Free Program Introduction

You can regain your health and take control of your life. All the beneficial things that you associate with health – looking good, optimal weight, positive energy, vitality and a deep sense of well-being – can be yours. What’s more, you can accomplish these goals by the simplest method imaginable: eating the wholesome, fresh foods your body was designed to enjoy.

More than 33 Years of Restoring People’s Health

I have been practicing medicine for over 33 years and I have treated virtually every type of chronic illness common to the developed world. In my efforts to help people restore their health, I have tried almost every type of test and medical treatment available. But in all my years I have seen only one form of treatment work consistently and, quite often, even miraculously.

This approach has been effective even when all other medical therapies have failed. Patients whose doctors have given up on them – who are told there are no more drugs or operations that might save them – have restored their health using this singular approach.

The McDougall Program Basics

·                     A diet of plant foods, including whole grains and whole-grain products (such as pasta, tortillas, and whole-grain bread), and a wide assortment of  vegetables and fruit.

·                     Plenty of spices and usually small amounts of sugar and salt to enhance the flavor of food.

·                     Exercise as simple as a daily walk.

·                     The exclusion of animal foods, including red meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, and fish – all of which provide toxic levels of fat, cholesterol, protein and, very often, infectious agents and harmful chemicals.

·                     The exclusion of all oils including olive oil, safflower oil, and corn oil. Oils are nothing more than liquid fats that increase obesity, which in turn, depresses immune function and contributes to the most common chronic diseases.

Just 10 Days to Profound and Lasting Change

The dietary and lifestyle habits above may sound challenging at first, but taken step by step over just 10 days, it will become a way of life that is so natural you won’t believe how easy it is. Most important, you‘ll experience an almost immediate improvement in your health. And once you do, the profound difference will make it hard to imagine doing it any other way.

Try it for Yourself

In this special introduction to the McDougall Program, I’ll describe in detail how to put this powerful healing approach to work for you in ten days. This is exactly the same program that I used with my patients at St. Helena Hospital and Health Center in Napa Valley, California for 16 years and the one I currently use at my resort-based 10-day residential clinic in Santa Rosa, California. You’ll find that you can do everything at home that my live-in patients do in order to lose weight and regain lost health. Understanding my program isn’t difficult. When you are ready, I recommend that you inform your doctor so that they can provide medical consultation and support if necessary. The biggest obstacle is getting started.

Diet, Not Genes, Controls Destiny

Your body is meant to be healthy; it shouldn’t need drugs or surgery except in times of emergency. Why, then, have we become so dependent on these interventions? The answer is this: all too often it’s the food we eat that is making us sick.

When looked at from the perspective of human evolution, the current diet we are eating is a bizarre anomaly unlike anything we ate over the last four million years. Our blood, arteries, and cells are not designed to function under so much fat and cholesterol. Our intestines are not designed to function in the absence of fiber. Our immune system is not designed to function without an abundant supply of plant-based nutrients and phytochemicals.

With our cells drowning in fat, cholesterol, animal proteins and artificial chemicals, and our immune system deprived of what it needs to maintain itself, it’s no wonder so many of us get cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and other age-related illnesses. In fact, it is a testament to the strengths of the human body that anyone has the slightest semblance of health eating like we do today.


A Revelation: Your Health is Not Determined by Heredity

I began practicing medicine on the big island of Hawaii where extended families were the norm. I treated people who worked on sugar plantations, mostly ethnic Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino. It was not uncommon for me to closely observe three and sometimes four generations within the same family. I got to know many of these families, treating the children, parents, grandparents, and sometimes even the great-grandparents of a single family.

At the outset of my medical career I was not the least bit interested in diet and nutrition. My medical training had included nothing about it and, consequently, I considered the subject irrelevant to health. But as I practiced medicine in Hawaii I observed a rather startling phenomenon that changed my life: the older generations were in exceedingly good health even after they were well into their eighth, ninth and tenth decades of life. Their health contrasted remarkably with their children and, even more so, with their grandchildren. The younger the patient the more likely they were to suffer from gout, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity.

When I looked more closely at my patients, I found that they had a lot in common. They all had physically demanding work and they observed many of the same customs. The single greatest difference between the older and younger generations was their diet.

The older patients followed the traditional diets of their ancestors. Their regimens were based primarily on plant foods: grains (like rice), fresh vegetables, beans, and fruit. The younger generation had modern diets based primarily on animal foods. They also ate enormous quantities of processed and refined foods that were loaded with fat, sugar, salt, and artificial ingredients. If genes were the cause of disease, then why wasn’t the younger generation protected against common chronic illnesses like their older relatives? Why was the younger generation deteriorating so rapidly? Something more than genetics must be involved.

Researchers Discover that Diet Controls Destiny

My observation caused me to plunge into the study of the relationship between health and nutrition – a pursuit that changed my practice and my life forever. It wasn’t long before I realized that the observations and conclusions I was drawing from my medical practice were being replicated on a much larger scale by researchers around the world. Scientists were finding that the people who had diets based primarily on plant foods escaped the scourges of degenerative illnesses. In contrast, populations that subsisted on the modern diet, rich in meats, dairy products and processed fare, were ravaged by ailments we now regard as all-too-common.

I learned something else, too: given the right diet and lifestyle the body will recover. When we remove the poisons from our lives and replace them with health-promoting food, the body can heal itself, even from illnesses deemed “incurable.”

Fat & Cholesterol: Primary Poisons

The body uses fat primarily for energy storage when no food or other immediate source of fuel is available, and cholesterol is needed for many critical cellular functions, so both are part of a normal, healthy body. Having said that, the body produces all the cholesterol it needs; and as for fat, plants already contain adequate amounts and only plants make the essential fatty acids your body needs to function. What’s more, plant foods never contain cholesterol.

Animal foods, on the other hand, provide too much fat, especially the most harmful kind (saturated fat), which damages the arteries and causes heart disease and stroke. Beef derives 60% – 80% of its calories from fat; pork, 80% – 95%; chicken, 30% – 50%; and fish, 5% – 60% percent. Meat is also rich in cholesterol. A 3 1/2 ounce serving of beef contains 85 mg of cholesterol; pork contains 90 mg; mackerel fish contains 95 mg; turkey, 83 mg; tuna, 63 mg; and chicken (skinned-white), 85 mg.

Vegetable Oils are Not Health Foods

Even poly and monounsaturated fats – found in large amounts in vegetable oils and fish – have been shown to depress the immune system, increase bleeding and promote cancers, especially those of the colon, prostate and breast. Because all fats are easily stored by the body, too much dietary fat makes people overweight and lays the foundation for a host of other problems like heart disease, cancer, and adult-onset diabetes.

Plant Foods Provide the Nutritional Building Blocks for Optimum Health

To understand why the McDougall Program is such powerful medicine, you must start by recognizing that plant foods are the most abundant sources of nutrition on earth. Nutrients are the raw materials your body needs to function properly and can generally be split into two types – the ones your body can make by itself and the ones it can derive only from your food. The latter are called “essential” nutrients.

There are 13 essential vitamins. Eleven are made in abundance by plants. The two that are not produced by plants are vitamins D and B12, both of which are stored in your tissues for long periods of time. You’ll get enough vitamin D with adequate exposure to sunlight and B12 can be easily supplemented. I tell pregnant and nursing women, and people who follow my diet strictly for more than 3 years, to take five micrograms of vitamin B12 daily.

Animal Foods Have Little Nutritional Value

There’s no comparison between animal foods and plant foods when it comes to providing immune-boosting and cancer-fighting nutrients. Animal foods are either exceedingly low or devoid of antioxidants and tend to offer concentrated amounts of individual nutrients, like protein or calcium, while being deficient in many others. By contrast, plant foods are rich in antioxidants and provide a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting nutrients.

Only plants contain powerful substances called phytochemicals, which scientists are now discovering protect us from cancer, heart disease, and an array of other serious illnesses. Plants are also the primary source of all minerals in our diet. Minerals are derived from the earth and make their way into the food supply via plants. The only reason animal foods contain any minerals at all is because the animals eat plants, or they eat animals that eat plants. And plants offer our only sources of dietary fiber, which binds in our intestines with fat, cholesterol, environmental pollutants and disease-causing hormones to eliminate these dangers from the body. Fiber also decreases intestinal transit time and promotes healthy bowel elimination.

You Don’t Need Milk to Get Calcium

Plant foods contain generous amounts of calcium. A cup of cooked collard greens contains about 360 mg of calcium, while a cup of milk contains about 300 mg. A cup of cooked kale contains 210 mg. There is NO disorder known as “dietary calcium deficiency” – in other words, there is plenty of calcium in all plant food diets to meet the needs of both children and adults alike. Osteoporosis is not a disease that results from too little calcium, but primarily from acids derived from too much animal protein that rob the body of calcium and thus weaken bones. A diet based on starches with a plentiful supply of fruits and vegetables, combined with modest exercise, will preserve skeletal strength and even regain lost bone mass.

All the Protein You Need – Without the Meat

Protein is extremely misunderstood. First, you should know that plants contain protein and all of the essential amino acids needed to build it. Second, animal foods are not necessary to get the protein your body needs – indeed, all the protein you need and more can be easily derived from plant foods alone.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends men, women, and children get five percent of their calories from protein. The chart below reveals the protein levels of selected plants and as you can see it’s virtually impossible to fail to meet the WHO’s daily requirements.

Percentage of calories derived from protein







Baked Potato


Pinto Beans













Americans are Getting Too Much Protein

Americans consume 6 to 10 times as much protein as they need. All that excess protein overworks the liver and kidneys causing both to become enlarged and injured. Excess protein consumption also causes the kidneys to pull large quantities of calcium from the body, causing bones to weaken and kidney stones to form.

Scientists have found that animal proteins are particularly damaging to the body because so many of their amino acids contain sulfa, which is far more toxic to the liver and kidneys than vegetable proteins. One of the most time-honored approaches to healing the kidneys and liver, in fact, is to eat a low-protein diet, especially a diet low in animal proteins. When the protein content of the diet drops, kidneys are strengthened and very often healed.

What the World Needs Now is Carbohydrates – and Lots of Them

Carbohydrates are our primary source of energy. They alone provide energy for red blood cells, and certain cells of the kidneys, and they’re the preferred fuel for the central nervous system, including the brain. Fat, on the other hand, is a secondary source of energy that can be used by some tissues, such as muscle, but is more often stored for use in times of famine.

Humans were designed by nature to crave carbohydrates. With their unique combination of sweet flavor, energy and nutrition, carbohydrates regulate our hunger drive. There are no carbohydrates in red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, or eggs, and most dairy products contain little if any. Cheese, for example, contains only two percent. This is an important reason why people who eat a diet rich in animal foods rarely feel satisfied and become compulsive overeaters. Unless you eat enough carbohydrate foods, you’ll remain hungry and crave more food.

Unprocessed plant foods like brown rice, potatoes, squash, broccoli, and apples (just to name a few) are loaded with complex carbohydrates – long chains of sugars that must be broken down inside your intestine before they can be used as fuel. The process of digesting these complex carbohydrates is slow and methodical, providing a steady stream of fuel pumped into your bloodstream as long-lasting energy. On the McDougall diet, 70% – 90% percent of your calories are derived from complex carbohydrates, providing you with all the nutrients you need for optimum health, plus a high level of vitality and endurance.

Prepare for Health

The following are preparations you should make before beginning the McDougall Program:

·                     Choose a weekend day to prepare recipes, stock up on new food items, or explore your vegetarian options at nearby restaurants. In this way, you will be prepared to start the diet on a Monday.

·                     Make an appointment with your doctor to arrange lab tests, if indicated.

·                     Set goals that you would like to achieve in 10 days. For instance, you may want to lose five pounds, relieve some chest pain, or cut your dose of insulin in half.

·                     If you are addicted to any substances such as caffeine, cigarettes or alcohol, you may want to take advantage of a dedicated substance-dependence program in your community.

·                     Speak to your family and those close to you about the program you are beginning. Also, be tolerant if your family is not as willing to eat these new foods as you are.

·                     Clear out your fridge, freezer, and cupboards of all forbidden foods. You can give them to friends or local charities if you do not want to throw them out.


The Simple Approach is Often the Best

The McDougall Program provides you with the most powerful dose of medicine at least three times a day. It deals with the causes of disease, which means it is a true source of both prevention and healing. Give it a try and in 10 days you will start to see what it means to be healthy and fully alive. As so many have already, you will find it to be the greatest gift you have ever given yourself.


Steps to Recovery

Now that I’ve outlined the many reasons to give the McDougall Program a try, let me explain the specifics of how to put it into practice. This section will contain lists of foods that you can and can’t eat on the program, the benefits of exercise, how to track your progress, measurements to take before you get started, and practical ways to prepare for your journey into health.

The only way to regain your health is to stop consuming the various poisons in your diet and start eating foods that are rich in all the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber your body requires. Only by eating plant foods can you ensure that your body will get all the nutrition it needs.

The McDougall Diet is based on unrefined starches – this means starches are the foods you will eat most. To this centerpiece you will add fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Simplicity has great value and makes the diet easy to prepare. There is no requirement for great variety to assure nutritional adequacy. The foods are complete long before they reach the table.

Starch Staples

The following starchy foods are high enough in calories that they can serve as the center of a meal:

Whole Grains

·                     barley

·                     oats

·                     brown rice

·                     quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”)

·                     buckwheat

·                     rye

·                     bulgur (cracked wheat)

·                     triticale

·                     couscous (refined wheat)

·                     wheat berries

·                     corn

·                     wild rice

·                     millet


Unrefined Flours

·                     barley

·                     rice

·                     buckwheat

·                     rye

·                     corn

·                     soy

·                     garbanzo beans

·                     triticale

·                     lima bean

·                     wheat

·                     oat

·                     whole wheat pastry

·                     potato


Egg-Free Pastas

Pastas come in many shapes including spaghetti, macaroni, lasagna noodles, flat noodles, spirals, wheels, alphabet noodles. Most of these are made from highly refined flours and therefore should play a small role in your diet.

·                     artichoke pasta

·                     tomato pasta

·                     corn pasta (no wheat)

·                     whole wheat pasta

·                     spinach pasta

·                     rice pasta (no wheat)


Asian Noodles

Most of these are made from highly refined flours and therefore should play a small role in your diet.

·                     bean threads

·                     somen

·                     buckwheat soba

·                     udon

·                     rice noodles



·                     burdock

·                     sweet potatoes

·                     celeriac (celery root)

·                     tapioca

·                     Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke)

·                     taro root

·                     jicama

·                     water chestnuts

·                     parsnips

·                     white potatoes

·                     rutabaga

·                     yams

(Carrots, beets, turnips, daikon, and salsify are low in carbohydrates and calories and so are not considered starch staples.) 

Winter Squashes

·                     butternut

·                     acorn

·                     Hubbard

·                     banana

·                     pumpkin

·                     buttercup

·                     turban squash

(Summer squashes usually cannot serve as the center of a meal because of their low calorie content. They are also lower in carbohydrates than winter squashes.)




·                     aduki (azuki)

·                     red kidney

·                     black

·                     mung

·                     fava (broad)

·                     navy

·                     garbanzo (chick-peas)

·                     pink

·                     great northern

·                     pinto

·                     limas

·                     white kidney (cannellini)

(Soybeans cannot be considered a starch staple because they are too high in fat to be allowed on the diet regularily.)


·                     brown

·                     red

·                     green



·                     black-eyed

·                     split yellow

·                     split green

·                     whole green


Fruits and Vegetables

Green and yellow vegetables are too low in calories to serve as the centerpiece of your meals, but can be added without restriction. Fruits – because they are high in simple sugars – should generally be limited to 3 servings a day as they’re tasty and easy to over-consume. The sugar in fruit is fructose which, for some, causes triglycerides and cholesterol to rise. People with these concerns should limit fruits even more.

Familiar Fruits and Vegetables are too numerous to list. Try adding some of these unfamiliar ones for variety.


·                     carambola

·                     papaya

·                     cherimoya

·                     persimmon

·                     guava

·                     pomegranate

·                     kiwifruit

·                     passion fruit

·                     kumquat

·                     pummelo

·                     loquat

·                     quince

·                     lychee

·                     soursop

·                     mango


·                     aduki beans

·                     jicama

·                     arugula

·                     kale

·                     bok choy

·                     kohlrabi

·                     broccoli de rabe

·                     radicchio

·                     burdock

·                     salsify

·                     celeriac (celery root)

·                     sprouts (alfalfa, lentil, mung bean, wheat)

·                     chicory (curly endive)

·                     Swiss chard

·                     cocozelle

·                     taro root

·                     collard greens

·                     turban squash

·                     daikon

·                     water chestnuts

·                     endive

·                     watercress

·                     garbanzo beans (chick-peas)

·                     Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke)

Foods Not Allowed

The following is a list of the foods that are not allowed on the McDougall Program, with ideas for possible substitutions.

Don’t Eat:

Possible substitutes:

Cow’s Milk (for cereal or cooking)

Lowfat soy milk, rice milk, fruit juice, water, use extra when cooking hot cereal or pour over cold cereal

Cow’s Milk (as beverage)

None; drink water, juice, herb tea, or cereal beverages




None; after 12 days you may substitute soy- and nut-based cheeses

Cottage cheese

None; after 12 days you may substitute crumbled tofu



Sour cream


Ice cream

Pure fruit sorbet, frozen juice bars; after 12 days you may substitute Lite Tofutti

Eggs (in cooking)

Ener-G Egg Replacer

Eggs (for eating)


Meat, poultry, fish

Starchy vegetables, whole grains, pastas, and beans; after 12 days you may substitute tofu “meat” recipes


Tofu mayonnaise

Vegetable oils (for pans)

None; use Teflon, Silverstone, or silicone-coated (Baker’s Secret) pots and pans

Vegetable oils (in recipes)

None; omit oil or replace with water, mashed banana, or applesauce for moisture

White rice (refined)

Whole grain (brown) rice or other whole grains

White flour (refined)

Whole grain flours

Refined and sugar-coated cereals

Any acceptable hot or cold cereal




Carob powder

Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and black teas

Non-caffeinated herb tea, cereal beverages, hot water with lemon

Colas and un-colas

Mineral water or seltzer (flavored or plain)

Achieve 100% Health with Exercise

Although dietary changes will take you a long way to being completely healthy, you’ll need some exercise to improve your fitness and sense of wellbeing. Something as simple as a daily walk can do wonders. Exercise helps you maintain a normal appetite, gives you energy, helps you sleep, improves circulation, digestion, blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglyceride levels… the list goes on. Changing your diet will help improve your health immensely, but a little exercise can take it to the next level.

Track Your Progress

I recommend keeping a detailed record – meals, exercise regimen, physical status (including symptoms that have disappeared), mental status, test results and medications – in order to track your progress. Take as many body measurements as you can on the first day of the program, and then take those same measurements again on the last day.

Whenever possible, track at least the following basics: your weight, your blood pressure and blood test results, including the five measures below, plus any additional recommendations from your doctor.

·                     Cholesterol: If your level is above 180 mg/dl, you should consider it a warning sign of potential circulatory problems. Ideal is below 150 mg/dl. Sometimes results are broken down into HDL [“good”] and LDL [“bad”] cholesterol levels, but I feel total cholesterol is the most significant.

·                     Triglycerides: This measures the amount of fats floating in your blood. Your level will likely be between 50 and 200 mg/dl. Higher levels indicate “sludge” in your blood, cause resistance to insulin activity, and are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

·                     Glucose (blood sugar) level: Normal fasting level is between 70 and 100 mg/dl. Higher levels indicate prediabetes or diabetes.

·                     BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen): This level reflects the amount of protein you eat and the function of your kidneys. Normal is less than 15 mg/dl.

·                     Uric acid level: Normal is less than 7 mg/dl. A higher figure indicates a risk of developing gout and/or kidney stones.

10 Day Meal Plan & Recipes

Starches are the Key to Discovering Health

The secret of the McDougall Program is to make starches the centerpiece of your diet with various fruits and vegetables added to the mix. To make these meals taste great, just add your favorite sauces and seasonings. There are over 2,000 recipes in the McDougall books, newsletters and website; finding new favorites will be an adventure!

Below is a sample 10-day meal plan with recipes. You do not have to follow it exactly; use it as a guide. Unless they contain higher-fat ingredients (avocado, nut butters, etc.) when you find favorite meals, feel free to repeat them as often as you like.

Download the Free 10-Day Meal Plan Recipes

Download the Free 10-Day Meal Plan Grocery Lists

Download the Free Weekly Menu Planner

Canned and Packaged Foods

Below is our updated list of Canned and Packaged Foods that can be used on the McDougall Program. Criteria include no animal products, limited soy protein, little or no added oils, and a minimum of additives and refining. The list is far from complete; we invite you to offer suggestions for future updates and check back periodically for new additions.

Products listed under Rich, Higher Sugar and Higher Fat Foods should be used sparingly, if at all.

Low Fat Foods

·                     Cold Cereals

·                     Hot Cereals

·                     Milk Alternatives

·                     Hot Drinks

·                     Soy Sauces

·                     Salad Dressings

·                     Other Sauces

·                     Seasoning Mixes

·                     Dry Soup Mixes

·                     Canned Soups

·                     Dry Packaged Grains and Pastas

·                     Bean & Veggie Dishes (frozen or refrigerated)

·                     Frozen Potatoes

·                     Canned & Bottled Beans & Vegetables

·                     Dips, Bean Dips, Salsas, Spreads

·                     Spaghetti Sauces

·                     Canned Tomato Products

·                     Breads

·                     Pastas

·                     Pretzels

·                     Crackers

·                     Rice and Corn Cakes

·                     Chips and Snacks

·                     Popcorn

·                     Baking Ingredients

Rich, Higher Simple Sugar Foods

·                     BBQ Sauces & Catsup

·                     Canned Fruit

·                     Jellies, Jams & Syrups

·                     Breakfast Bars & Cookies

·                     Puddings

·                     Ice Desserts

Rich, Higher Fat Foods

·                     Meat Substitutes (Rich)

·                     Breakfast Bars & Cookies

·                     Dairy Substitutes

·                     Higher Fat Desserts

·                     Milk Substitutes (Rich)