The Weigh Down Diet

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on February 18, 2021

The Promise

Have you ever thought of leaning into your religious faith to help you lose weight? While definitely not your typical diet book, The Weigh Down Diet’s concept is that you can change your relationship with food by strengthening your relationship with God.

Author and registered dietitian Gwen Shamblin says the program’s focus is simple: Eat when you're hungry. When you need to feed your soul, reach out to God, not into your snack pantry. If you can recognize the difference between emotional eating and physical hunger, you’ll reach your goals.

The Weigh Down Diet does not call out one faith or denomination to find success (although it does reference the Bible). You only need to believe in some higher power to completely follow the plan.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

The Weigh Down Diet is about how much you eat, and not about foods you must eat or avoid.

Listen to your body, notice when you're full, and stop eating. Those concepts apply regardless of faith.

To find out what hunger feels like, The Weigh Down Diet recommends that you don't eat anything until your stomach grumbles. Then eat something you love, even if it contains salt, sugar, or fat. You’re encouraged to eat regular food, rather than diet food. Experiment first by cutting your normal portion in half.

Eat slowly, concentrating on flavors and textures, and learn to stop when you start to feel full; don't wait until you're stuffed. Wait until you feel hungry to eat again.

The book suggests eating your favorite foods first, because you may feel full at any time. If you fill up on less favorable foods to start, you may feel compelled to keep eating to taste what you really love. Keep in mind, though, that if your favorites aren't good for you, you may not meet your nutritional needs.

Alcoholic beverages are permitted in moderation.

Level of Effort: Medium

Your effort will be focused on changing your relationship with food and establishing a sense of whether your body feels hungry or full.

Limitations: You can eat the foods you love, so you're not going to be making big sacrifices here.

Cooking and shopping: You should be able to shop and cook normally.

Packaged foods or meals: None.

In-person meetings: None.

Exercise: Not required. The book recommends that you stop exercising specifically to burn off what you've eaten or to give yourself permission to eat more. Physical activity is fine if you enjoy it.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

As long as you eat only when your body signals that you're hungry, you can use this plan even if your diet is:

  • Vegetarian or vegan
  • Low-salt
  • Low-fat
  • Gluten-free

What Else You Should Know

Cost: There is a 6-week online class called “Weigh Down Basics”. The cost is $69.99. There are different membership options, including "Weigh Down TV" for $19.99 per month or $234.99 per year. 

Support: Weigh Down Workshop seminars, workbooks and audio files are available through your subscription on the Weigh Down website. If you sign up, you can chat online with people who watch the videos when you do, giving you a sense of community. Your class coordinator will contact you weekly throughout the seminar to check on your progress. You can also call Weigh Down Ministries to speak with someone who can provide counseling or encouragement.

What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:

Does It Work?

Though there has been no research done on The Weigh Down Diet, the plan uses some strategies that have been proven to help people lose weight and keep it off.

For example, tips such as “listen to your body,” “concentrate on flavors and textures,” and “eat slowly” help change behaviors that can lead to overeating.

The diet plan tells you to cut your portion size in half. This built-in portion control and reduced calories will also lead to weight loss.

But science may not back up the suggestion that eating your favorite foods first will help you put down your fork sooner. And if you are like most people, your favorite foods may not be the most nutritious.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

If you are overweight, then any weight loss may help cut your odds of getting heart disease and diabetes. The Weigh Down Diet doesn't limit the types of food you eat, so you will have to watch the fat and salt in your diet if you have been told to cut down on cholesterol, limit fat, or if you are on a low-salt diet.

If you have diabetes, then you have to talk to your doctor or dietitian to see what changes you have to make to your diabetes treatment plan before starting this diet.

Since exercise is such a large part of a healthy lifestyle, you should consider adding some into this plan.

The Final Word

You may find The Weigh Down Diet appealing if you have strong religious convictions and have been struggling with a weight problem.

The Weigh Down Diet allows you to cook and eat the foods that you are comfortable with. There’s no need to be an adventurous foodie. It also claims that you will be spending less at the grocery store because you will be buying and eating smaller meals.

If you are going to stay on this diet long term, then it is up to you to be sure that you are getting a balanced diet. A dietitian can help you with that.