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The Ultimate Diet

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Motivational speaker and author Louise Hay shares the “loving” way to attain great health and reach your ideal weight

Motivational speaker and author Louise Hay is still going strong at the age of 88. How does she do it? In a new book, Loving Yourself to Great Health, she teams up with her go-to natural health and nutrition experts Ahlea Khadro and Heather Dane to reveal her secrets: listening to your body and living a nutrient-rich life.

Without counting calories or grams of carbohydrates, the “loving” way of eating is designed to take health, mood, and energy to a new level—and helps you shed excess weight along the way. Best of all, it’s customized for you.

“If it grows, eat it; if it does not grow, don’t eat it.” —Louise Hay

Listening to Your Body

“We are all an experiment of one,” says Dane. “The best way to give your body what it needs is to listen to the signals your body is giving you.” Start by keeping a food diary and noting how you react to certain foods for two weeks, tracking your energy levels, moods, how well you sleep, any physical symptoms that improve or get worse, and whether or not your bowel movements are optimum.

Every few days, review your food diary, looking for patterns and noting any foods that may be triggers of symptoms. Once you identify foods that seem to be causing problems, eliminate one of these for one or two weeks. See how you feel and decide if you should be eating that food. Repeat the process with other problematic foods, one at a time.

This learning process enables you to develop the best diet for you, and weight loss, where needed, will be one of the results. There are also some basic principles: eating whole foods rather than processed ones, avoiding toxins, and harnessing some digestive remedies.

Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Hay and her team caution against eating these:
  • Refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.
  • MSG.
  • Genetically modified foods (GMOs).
  • Gluten, in many grains and as an additive in other foods.
  • Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) and refined fats.
  • Unfermented soy. Fermented soy foods include soy sauce, tamari, tempeh, natto, and miso, and should be organic.
  • Factory-farmed meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy.
  • Farmed fish. Opt for sustainable, wild varieties.
  • Processed food and chemical additives.

What to Eat

Most important, these nourishing foods are the cornerstones of the loving diet:

Whole Foods

Choose organic versions of fresh foods and try to prepare meals from scratch. In packaged foods, look for real-foods ingredients, most likely found in your local health food store. For meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy items, choose organic, grass-fed versions from animals raised humanely. Raw butter and ghee (clarified butter) are easily digested because they contain virtually no lactose or casein; other raw, organic, grass-fed dairy products are generally easier to digest than conventional ones. However, not everyone can tolerate dairy.

More Vegetables

Emphasize dark, leafy greens but eat all the colors of the rainbow. Tomatoes, red bell peppers, and corn can be problematic. Powdered greens supplements with wheatgrass, barley grass, oat grass, spirulina, and/or algae can boost your vegetable intake.

Herbs and Spices

An infinity of flavors and aromas can be created with fresh and dried herbs and spices. Experiment, discover your own favorites, and use them liberally in savory dishes and desserts.

“If you start to shift and change the food you eat, then it’s easier to grasp onto new, positive thoughts and make better choices in your life.” —Louise Hay

Natural Sweeteners

Unlike refined sugar, natural sources of sweetness are rich in nutrients. They include fruit, dates, raw honey, organic grade B maple syrup, and organic unsulphured blackstrap molasses. For zero-calorie sweeteners, try monk fruit, also called lo han. Or try stevia or monk fruit.


Aim for half your body weight in ounces: 70 ounces of water daily if you weigh 140 pounds, as an example. And never ignore thirst.

Proteins and Unrefined Fats

Good sources include organic, grass-fed, free-range meats, poultry, and eggs; unrefined extra-virgin coconut and olive oils; and seed and nut oils. Use animal fats and coconut oil for high-heat cooking, and
olive, avocado, macadamia nut, and sesame oils for light sautéing.

Grains, Nuts, and Seeds

If you eat grains, Hay and her colleagues recommend naturally gluten-free varieties, such as buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, and white basmati rice. And, incorporate nuts and seeds in meals.

Healing Broths

Vegetable soups puréed in a blender and bone broths are comforting foods packed with nutrients that reduce inflammation, aid digestion, improve immunity, and enhance moods. Drink them at least once daily (see Broth Recipe).

In addition, consider supplementing with CoQ10, vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, and the Ayurvedic tonic, triphala.

“Processed foods cannot build health no matter how beautiful the picture the manufacturer has put on the package.”—Louise Hay

Healthy “Fast Food” Dessert

For an instant, healthy treat, store some dates in the freezer. When you want a dessert, take out one date and eat it alone or with almond butter, tahini, a handful of nuts, or a little sea salt.

Controlling Cravings

Intensely sweet and salty tastes in processed foods provoke cravings for more of the same, but eating healthy, whole foods will gradually change your taste buds, and your body will want foods that are better for you—a little sweetness, for example, but not an overwhelming amount.

Foods and spices that help tame cravings include:

  • Sour foods, such as cultured vegetables
  • Bitter foods, such as dandelion greens, arugula, and supplements of digestive bitters
  • Cardamom for sweet cravings
  • Turmeric for salty cravings
  • Cloves and cinnamon for blood-sugar balance

Supplements include magnesium and, to address specific situations, one of these:

Mood-related cravings: L-tryptophan, an amino acid, starting with 500 mg daily and perhaps working up to 1,000 mg daily, depending upon your response.

Cravings related to stress, overwork, or overwhelm: GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter and has a calming effect on the nervous system. Try 100 to 500 mg daily.

Caffeine cravings or sagging energy or drive: L-tyrosine, an amino acid. Follow product directions.

Craving comfort food: DL-phenylalanine, an amino acid that the human body turns into a brain chemical that influences mood. Follow product directions. (Should be avoided by anyone with phenylketonuria, or PKU, a rare metabolic disorder.)

Evening cravings: 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan), a substance the human body makes from the amino acid tryptophan, can improve mood and sleep, and help reduce appetite. Try 50 mg daily. This supplement can cause drowsiness.

Usage Tips and Cautions: Try one of these at a time, not a combination, as some of their effects overlap. Mood-enhancing supplements are not recommended for anyone taking mood-altering drugs, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, or antipsychotics, without supervision by a holistic health practitioner who is trained in nutrition and pharmacology, as drug dosages may need to be adjusted.

Ways to Improve Digestion

Good digestion is an essential component of the loving diet, but heartburn, constipation, bloating, gas, and other digestive difficulties are all too common. Hay and her cohorts recommend:

  • Mineral baths: Have a warm, relaxing soak in a bath with ½ to 1 cup of Epsom salts, sea salt, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, or seaweed powder.
  • Digestive enzymes: With meals, take a supplement with a variety of enzymes.
  • Probiotics: Look for a variety of beneficial bacteria, without fillers.

Test Your Stomach Acid

Low levels of hydrochloric acid (HCL) impairs breakdown of food, which leads to digestive upsets. Test yourself this way: First thing in the morning, drink a mixture of 6 ounces of water and ¼ tsp. of baking soda. If you don’t belch within 5 minutes, you likely have low stomach acid. Any one of these can increase levels:

  • About 15 minutes before each meal, drink either half a fresh-squeezed lemon in 4 ounces of water, or 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water.
  • Digestive bitters: Take before meals, per product directions.
  • HCL supplements: Take after meals, per product directions. If you experience burning, take a smaller amount or work with a health practitioner.

Creative Bioscience Probiotics Prebiotics 1234 is formulated to assist in both digestion and weight loss with a blend of probiotics, fiber, and Garcinia cambogia.

Natural Factors Stress-Relax Pharma GABA has been shown in studies to increase the production of alpha brain waves and create a sense of physical relaxation.

Natural Vitality Natural Calm helps to restore healthy magnesium levels to combat stress and control cravings—just mix with water.

Solgar L-Tyrosine 500 mg is a highly bioavailable formula that may help to ward off caffeine cravings by boosting energy.

Source Naturals Serene Science 5-HTP can help to curb evening cravings by reducing appetite and improving mood and sleep.