your body for each calorie consumed. The ANDI score is based on portion sizes of foods eaten rather than calories.

Foods are rated on an ANDI scale of 1-100 in the new 2020 ANDI table.  [7]  100 is for super good foods like kale, spinach, mustard greens, romaine lettuce and cauliflower that are rich in nutrients but low in calories. On the other hand, foods like dark chocolate, meats, eggs, poultry, hotdog, ice cream, pizza, French fries and soft drinks, ranked 7 to 0, may have nutrients but are very high in calories and especially the bad fat.

The table below illustrates the selected Almighty Veggie Diet foods and their serving amount, calories, fat and fiber content:

ANDI Scores Almighty Veggie Diet Table Fuhrman 2021
Food ANDI Serv/amt Cals Fat Fiber
Units score   kcal gm gm
Avocado 23 1/4 cup 109 10.5 4.6
Beans Pinto boiled 52 1/2 cup 122 .05 7.5
Beets boiled 45 2 beets 22 0.1 2
Broccoli flower 90 1/2 cup 10 0.15 0.03
Carrots grated 45 1/2 cup 11 0.02 1.5
Onions red medium 60 3 slices 16.5 0.0 0.6
Spinach 82 1/2 cup 6.9 0 0.9
Tomatoes cherry 60  5 items  16 0.0 3.3
Strawberries 45 5 items 19 0.0 1.0
Blueberries 45 50 berries 39 0.2 1.6
Sunflower seeds 34 1 ounce 175 15 3.2

Nutrient dense foods in the table range from 23 to 90, most in the mid range. Avocados, beans and sunflower seeds are high in calories but this is a trade off for rich nutrients. Besides, the fat for avocados and sunflower seeds is good fat that the body needs. Ground flax seeds, rich in antioxidants, is not included in the table.

You may be skeptical about the amount of nutrients in each of the foods. To help you become aware of just how nutrient rich the selected diet is, the author created the table below. The table illustrates the vitamins, minerals and amino acids in selected vegetables. Avocados are super rich in nutrients, very high in calories, but have a low ANDI score of 23. Nutrient analyses do not include antioxidants nor phytochemicals.

FoodNut Den ANDI Serv Amt Veggie Major nutrients
avocado 23 1/2 piece   vit:  B1, B2, B5, vit D, C;   Min: Ca, Cu, Fe, I, Mg, P, K, Se, Zn, S; Prot:   Alanine, aspartic acid, Glutamic acid, Glycine, Isolueucine, Luccine, Lysine,  Proline, Serine, Valine.; antioxidants 
spinach 82 3/4 cup   vit  A, B12, Folate, choline, vit D, Lutein;   Ca, Cu, Fe, I, Mn, Mg, K, Se, Zn;  fiber; antioxidants
broccoli flower raw 90 3/4 cup   vit  A, C, E, K, B2, B9;   Cu, Mg, Mn, P, K, Se, Na, Zn;  B3, B9.  fiber,
beets boiled 45 1/2cup   vit  A, B1, B2, B5, B7, B12;   Ca, Cu, Fe, K.  Mg, Mn, P, Se, Na, Zn;  essential methyl group
pinto beans 52 3/4 cup  Vit: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9;     Min: Ca, Fe, Mg, P, K, Zn, Mn, S, Ni, Mo, Co, B; amino acids;  antioxidents
carrots grated 45 1/2 cup   vit  A, B1, B5, B7, B12,  C, D;   Ca, Cu, I, Mg, P, K, Se, S; B9, carotene, anti-oxidants
tomato 60 6 cherrys   vit  A, B1, B5, B6, B9, B12, C, D, Choline, carotene;  Ca, Cu, F, Mg, P, K, Se;  Glutamic acid;  Lipocoene; anti-oxidants
sunflower seeds 34 1 hep tspn   vit  B3, B5, B7, B9, B12;   Ca, Cu, Fe, I, Mg, P, K, Se, Na, Zn, S; fiber
onions raw 60 2 slices   vit  B1, B2, B5, B7, B12;   Ca, Cu, Mg, K, P, Se, S;  B9, choline
                                                  Nutrient Source: Food Data Central US Dept of Agriculture:   USDA: Food Data Central Another Food analysis:  NutrientValue

With the ANDI score, Fuhrman points out that ANDI is a motivational tool that tells you the foods with the best nutrients and fewest calories. Fuhrman suggests that you do not need to do a tedious food or meal analysis. In spite of Fuhrman's good intentions, selecting the most nutritious or highest ANDI scores for a meal can be difficult and confusing. So I have evolved an illustration of the best foods below:

  plate circle nuts.jpg 

The three plates above, Veggies, Fruits, and Nuts/Seeds, illustrate the best nutrient dense foods for a balanced healthy meal. Although you are not expected to eat all these foods as one meal, the main meal needs to include foods from the three plates at one setting. At best, you would include probably five or six veggies in one meal and rotate the foods every three or four days for variety. The same would be true for one or two fruits and some nuts.

It is my esteemed belief that Fuhrman rates beets too low as an ANDI score, as beets provide an essential methyl group rich in betaine that makes methylation, an essential biochemical process occurring in every cell in our body billions of times/second. He also gives avocado a low ANDI score for being high in calories but loaded with nutrients. As you can surmise, using ANDI scores to rate foods is not a perfect system. But it is the best we have at this time.

So what is my almighty veggie diet? It includes one meal of very specific raw and fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Scientists refer these different colored foods as the rainbow diet.

I found it difficult to eat a perfect balance of the best veggies from time to time, as I would run out of avocadoes, broccoli or another food. Having the perfect diet disrupted for a day had little if any affect on body function, as the diet was additively balanced out by other super foods.

The top six veggies in the plate, above, were my first choice vegetables as these cumulatively provide a good balance of nutrients.

Veggie Serv amt
avocado 1/2 fruit
beans pinto cooked 1/2 cup
beets slices cooked 2 items
broccoli flowers raw 1/2 cup
carrots raw grated 1/2 cup
spinach raw sliced 1/2 cup

These six .... avocado, spinach, broccoli, beets, beans and carrots, contain a balance of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that compliment each other. Onions or garlic should be added about three times a week.

These six can be rotated for other vegetables. For example:

The fruit plate [e.g. blueberries amount of 1/2 cup, rich in antioxidants] above neglected to include other fruits, like apples, bananas and raspberries. You should include one or two fruits in your main meal.

Likewise, nuts can vary, but include about 5 almond nuts, two half-walnuts, and about four pieces of cashews. Seeds can vary, but a heaping teaspoon of sunflower and  flax and fennel seeds that have super antioxidants are best.

Avocadoes, almonds, cashews, flax seeds and sunflower seeds are nutrient rich and also moderately high in calories. You can cut the serving amount in half to lower the calories. These veggie calories are good HDL fat found in the blood that the brain and other body parts need. Healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, help absorb nutrients, fight fatigue, lower heart disease and stroke and even control your weight. But almighty veggie diet excludes meat and dairy products that are high in the bad fats or LDL cholesterol.

The almighty veggie diet assumes that all plants are grown in fertile soils. This may not be always true as our farms are being burned out of minerals, causing deficiency in plant nutrients. Fossil fertilizers make plants grow but do not replace lost minerals. If this is so, you may need to consider ingesting plant source supplements.

Summary: Nutritionists in the past advocated eating five or six small meals throughout the day to help one control hunger, inadvertently allowing food addiction to persist. As a food addict, you need to stop eating your addictive foods. A super veggie diet will not do much good if you persist in eating beef meat, cheeseburgers, chicken meat, snacks, sweets, processed foods, French fries and drink coca-cola .... these foods are spiked with fat, salt and/or sugar.

This author/researcher eats only two meals a day, starting with one slice of toasted bread spread with almond butter and sprinkled with a heaping teaspoon of ground flax seeds, a blueberry muffin and one half slice of lemon juice squeezed in a cup of water for breakfast [no coffee]. Then a late afternoon dish of almighty vegetables with sunflower seeds, one or two fruits and nuts. I eat the main meal about 4:00pm and nothing thereafter so as to avoid reflux or gerd at night. As my visit to the doctor confirmed, my almighty veggie diet worked wonders for me.

For this diet to work, you need to eat it regularly and not mix it with cheeseburgers, French fries, coke, sweets, processed and snack foods.

Major advantages of the above veggie diet are that you are no longer eating addictive foods, not incubating chronic diseases silently, do not feel hungry most of the time and bolster your immune system. You become healthier! And being healthy is essential to living a long life.

Give your body what it needs .... the essential nutrients that make the body work and you will live a longer life! Eat with your common sense information and not what tastes good. Processed, sweet and junk/snack foods, high in calories, are addictive and not needed by the body.

Having one cohort, Sorochan, as a guinea pig, on a year long strict diet adds credibility to the veggie diet and that it is good medicine, in a small research way.  [8]  My immune system was high and I did not get sick with a cold or or infection. This was not a planned research design although this author was very much aware of research protocol. Almighty Veggie Diet was refined as nutrient density foods with low calories.

Future research design needs to be comprehensive, include monitoring the immune system as well as CVS, lungs, and other body systems, would include a larger cohort database over longer time, account for food cofactors and needs to include food addiction. [9]  [10]  But Almighty Veggie Diet is a start!

In spite of having read this scientifically researched article, you are probably reluctant in giving up your way of addictive eating. But you cannot ignore your diets high in fats, sugar and salt that lower your immune system, silently incubate many chronic diseases and make you susceptible to many infections. Do you want to live a disease free life a long time? It is never too late to change from an addicting diet to a diet that makes you a better person.

You do not need to wait decades for future research on almighty veggie diet, a change in the politics of food marketing and a cultural change in accepting that many foods are addicting. Try the Almighty Veggie Diet for about a week and monitor your hunger feelings. But be aware that it can take anywhere from a week to several months for the a new diet to kick in and the body to adjust to a new way of eating. Changing your eating behavior and lifestyle is a challenge! But you can do it by taking control of your body away from your brain!

References:

1 Fuhrman Joel, Eat For Life, Harper One, 2020.  Fuhrman: Book: Eat For Life 2020

2 Harvard University, "Understanding addiction," HelpGuide.  Harvard Uinversity: Understanding addiction

3 Fryar Cheryl D., Margaret D. Carroll and Joseph Afful, "Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Severe Obesity Among Adults Aged 20 and Over: United States 1960–1962 Through 2017–2018," National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, February 8, 2021.  Fryar: Prevalence of obesity 2021

4 Sorochan Walter, "Sugar addiction," freegrab.net, April 14, 2012.  Sorochan: Sugar addiction 2012

5 Jeffrey, "Could You Be Replacing Your Addiction With Another? Addiction Center, March 18, 2016.  Jeffrey: Replacing addictions 2016

6 Fuhrman Joel, "Nutrient Density," Dr.Fuhrman, May 19, 2016.    Fuhrman: Nutrient density 2016  Fuhrman: ANDI scores for foods 2017

7 Fuhrman, Eat for life, 2020

8 Graber Eric, "Food as Medicine," American Society for Nutrition, February 22, 2022.  Graber: Food as medicine 2021

9 Callahan Alice, Heather Leonard, & Tamberly Powell, " 2.3: Types of Research Studies and How To Interpret Them," Libre Text Medicine, May 1, 2021.  Callaghan: Types & interpreting research studies 2021

10 Downer Sarah, Emma Clippinger, Corby Kummer and Kurt Hager, " Food is Medicine: Research Action Plan," Food and Society Aspen Institute, January 22, 2022.  Downer: Food is medicine action plan 2022

Sorochan Walter, " Nutrient Density: and good food choices," freegrab.net, October 31, 2021.  Sorochan: Nutrient density & good food choices 2021