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The Beverly Hills diet is a diet created by Judy Mazel. She believes that weight loss can be achieved by eating foods in the proper combinations and in the correct order.
Judy Mazel says that she was always an overweight child, and beginning when she was nine years old, she went to see doctor after doctor trying to find out why she could not be thin. For 20 years she continued to struggle with her weight and was finally told by a doctor that she was destined to always be fat. Six months after this pronouncement, she went skiing and broke her leg. While she was recuperating, she read a book on nutrition that a friend had given her. From this she developed her ideas about how the body works and what is needed to lose weight and stay thin.
Mazel reports that she used her new theories to lose 72 lb (29 kg), and has kept off the weight ever since. In 1981, she published her diet in a book The Beverley Hills Diet. The original book reportedly sold more than a million copies, and in 1996 Mazel published a revised and updated version of the diet called The New Beverly Hills Diet. Mazel has also written a cookbook designed to go with the diet and The New Beverly Hills Diet Skinny Little Companion, a slim volume designed to provide inspiration and tips to help dieters through their first 35 days on the diet.
The Beverly Hills diet is a food combination diet. It is based on the idea that it is not what a person eats, or even how much food is eaten that causes a person to gain weight. Mazel believes the combinations in which foods are eaten and the order in which they are eaten causes weight gain. She says that eating foods in the wrong order can stop some foods from being digested, and it is the undigested foods that cause fat build-up.
The groups into which Mazel divides foods are carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, and fats. She believes that fruit must be eaten alone and must be eaten before anything else is consumed during the day. She also says that for correct digestion, each type of fruit must be eaten alone. This means that if a dieter eats an orange, the dieter must wait at least one full hour before eating another type of fruit, such as a pear. If the dieter eats a different type of food, such as a protein, the dieter must wait until the next day to eat fruit again.
On the Beverly Hills diet, protein and carbohydrates cannot be eaten together. Most dairy products go into the protein group for purposes of categorization. This means that dieters can drink milk with protein meals, but not with carbohydrate meals. Fat is allowed to be eaten with either group, but may not be eaten with fruit
The order throughout the day in which food is eaten is very important on the Beverly Hills diet. Mazel says that each day fruit should be eaten first. After fruit, the carbohydrate group can be eaten. After carbohydrates comes food from the protein group. Once a dieter has changed food groups, he or she cannot eat from the previous groups again until the next day. Dieters must wait two hours between eating foods from different food groups.
During the diet, Mazel says that dieters must not consume diet sodas or anything with artificial sweeteners. Because milk is considered a protein, the dieter is very limited in when it can be consumed. Unlike many other diets, alcohol is not as restricted on the Beverly Hills diet. Mazel categorizes most alcoholic drinks, such as beer, vodka, and rum, as carbohydrates, and says they must only be consumed with carbohydrates. Wine is categorized as a fruit, and unlike the rules for eating other fruits, wine does not have to be consumed alone but can be drunk with another fruit. Mazel says that champagne is a neutral food and can be drunk with anything.
For example, on the first day of the diet, dieters are instructed to eat pineapple, corn on the cob, and a salad made of lettuce, tomatoes, and onions with Mazel dressing. (Mazel dressing is a recipe included in the book, and shows up frequently throughout the 35-day diet.) This means that dieters may eat as much pineapple as desired in the morning, but once they beginning eating corn on the cob they cannot go back and eat more pineapple. Once the salad is eaten, both corn on the cob and pineapple are no longer allowed. Dieters are instructed to wait between changing foods to ensure proper digestion.
Some days on the diet only one type of food is permitted during the entire day. Day three of the diet allows the dieter only to consume grapes. On other days the dieter is only allowed to eat watermelon. Although these rules are extremely restrictive, they are not as restrictive as the rules set out in the original Beverly Hills diet. On that diet, dieters were only allowed to eat fruit for the first 10 days of the diet. No animal protein was allowed at all until the 19th day. The New Beverly Hills diet includes vegetables and carbohydrates occasionally during the first week, and includes lamb chops and shrimp on the sixth day.
The Beverly Hills diet promises dieters that they will lose up to 25 lb (11.5 kg) in 35 days. The diet’s Website claims that the average dieter will lose 15–20 lb (7–9 kg). Mazel promises that by following the guidelines set out by her diet, dieters will be able to eat anything they want, including foods forbidden on most diets, such as cheesecake and hamburgers. They only have to ensure that they eat them at the right times, in the right combinations, and in the right order. Doing this, Mazel claims, will let dieters become thin and stay thin, all while eating fatty foods forbidden by other diets. The Beverly Hills diet is intended to be a life changing diet, and dieters are expected to continue to follow the rules of the diet after the 35 days of meal plans are finished. Mazel does not provide exercise recommendations, nor does she provide information to help dieters improve other aspects of their lives, such as advice on stress reduction.
The Beverly Hills diet claims that dieters can lose 20 lb (9 kg) in 35 days. Many health benefits are associated with significant weight loss if it is achieved through healthy eating and exercise and occurs at a moderate pace. These benefits can include a decreased risk of Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and other obesity related diseases and conditions.
There may be some benefits to following the Beverly Hills diet. The diet emphasizes eating a wide variety of fruit. Fruits contain many vitamins and minerals that are necessary for good health. Eating a diet with more fruits and vegetables can help dieters stick to an otherwise well-balanced, reduced-calorie diet because fruits and vegetables generally contain fewer calories per volume than other foods. This means that a dieter can feel full while eating fewer calories. The diet also restricts prepared foods and foods with artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and flavors. Eating a diet that contains mainly fresh foods can be very healthy because prepared foods are often very high in sodium and have fewer vitamins and minerals than fresh foods.
The New Beverly Hills diet’s website cautions dieters that there are some people for whom the diet is not appropriate. These include women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and anyone with diabetes, ulcers, spastic colon, and various forms of irritable bowel disease. The website also cautions that anyone with serious illness or chronic disease should only begin this diet under medical supervision.
Even dieters who do not have serious illness should consult a doctor or other medical professional when considering this diet. Daily requirements of calories, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can differ from person to person depending on age, weight, sex, activity level, and the presence of certain diseases or conditions. A physician can help the dieter determine if this diet will be safe given a dieter’s specific nutritional requirements, so that the dieter can reach his or her weight loss goals without risking good health.
This diet requires that dieters eat only a small variety of foods each day, and on some days only one type of food is allowed. No protein is allowed until the sixth day of the diet, and it is not included regularly after that. This means that it will be extremely hard for dieters to get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are needed each day for good health. If dieters are considering this diet, they should consult a physician about taking a multivitamin or other dietary supplement to reduce the risk of serious nutritional deficiencies. However, no vitamin or supplement can replace eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Although the New Beverly Hills diet does include more foods than the original diet, which only allowed fruit for the first 10 days, the diet still contains a significant amount of fruit. Fruit is required as the first food each day, and on many days only fruit is allowed. In the first week of the diet there are two days that only allow fruit: day three only allows grapes, and day five allows pineapple, then papaya, then more pineapple. Because of this excessive consumption of fruit and the limited consumption of other foods, there is a significant risk of diarrhea, which can lead to severe dehydration and malnutrition. Dieters thinking of beginning this diet should be extremely cautious.
There have been no significant scholarly studies done showing the effectiveness of the food combining theory of eating in general, or the effectiveness of this diet in particular.
In 1981 the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article stressing the dangers of the original Beverly Hills diet. It called the diet “the latest, and perhaps worst, entry in the diet-fad derby,” and said that the diet could cause severe enough diarrhea to cause fever, muscle weakness, and in the most severe cases might be able to cause extreme drops in blood pressure that could lead to death. The article told physicians to discourage their patients from trying this diet.
Although the New Beverly Hills diet has been updated, and more foods have been included, experts are not much more enthusiastic. David W. Grotto, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association, is quoted on WebMD.com as saying that “sustaining the diet...would be a concern because of a lack of nutritional adequacy,” and even went on to say “I would almost lump [the] dietary program in with the obscure and useless programs—like Alexander the Great’s nothing-but-alcohol diet. It’s nutritionally incomplete and there’s better programs out there.”.
Mazel, Judy and Susan Shultz. The Beverly Hills Diet. New York: Macmillan, 1981.
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Mirkin, G. B. and R. N. Shore. “The Beverly Hills Diet. Dangers of the Newest Weight Loss Fad.” The Journal of the American Medical Association (Nov 1981): 2235–37.
American Dietetic Association.120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995. Telephone: (800) 877-1600. Website: <http://www.eatright.org>.
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Tish Davidson, M.A.