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Frequently Asked Questions

Q:        What is the Rice Diet Program & Heart Disease Reversal Clinic?

A:        We are an outpatient, full-immersion treatment center in Durham, NC. Since 1939 patients from all over the world have come here for the treatment of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, congestive health failure, hypertension and renal disease. While many come for the fastest, safest and most effective treatment for reversing these diseases, others come simply to optimize their health in a supportive environment, to be cared for by outstanding medical doctors, dietitians, psychotherapists and stress management practitioners, and to be served a delicious, no salt added, local, organic diet.

Q: How much weight loss can I expect to have when I come to your program?

A:       Though the rapidity of your weight loss depends on your age, sex, incoming weight, and ability to exercise, men lose an average of 30 pounds and women an average of 19 pounds in the first month they are here. Over a period on months, a weight loss of 2½ to 3 ½ pounds per week (or 1/3 to ½ pound per day) is very doable. You will lose even more by gradually increasing your exercise. It is very common for Ricers to lose several pounds per week. One active Ricer lost over a pound a day, for a total of 217 pounds in less than seven months! In addition to inspiring the fastest, safest, medically supervised, whole foods weight loss approach, the Rice Diet also produces the best long-term success we’ve seen published: 43 percent of our participants maintained their weight loss, or lost even more, after six years back home!

Q:        What does a typical day entail?

A:        Patients are seen daily by our medical staff, enjoy 3 meals a day at our dining facility commonly called "The Rice House," and attend daily activities for stress management, yoga, tai chi, or pilates, group therapy, and nutrition classes.

Q:        What does the diet consist of?

A:        Despite our name, food choices include far more than rice. We serve primarily organic, local whole foods, including several types of rice. The Basic Rice Diet, also known as Phase I, is a cleansing, detox stage that includes a large variety of grains and fruits. Then in Phase II participants choose from an expanded selection of over 30 items, including fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, fish and legumes (beans). Variety is assured as the menu changes every day.

Q:        Why is salt restricted on the Rice Diet?

A:        When you consume much added salt or sodium your body can retain excessive and unhealthy amounts of water. Most Americans eat between 3,400 and 7,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day. A very small amount, less than 500 mg.a day, is necessary for normal body function. Part of the reason Rice Diet participants usually feel better in a matter of days is that they are able to rid their bodies of the excess salt and water they are carrying. Salt consumption is associated with increased blood pressure (thus increased risk of heart attacks and strokes), decreased kidney function, increased pressure in joints (thus worsening inflammation in arthritic joints), as well as other diseases and conditions.  Salt is also an appetite stimulant, a hyper-palatable food that inspires overeating..

Q:        Will my triglycerides go up?

A:        Triglycerides and cholesterol may go up for a short time while losing weight, but this only occurs in about 15% of patients. Triglycerides will come down as you continue to follow a low fat, sugar and alcohol diet, which will also inspire improved weight, cholesterol and blood sugars.

Q:        Is it is dangerous to lose so much weight so quickly? I am afraid if I don't eat enough calories and protein, I won't have healthy skin, hair, nails, etc.

A:        The Rice Diet is naturally nutrient-rich from the plentiful amount and  variety of organic, local whole foods. Rapid weight loss is only a concern when it is created by using non-food means and imbalanced or extreme restrictions (such as liquid, fad or very low carbohydrate diets). There is no need to worry about nutritional deficiencies on the Rice Diet. Grains and beans, as well as fish, offer complete protein; in fact, all food groups contain protein except for fat and fruits. We also have multi vitamin and mineral supplements available each morning for nutritional “insurance,”  Furthermore, our bodies are very efficient at recycling.  As you lose weight and fat cells shrink, proteins are recycled from materials no longer needed.

Q:        Okay, so now you have sold me on The Rice Diet, but how do I know I will keep the weight off for the rest of my life?

A:        Along with everything else in life, it takes a strong desire and commitment to make sustainable changes. People often feel so good after being on this program that they are motivated to maintain the lifestyle changes they have made . Our long term weight loss success is the best we’ve seen published: 43% maintained their weight loss, or lost more, after six years back home!  We don't send you home with a magician, but we do provide you with the knowledge and tools necessary to continue the lifestyle and diet established on the program, and to remain focused on your health and healing.

To help you maintain your success at home, visit our website (www.ricediet.com) filled with instructions, recipes, tips, support forums and much, much, more. In addition, we give new patients a copy of The Rice Diet Solution, a wonderful resource co-written by our program’s nutrition director and cardiologist. Copies of Kitty Gurkin Rosati’s other books, Heal Your Heart,The Rice Diet Cookbook, and The Rice Diet Renewal, can be purchased while patients are here, as well as through our on-line Rice Diet Store or Amazon.

Q:        Where can I learn more about the program and its costs?

A:        Click here

Q:         What about muscle loss during rapid weight loss?

A:         Some muscle (along with fat) is always lost during weight loss, regardless of the diet followed. However exercise, especially strength training, is the best way to preserve and build lean muscle mass. Below is the weight training record of a 20-year-old student who lost 103 pounds in 161 days (0.64 pounds per day).

"In addition to all of this, my cardiovascular endurance has improved 10-fold. When I arrived, I could do no more than 30 minutes of any sort of cardio. Now, I am doing about 4 hours of cardio each day." Weight loss and an exercise regimen that included strength training significantly improved this young man’s health and performance.

Q:        I have allergies; will the Rice Diet work for me?

A:        Many patients, whether they have been previously diagnosed with food allergies or not, find success in eliminating known or identifying unknown food allergens with the Rice Diet. The Basic Rice Diet, or Phase I, is the ultimate elimination diet because rice and fruit are very unlikely allergens. During this phase it is easy to add a different grain or fruit each day and observe if you have any undesirable symptoms. Then on Phase II foods, such as vegetables, beans and fish, can be added in one at a time, so any adverse reactions (i.e. diarrhea, gaseousness, itching, hives, etc) can be observed and discussed with our medical staff.

Q:        What causes low potassium? Can the Rice Diet cause this?

A:        No, in fact the Rice Diet is especially high in potassium, and can helpthe many who are deficient in it. Certain medical conditions (eg, hyperaldosteronism, Cushing's disease, diarrhea and vomiting) and the use of certain medications, particularly diuretics, can lead to low potassium levels. In almost all cases, the low potassium is exacerbated by a high sodium intake.  The Rice Diet itself will not cause low potassium because the fruits, vegetables and beans served are both very low in sodium and very high in potassium. Low potassium does not occur in otherwise healthy patients on the Rice Diet, whereas it does in the general American population.

Q:        Can the Rice Diet improve liver function?

A:        Obesity is often associated with excess fat deposit in the liver with resulting Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) or steatohepatitis.  People who are overweight and obese have an increased risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Eating the Rice Diet can improve these conditions as Dr. Kempner demonstrated and documented. There is no evidence that the Rice Diet can undo existing liver damage from other causes (eg, infection, drug toxicity, alcoholic cirrhosis).

Q:        What about the Rice Diet and menstrual cramps?

A:        Most woman report feeling better before and during menstrual cycles, with less fluid retention, less severe cramps and overall fewer symptoms of PMS.

Q:        In general, is it better to eat brown rice or white rice?

A:        Brown rice actually contains more nutrients and fiber than white rice and is the preferred choice here at the Rice Diet Program. Brown rice has had the outer husk removed, which is inedible, White rice starts out as brown rice, but after the husk is discarded, the bran and germ are also removed, leaving only the starchy core, or endosperm. Brown rice contains 3.5 grams of fiber per cooked cup, compared to 0.74 grams in white rice. Although we offer a variety of white and brown rices, since we recommend consuming at least 50 grams of fiber a day, brown rice is preferred.

Another type of rice that is slightly better nutritionally than white rice is "parboiled” or “converted" rice. This rice is steamed before being dried and then polished to make it white. This steaming pressure forces B vitamins and minerals into the endosperm from the bran and germ. White rice is often enriched, and may supply more thiamin, folate and iron, than brown rice. However, brown rice is superior in fiber, vitamin E, protein, magnesium, and essential oils.

Q:        Will taking diuretics help me lose more weight faster?

A:        Diuretics have no place in a weight loss program. Diuretics are used primarily for the treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure. They are also sometimes used to treat swelling in the feet, ankles and legs caused by mechanical problems involving the veins of the legs, though they are less effective in these conditions. In all these conditions, diuretics are not as effective as the Rice Diet. Few health professionals know that a no salt added diet is a more powerful diuretic than any prescription medicine. It is a lot easier not to put things into the human body than it is to try to get them out after you’ve put them in.

The loss of sodium and fluid caused by diuretics does result in weight loss, but diuretics should not be used specifically to lose weight. Diuretics cause loss of substances other than sodium. The diuretic induced loss of potassium can be particularly dangerous and can lead to death. Diuretics can also cause the blood volume to contract making it harder to adequately perfuse the kidneys and therefore harder to mobilize the extra salt and water. It is common for folks on the Rice Diet to gain a pound or two after we stop their diuretics, while they replete their intravascular volume, and then lose that plus the extra fluid they have not been able to on diuretics (most commonly appreciated when the swelling in the ankles disappears).

Q:        Tell me more about the need to limit our sodium intake. How much is too much?

A:        It's important to watch your sodium intake for two reasons:

The first has to do with being as healthy as you can be, the second has to do with losing weight and  maintaining weight loss.

If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, heart failure, diabetes or kidney disease, there is no question that lowering your sodium intake is beneficial for your health. Many of these conditions can be treated with a very low sodium diet without medications, or with reduced amounts of them, and less medication can make you feel better. 

Lower salt intake can improve your health even if you are basically healthy. First, it has been shown that lowering your sodium intake lowers your blood pressure. This is important even if you have a "normal" blood pressure. A person with a blood pressure of 90/60 has 30% less risk of having a cardiovascular event than does a person with a "normal" blood pressure of 120/80. A person with a blood pressure of 140/90, where the doctor usually says we have to watch it carefully, has a 40% higher risk than the person with a blood pressure of 120/80. So the lower your blood pressure the better, and lower salt intake will lower your blood pressure. In four weeks, patients on the Rice Diet with high blood pressures lowered them from 147/91 to 121/74!

Lowering your sodium intake can also dramatically improve kidney disease, congestive heart failure (CHF) and liver disease. Witnessing a CHF patient on the Rice Diet Program is truly one of the most dramatic miracles on earth. We have often seen CHF patients enter the program unable to walk 30 feet to the nurse’s station, and within a week be able to walk Duke’s East Campus 2.5 mile “wall”!

There are many other health benefits from lowering your sodium intake, including reduced diabetes complications, and risks of numerous other diseases, including osteoporosis and stomach cancer. Additionally, you will feel better with a lower salt intake and will benefit from nonspecific advantages such as less stiffness in your joints. Most of us are waterlogged. We are carrying around 5-15 pounds of extra fluid, but we have gotten used to it and think that we feel fine. Only when you eat really high sodium food, such as Asian cuisines, do you appreciate how bad it feels to be waterlogged. When you cut back on sodium the extra fluid leaves and you feel better. Only when you lower your sodium intake can you appreciate this feeling of well-being.

The second reason low sodium is good for you is that it helps to control your eating. Salt, like refined sugar, is an appetite stimulant. Without added salt you will eat less. One of the most dramatic changes our participants describe is how within 48 hours of eating the Rice Diet their food cravings disappear!  If you've never been on the Rice Diet, and have a hard time believing this, you'll just have to take our word for it – until you try it out for yourself.

As far as how much salt you should eat at home, we recommend from 500 to 1000 milligrams of sodium a day. Basically, you should not add salt to your foods and you should limit your intake of processed foods or products to which salt has been added. Eating a low sodium diet while eating processed foods is challenging. If you eat whole foods (grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables), fish, and nonfat dairy products, and minimal meat if your health permits, you will have no problem keeping within these guidelines.

Q:        What about drinking alcohol when you are on a low salt diet?

A:        There are two answers to most questions. The first answer to this question is that alcohol is probably not good for us, so if you don't currently drink, don't start: no matter what the supposed benefit. The second answer is wine is a fruit. This is the rice and fruit diet; therefore, wine is permissible. (Most other alcoholic beverages are made from grains: the grains and fruit diet.) Unfortunately, alcohol has more calories than fruit: about 100 for three ounces and 80-100 per ounce for liquors. So, consume alcohol with awareness: a 3 ounce of red wine would be the exchange for 2 fruits. More important than the calories in one drink, is the unconscious consumption that often follows it. Typically the more alcohol we consume, the more food we eat; and the more alcohol we drink the less mindful we are of previous health commitments

Q:        What about powdered creamer and Sweet-n-Low or Equal?

A:        At the Rice Diet Program we do not serve dairy products, but our medical staff agrees that at home it’s preferable to use the "real thing"- like a little organic 2% milk, or a teaspoon or two of honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. Artificial sweetener does not serve one who is focused on ingesting the healthiest of foods and cleansing their palate. Although the research is not conclusive on this, it is safe to assume that nurturing our desire for everything to taste far sweeter than it naturally does, is not the most logical way to reduce our craving for sugar, thus excessive calories. Also, the sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, thus skewing our expectations for naturally sweet flavors, such as perfectly ripened, seasonal fruits. Many have reported an increase in cravings with increased use of artificial sweeteners. We do not serve artificial sweeteners at the Rice Diet Program, and encourage avoiding or limiting their use at home

Q:        Is juice okay instead of the eating the whole fruit?

A:        Regular fruit is higher in fiber, and is therefore more satisfying than juice; it is also more gradual in its blood sugar response. Unsweetened juice is fine once in a while if one remembers that 4 ounces is a 60 calorie fruit.

Q:        What's a better choice: decaffeinated or regular coffee and tea?

A:        High quality decaf tea and coffee are served at the Rice Diet Program. Decaf coffee and teas are preferred because research shows that regular caffeinated coffee and tea may lead to arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). Although caffeine only creates a temporary rise in heart rate, it is a stimulant, which is not conducive in this environment focused on calming the participant to look within for their own answers.

Q:        What is your position on the use of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in diet? Specifically, is there an optimal amount? Heal Your Heart mentions to enjoy 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil when needed to raise HDL. Is this a general upper limit?

A:        Fat, any fat, is loaded with calories. Therefore, it must be carefully consumed, especially if you intend to lose weight. Ideally, whatever fat you do consume should come primarily from monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acid rich sources - olive oil, canola oil, almonds, walnuts, avocado, flax, and fish - in the amount of 10 - 20% of calories for heart disease reversal and weight loss. For a frame of reference, 1 teaspoon of oil has 4.5 grams of fat and 40 calories. Six almonds is about the same; 1/8 of an avocado is about the same. One tablespoon (3 teaspoons) is listed on most oils as the serving size, which is 14 grams of fat and 120 calories. Therefore, if mostly fruits, vegetables, grains and beans are eaten without any fat used in the preparation process, then 1 tablespoon of oil can be added somewhere during the rest of the day. Therefore adding just 1 - 2 teaspoons of olive oil (or 1 Tbs of walnuts to a salad, or 1/8 of an avocado) to the day will assist you in limiting your fat intake to less than 20%.

It is difficult to say what is the "optimal" amount or "general upper limit", but 10 - 20% of calories is a good goal with an upper limit being 20 - 30% if there are no risks for heart disease, diabetes, or no weight problem.

Q:        I don't eat fish. What are good substitutes?

A:        We recommend fish over other animal proteins; fish is high in protein, selenium, vitamin D and  the healthful omega-3 fatty acids. The fattier fish (salmon, bluefish, sardines and anchovies can be purchased fresh or canned with low sodium or no salt added) can help raise the HDL level (the "good" cholesterol) and lower triglycerides. The types of fat that are found in fish have been found to be highly beneficial, whereas the higher saturated fat content in beef, chicken and pork will raise the LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. Thus, most adults would reduce their risks of heart disease by eating fish 3 to 5 times a week, and wise to limit those fish highest in mercury; or heart patients may prefer to supplement with 1 gram of EPA + DHA per day if they don’t like fish. Children, pregnant and nursing women should avoid fish with higher mercury levels, including king mackerel, shark, swordfish or tilefish. See mercury content graphs of various seafoods on page 316 of The Rice Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy, Everyday Recipes and Inspirational Success Stories .

Another impressive way to raise your HDL is to get regular exercise; we recommend 1 hour daily (most prefer walking). In addition, moderate consumption of alcohol will raise the HDL. However, if you do not currently drink alcohol, we would not recommend that you begin to drink just to benefit your HDL; consuming alcohol is just too likely to lead to excessive calories.

Some studies have seen promise in olive oil, flaxseed, soy products, and moderate consumption of nuts, like almonds, pecans and walnuts. We do not recommend nuts for a snack, but rather as a condiment, with 6 - 8 thrown over a salad, or 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts spread over steamed or stir fried vegetables. Many overeaters or binging patients find that it is best not to keep nuts in their home until they heal this addiction further. It is important to use a good quality olive oil. Be sure it is in a dark bottle and it should say "hand-picked, first-cold pressed" on the bottle. We really like the Badia a Coltibuono brand, and sell this as well as numerous others at the Rice Diet Store (www.ricediet.com). Flaxseed should be ground before eating, rather than consumed in the whole seed form; it will not breakdown in the digestive tract as well if ingested without doing so. Many people grind it in a separate coffee grinder and sprinkle it over their salad or cereal.  Flaxseed can also be purchased already ground, but must be refrigerated after the bag is opened.  Any soy product except for miso soup, soy sauce, and the soy powders and products flavored with added sugar and/or sodium, would be OK. Soy milk, tofu made with calcium, plain tempeh, and unsalted soy nuts are some good soy product choices.

Q:        What if I get hungry at night?

A:        Most incoming Rice Diet Program participants , who are on Phase I eating grains and fruit, are amazed that they are not hungry. What they may mean is that they do not have any cravings. We believe this is due to the significant reduction in their sodium intake. Occasionally when participants graduate to Phase II, which naturally contains approximately 300 mg of sodium, some report feeling a little "hungry", but this is rare. In fact, most of this minority admit that it may be cravings, and not necessarily true hunger. Often times we want to eat, not because we have not eaten in many hours, but because we want to feel better. We may be angry, stressed, bored, lonely, anxious, excited, or tired, but not hungry.

We recommend doing an experiment: If you feel hungry at night, have some water and go to bed without eating something. If you get up the next morning and you are still hungry, then you were probably hungry the previous night. However, most people will get up and realize they are not hungry, which means they were experiencing one of the triggers listed above, or they saw a pizza commercial on the TV and they wanted some!

Therefore, we emphasize the importance of recognizing the trigger that may be leading you to the fridge or the pizza man, and find something better to do with yourself: take a walk, read a book, newspaper or magazine, take a bath, clean your house, call a friend or relative, write a letter, journalize, etc. If you have to eat something, have a piece of fruit, some hot tea or some shredded wheat.

Q:        What if I hit a plateau and don’t lose any weight for 3-4 days?

A:        Although on average men on the Rice Diet Program lose 30 pounds and women 19 pounds the first month they are here, this rapid a pace does not last forever. Even when eating at the Rice Diet Program, some people experience plateaus for 3 to 4 days. Although it is difficult to know exactly what is going on physiologically, we have tested urine sodiums and thus know that people can be staying faithful to the diet and not lose any weight for 3 to 4 days. However, the scale is also not going up more than a pound in those 3 days. Don’t allow daily fluctuations to spin you out. Just remember that if you stick to the program, the scale will continue to go down. Be assured that there are natural reasons for weight fluctuations; there may be  fluid shifts, for reasons such as menstruation or medications, or perhaps the individual is constipated or is wearing slightly heavier clothes at weigh-in time. In addition, if anyone has begun an exercise program that has caused soreness, the muscles may hold onto fluid, which can keep the scale from going down. The important goal is to stay the course, remain mindful of your food and exercise, and be assured your desired weight will be realized.

When people leave the Rice Diet Program, we coach them to create a goal to continue to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. After the first week or two, in which the weight you are losing is both fat and excess water,  the weight you lose is primarily fat. This will obviously come off slower than the fluid weight. It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat. Therefore, when weighing on a daily basis as we recommend, it may appear as if the scale is not moving. It does move, but it moves very slowly and over a period of weeks. (This will vary widely depending on the amount of weight people have to lose.) We still recommend people weigh on a daily basis, not only to stay mindful of their weight loss priority, but to also be aware that if they have gained weight they can quickly  consider what hidden source of sodium they may have consumed. If the scale does go up 2 to 3 pounds in less than 3 days, most likely this is fluid weight (unless an additional 7000 to 10,500 calories has been consumed in those 3 days). The increase of 2 to 3 pounds is more likely from getting some extra sodium, which can come off with a return to a low sodium diet. A good jump-start would be a day of grains and fruit (which should not be done more than once a week unless you are medically supervised here at the Rice Diet Program).

So, if you think you are on a plateau, re-evaluate. How much have you lost in the last 4 weeks? Has it been more than 4 to 8  pounds? Then you are doing well. Some people will lose more than 1 to 2 pounds per week, but if you are going down at all over a period of 4 weeks, then you are successful. Just stay focused and the weight will come off!

Q:        What is your recommendation for fluid and caffeine intake?

A:        We recommend 40-72 oz of non-caffeinated fluid per day (5 – 9  eight oz glasses). The best way to tell if you are adequately hydrated is to check to see that your urine is almost clear. It should not be completely clear, because you can drink too much on this program. Be sure to never “force fluids” on the Rice Diet, as some people have used in previous dieting strategies. Use your common sense; obviously if you are exercising in high temperatures and humidity, and perspiring profusely, you may need more fluid.

We do not serve caffeine on the Rice Diet Program, as we are facilitating participants in slowing themselves down, quieting their minds and enhancing their understanding of why they are here in need of healing. Jacking oneself up on caffeine does not assist with this process! Caffeine is an addictive substance and we are here to help patients understand and heal from their addictions. Patients here are given the option to go off their caffeine habits “cold turkey”, or gradually reduce their intake to reduce the probability and severity of resulting headaches. Caffeine has also been shown to cause some cardiac arrhythmias, which is certainly not something we need to invite.

While we encourage participants to continue avoiding caffeine when they return home, one cup of black coffee a day is generally not a problem. However, a double latte or any of the gourmet coffee drinks offer alot of calories and questionable ingredients.

Q:        I'm a serious diabetic. I know that rice isn't "everything" in your diet, but avoiding carbs has been my goal. Your high carbohydrate diet seems to be the opposite of what I’ve always heard is good for diabetes. Why should I think that this diet will help my condition? 

A:        For more than 70 years we've been incredibly successful at helping diabetic patients off, or reducing, their insulin and diabetes medication by eliminating sodium and decreasing calories.  First of all, anyone who is a "serious diabetic" should not do this program on their own, you would need the assistance of a dietitian or a doctor. You didn't mention if you were a Type 1 or Type 2 diabetic, but these are two different types of diseases. Carbohydrates are important; however, it's the volume of carbohydrates and the processed, popular choices that are the most important issues. When people are on the first phase here at the Rice Diet Program, the total calories are significantly less than one is use to consuming (and burning per day). If we gave a high number of calories via grains and fruit, then this may cause a problem with diabetics. However, the amount of grains and fruit eaten on the Rice Diet allow Type 2 diabetics to improve their blood glucose control dramatically, by giving the body a chance to "catch up" to the high level of circulating glucose. People stay on this phase approximately half of their stay, then move to vegetables, beans and fish, and continue to see dramatic improvements in their diabetes.. In the Going Home Meal Plans (Phase III of the Rice Diet), there is a variety of whole foods - fruits, grains, vegetables, beans, non-fat dairy and small amounts of fish, all cooked without salt, within a moderate calorie range. These are the types of foods that are good for everyone, including diabetics, for sustainable, long-term health.

Q:        How does the Rice Diet differ from the other popular low fat diets like the plan associated with Dr. Dean Ornish?

A:        Dr. Dean Ornish actually acknowledged Dr. Kempner as being one of the forerunners in understanding our power to reverse heart disease .His diet is completely vegetarian, with “moderate use of sodium” unless otherwise medically restricted. Our sodium consumption is quite low in the treatment phase; then a range of 500-1000 mg of sodium per day is recommended at home.

Dr. Ornish uses a Spectrum of choices, categorizing foods into 5 groups (group 1 containing foods that are the most healthful choices and 5 being the group of least healthful choices, also considered “indulgent” foods).   Phase III of the Rice Diet includes any food that is not contraindicated. For instance, we serve fish here (since it does not raise blood pressures, cholesterol and blood sugars), and counsel patients returning home that if they choose to they may enjoy small amounts of lean meats, and poultry, as long as it doesn't create undesirable changes, such as elevations in blood pressure, blood sugar, or cholesterol. (However, highly processed foods laden with salt, sugar and fat are only acceptable as an “occasional indulgence” if they do not lead to overeating or trigger compulsive eating behaviors.) 

The Ornish diet is also very low fat; less than 10% of total calories come from fat. The Rice Diet is initially less than 10% fat when in the treatment phases at the Rice Diet Program, but upon going home, patients are recommended to stay between 10 - 20% for heart disease reversal as well as weight loss.

When on Dr. Ornish’s diet, people are told to eat food until they feel full (but not stuffed); therefore not attaching specific calorie levels to the diet. Everyone is eating the same amount of calories here at the Rice Diet Program, but we have several different calorie plans that our patients use at home, including 1000, 1200, and 1500 calorie meal plans. Both programs emphasize exercise and stress reduction with meditation and yoga.

For more than 70 years, 7 days a week, 365 days per year, our program has been an evolving, supportive community for those interested in taking responsibility for reversing most disease. Our program also offers tai chi, Pilates, expressive writing sessions, music and biblio- therapy, dream board work, emotional freedom technique (EFT), cooking schools and a variety of nutrition and psychology classes to equip you with the tools needed for long term success.

Q:        What are the phases of the Rice Diet and how long do you stay on each one? How much fat, protein and carbohydrates are on these phases? Is it the same?

A:        The "phases of the Rice Diet" have changed over the years to mean different things, but currently, there are three phases, with the first two enjoyed at the Rice Diet Program and the third phase continued at home. The first two phases are the most ambitious and because of their sodium levels are to be monitored here at the program. After spending time here, participants learn how to modify phases I and II, creating Phase III, to continue losing or maintaining their weight at home.

The first two phases include grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Although dependent upon what selections one makes, a sample day typically could include: Phase I = 5% fat, 6% protein and about 89% carbohydrates. On Phase II a sample day could shift to 7% fat, 13% protein and 80% carbohydrates. On Phase III, when fish, nonfat dairy and other similar foods are added, the goal for fat percentage is 10 – 20%, 15% protein and 65 – 75% carbohydrates, which is the optimal diet for preventing and continuing to reverse most chronic disease.

The length of time for each phase depends upon the individual, but we suggest that while in Durham patients stay on phase I for approximately half of their stay (which averages 2 weeks). Some choose to do more based on how far they are from their goal. Occasionally, we also have patients who skip phase I entirely depending on their medical situation.

We strongly recommend not doing phase I for more than one day per week at home without medical supervision. Otherwise, there is a significant risk involved. However, if you desire to do this program at home, Kitty Gurkin Rosati’s books, Heal Your Heart, The Rice Diet Solution, The Rice Diet Cookbook and The Rice Diet Renewal, will provide you with all the information and recipes that you will need to do so.

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