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Authors: JJ Virgin

The Virgin Diet

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PRAISE FOR
THE VIRGIN DIET

“You must read this book if you think you’re doing everything right and still struggling to lose weight!”

—Suzanne Somers, bestselling author of 23 books, including
Bombshell

“Eliminates the ‘healthy’ foods that are actually holding your health hostage, so you can lose weight quickly and permanently.”

—Mark Hyman, MD,
author of the #1
New York Times
bestseller,
The Blood Sugar Solution

“A foolproof, science-based plan to lose weight, boost your metabolism and reclaim your health, for life.”

—Daniel G. Amen, MD,
author of
Change Your Brain, Change Your Body

“In this book, JJ reveals one of the primary reasons why people are doing everything ‘right’ but still not losing weight. Her tell-it-like-it-is attitude is refreshing, clear and informative. I highly recommend
The Virgin Diet
for anyone who has ever struggled with their weight and knows there has to be a better way. That way is illuminated in this book!”

—Cynthia Pasquella, CCN,
creator of SoCal Cleanse and bestselling author of
PINK Method

“Food sensitivity is a hidden epidemic—this eye-opening book will change the way you think of food so you can lose weight for good.”

—Frank Lipman, MD,
author of
Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again


The Virgin Diet
demystifies food sensitivities while offering the reader a fantastic plan that will help them to lose weight and feel great.”

—Mike Dow, PhD,
author of
Diet Rehab

“JJ’s Virgin Diet offers the ultimate plan to slim down, boost energy and feel your very best, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or omnivore!”

—Alex Jamieson,
author of
The Great American Detox Diet

“JJ Virgin is the real deal! She debunks the diet myths and gives you a program that really works!”

—Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS,
aka “The Rogue Nutritionist,” bestselling author of
The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth
and
The Great Cholesterol Myth

“Having personally and professionally known JJ Virgin, I can promise you that this book is just like she is–a no-nonsense, get-down-to-it, take-no-prisoners kind of book.
The Virgin Diet
provides the exact game plan you need to finally beat the exhausting game of weight-loss resistance. This book is sure to shake up the diet world and put soy, wheat and dairy (and a few others) on notice! Well-researched and filled with case studies of people who have lived this diet, my prediction is
The Virgin Diet
will become a classic.”

—Leanne Ely, ONC
New York Times
bestselling author from SavingDinner.com

THE VIRGIN DIET
DROP 7 FOODS, LOSE 7 POUNDS, JUST 7 DAYS
JJ VIRGIN,
CNS, CHFS

This book is dedicated to frustrated dieters everywhere who have been diligently eating those “healthy foods” and figuring that they were just doomed to be overweight. May this book set you free.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

So much synchronicity went into the development of this book!

First, I want to thank the amazing science team at Metametrix Clinical Laboratory who helped me realize the impact of low-grade food reactions. I was so fortunate to be able to educate doctors throughout the country on how food sensitivities could be causing a myriad of health issues and then see the side effect that pulling these foods out had on their patients’ health: rapid weight loss! I kept seeing the same food reactions coming up over and over again, along with the same benefits, which helped me realize that this was a powerful weight-loss tool!

I want to shout out to Chef Leanne Ely, who tracked me down on Twitter. When I told her about how I pulled people off these foods but couldn’t find good recipes for them, she jumped right in and developed them, proving deliciously that cooking and eating this way could be done!

To my pals at Discovery, TLC and Shed Media, it was a blast working with you on
Freaky Eaters,
and I am thrilled to be a part of
Transformation Diaries.
Dr. Mike Dow, I hope we get to be the dream team again sometime soon, and thanks for the amazing hookup to Celeste Fine! Andrew Strauser, you are my casting angel—I so appreciate your continuing to find these amazing opportunities for me. And to my manager, Greg Horangic, thank you for making the deals happen!

To my brilliant literary agent, Celeste Fine, you convinced me that this was the book and made it all happen, from hooking me up with my incredible writing partner, Rachel Kranz, to bringing me to the team at Harlequin, who I fell in love with from the moment I walked in the door. I felt like I had come home! I feel so fortunate to be working with my amazing editor, Sarah Pelz, and the whole team at Harlequin has been incredible. I am so honored that you chose me.

Big kudos to my publicist extraordinaire, Barbara Teszler, for helping me get the message out to millions. You are the pitch genius. Mike Danielson at Media Relations, you are brilliant with your connections and ideas. And Jason Boehm, thanks for stalking me—what did I do before you? You are not only my social media genius but also my second set of eyes into all that is going on in our world. To my attorney, Darryl Sheetz, thanks for always having my back and keeping me safe out there in the business world!

I am supported everyday by an incredible team at www.jjvirgin.com. Susan Tafralis, you are my rock and my number-one support system; I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks to Mary Ann Guillory, who keeps me in line with my shoe habit and makes sure the money is flowing in the right direction; to Traci Knoppe, who handles all things technical; Patsy Wallace and Jason Boehm, my rock star health coaches; and Julia Zaslow, who is an absolute genius in marketing and strategy.

Another big shout-out to all of those who help me continue to nurture my business, including my current business coach, the amazing Brendon Burchard. I feel so blessed to be working with you. Dr. Daniel Amen, you are my role model and so genuine and generous— I adore you. And thanks to Ali Brown for opening my eyes to the power of the online world as my first real business coach and one of my dearest friends. Thanks also to Lisa Sasevich for teaching me how to
package and position my work so people will take action. To my sweet friend Marcelle Pick of Women to Women, your work on stress and food sensitivities was so helpful in putting this book together. Kaayla Daniel, thanks for jumping in at the 11
th
hour with brilliant information. Suzanne Somers, of course I have to include you here, as your courageous work continues to pave the way for all of us. To all of my amazing and courageous pals in the integrative health field who are getting the word out there and taking the bullets for “going against the grain,” you are all such inspiration and support for me.

To Jackie and Habib Wicks at PEERtrainer, I love you guys and am looking forward to carrying this message out to the world with you. Ditto Hooman “the great” Fakki of H2 Wellness and all of my pals at Thorne Research, especially Willie McCamy—we are just getting started, dudes!

And finally to my sons, Grant and Bryce: Thank you for your patience, support and love. You are ultimately why I am doing all of this. You are my “inspired why.” I feel so blessed to be your mom. John Virgin, thanks for being there to let me do what I needed to do to make it all happen. I so appreciate you. And to my mommy, I know you still aren’t totally sure about what I do (besides travel
a lot
), but don’t worry, I have a great boss who won’t be firing me anytime soon! Thanks for setting me up to be the strong, confident woman I am.

INTRODUCTION
How the Virgin Diet Can Change Your Life

Melanie was a 40-year-old brand manager who had been struggling with her weight for the past 15 years. She was the classic yo-yo dieter, always losing the same 10 pounds and then always gaining it back. Lately, though, she had started gaining back more than she lost, first an extra 15 pounds, then an extra 20. When she came to me, she was beyond frustrated—and not at all sure that I could help her.

“Look,” she told me during our first consultation, “I know what you’re going to say, but please don’t say it. I don’t binge. I do watch what I eat. I count every calorie I put into my mouth. Yes, I eat in restaurants occasionally, but I always have just a salad or maybe some broiled fish. I live on low-fat, low-carb foods, I never let myself have dessert, I exercise five times a week and I don’t even drink! But here I am, 20 pounds overweight, bursting out of my clothes and my skin is breaking out. I’m just a mess.”

“Okay,” I said, thinking that Melanie was just the kind of client I love to work with. Like me, she was a no-nonsense gal who didn’t waste time, and I knew she would respond well to my particular brand of “tough love—with love.”

“Just answer three questions,” I said. “First, do you drink milk or eat yogurt?”

“Every day,” she said proudly. “Nonfat only, of course.”

“What about eggs, including egg whites? Ever have those in your diet?”

“Every day,” she repeated.

“And soy—tofu, soy sauce, edamame—is that something you eat as well?”

“Every day,” she said a third time, awaiting her gold star.

“Okay, so here’s the problem, Melanie. A lot of these so-called healthy foods are actually not good for you. And believe it or not, they can cause you to gain weight.”

We were having a phone consultation, so I couldn’t see Melanie’s face, but I could imagine her surprise because I’ve seen it on the faces of thousands of people I’ve worked with—the weight-loss clients I advise, the health care professionals I speak to, the physicians I help to educate about diet and nutrition. Sometimes I think it’s America’s best kept secret:
Supposedly healthy foods can actually cause you to gain weight.

“The problem,” I explained to Melanie, “is a condition known as food intolerance.”

“Wait a minute,” Melanie said, interrupting me. “Are you telling me I’m allergic to food?”

Even though Melanie couldn’t see me, I shook my head. “Food allergies are a very specific condition. They’re one type of immune system response—usually very fast and very intense. Food intolerance is usually slower and more subtle. It’s an umbrella term that covers a lot of different ways that your body might have trouble digesting food.”

I explained to Melanie that sometimes
food intolerance
(FI) is a pre-existing condition. You might have been born intolerant to certain foods, such as dairy products or gluten—a protein found in many grains, breads, pastas and baked goods, as well as in many processed and prepared foods. Or you might have developed food intolerance later in your life. Sometimes it’s set off by stress, which disrupts your body’s functioning in several different ways. You might have developed food intolerance from
eating too much of the same food every day. If this is a food that your body is reacting to, it can lead to a buildup of immune complexes that set off a myriad of symptoms. Food intolerance might result from many other causes, including a condition known as leaky gut, which itself can be set off by infection, antibiotics, radiation, heavy metals and a host of other causes, including, again, stress. (We’ll look more at the causes of food intolerance in
Chapter 1
.)

In some cases, food intolerance is permanent. There may just be some foods that will present you with lifelong problems. Fortunately, in many cases, food intolerance can be overcome. If you stay away from a food long enough and repair your system with healing foods and supplements, you might be able to tolerate the problematic food later on.

“So,” I told Melanie, “if food intolerance is
your
problem—and it certainly sounds as though it might be—there is a quick, simple solution. All you have to do is drop the top 7
high-FI foods
—the 7 foods most likely to cause food intolerance. In 7 days, you can lose up to 7 pounds and look years younger. What do you say?”

Melanie might have been surprised, but she didn’t let it slow her down. “Absolutely,” she said, as quickly as I’d thought she might. “Let’s get started.”

FOOD INTOLERANCE: THE HIDDEN CAUSE OF WEIGHT GAIN

If you wanted to be your skinniest self and follow the healthiest diet in the world, what would you eat? Egg-white veggie omelets? Greek-style nonfat yogurt? Low-calorie whey protein shakes? A soy-based veggie burger on a whole-grain bun?

That sounds like the regimen that famous trainers and A-list stars follow, doesn’t it? But what if I told you that I’ve been a sought-after fitness and nutrition expert for over 2 decades and worked with thousands of clients, including some of Hollywood’s hottest bodies? And what if I told you what I told them, which is that many of these supposedly healthy foods could actually be making you fat?

Well, that’s exactly what I am going to tell you. So listen up, because I’m about to share with you the secret to weight loss.

It isn’t calories.

It isn’t fat.

It isn’t protein.

It isn’t even carbs.

Sure, those things can be important. But you can count them, cut them, skinny them and swap them all you want, and you won’t lose weight if you’re eating foods that your body can’t handle.

The key to weight loss is avoiding and overcoming food intolerance.

Food intolerance is a series of physiological responses that your body has to certain types of food. They aren’t the same as allergies. Most people test negative for food allergies, but most people have at least one type of food intolerance, and many have several.

You won’t lose weight if you’re eating foods that your body can’t handle.

Food-intolerance symptoms vary from person to person, but the most common include bloating, gas, indigestion, fatigue, mental fog, irritability, moodiness—and weight gain. If you’re eating foods that your body can’t tolerate, you’re likely to gain weight, feel crummy and look years older than your actual age.

Most people ignore their bodies’ responses to the foods they eat, or maybe they search for ways to mask the symptoms. But weight gain,
bloating and fatigue are not just annoying facts of life. They are your body’s way of telling you that you’re eating foods that aren’t working for you. Until you get rid of the foods that your body can’t handle, load up on healing foods and supplements and give your body a chance to recover from what you’ve unknowingly put it through, you are likely to gain weight, retain weight and suffer from premature aging. Not a pretty picture.

Maybe your body is stressed because of your daily diet’s high content of sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed foods, which tend to contain lots of high-FI soy, corn and gluten. Or perhaps you’ve maintained a seemingly healthy natural, low-fat and low-carb regime but have never realized that all of your healthy efforts are being sabotaged by high-FI yogurt (even nonfat), eggs (even omega-3–rich) and grains (even whole). Either way, if you weigh more than you’d like and look older than you’d prefer, you are most likely struggling with food intolerances.

How can you tell? Let me ask you what I ask my clients:

  • Have you tried unsuccessfully to lose weight?
  • Is what you used to do to lose weight no longer working?
  • Are you a yo-yo dieter?
  • Do you frequently experience discomfort after eating, such as bloating, gas or indigestion?
  • Can you only lose weight by starving yourself or exercising like a maniac—or possibly not even then?
  • Are you feeling and looking older than you should?

If the answer to even one of these questions is yes, you’ve likely been eating too many
high-FI foods:
problem foods that are likely to trigger food intolerance. What’s the solution? Stop eating high-FI foods and replace them with
low-FI foods:
foods that are unlikely to trigger food intolerance. If you can cut out the top 7 high-FI foods for just 3 weeks,
you’ll see weight loss and beauty results that will have you looking and feeling terrific.

Hey, if those old low-fat, low-carb or high-protein diets had worked for you in the past, you’d already be at your ideal weight and peak vitality, right? There’s a reason that approach to food doesn’t work—and there’s a reason that the Virgin Diet does.

YOUR FAT IS NOT YOUR FAULT

I often joke that most of my clients are allergic to diets. And in a way, they are, because most of the foods that people eat when they diet—egg whites, nonfat yogurt, tofu—can set off food intolerance that keeps the weight on, even when you cut the calories.

The “allergic” part is my joke, because food intolerance and food allergies are not actually the same thing. However, they are very closely related. They’re both responses to an apparently harmless or maybe even a healthy food that can involve one or more of your body’s systems, including your digestive system and your immune system. High-FI foods not only make you feel tired, unfocused and moody, but they’re also the hidden cause of weight gain, weight-loss resistance and premature aging.

The good news here is that your fat is not your fault. It’s your body’s way of responding to the foods it can’t handle—foods you may have been eating precisely because you thought they were good for you!

Luckily, there is a solution: the three-week Virgin Diet solution. For just 21 days:

  • Stop eating the 7 major high-FI foods.
  • Focus on low-FI foods that will give your digestive system a break.
  • Load up with healing foods and healing supplements to repair the damage.

Right away, you’ll lose the bloat, finally start losing weight and look years younger. You’ll look and feel so terrific that you might even make some lifelong changes in your diet.

THE TOP 7 HIGH-FI FOODS

Gluten

Soy

Dairy

Eggs

Corn

Peanuts

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

HOW ELIMINATING HIGH-FI FOODS FIGHTS THE POUNDS—AND THE YEARS

Food intolerance isn’t a fixed condition; it’s more like a dynamic response. Foods that you were able to tolerate a few years ago might be problematic for you now. If you clean high-FI foods out of your system and take some other healing steps—all of which I’ll walk you through—then you may eventually be able to eat foods that are causing problems for you now.

The first step, though, is to get those high-FI foods out of your system and give your body a chance to chill out. After a 21-day break, I’ll have you add some of the healthier high-FI foods back into your diet, and we’ll
find out if you can tolerate them. If you can’t handle them right away, you may be able to in 3 months, or 6 months or perhaps a year. But before we can add them back in, we have to take them out.

A lot of my clients are skeptical about this elimination process, at least at first. They just can’t believe that such apparently healthy foods as yogurt, whole grains and edamame are causing such severe problems, especially when they don’t cause any noticeable ill effects after eating them. That’s because food intolerance is such a subtle reaction. Allergies are swifter and more dramatic. A peanut allergy can strike after one tiny bite of peanut. Your throat closes up, you can hardly breathe and the conclusion is pretty clear: stay away from peanuts.

Food intolerance is sneakier. If you enjoy a delicious bowl of nonfat yogurt and berries today and break out in acne 2 days later, you’re unlikely to make the connection—but I’m betting that it’s there. (See
Chapter 5
for more information on the strong link between dairy and acne.) Likewise, if you have some whole-grain cereal this morning, you might not even realize that it’s the cause of your fitful sleep tonight. You probably
won’t
realize it until you eliminate gluten for a few weeks and start sleeping like a baby.

Like I said, high-FI foods are sneaky. They work slowly, subtly and after long delays. The only way to find out how they’re affecting you is to cut them out for at least 21 days. If your skin clears up, your hair perks up and your energy levels rise, maybe we’re onto something here. And if you drop up to 7 pounds in 7 days, I think you might say that we’ve figured out your problem.

Allergy specialists are quite familiar with elimination diets: food regimens in which a possibly offending food is removed from your diet and then gradually reintroduced a few weeks later. If you can introduce the problem food easily, then you either weren’t allergic to it or you’ve gotten past the allergy. If reintroduction causes symptoms to flare
up, then you’ve found a food that your body can’t handle, at least not right now.

The Virgin Diet works the same way. We take out the foods that might be causing you problems. We will then reintroduce some high-FI foods—eggs, dairy, soy and gluten—back into your diet. If you tolerate them well, terrific! If you show symptoms, out they go. You can give them another try in 3, 6 or 12 months when your system has had more time to heal and recover. I am going to encourage you to keep the sugar, artificial sweeteners, corn and peanuts out of your diet for the long haul (or at least 95 percent of the time), but let’s deal with that once you recognize how amazing you feel without them! Right now, just focus on the fact that this is only for 21 days. And you can do just about anything for 21 days.

You can do just about anything for 21 days.

For our first step, the key is to avoid moderation. We need literally zero quantities of gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, sugar and artificial sweeteners. That’s the only way to stop stressing your system.

What are the benefits of temporarily eliminating high-FI foods?

  1. Relief of symptoms.
    Many of my clients never even realized they had symptoms until they cut out the high-FI foods. Perhaps your “normal” is to feel exhausted, stressed out, cranky and hungry, and you think it’s because you’re scrambling to meet deadlines, stressing over your parents and fighting with your boyfriend. Maybe…or maybe your life feels so out of control because high-FI foods are undermining your ability to sleep deeply, concentrate well and handle difficulties with good, calm energy. I’m betting that cutting out the high-FI foods will bring you to a whole new normal: energized, cheerful, calm and satisfied. If dropping high-FI foods made you feel that good,
    would you do it? What if you could finally lose that extra weight and look 10 years younger as well?
  2. Rapid weight loss and antiaging benefits.
    Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms, high-FI foods are almost certainly behind your struggles with weight loss. And if you feel that you’re looking older and more tired than you’d like, there’s a strong possibility that high-FI foods are the culprit. Drop the high-FI foods, drop up to 7 pounds in 7 days and look years younger. That’s my promise, and I can’t wait for you to take me up on it.

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