By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
The background behind The Greengrocer's Diet?
The Greengrocer's Diet was given its name because most of what you eat can be bought from a good greengrocer shop. Fresh produce makes up the bulk of what you eat and while you'll also eat some dairy, whole grains, meat, fish and chicken, the emphasis is placed on the fresh produce because you eat much more of it. Compared to other food, vegetables and fruit are the lowest kilojoule, highest nutrient options around so you can eat lots of them and not get fat. Not only will you be able to eat more than you are accustomed to on a weight loss diet, you'll also start to feel exceedingly well. It's one of the main reasons why everyone who trialled the diet loved it so much and were happy to stick to it; they love the food and it makes them feel good.
When we started our trials back in winter 2013, I was pretty confident that people who stuck to the diet would lose weight. What I'd given less thought to were the other benefits that came with it.
The first group to trial The Greengrocer's Diet were from Sydney's Hills district. Most were busy working mothers who juggled work and home life and struggled with the laborious chore of what to cook their family each night. My concerns at the start were whether they could be bothered sticking to the diet with so many other life pressures, and whether it would fit within their budget.
One evening one of the ladies shouted out to the group, "What about your weekly food bill, have you noticed a difference?" Anxious that I'd created an elitist diet for the rich only, I stepped in quickly and asked the question. "Was she spending much more than before"?
"No", she replied, "much less, I've stopped buying all the crap". It was music to my ears. It's the crap that effects your health more than anything else.
Aside from spending less, the women really liked the food. I was surprised at how many vegetables they had never eaten before and how much pleasure they had trying out new foods. It's so easy to fall into a rut and churn the same meals out of the kitchen week after week. One woman who'd never cooked a chicken before, realised how easy it was and made it her signature dish! As the women steadily lost weight they noticed other benefits. Their hair and skin looked better, their sleep improved, period pain eased, one lady who'd suffered from fibromyalgia lost 15 kg and noted all her symptoms had gone, and she felt 20 years younger - she looked 20 years younger too. What blew me away was how many of them had relied on daily fibre supplements for years and could now relieve themselves naturally.
One of the ladies in the group, put her husband Sam on the diet. Sam worked at Sydney's wholesale markets and was extremely overweight. With his wife Kimberley's support, he followed the diet to the letter and in the first week dropped 5.4 kg. In the weeks and months to follow Sam lost 19 kg in total and transformed himself. It was Sam's success that steered me to find my next group at Sydney's wholesale fruit market.
Surrounded by fresh produce, men and woman work through the night selling seasonal vegetables and fruit without realising its true value. It's the biggest health food warehouse I've ever seen. We would pay the same for a bottle of vitamin C supplements as they would trade a box of oranges, but for them it's just a tough job. Many start at 2.00 am and spend the night in an open sided warehouse negotiating the price on produce. It can be harshly cold in the summer and hot in the winter and, standing on concrete all night, it's physically demanding. They live on coffee, not much water and high fat food from the surrounding cafes.
My volunteers were a mix of wholesalers and greengrocers and I can honestly say I have never enjoyed working with a group as much as I did them. They were kind, generous men, full of good cheer and, dare I say it, full of food and health concerns! Of the 10 men whose ages ranged from late 30's to mid-50, each one had dangerously high blood pressure on the first day of the trial. Twelve weeks later and a cumulative 86 kg lost, their blood pressure had dropped to within a healthy range. Those who visited their doctor during the trial noted lower blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Two men who'd relied on sleep apnoea machines no longer used them and one man escaped a lifetime of thyroid medication after he'd lost 15 kg. Just recently, my friend Skip went back to the cancer specialist and was given the all clear from the doctor after suffering bowel cancer the previous year. So many men whose bodies had almost given up on them found good health in a relatively short period of time, simply by eating lots more of the stuff they sell.
As we moved into summer and autumn the stories continued until eventually I was less interested in the weight loss and more excited by everything else. One couple, Jonathan and Sarah Wiggins still follow the diet today and have between them lost over 60 kg. Sarah no longer suffers from the chronic neck pain she endured for virtually her entire adult life and Jonathan who was diagnosed with a fatty liver now has a totally clean bill of health. They have changed their diet completely and have no intentions of going back to their old dietary ways.
If you're reading this wondering how you can do this diet when you don't like vegetables, then you must read Godfrey's story. Godfrey was in his 70's when he came to see me. His doctor diagnosed him with a fatty liver and suggested he change his diet. The problem was that he didn't like vegetables - or so he thought. Within the first week he was enjoying spinach and celery smoothies, mushroom soup, baked fennel and cauliflower puree and although he was adamant he would never like broccoli, he liked everything else. When I last spoke to Godfrey he was enjoying broccoli.
Kathy suffered from debilitating migraines which kept her in bed for days. Since starting the diet the headaches, although not completely gone, have significantly decreased and she hasn't spent a single day in bed.
The Greengrocer's Diet is not a freaky fad diet - as I like to call them. It's not about sacrifice and denial as many other diets are. Fad freaky diets lead to feeding frenzies. This diet is a way of life, it's how we should eat every day of our lives. It's a fresh natural diet as nature intended, that nourishes your body and helps you to stay well and get the most from life. You'll lose weight, because I've kept the portion sizes down, and once it's gone you can continue eating the same food, just allow yourself a little bit more.
The Greengrocer's Diet starts as a diet and becomes a way of life.
The Greengrocer's Diet is published by Pan Macmillan, RRP $39.99). For more information about the book visit the website www.thegreengrocersdiet.com