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The Best Way to Improve Your Diet Isn't "Gradually"

Esther Lebeck Loveridge struggled with her weight since her late thirties. She weighed over 220 pounds when she met her husband, Ben, who owned a donut shop and wooed her with donuts. Ben weighed 250 himself. With donuts on the menu, their weights eventually ballooned to 282 and 320, respectively.

  A friend gave her a book, The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight-Loss. Esther read this classic volume about how to lose weight on a whole-foods, starch-based diet, and she became deeply committed to the plan overnight. Her goal was to lose 70 pounds in one year. She had immediate success with the diet, and wound up losing 80 pounds during that first year. After losing the weight, her knee pain resolved and she no longer needed the surgery.

   And then, naturally, she decided to stick with the program, and lost even more weight. By now she's lost a total of 130 pounds (from a weight of 257, when she started the program), going from a size 26 to a size 6, and easily maintains a healthy weight of 127. She no longer has joint pains, she's been able to drop all her meds, including statins, and medication for her thyroid, for GERD, and for pre-diabetes. She also overcame depression, and got off lithium. She no longer needs a sleep apnea machine. Her knee pain is long gone.

  Oh, and Ben? He was resistant to joining Esther on her diet at first, so they ate separate meals for about nine months. “I could never eat like you,” he told her. Then he started getting persuaded partly by Esther’s results, and partly by all the information she brought into the house. He went on the diet, too, sharing meals with his wife, and now he weighs 160. He no longer needs Tylenol for sleep, a proton inhibitor, or ulcer medication. (He sold the donut shop long ago.) Both halves of this couple have halved their weight, and more than doubled their joy in living. 

  Esther had a special bonus to her dietary success: her vision improved. After thirty years of having corrective lens as a requirement on her drivers license, the restriction was removed, and eye surgery that had been scheduled at the time that she embarked on the McDougall diet was no longer necessary.

The secret to Esther’s success? As soon as she read Dr. McDougall’s book, she committed to a whole foods, low-fat, vegan diet. She didn’t “dip her toes in the water” or “cut down a little bit” on meat consumption or start with “meatless Monday.” She didn’t eliminate one animal food at a time. Instead, she cut all animal foods out of her diet immediately; put fruits, vegetables, and healthy starches at the center of her diet; and never looked back. She knew instinctively that the benefits of a whole-foods, low-fat, plant-exclusive diet can't be counted on by those who are merely eating "a little healthier."

  She spreads the good news to her 14,000+ followers in her Facebook group “Esther’s Nutritional Journey” and wants the whole world to know the healing power of whole food. She has written about her transformation in a book, From Donuts To Potatoes: My 366 Day Journey on a Plant-Based Diet.



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