The McDougall Diet and Lifestyle Medicine

The McDougall Diet is not new! It has been the choice of thousands of people around the world. It is a whole food plant based diet which is very effective for restoring and maintaining one's health.

Dr. John McDougall is one of my heroes. He has practiced "lifestyle medicine" for over forty years. He has searched for the truth to offer real healing medicine to his patients. Dr. McDougall started his medical career in 1972 on the big island of Hawaii as a plantation doctor for the Hamakua Sugar Plantation. 

As a young doctor, he soon found out that the drugs he passed out did not solve the health issues. He thought maybe it was because he was a lousy doctor. Then, his observation of the diets of multiple generations from the far east that worked on the plantations changed his life forever.

First Generation Patients

His first patients on the island were always trim, hard working, were active into their 80's and 90's, did not have high blood pressure, prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer or heart disease. They lived primarily on a whole food plant based diet of rice and vegetables...the diet they brought from their homeland.

The Next Generations

Their children and grand kids all consumed the Standard American Diet (SAD) and they became fat and sick...then fatter and sicker! This early observation had a profound effect on his future practice of medicine.

In 1976 he attended the University of Hawaii Medical Residency Program to become a board certified internist. Dr. McDougall felt that this was the only way he could effectively practice "lifestyle medicine" and really help people.

For more than 20 years he has run a very successful 10 day live-in residential program located in Santa Rosa, California. He has cared for and witnessed thousands of patients over the years recover from illnesses with a whole food plant based diet and exercise program. Individuals turn to Dr. McDougall for solutions when modern medicine is unable to offer any remedy to their health issues.

He is the author of many national best sellers about dynamic health, maximum weight loss, a program for a healthy heart and a program for name a few.

One of his best books is "The Starch Solution".

Dr. McDougall is a true pioneer in the whole food plant based diet and lifestyle which has come to be known as the McDougall Diet.

He continues to confront the ineffectiveness of the so called "modern medicine" on all fronts. He is the "David" that takes on the "Goliath" of the medical-industrial complex.

The proof of the truth of his ideas is found in his many patients that have been able to live and enjoy abundant life on the McDougall Diet through the consumption of whole foods and his plant based healing program. The world owes much to this pioneer.

Complex Carbohydrates

The main theme of this whole food plant based diet is complex carbohydrates. On the McDougall Diet you will consume 70 - 90% carbohydrates.

There are very small amounts of carbohydrates in red meat. poultry, fish, shellfish or eggs. Most dairy products are deficient in carbohydrates...but ALL plant forms contain carbohydrates.

Delicious and different flavors make for a satisfying meal in the courtyard.Picnic in the courtyard with lots of complex carbohydrates.

Only complex carbohydrates are permitted because of their special characteristics that provide a slow and methodical digestive process that provides the bloodstream with long lasting energy.

Basic Guidelines of Foods to be Eaten on The McDougall Diet

Starches to Consider

These are some of the starches that are high enough to serve as the main course in a meal:

  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Rye
  • Bulgar
  • Couscous
  • Wheat berries
  • Corn
  • Wild Rice
  • Millet

Unrefined Flours

  • Barley
  • Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Rye
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Garbanzo Bean
  • Lima Bean
  • Wheat
  • Oat
  • Potato

Egg Free Pastas

These pastas play a very small part in The McCougall Diet since they are made with highly refined flours.

  • Artichoke Pasta
  • Tomato Pasta
  • Corn Pasta
  • Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Spinach Pasta
  • Rice Pasta

Oriental Noodles

These noodles are also made from highly refined flours and should be minimized in The McDougall Diet.

  • Bean Threads
  • Somen
  • Buckwheat Soba
  • Udon
  • Rice Noodles


  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Celeriac
  • Tapioca
  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Taro
  • Jicama
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Parsnips
  • White Potatoes
  • Rutabaga
  • Yams

Winter Squashes

  • Butternut
  • Acorn
  • Hubbard
  • Banana
  • Pumpkin
  • Turban Squash
  • Buttercup

Legumes (Beans)

  • Adzuki
  • Red Kidney
  • Black
  • Mung
  • Fava
  • Navy
  • Garbanzo
  • Pink
  • Great Northern
  • Pinto
  • Lima beans
  • White Kidney

(Soy Beans are too high in fat to be used on a regular basis.)

Dr. McDougall's soups have become our healthy fast food. We always keep some on hand. Serve them with a salad, a sandwich or steamed vegetables on the soups with delicious! Click here for this product.

Fruits and Vegetables

On the McDougall Diet, you may add as many green, red, yellow or orange vegetables as you wish to a meal since they do not contain many calories.

Beautiful and delicious vegetables ready for the grill.Delicious veggies ready for the grill.

Fruits should be limited to three servings a day. The sugar in fruit is fructose, which can cause triglycerides and cholesterol to rise in some people. People with these concerns should restrict fruit even more.

Fruits and vegetables are too numerous to list.

Foods Not Allowed

  • Cow's milk
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Sour Cream
  • Ice Cream
  • Eggs
  • Meat, Poultry, Fish
  • Mayonnaise
  • Vegetable Oils
  • White Rice
  • White Flour
  • Refined and Sugar Coated Cereals
  • Coconut
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, Black Teas
  • Colas and Un Colas

Possible Substitutes

  • Low Fat Soy Milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Fruit Juice
  • Water
  • Herbal Teas

Additional Allowed Foods and Substitutes

  • Soy and Nut Cheese after 12 days on the diet
  • Pure Frozen Fruit Sorbet, Frozen Fruit Bars, and after 12 days Lite Tofutti
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer in cooking
  • Tofu Mayonnaise
  • Whole Grain Flours
  • Carob Powder for Chocolate
  • Non-caffeinated Herb Tea, Cereal Beverages, hot water and lemon, Mineral water, Flavored or plain Seltzer Water.

The McDougall Diet also includes exercise. Diet alone will take you a long way to achieving excellent health, but if you are able to exercise, the benefits will further improve your fitness and well being.

Exercise as simple as a daily walk will give you increased muscle tissue, loss of excess weight, more energy, improved digestion, better mood, higher HDL, lower triglyceride and blood sugar levels, a fall in blood pressure and a more appropriate appetite.

Track Your Program

It is good to track all of your vital signs before you begin...this gives you a benchmark to evaluate your program. On the McDougall Diet the following is recommended:

  1. Weigh yourself
  2. Measure your blood pressure (You may want to purchase an inexpensive pressure cuff to do it yourself.)
  3. Getting a blood test to measure the levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, BUN, uric acid, and everything else that your doctor may think important.

The most significant findings from your blood test will be:

  1. Cholesterol level: If your total cholesterol is above 180 mg/dl, it may be a warning of potential circulatory problems. Ideal is below 150 mg/dl.
  2. Triglyceride level: this measures the amount of fats floating around in your blood. It should be between 50 and 200 mg/dl. Higher levels cause insulin resistance and is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.



Legal Disclaimer: The health and nutritional information in this website is for educational purposes only. You should contact a healthcare professional before starting any changes of diet or eliminating any medication.

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