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'The Omni Diet': Attaining optimal health by eating in a new way

In "The Omni Diet," Tana Amen shares effective tips for reaching your ideal weight and attaining your health goals by altering eating habits and curbing cravings. Here's an excerpt.

Chapter 1

Your History is NOT Your Destiny

Kathy has had type 2 diabetes for years and has taken medication to help keep it under control. Although she knew she should stay away from foods containing sugar and simple carbohydrates, she found it difficult to resist her cravings. And, although she also knew losing weight would benefit her health, shedding pounds had always been a struggle.

I met Kathy at Saddleback Church in Southern California, where my husband and I attend services. The church is led by Pastor Rick Warren, who has inspired millions of followers through his ministry and his bestselling book, The Purpose-Driven Life. In 2011, he had challenged thousands of parishioners to lose weight and improve their health with a program called the Daniel Plan. Dr. Mehmet Oz; Dr. Mark Hyman; and my husband, Dr. Daniel G. Amen, helped motivate 15,000 people to lose more than 125 tons of weight. I also was deeply involved in the Daniel Plan, teaching nutrition based on the Omni Diet principles, creating instructional videos, and supplying recipes and motivational tips.

One Sunday morning, an attractive, middle aged woman—Kathy—introduced herself to me.

“Hi, I’m Tana,” I responded.

“Oh, I know who you are,” she said with a big smile. “I’ve watched your videos on the Daniel Plan website. I’ve made many of your recipes and have followed your tips.”

“So, how are you doing?” I asked.

Kathy’s smile grew even wider. “I started following the Daniel Plan about 10 weeks ago. I had been reluctant to try it because I thought it would be hard. But it’s really pretty easy. And I’ve lost 16 pounds.”

“Congratulations! That’s great!” I said. “You must feel wonderful about your weight loss!”

“I do, but that’s not what I’m most excited about.”

By this time, Kathy was absolutely beaming.


“Once I started the plan,” Kathy explained, “I lost all my cravings for sugar within a matter of days! I started eating a much healthier diet, and I no longer had an interest in eating cake, cookies, and all of the other sugary junk that I used to love. My blood sugar began dropping immediately.”

“Congratulations! That’s fantastic!” I said. Kathy’s story reminded me of so many other people I know whose blood sugar and insulin levels had fallen dramatically once they cut out sugar and simple carbohydrate-filled foods, such as bread, muffins, rice, pasta, and anything made with flour.

“There’s more to the story,” Kathy continued. “This is the best part of all. When I went for a diabetes checkup last week, my doctor told me I no longer have to take diabetes medication. For the first time in years, I’m off my meds! I can’t believe it’s that simple after only ten weeks!” Seeing the joy on Kathy’s face brought tears to my eyes because I know how significant this type of change is in people’s lives. She eliminated her need for a very strong daily medication by doing one thing: Eating in a new way.

Simply by swapping life-threatening foods for life-supporting foods, Kathy learned to break free from a disease that plagues more than 25 million Americans and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. And she did it in only ten weeks! Imagine how much more good health there is in Kathy’s future when she continues her new way of eating!

It sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. For Kathy and many other people who suffer from chronic illness—such as diabetes, irritable bowel disease, fibromyalgia, rosacea, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, heart disease, depression, and many others -- food can be more powerful than medicine.

Witness the Power of Food

I have nothing against pharmaceutical drugs—when used appropriately, they play a crucial role in good health. They have the power to save lives. They saved my life! Let me be clear: I am not telling you to stop filling your prescriptions! Nor should you feel bad or guilty if you do take medications—I happily take my medication and thank God for it because it helps keep me healthy. The Omni Diet is not an anti-medication program. It’s an optimal-health program.

What I do have a problem with is the indiscriminate use of powerful medication alone to manage potentially lethal chronic illnesses without proper education about the incredible influence of simple lifestyle modification. A pill may seem like a quick fix, but in my experience managing chronic illness is almost never that easy. I’ve worked with thousands of people who have been frustrated to find that their prescriptions are rarely the ticket off the rollercoaster ride of illness, medication, side effects, flare-ups, and really bad days that result from poor health. Medication doesn’t give your body everything it needs for health or quality of life. You can think you are doing everything right by following doctor’s orders and still feel incredibly sick.

Food can be as healing as a medication. Or, it can be as toxic as a poison. The trick is to harness its amazing power rather than be destroyed by it. By choosing the right foods you, like Kathy, can break some of the bonds of chronic disease. You can positively change the action of your immune system, hormones, genes, and blood sugar. You can help slash your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and many other diseases. In many cases, food, along with lifestyle modification, can be as effective as—or even more effective than—pharmaceutical medications. And great, healthy foods don’t have all those frightening side effects that you hear so rapidly described at the tail end of pharmaceutical television commercials.

Mother Nature has packed countless powerful benefits into food. It is truly nature’s medicine! With the incredible changes you are likely to see with the Omni Diet, you (and your doctor) may discover that you don’t need as much medication as you once did. Or you may no longer even need it at all. Even if you do continue to require medication for chronic illnesses, the changes you make as part of the Omni Diet will work with your medication and ultimately boost your energy, vitality, and overall health.

How is it that food—food that may be sitting in your refrigerator at this very moment—can have such a monumental impact on your health, both for better and for worse? What gives food its power? This chapter explains it all. In the pages that follow, I’ll tell you about some of the ways that food works as medicine in your body. I’ll also explain how the foods I recommend in the Omni Diet will support your health and well-being as you set out to change your health and your life.

From The Omni Diet by Tana Amen, BSN., R.N. Copyright © 2013 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.