The Shangri-La Diet
The Shangri-La Diet: What It Is
Advertised as the ''no
hunger, eat anything
weight loss plan,'' The Shangri-La Diet proposes to curb your
appetite and lower your body's ''set point'' (the
weight at which it naturally wants to settle) with concoctions of sugar
water or extra-light olive oil consumed between meals.
The Shangri-La Diet acknowledges how difficult it is to lose weight
using the typical formula of eating less and exercising more. Anyone who has
ever been on a restrictive diet knows that feeling hungry all the time is what
ultimately makes diets fail.
The Shangri-La Diet author Seth Roberts, PhD, a professor of
psychology, theorizes that you can teach yourself to want less food by
regulating your body's set point.
The diet is based on the premise of taste association. His theory: If you
eat a variety of familiar foods that are rich in flavor, the brain stimulates
hunger, raising the set point and causing
weight gain. But if you consume foods with little taste, or that taste
unfamiliar, the brain thinks the body must be starving (why else would one eat
tasteless food?), thus lowering the set point and causing weight loss.
The "better food tastes, the more fattening it is,'' Roberts says.
The Shangri-La Diet: What You Can Eat
Dieters can eat whatever foods they like, but are advised to stay away from
processed foods, refined grains, and foods containing high-fructose corn syrup,
and to choose more wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains,
and foods high in fiber.
The key to The Shangri-La Diet, according to Roberts, is to have 1-3
tablespoons of fructose water and/or 1-2 tablespoons of extra-light olive oil
twice daily between meals. Roberts says sugar water and oil provide calories
but little taste, which teaches your body to stop associating taste with
calories. So you'll want less of whatever foods you're eating.
''Most [people on The Shangri-La Diet] eat two small meals per day
plus 2-4 tablespoons of the liquid, depending on their weight and effect on
appetite,'' says Roberts.
For an extra set point-lowering boost, eat foods with unfamiliar
''Change the flavor of a food using different spices, or making a tiny
alteration so that there is an unfamiliar association with the food, and that
will lower the set point,'' says Roberts.
''Foods you eat raise your set point only when they are familiar foods,"
he says. "If you skip meals or eat flavorless or unfamiliar foods, the set
point is lowered.''
The Shangri-La Diet: How It Works
Historically, the set point has been viewed as a relatively fixed number,
not easily changed. But Roberts disagrees.
''Feedback regulation from food that you eat is capable of changing the set
point," he says.
Roberts tested his theory on himself. He drank a couple hundred flavorless
calories every day and almost instantly, he says, he lost his hunger and began
eating only one meal every other day. He says he exercised and felt great while
losing 35 pounds over 3 months. He has kept the weight off for 5 years.
''People who are on the diet are less hungry, have fewer cravings, and their
food choices change, with a preference for healthier foods,'' says Roberts.