Penny and Ralph in Control of Their Lives

Printer Friendly

Dr. McDougall's Comments

Modern medicine can provide many benefits, but it cannot heal the body from malnutrition caused by overnutrition.  Only you and I can do that.  I have been preaching this message for nearly 30 years now and I am always thrilled to see other doctors, like Penny’s friend, recommend that people make this simple change.

One of the most common questions I am asked is; why don’t other doctors practice diet-therapy? Here are a few things I have noticed:

1)  Diet-therapy is not paid for by insurance companies, so this makes it hard for doctors to have a financially successful practice—their family has to eat too.

2)  Diet-therapy is not a respected field of medical research or practice.  Revered scientists study genetics, biochemistry, virology and pharmacology.  Surgeons and specialists are considered next-to-God talented in their practices. After all, how smart do you have to be to tell someone to eat beans and rice to cure heart disease?

3) The patient adds an extra variable to medical care in diet-therapy—they have to perform the treatment.  With surgery all a doctor has to do is cut them open, and an Internist only has to have them swallow a pill.

4) You have to walk the talk.  A doctor prescribing a healthy diet and exercise must do both. Steak and cheesecake, and similar fare, are still served at every noontime hospital conference and Heart Association meeting.

5)  Diet-therapy is not “the community standard of practice.”  In a malpractice suit you are judged by this standard, and if you practice like other doctors, even if the patient dies, you are on the right side of the law.

6) Doctors never learn to make referrals to diet-therapy—they refer to the specialist, including the psychiatrist, but rarely the dietitian.

7) In medical school today, training students receive essentially no education on diet-therapy.

8)  A very few doctors may realize that diet-therapy is counterproductive—if the patients became well, they would no longer be patients.  Those running the pharmaceutical companies, however, do realize the danger of the public becoming aware of the true potential of diet vs. drugs—so they fund research and place advertisements that directly attack the truth.

The bottom line is to not expect help from your doctor on matters of chronic disease, but instead to learn about the benefits of a low-fat vegan diet, exercise, and clean habits and free yourself of the medical businesses.

Email this page to a friend or coworker


Use the blue buttons below to subscribe, unsubscribe or to change your e-mail address.

The events that began September 2004 were life-changing for me (Ralph).  While visiting our middle daughter and her husband in Indiana, I fell ill—I knew something was seriously wrong. After returning to California, the next day I sought out medical help. My doctor diagnosed me with atrial fibrillation—a heart problem where the top chambers of my heart (the atria) beat so rapidly and irregularly, they would appear like a bag full of worms.  I spent the night in our local hospital’s ICU Cardiac Unit where the cardiologist performed further testing to try to determine what was causing such an erratic, fast heartbeat.  No cause was found and fortunately, except for the rhythm, my heart was strong. 

Neither my wife, Penny, nor I, have our physicians on our regular payroll—in other words, we avoid seeing doctors, even though we work with doctors all day long at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Southern California.  At the time of my diagnosis, I was only taking medication for hypertension, and then with the atrial fibrillation, I was placed on additional medication—Cardia, Toprol, and Coumadin—I hate taking medicine (don’t we all).  This was the first serious illness of my entire life, even though my weight at this time had ballooned to over 300 pounds. 

From September 2004 through April 2005, I was cardioverted (a procedure that electrically shocked my heart) five times, and after each treatment, my heart returned to normal rhythm, but only for a short time.  Along the way, my cardiologist mentioned that it would be good for me to lose weight, not just for my health, but in the event that I would have to undergo cardiac ablation therapy—a 3 to 4 hour heart surgery with general anesthesia designed to put me into a normal rhythm; hopefully, permanently. 

After the 3rd cardioversion, in November 2004 Penny and I decided to get serious about our weight loss.  I needed to lose at least 100 pounds and she needed to lose 50 pounds or more. Over the past 35 years, we had gone on many different programs with the goal of looking “thin” and gaining optimum health.  We’ve joined Weight Watchers at least three separate times, tried Barry Sear’s Zone Diet, the South Beach Diet, Fat Flush Plan, and GI (Glycemic Index) diet —and for various reasons we never stuck with any of them, Our next serious attempt at weight loss was a program sponsored by the Loma Linda Center for Health Promotion called Optifast—a daily regimen of protein-powder drinks, supervised by doctors, nurses and dietitians.  We did lose weight quickly, but as Dr. McDougall would tell us later, this qualified as a “make you sick” program and the results are only temporary.

While on Optifast, one of the doctors Penny worked for in the Neuroradiology Department at Loma Linda University Medical Center loaned us an audio tape by Dr. McDougall. We then watched the videos. By this time we were totally convinced that we needed to make this lifestyle change…immediately and permanently!  The decision to take this path was very scary and the program at this point did not seem easy, but we dropped out of Optifast and we went fully on a low-fat, vegetarian diet.

Since then I have dropped over 80 pounds and am still losing. I have stayed in normal rhythm (no more cardioversions) for over 10 months now.  I no longer have hypertension and my cholesterol is the lowest it has ever been.  Many of my friends comment on how much my tennis has improved. I can now get to shots that before I would just have to applaud.

I (Penny) have been an athlete my entire life despite being overweight. (I’d hate to think of how heavy I would have become had I not been used to exercising on a daily basis.) I should have known better because my college degrees were in health, physical education, and recreation.  I have read many popular books on nutrition and always shared them with Ralph—we felt we knew what to do to stay healthy.  Yet we never found a true path for success…until now!

I played tournament tennis during my teenage years and had a junior national ranking.  Immediately after starting the McDougall program my tennis game improved with quickness in my footwork and increased endurance.  By August 2005, I had won 2 coveted bronze balls (awards) for singles and doubles at the Indoor National Tennis Tournament in Seattle.  This was the first time I had accomplished this in a singles tournament.  I like the competitiveness of the single matches, but I also love the teamwork of doubles. So far, I (Penny) have lost over 66 pounds and my health has improved greatly.

There are temptations every day and we do have cravings, because we love all kinds of food—fortunately, we also love our new healthy meals. For the most part we are satisfied, which was not the case with every other diet we have been on. We don’t feel deprived now.  Besides, we know that if we truly want something we can have it.  But we are able to resist most of the time because we see how far we have come with our improved health and weight loss.  We are a work in progress, always improving.  We now find it comical to watch people watch us eat at the cafeteria at the Medical Center. They can’t help staring at our plates.  But this just gives us another opportunity to spread the word about the McDougall Program. 


We encourage you to pass this Star McDougaller along to friends.

2006 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
McDougall Wellness Center   P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402