Jedi Mind Tricks: How to Get Loved Ones to Lose Weight

03.31.13 Darya and Kevin

Darya Pino Rose, PhD, and her dad, who transformed himself after years of resistance.

“Families are like fudge: mostly sweet with a few nuts.”

– Anonymous

“Language is a means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery.”

– Mark Amidon

Losing fat yourself is one thing. Readers of this blog have lost 100-200 pounds without too much trouble.

Getting your mom or dad to take you seriously? To stop eating white bread or drinking 64-ounce sodas? That can seem impossible.

Loved ones — whether family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, or otherwise — can be sensitive. The people who need help most often won’t accept it, especially from those closest to them.

So what to do?

This post gives a real-world example from Darya Pino Rose, PhD. I’ve known and followed Darya for years. Her PhD is in neuroscience from USCF, and she champions a whole-food-based approach to nutrition that avoids pills and powders. This combination produces fascinating results.

The below story, from her new book Foodist, shows exactly how she transformed her dad’s health without butting heads with him… and how you can do the same for your loved ones.

Do you have any tricks that have worked with your family or friends? Please share in the comments!

Note: For the purposes of this post, a “foodist” is someone who uses real food and real science to lose weight permanently.


Enter Darya

Eating like a “foodist” does not doom you to being ostracized from your friends and family. This post will teach you how to lightheartedly deflect your critics and gently nudge (but not annoy) those loved ones you hope will adopt better eating habits.

This is tricky business, but it can be done.

How To Win Over Friends and Influence Family

It’s hard to see loved ones suffer as a result of their eating habits. Traditional whole foods have been out of fashion for so long that many of our parents and sometimes even our grandparents are completely unaware of the negative health effects caused by the foods they grew up loving. As they age, however, these habits start to take their toll, and we must watch as their health deteriorates. A medical emergency that brings them face-to-face with reality is sometimes what it takes for them to make changes. Other times even that isn’t enough.

Unfortunately, changing the habits of another person is even more difficult than changing your own. Stubbornness, pride, and ignorance can prevent people from even listening to advice that could save their lives, and for whatever reason age tends to compound these particular traits. Pushing a message that people don’t want to hear can cause them to dig in and fight even harder to preserve their way of life, straining and potentially destroying your relationship with them. When dealing with someone like this, it’s first essential to accept the fact that there may be nothing you can do for him or her. No matter how badly you may desire to help, a person has to want to change and cannot be forced.

But still, change can happen. Despite my close relationship with my father and his enthusiasm about my career path, I didn’t expect him to ever alter the way he ate. My dad had suffered from depression since I was in high school, and his outlook got even worse after my mother passed away in a car accident in 2003. Like most people, he had developed the habit of eating processed and fast foods starting in the early 1990s, and as his depression grew deeper, the effort he put into feeding and taking care of himself waned.

“In general, I did not want to continue living and didn’t think I would. With all the health problems I was having, and especially after your mom died—that was a really hard thing for me to deal with—and I thought it would be better if I was gone too,” he told me.

After a series of serious medical emergencies that nearly took his life on three occasions, I had nearly given up hoping for a turnaround, even though he was only in his fifties. But I continued to love him and share my passion for seasonal food whenever possible.

“You were so understanding, you never put any pressure on me or tried to convince me to change, but you always gave me hope that things would get better, things would be better,” he recalled.

From my perspective he had gone through enough and didn’t need me or anyone else telling him how to live out his life. If he didn’t want to live, I didn’t want to bug him about his blood pressure or eating habits. I just wanted to have as many happy and positive times with him as possible until whatever happened happened, and the last thing I wanted was to strain our relationship unnecessarily. I know my dad, and he is not one to do anything just because someone else, even me, thinks he should. Still my excitement about food and health was genuine, and I knew he had always been a fan of a good meal, so I continued to share what I was learning.

My cooking was the first thing that caught his attention. I made a point whenever visiting home in southern California to stop by the San Francisco farmers market before getting on the plane and bringing back something delicious. On one summer trip I brought home a small bag of padrón peppers, some good olive oil, and a crusty baguette. Padróns are small green peppers that are a common tapas dish in Spain and a seasonal delicacy for foodists in San Francisco. They are incredibly simple to prepare. All you have to do is heat some olive oil in a cast-iron pan and cook the peppers over medium heat until they blister and just start to brown. When they’re done, sprinkle them with some coarse sea salt and eat them with your fingers. Padróns have a deep pepper flavor, but are not usually spicy—except when they are. One out of every ten peppers is incredibly hot, so eating a bowl is a bit like playing Russian roulette with your tongue.

My dad has always been a fan of spicy foods, and I knew that padróns would be right up his alley. At his house I cooked them with a little more olive oil than usual, because it becomes infused with the oil from the peppers and tastes delicious. We used the bread to sop up the extra pepper oil and cool our mouths when we got burned on the spicy ones. My dad loved every bit of it and quietly started paying more attention whenever I mentioned food.

His next great epiphany was beets [ubersimple recipe at the end of this post]. All his life he had hated beets, and consequently I had never eaten them as a child. The first couple of times I tried them, even at nice restaurants, beets tasted a little off to me. Something about their flavor reminded me of dirt, and I could never get past that to enjoy their earthy sweetness. But I continued to sample them when they were available, hoping one day something would click. That day came one sunny afternoon at the house of a friend who was hosting a dinner party. We were having Dungeness crab for dinner, which I was totally excited about, but the main course was a long way off, so she put out a huge pile of roasted beets sprinkled with chèvre cheese and fresh mint as an appetizer.

I was starving, so I started reluctantly picking at the giant pile with my fingers, since I didn’t want to scoop myself a serving of food I didn’t expect to like. I popped the first bite in my mouth and, yeah, it still tasted like beets. But I was hungry, so I tried another, this time with a good portion of mint and cheese on it. After a few chews, it hit me. “Whoa, this is good,” I said to myself. Something about the fresh-tasting mint and the creamy cheese balanced the earthy flavor of the beets and transformed them into something I could appreciate. I proceeded to put a hefty dent in the beet mountain, leaving bright pink stains all over my fingers. Beets had finally made it onto my beloved vegetables list, and I started making my own version of the recipe at home.

Proud of my recent conversion, I told my dad about my beet discovery during our next phone conversation. He replied skeptically, saying that he hated beets and always had. But I knew I was onto something and decided to include the recipe in our next Thanksgiving dinner, just so he could try it for himself. I made plenty of other dishes as well, just in case he really didn’t like the beets, but I followed my friend’s lead and set them out earlier than the rest of the food as an appetizer, knowing that someone with a hungry tummy couldn’t resist trying a bite. It worked.

“When you made those beets I was like, ‘Wow, this is so unbelievable! So different from what I remember,’ ” he recalled.

I was stoked, and my dad became a believer. At almost sixty years old, he developed a new appreciation for vegetables and real food (turns out the beets he grew up eating were always from a can), even the ones he thought he didn’t like.

“It made eating and preparing healthy food much more fascinating,” he explained. “It became exciting to me to see what the possibilities are.”

The beets weren’t enough to change my dad’s habits, but he was starting to make the connection between good food and good health. More important, he was now convinced that vegetables and other healthy foods could taste amazing and that eating them would not be a sacrifice. He also began paying more attention to me and the things I would say and share on Facebook about the connections between food and wellness.

Though he still didn’t care much about his own life or health, he was growing weary of feeling sick and drained all the time, and it was becoming obvious to him that his health (and possibly his diet) was the reason. After living for decades on processed foods, my dad had developed prediabetes and his blood sugar swings were having a terrible impact on his mood and energy levels. He also had dangerously high blood pressure, and in 2006 a mild stroke left him with a speech impediment that deeply troubled and embarrassed him. Worse, the stroke made it nearly impossible for him to play his guitar, the only passion he had left in his life. Though he was able to recover his speech and dexterity after a couple of months, this experience scared him enough to at least start taking medication for his condition and paying more attention to his diet. He may not have cared then if he lived or died, but he knew he didn’t want to live without his music.

Because he’s a good father, my dad had always done his best to keep up with my work ever since I started writing in 2007. He’s seen almost all my rants against processed food and praise for seasonal vegetables, pastured eggs, and wild fish, and nothing had ever convinced him to change the way he eats. Then one day in late July 2011, I got a phone call with the words I never expected to hear.

A few weeks earlier I had released a video on Summer Tomato about salt, explaining how it affects your health and what you need to understand to make smart food decisions. My basic argument was that salt itself is not bad for you. In fact, it is necessary to have some sodium in your diet. Moreover, salt makes food taste better, and I encourage everyone to sprinkle some on their vegetables if it helps them eat more of them. There are three reasons salt is a problem for most Western societies. The first is that we eat way too much of it, which can lead to hypertension. However, a whopping 75 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods.11 Relatively speaking, the salt you add to your own home-cooked food is insignificant.

The second issue is that sodium intake must be balanced by sufficient potassium intake, which comes mainly from vegetables. [Note from Tim: avocados, white beans, and spinach are great options.] That is, the more vegetables you eat, the less dietary sodium matters. Most people don’t eat enough vegetables, so eating a lot of sodium poses a bigger risk for developing high blood pressure than it would in the context of a healthier diet. Third, a high intake of fructose, a common ingredient in processed foods, exacerbates the effects of sodium in the diet. This means that the same amount of salt in your food is more dangerous if there is a lot of fructose around as well. All three of these points lead to the simple conclusion that too many processed foods and too few vegetables are the real causes of hypertension, not the little white shaker sitting on your kitchen table.

On that random day in July, my dad called to tell me that he watched this video, and something about it struck a chord. I remember his words so vividly I can still hear him saying them in my head.

“I watched that video you made about salt, and it was really great,” he began.

“Thanks, Dad,” I replied.

“Yeah, I was watching it, and you made me realize that salt is already inside the processed foods,” he explained.

“That’s right,” I answered, almost chuckling at his excitement about this simple revelation. My brain instantly cued the scene from the movie Zoolander in which Hansel realizes that files are kept in the computer and then throws the machine off a balcony, so he could open it up and find them.

“Well, since the salt is already in there, I stopped eating them,” he continued.

“What?” I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right.

“I stopped eating the processed foods a couple weeks ago. But I needed something else to eat, and I remembered you always saying I’m supposed to eat vegetables, so I went to the store and bought all of them,” he went on.

“What? What did you buy?” I asked, starting to realize the meaning of his words. Maybe he did throw his processed foods off the balcony.

“I bought all the vegetables. They weren’t very well labeled, so I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting. But I think I got some kale and some chard. And I got some peppers, onions, mushrooms, and all sorts of other weird shit. I took it home and cut it all up—it took an hour there was so much of it—and I made three huge batches of stir-fry. It was beautiful, and so colorful, so I call it my Rainbow Stir-Fry. And it was delicious! I take it to work and eat it every day for breakfast and lunch. I also sauté some fish or turkey meat and eat that. After eating that all day, I’m not usually hungry for dinner.”

Laughing again, this time in disbelief, I asked, “So you’ve been eating nothing but vegetables, fish, and turkey for two weeks?”

“Yeah, and I love it! And I’ve had to poke two new holes in my belt. I think I’ll need to get new pants soon.”

To say this was hard to believe is beyond an understatement. Seemingly overnight, my dad, who had nearly given up on his own life, had completely overhauled his eating habits and loved everything about it. At the time I didn’t let myself dwell too long on what this could mean. It was still too new, and too unbelievable. But deep down I knew what was at stake if he was serious: it meant he might make it. It meant he might be around to meet his future grandkids, my future children.

As I hoped, my dad’s change was real and permanent. In just two months he was down twenty-five pounds. I know this because he was so impressed by his own transformation that he went and bought himself a scale to track his progress. It wasn’t out of vanity—the man doesn’t have a full-length mirror in his entire house—but out of curiosity. He wanted to have something tangible to look at and know that what he was doing was making a difference.

“In the beginning I didn’t know I was losing weight because I didn’t weigh myself, but I kept having to put new holes in my belt, and one day there were so many folds in my pants. I wore a size 36, so I tried a 34, and goddamn those were too big! I couldn’t believe I was a size 32—I was so proud of myself.”

Shortly after that he developed an uncontrollable urge to start exercising.

“It only took about two to three weeks of me eating like that every day to feel a complete difference in my body, in the way I felt. It all starts adding together, it has an effect on your whole life,” he explained. “The exercise came along when the weight started melting off. It was just dropping off me. And I felt like I wanted to stretch and move again. I didn’t want to feel weak anymore,” he said.

For over five years he had been using a cane to walk. His knee had been severely weakened from a staph infection, which required surgery that left a massive amount of scar tissue. But when he started losing weight, it was easier for him to move around, and he started using the cane less and less. He started taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, spent more time walking with his dogs, and bought some used exercise equipment for his house—some dumbbells and an ab roller wheel. Over a year later he is down fifty pounds and doesn’t use a cane at all.

“Now I do a hundred ab rolls every day,” he told me. (If you’ve ever tried these you know how hard they are. I can only do about thirty, and then I’m sore for days). “I remember when I hit eighty the first time I couldn’t believe it. It’s really good because when things don’t go well at work one day, or I have problems with the dogs, I know I did my hundred rolls. I have at least that one thing I’m proud of. It’s a lifestyle that I find very delightful,” he gushed.

As his eating habits and body transformed, so did his outlook on life. “I thought, ‘Well shit, if I’m going to live and see my kids grow up, I don’t want to be in a wheelchair. I better be fit enough to do stuff on this planet,’ ” he explained.

When I asked him what he thought led to his change, he had a hard time putting his finger on it.

He said, “For me it took having the wake-up call of the health issue. Then somewhere in me I decided I really didn’t want to die. I don’t know exactly when it was, but it was definitely associated with you. I always felt better after speaking to you. It wasn’t for me or because of me, but your belief that things could be better.”

My dad’s healthstyle has evolved since he first started on his journey. Eventually he became tired of eating his Rainbow Stir-Fry day in and day out.

“At first,” he explained, “it was a bit like cooking dinner and making a piece of art you could eat. Then after about six months it started being too much of a hassle and started getting old. But that didn’t mean I went back to my old habits.”

He now shops and cooks more frequently, making smaller batches of vegetables and fish that he can whip up quickly in the morning before work. “I mix it up with different sauces, Chinese or Turkish, and I rotate and shop at different places for my vegetables. I found a little produce place by my house now that has better vegetables than my grocery store. I never get tired of this stuff.”

Though he knows his dishes and strategies will continue to change as he gets better at cooking and learns to use new vegetables, he isn’t worried about slipping back into his former habits.

“I’ve gone long enough now that I know in my heart that I’ll never go back to my old way of eating, because I don’t find any joy in it. I still go get sushi or Mexican food occasionally, but I don’t want to do it every day. I’m happy and comfortable with how I’m doing it now.”

My video on salt was clearly a catalyst for my dad’s turnaround, but it would have been impossible for it to have had the impact it did without the years of education and encouragement from me that came before it. Just as important is that he was able to make the adjustments at his own pace, without pressure from anyone to do it a certain way.

“I was able to read on Summer Tomato without interacting with you all the time, and see the reasons for doing all this stuff. Then I had the opportunity and knowledge, which I got because of you, and I stumbled my way through it until I got my own style. Once I made up my mind, I’m pretty hard to keep down. I went whole hog,” he explained.

I asked him if he had any advice for people in the same situation that I was in, wanting to help a loved one make healthier choices.

“As long as they can be patient and present things in a way that’s easy to understand. Let your family see how you eat, read a little, and get some inspiration. Everyone has to find their own path, what works for them,” he advised.

As for my dad, he’s just happy it clicked for him when it did.

“I’m feeling better now than I have in a really, really long time. I’m very confident about the future,” he said.

“So am I.” I smiled.

Beating Beet Aversions

If my dad can learn to like beets at the age of fifty-five, anyone can. This is the recipe that convinced him (and me a year earlier) that the humble beet can be as delicious and elegant as any exotic vegetable.

This is the perfect dish for the beet skeptic and beet lover alike, and it hardly requires any cooking skills. If you are still worried you will not like the flavor of beets, look for the milder and less messy golden or pink-and-white-striped cioggia beets. Whenever possible I like to use a few different colors to mix it up, but if all you have are the common red garden beets they work beautifully on their own.

To begin you must eliminate all thoughts of substituting canned beets for fresh. Fresh roasted beets have a rich, sweet, earthy flavor that is completely unlike that of the flaccid purple slivers that come in a can. You will also need fresh mint leaves. Most grocery stores carry them; ask if you can’t find them. Chèvre is a soft goat cheese that a close friend of mine describes as “like cream cheese only better.” A little bit goes a very long way, so I always buy the smallest amount possible (it usually costs around $3).

Be careful not to add the cheese directly to hot beets or it will melt and form an unattractive pink slime. It still tastes good, but it’s better to avoid this problem by cooling the beets beforehand. An hour in the refrigerator works well, but if you are in a hurry you can get away with ten to fifteen minutes in the freezer. This dish is very easy to scale for large batches, making it ideal for parties and potlucks.

Roasted Beets with Fresh Mint and Chèvre

Serves 2 to 3

1 bunch of beets (3 large), any variety

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed

¼ ounce chèvre

Sea salt or kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375?F. If the leaves are still on the beets, twist them off, leaving enough stem to use as a handle for peeling. (If the beet greens are still fresh and springy, I recommend cleaning them and cooking them up with some onions and garlic—sauté them like spinach. Beet greens are so full of potassium that they taste naturally salty, so be careful with your seasoning, because they are easy to oversalt.)

Peel the beets using a vegetable peeler and chop them evenly into ¾-to-1-inch cubes. Keep in mind that the larger the

pieces, the longer they will take to cook. Discard stems.

Add the olive oil to the beets and toss to coat. Sprinkle the beets with salt and place in a single layer in a large Pyrex baking pan. Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and roast until the beets are tender and have a glazed-like appearance, stirring every 8 to 10 minutes. Roasting takes approximately 35 minutes.

When the beets are finished roasting, transfer them to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 minutes, but 45 to 60 minutes is preferable.

Five minutes before the beets are done chilling, stack the mint leaves on top of each other and chiffonade them by rolling them lengthwise like a cigarette and slicing them into thin ribbons. For very large leaves I like to cut the ribbons in half once by making a single cut through the middle of the pile along the vein of the leaves. Discard the stems.

Using a fork, crumble a small amount of the chèvre into a small bowl or plate and set it aside. When the beets are ready, sprinkle the mint onto the beets and stir, reserving a few ribbons for garnish. Adjust salt to taste. Transfer the minted beets to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the chèvre and remaining mint. Serve immediately.


Click here to learn more about Darya’s book Foodist.

Have you been able to help loved ones quit bad behaviors or adopt healthy ones? Please share your stories and recommendations in the comments!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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122 Replies to “Jedi Mind Tricks: How to Get Loved Ones to Lose Weight”

  1. Its hard to argue with tasty food! Hopefully this will lead to healthier, happier families. Gonna give the beet recipe a go as well!

  2. Sounds a lot like my dad, but I don’t think his health issues have lead him to the tipping point quite yet. Perhaps an email of this article is in order 😉

    1. That’s true. It seems that when people get older they tend to become “looser” with their diet choices etc. They figure I’m old I might as well enjoy myself but that is all good if done in moderation. They should focus on activities that will distract them away from food. I heard a saying once “I eat to live and not live to eat”.

  3. I’ve been a big fan of Darya’s for a while. Now I’m motivated to actually make some changes myself! Not giving up the whiskey though. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the great article! Family can be so difficult when it comes to suggesting dietary changes. I still haven’t seen any changes in my father, but my mother has made significant changes in her diet in the past 2 years. What finally worked for her was hearing the things I had been telling her from another source. She loves me and trusts me, but there is something about it coming from outside the family that made it more real for her.

  5. This is exactly what I needed to read! I’m sending this off several people also.

    My dad has auto-immune diseases that are slowly killing him and making him no fun to be around. I know that a focus on nutrition would help him immensely. But I feel like he doesn’t want to get better. Like Darya, I feel like my dad would rather stay sick and die than make a significant life change.

    I’d like to help my dad as well, but I’m not sure if I have 4 years to wait patiently. It might be too late by then.

    Thanks for this article, Tim and team. Thanks Darya, for sharing your heart and your story.

    1. Autoimmune diseases are extremely tricky and unless you are living with one or many, you cannot truly understand. I have for the last 10 years, starting with a rare disease of the kidneys, moving onto Celiac Disease, then diagnosed with Crohn’s, then Hashimoto’s. I already eat a very healthy diet. If eating roasted beets w goat cheese and a grilled pepper on a baguette (well, no baguette for me anymore) makes you look and feel fabulous, I would be amazing but I am just the opposite. Despite the healthy food, I become sicker and sicker, looking and feeling more an more horrendous. I know some people with autoimmune disease can see fabulous results with a few simple dietary changes, but not all can.

      1. Laurie, have you ever had a complete digestive stool analysis (CDSA) done?

        It sounds like you also have a case of Leaky Gut and Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO).

      2. I haven’t heard of CDSA but will look into it. I am sure I have Leaky Gut, but it is pretty hard to follow SCD or GAPS when you are commuting, working full time and have such incredible fatigue, so I have not been able to get it together for more than a few days at a time. I just went to a new doctor, and he suggested SIBO. I started medication and will try the anti-candida diet. I just recently started a leave of absence from work so I can fully dedicate myself to lifestyle changes for awhile to address these issues. I am waiting to see if I am deemed sick enough by Metlife, to qualify for short term disability pay.

        I understand how you feel about your dad, as both my parents have a ton of health issues. I finally convinced my father, who is type 2 diabetic, to stop drinking diet snapple and diet soda all day long. He likes plain fresh brewed iced tea so I convinced my mother to make a big thing of sun tea every few days for him. They are on the pharmaceutical hamster wheel. Not sure that dietary changes could address everything for them, but most of these medications make them sicker and doctors just do not ever re-evaluate this stuff.

        I agree on the fresh, real food approach (plus it tastes amazing) and am sure I would be in a far worse state if I didn’t eat as well as I do.

      3. Thanks Laurie. I’m so sorry your going through all that. Watching my dad waste away has been one of the hardest things in my life. I can hardly imagine going through it myself.

        I’m not expecting to “cure” my dad through nutrition. But considering he still eats a standard american diet, I think some changes could really help. If nothing else, he could lose some weight, which never hurts. In the end, I just want him to care about living better for my mom and younger siblings.

      4. Laurie, not sure if you’re still around on this comment thread but I’ll outline some stuff none-the-less.

        Firstly: the CDSA will cost some serious cash. Here in Australia it is about $350. You need the most comprehensive test. Don’t scrimp on this. The 3 day test will show what parasites (if any) are present in the gut since they will have shed some eggs in the stool after a couple of days. Thus the test picks it up.

        The test will probably show that you have an overgrowth of Klebsiella. This bacteria is present in all humans but in sufferers of leaky gut it is usually quite high. The dysbiosis reading will probably suggest more klebsiella bacteria than biffidus bacterum. Which is not good.

        See a sample test here:

        To kill klebsiella you will need CSE (citrus seed extract aka grapefruit seed extract) Travellers usually use this to ‘cure’ water for drinking. You need to mix it at 2% (at least). Ie, 2 drops for every 100ml of water (3 oz for US). Any less and the Klebsiella won’t die off. Drink on an empty stomach so that it can hit the small intestine. And do it three (3) times a day.

        I’d also suggest taking some L-Glutamine supplement to heal the gut lining. Plus some Colostrum.

        Eat only high fibre foods. Cruciferous veges (broccoli etc. Maybe try how fruit works with you). Do not eat sugar. Klebsiella feeds off it. Wipe out the wheat too and all other grains. Supplement your high fibre diet with some pyslium husk as well. If you do have leaky gut I’m guessing that you are currently finding it hard to have a bowel movement despite having a high fibre diet. I’d expect that you also feel feverish after eating bad foods. Possibly resulting in rashes and sore gums, headaches etc.

        Once you’re done with the cleansing side after a few weeks you will need to get some good bacteria back into your gut. I’d suggest some pro-biotics, plus some fermented drink/foods. Kefir is the most obvious drink. I use young coconuts for my Kefir. Most people use dairy milk. Try sauerkraut perhaps.

        Eat well.

        Sleep well.

        No alcohol.

        I find eating raw food is best. Fruit, salads. Fresh lemon or grapefruit juice in the morning half an hour after the CSE drink and before food.

        If you have leaky gut it truly is a pain in the ass. It takes a bit to fix but you will get your life back if you knuckle down and fix the underlying causes.

        Most of us end up with it because of over use of antibiotics. We kill the infectious bugs but we also kill the good ones. Sadly we never get told how to recolonise the gut with good stuff.

        All the best on your road to health.



      5. Hi Chris,

        I read you advice for Laurie, and couldn’t believe how spot on it was for me. I did the Healthscope CDSA earlier this year and the results showed exactly what you predicted for Laurie: I have high levels of Klebsiella and no Bifidobacterium (despite probiotics and yoghurt). I have had gut problems and a series of other chronic health issues for many years. After trying many things over the years to no avail, I have just started a strict grain, dairy, sugar, fruit and soy free diet along with CSE and a mixed herbal antibiotic (intestaclear), and probiotics for a 2 month Klebsiella cleanse. I had no idea whether I was on the right track, as the doctor who recommended this course is used to treating dysbiosis but not klebsiella. There is so little info on it as a gut overgrowth, I was amazed by what you said and inspired to keep on doing what I am doing (despite my carb cravings). I was wondering whether Klebsiella is common for people with gut issues, how you know so much about it (when most people and doctors I ask have never heard of it) and whether you have experience in eradicating it. Hope you see this. Thanks so much!



      6. Hey Lucy,

        My knowledge is only self-gained since I am living the same scenario as you. I’ve read a ton of literature out there on Leaky Gut, SIBO and the gram negative baddies like Klebsiella. My own CDSA test came back with zero Biffidobacterium in the gut and a disbiosis reading of 11. Which indicated things were not so cool in tummy town!

        I contracted dysentery in India about a decade ago and had a lot of antibiotics to treat it. Since then I have had even more antibiotics to treat annual sinus infections (a common complaint among leaky gut sufferers). Unfortunately I really stuffed up by not trying to recolonise gut flora.

        How to beat this bug?

        Tough job.

        Good diet for one.

        I function on a very fine line with my diet. Any meat, dairy, grains or sugar causes inflammation for me. Which means irritation during the night. Which means fitful sleep. Which means … one giant round-about of continual gut flare-ups, headaches, and general cranky mutherfuckerness. You probably know what I am talking about.

        So, I stick to a high fibre fruit and veg diet (all raw). Most people avoid fruit because there is an assumption that Klebsiella feeds off the fruit sugars. That said, there is also a school of thought that Klebsiella can’t feed off fructose. I haven’t a clue who is right. All I know is that my diet gives me (and my gut) some respite.

        I did get some inflammation relief from the SCD Intro Diet. The constipation killed me though so I gave it up.

        I take CSE each morning, plus L-glutamine powder to try and heal the gut lining (some people swear by L-glutamine, some think it is worthless. Again, trial and error. Personally it gives me a foggy head after I take it. I have no idea why. I don’t even know if it works). As for the CSE, it really needs to be more than just a couple of drops in a cup according to clinical trials. And it has to be done on an empty stomach. Even then there is huge conjecture about how beneficial it is as an antimicrobial against Klebsiella. Plus there are discrepancies between home-made and commercial products. Both good and bad. Then there is discrepancies between in vivo and in vitro tests. Klebsiella has a well known resistance to pharmaceutical antibiotics let alone natural antimicrobials.

        If you want to go down the antibiotic path to rid yourself of Klebsiella you should ask your doctor about Carbapenem treatment (Imipenem or Meropenem). According to randomised hospital studies, ESBL-producing organisms (bacteria that are resistant to penicillins etc) like Klebsiella are susceptible to these two broad-spectrum antibiotics. That said, Klebsiella can be resistant to these as well. Just because Klebsiella is an utter bastard!

        Also, if you do any exercise make sure it is moderate. Any hard core stuff will compromise your immune system and thus cause flare ups and once again compromise the gut lining.

        I’m sorry I can’t give you a cure on this stuff, Lucy. You just have to be super-strict with your diet. You’re doing the right thing by staying the hell away from sugar, dairy, alcohol and grains. They will definitely set you back a mile. Also, like I said to Laurie — you have to get lots of sleep. Not easy in this day and age despite feeling exhausted.

        You really need to be focused on getting diet and stress under control because this kind of thing can lead to Ulcerative Colitis and many other big issues down the track. I think you will discover that as time goes on there are going to be many discussions about Klebsiella. And, in fact, Klebsiella pneumoniae is a one of two superbugs that hospitals are absolutely terrified of. With treatment the mortality rate is 50%, without treatment it is 90%. There is also a lot of info coming out about childhood austism links to antibiotic overuse, Leaky Gut and Klebsiella.

        As for probiotics… I make my own coconut kefir each day plus have some homemade sauerkraut. I also take some probiotic capsules each day. Again, lots of conjecture about how much good bacteria actually gets to the gut via the stomach.

        Sadly, it’s all a bit of a mystery.

  6. Hey Tim and Darya,

    Great post! I struggled with many of these issues with my Dad, and ultimately he ended up losing the fight, at the too young age of 61. May 9th will be three years since he passed.

    Just sent this to my Mom and Stepdad, who really want to stay on the path toward losing weight and changing their diets, but struggle from time to time. I love them and hope they live a very long time… They have been making noticeable progress, but falling into old habits and rejecting ideas about food decades in the making can be very difficult. This article was very inspirational and timely.

    Thanks again and keep the great content coming!


    1. So sorry for your loss and best of luck with the mom and stepdad. Foodist could probably really help them with their habits.

  7. One thing that has worked for me in the past, is when at home and cooking for myself, I also cook for others in the house. If I’m home enough days in a row, the results can be dramatic on the scale, since I’m often making a lot of Asian vegetarian dishes, and can control portions.

    I’ve also tried, with limited success, to get others involved in a game of sorts using sites like DailyBurn. It’s a beautiful way to compete with one another, but difficult to get folks started on, I find.

    Many in my family aren’t big on spice, so that can be a challenge, especially when I love spicing things up. Portion control is the easiest thing to help with I think, and simply employing tricks like serving my meals in bowls, or using fish in tacos instead of beef or turkey can work wonders.

    You know what really works well? Getting a scale, and weighing out your meat portions. On several occasions I have sliced thin, and weighed out 3oz portions of meat, and people are always impressed that they still feel full after eating what would normally seem to be a paltry piece of meat. If I didn’t weigh it out, most in my family would eat two whole chicken breasts – about 4-5 times as much meat. If you weigh it out, though, and put the portion in a gluten-free rice wrapper, or a corn tortilla stuffed with other goodies, they’ll never miss the extra portion. It’s the little stuff that works … keeping everyone going on it is the most difficult part, though! Thanks again for the cool post.

    P.S. Tim, I’m buying a lot of new books because of you lately. Amazon most be loving the link love. 😉 Just pre-ordered Darya’s on Kindle.

  8. If you’re looking for similar strategies, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Motivational Interviewing by Miller and Rodnick. It’s a bit dense, but within just a few chapters I’ve learned where many of my attempts to help friends or family have gone wrong.

    In general we want to prescribe solutions to problems, which causes others to defend themselves (reinforcing the reasons they haven’t made a change). Solutions are rarely what we need. Rather, helping others to find their own reasons why they should change is usually more effective, as you’ve done here.

  9. This post really struck a chord with me.

    So if I may, a little story:

    My dad was born with bilateral club feet (Imagine your feet being formed in a “C” shape, with the big toe nearly touching the heel), and in his 45 years, has had 26 surgeries to correct and straighten his feet. This includes having his left ankle fused (his left calf muscle has almost completely atrophied), bone removed from his hip to reform damaged bones in the feet, and severe muscle loss in both his lower legs. Growing up he was teased and harassed constantly; being called “cripple” on more than one occasion. He was in casts for most of his youth, due to the many surgeries.

    Despite the pain and surgeries on his legs, my dad was a fantastic drummer for close to 30 years. His love for music (much like Darya’s father), kept him going. He would fight through the muscle cramps and sore joints just to play for the crowds. He eventually had to stop playing due to the unbearable pain in his knees and lower legs. This significantly elevated a silent problem he had been dealing with since he was just a kid; depression.

    He has suffered from it most of his life, causing him to weave in and out of jobs as often as his mood changes. It’s also been one of the main causes for him gaining a significant amount of weight.

    When he met my mom in October of 1986, he weighed 165lbs (at 6’0).

    As of May 1st, 2013, he weighs nearly 260lbs.

    He has told me many times that he finds comfort in food, and it’s “one of the only things” he feels he has left. He drinks at least a pot of coffee each day, and will regularly bring a large bowl of chips (or ice cream) to bed. His excuse is that he has a “truck driver’s belly”, and that it is “bought and paid for”. (Note: I never understood that joke). He takes prescription medicine for high cholesterol and also suffers from sleep apnea, causing him to sleep with a breathing machine.

    My mom and I have tried on multiple occasions (at least 3x a week), to educate him on his dietary health, to no avail.

    We both have tried to teach him how to make simple foods (i.e. scrambled eggs), but he has no urge to do so. If my mother doesn’t make his meal, he will grab the absolute quickest thing he can find. If that doesn’t satiate him, he’ll go out and buy something like a gas station sandwich. He’s that bad.

    I know that the underlying problem is not food, but his demons that he refuses to face.

    After reading this post, I realized that maybe I’ve been too in his face, and too direct about the problem. I know you cannot help someone who doesn’t want to change, but I think I could approach this in a different manner. Lateral thinking, if you will.

    I’ll try to get him more involved, and introduce health and cooking in a way that he understands. He’s been a car fanatic (and a great mechanic) most of his life. I think if I explained to him that sugar does the same thing to your heart and arteries as it does to your gas lines and engine, he’d be a little more willing to listen.

    He wouldn’t be caught dead putting sugar in his truck’s gas tank, so maybe something like that sideways-passion-connected comment would make him think twice before dumping sugar in his biological gas tank.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble, and high five to Tim and Darya for this post!

  10. I’ve been reading Darya’s, Summer Tomato for the past couple years and always have been a big fan. This post is definitely something I could relate to, unfortunately my own father hasn’t had his “ah-ha, I love eating/feeling healthy” moment yet, like Darya’s dad did. Hopefully my dad will change his perspective on eating healthy before it’s too late. Thank you, Darya (and Tim) for this post, it does give me me hope that someday my dad will be there to watch his grandkids grow.

    1. Another helpful approach is starting SUPER small. When my dad lost 100+ pounds, it all start with:

      – NO exercise recommendations

      – NO diet (meal) changes.

      – JUST: 30 grams of protein within 30 min of waking up.

      You just need to get the ball rolling. Though far from perfect, ready-to-drink, pre-mixed Myoplex shakes were most convenient for my dad, so we started there. The best way to make huge changes is to start with tiny changes. Scratch that — ONE tiny change.

      Hope that helps somehow!


      1. Hi Tim

        I had the same success with my mum. She’s 69. Wanted to lose some weight but through habit finds herself slipping back to older diet ways. But she does commit to trying things. 

        The thing that worked was protein shake and 2 boiled eggs for breakfast. 

        In a roundabout way I think seeing me put on about 2 stone and get more muscular helped convince her I may be onto something. Plus i showed her T4HB!

        One amazing outcome was that her doctor couldn’t believe the change in her. He is starting to recommend more protein for breakfast for all his elderly patients. 

      2. Tim, I had a similar situation with a guy who asked me the very broad question, “How do I get in shape?”

        He happened to have a Nestle Strawberry Milk in his coat pocket. I pointed at the bottle and asked him how often he drank one of those. He said everyday. I asked him if he knew how much sugar was in them. He looked at the wrapper and said 31 grams. ( I told him that he had to double that number because there were two servings in the bottle. He smiled as the light came on, and I suggested that he just start by no longer drinking this Nestle per day.

      3. Appreciate the tips. You’re right, the best way to make a real change is by taking a small step forward–the Kaizen Way. Thanks!

  11. This made me cry and smile at the same time! This is a beautiful example of what love really means. You are a great daughter and your dad sounds like a wonderful father, God bless you both!

  12. This happened with my roommates. I cook for my boyfriend and myself, and after a few weeks of seeing the delicious food I was making for slow carb (and after they put on a few pounds and got desperate) they said, “I want to try your diet.” I never preached to them, and I absolutely never expected the change. As a result, my boyfriend who was sort of wishy washy about committing to slow carb is now fully on board. We 4 support each other. We now share meals and alternate making dinners for each other. We were good friends anyway, but it’s great to share the community that sharing food provides. And no more fighting my own temptations because they no longer make desserts in the middle of the week – cheat day only!

  13. This was a really beautiful excerpt Darya, I loved reading it because it really reminded me of my dad and how hard it is to see them depressed and wanting to help. I am so happy for you and your dad that it clicked and he is really happy in the lifestyle now. Such an inspiring story! I will have to work on my jedi mind tricks 🙂

  14. Wonderful story – thanks. Well done to both. Shows that caring support and not pushing can reap great rewards.

  15. I can tell the writer of this post is a novelist and not a blogger.

    The key takeaways from the post are extremely hard to find.

    I also don’t think there’s anything really useful in what the writer wrote. Although the story is charming it certainly doesn’t give any sort of clear, quick, and actionable prescription for ‘how to get loved ones to lose weight’.

    By my calculation it took you a minimum of 4 years (and probably much longer before you started writing) to make an impression on your father which isn’t a great ROI on time.

    I’m not trying to be a hater or dissenter, I guess I’m just disappointed in the title of the post as it suggests a utility that just isn’t present.

    1. This story is just an anecdote from a chapter that includes tons of tips on manipulating language and home environments to get people to change their habits. If you head over to Summer Tomato (my blog, never written a novel) and visit the Habits category, you’ll get a better idea of the kind of advice I give for changing behavior.

  16. Hey Tim. I’ve followed your blog practically from the start and read all your books. Love all your work! All your discussions from 4HC etc have been about losing weight. Do you have any suggestions about gaining weight? My 16 year old daughter has become one of those typical teen girls that is always worried about her weight and now it has become a problem – not at the anorexic level yet but also not on the path that I want to see. We have been trying to get her to gain some weight over the past 4 weeks but she has gained only 1 lb even though we have more than doubled her calorie intake (from under 1000 per day to 2000 per day). At least it’s been better than the normal 2 lb loss per month that she we had been seeing for the past few months. Any suggestions? She’s 5’5″ and 110 lbs and we’d like to get her up to 125 or 130. She’s very active with sports and it’s hard to get enough food into her without her thinking she’s eating way to much. Thanks Tim.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thank you for the kind words. I think one of the best approaches here is to add in resistance training, whether with a trainer, CrossFit, or following exercises in The 4-Hour Body. It’s very difficult to add quality mass without a stimulus like this.

      That said, do you find she looks unhealthy at 110 at 5’5″? I only ask as I have female friends who are healthy athletes around that range. If she’s active in sports and no openly self-conscious or dwelling on being “thin”, she might be OK. Regardless, weight training of some type will add muscle and shape, if that’s the goal.

      Hope this helps somehow! Darya may have other thoughts.


      1. Thanks Tim for your advice. I think you are right about doing some weight training. As she started losing weight, she lost the fat first but now she’s losing the muscle. You can really see it when she does sports. She just passed her national life guarding exam and even she admits that she was struggling to do some of the more strenuous activities where she wouldn’t have last year. To answer your question, I know there are lots of females who are 110 lbs and healthy. I just think she looks a little too frail and lacks the tone. Adding the muscle will help that.

      2. Hey Steve,

        60 minutes did a documentary of my sister (and our family) about anorexia:

        To me with what little you shared, it sounds as if she’s fine. One of the first signs I remember was her shouting at mum for offering a piece of red meat.

    2. I agree with Tim. Unless she’s self-conscious or actively trying to lose weight, I think her current size sounds small but still healthy (similar to mine). BMI charts can be a bit deceptive, particularly for athletes.

      That said, 1000 calories per day is very low (I eat over 2K) so I’d be suspicious about her motives if she was really eating that little. Regardless, strength training and eating more healthy, calorie dense foods is how to gain weight in a healthy way. Keep in mind it doesn’t need to be quick, as rapid changes in body weight are harder to maintain.

  17. Just reading this article is an excellent metaphor for eating healthy and making a change! It makes me think of Milton Erikson and in how abstract metaphors are so effective within people.

    I think I will get my own dad to read this, who has struggled with weight all his life and feels like the only option now is to get surgery..

    I don’t think that’s true, and if your dad can make such a change naturally, then so can others. Getting old school, stubborn thinkers to adopt and actually ENJOY healthy, clean eating is such a positive thing. Thanks for this article!

      1. Don’t tell me the United States Chess Federation has nothing to do with neuroscience!

        I know, because I graduated from UCSD, where I studied USCD (Ultra Slow Carb Diet)

  18. I wanted to train my parents who are obese. My father had drum like tummy. High in visceral fat. He has high blood pressure. My mum does not have any condition yet but hopefully nothing is popping up. I start by volunteering to train my yonger brother who is also fat to workout and teach him how to eat healthy foods and cook/ Educate him to make wise food choices. Once I send him home, he volunteer to cook, my mum could not compain. Hopefully that in the near future, they would allow me to train them too. I would use how to lose 100 pound in 4HB for them in order not to instill too much stress in chaning their lifestyle. Minimum effective dose to change their health and lifestyle. Great article and great lifehack.

  19. Hi Tim and Darya, I think you guys are awesome. Tim I discovered your books this past summer after taking my first of many board exams to become an M.D. You really helped me optimize my time and transcend the hoopla of medicine and realize I could kick ass at school, the gym, and anything in life. There’s a lot of negativity in medicine right now and I feel you helped give me a clearer understanding of balance with balance and achieving the results I want in life.

    Darya I think its awesome your using your Ph.D in such a practical matter and I unfortunately see alot of problems in our society about misconceptions about food and health. It kills me when I see someone buy stock up on only lean cuisine and fruit juices rather than buying unprocessed foods and adding in their own seasoning. I’m stoked to trying some of your techniques for my patients in the future and I really feel education is key to helping them. You can only do so much in a clinic, only the patient himself can really affect true change not the medications we prescribe, they are only symptom management and “prevention”. Thanks so much to both of you and keep up the great work. -Nathan

  20. Great post, I run in to ideas about food with my parents, changing habits can be a challenge when you’re raised on bread, grain and milk.

    I have a suggestion for the recipe, I always make it with a dash of Balsamic Vinegar (Aceto Balsamico) for acidity. Try it, tastes amazing.

    Thanks, Robbert

  21. Hi Tim & Darya,

    Thanks for sharing this. Tim, am a big fan of your books, several years ago I spent weeks jabbing myself with my diabetic mates glucose monitor after every meal, so glad you saved me from a lot more pain/time with the 4HB, thanks for your research.

    Loved the progressions in this story, how he developed some awareness due to poor health/pain, and how that moved to curiosity and finally action – and his eventual awareness that the journey is actually quite easy (but inconvenient) and enjoyable.

    I have found it far more difficult enrolling family and close friends into health as I am greatly attached to the outcome, more than say with a random client perhaps. I can appreciate the way Darya gently encouraged rather than making him wrong, gave him the space to ‘discover’ it for himself – more amazing that she did this over a number of years despite the pain of watching him live a dysfunctional lifestyle. Again, thanks for sharing, great to see the transformation simply documented.

    You may want to rethink the ab roller though, that crap will completely screw up your flexor chain, much better exercises out there


  22. my cousin has 95 kg weight and trying his best to lose above 40 kg weight. But didn’t get proper solution yet. Today I read your post and like it. I’ll refer your post link him hope it may be prove beneficial for him

  23. What a great article!

    I’ve found the same thing with my parents. When I try to encourage them to make a change they often respond defensively, whereas when I share my enthusiasm they’re always incredibly supportive … and over time it often finds a way into their lifestyle as well.

    I suppose it’s almost the difference between giving someone a chore or inviting them to a party.

  24. I think everyone who is health conscious as a permanent state of mind deals with similar struggles with family and friends. Thanks for sharing your success and insight Darya!

  25. Good post

    This was a tough one for me as I started the 4 Hour Body diet when the book came out and lost 30 lbs of fat and then went from Geek to Freak and added 20 lbs of muscle at age 55 I now have a male models body and look 15 years younger. I got a lot of flack from my wife and daughter about the diet. My wife gave me a very hard time as she had gotten heavy after our child was born and there seemed to be a lot of jealousy regarding my quick transformation. I never tried to push it on them. We all cook diner together and slowly they started getting in the habit of eating better. It took a year to get them to full come around. They still will not eat Kim Chi for breakfast but no complaints when we have Sashimi for breakfast. It takes time and it is not easy.

  26. Tim – great post. A lot of this hits home for how I feel about my fiance. He eats a lot of processed food and feels awful all the time.

    I don’t get to do this enough because we don’t live together yet, but my best trick is making him something delicious that is healthy and unprocessed. If you have a loved one who doesn’t typically cook for themselves, I find they will usually eat anything you put in front of them since they’re not going to make their own food. Easy to implement on a regular basis if you eat together regularly / live together.

  27. The title of this post is misleading. There’s no Jedi mind trick to “get” loved ones to change their health habits. The dad of this story even says it: “Everyone has to find their own path, what works for them.”

    Their own path. Not your path that you think is right for them. Their own.

    You cannot make another person eat right, start exercising, stop drinking, stop smoking, stop taking drugs, or ANYTHING. It doesn’t matter how patient you are, what a fine example you set, or how much you love them.

    The whole premise of the article is wrong.

    Millions upon millions of women have fantasized for thousands of years that they can change their loved ones, and it has never happened. People change from within, not from without.

  28. This a beautiful story and very similar to my own family experience.

    I found out that I had rheumatoid arthritis one week before finding out I was pregnant with our first child. To manage the disease through what has now been two pregnancies (which would not have been possible on traditional RA meds) I switched to a vegan and gluten-free diet. This was an enormous change from a lifestyle that celebrated whole foods but heavily indulged in meat, dairy, and gluten. The change in my health was so dramatic and encouraging my entire immediate family began to pay attention.

    Over the period of a year they all slowly adopted a vegan diet. It was never anything I pushed, but by sharing good food (no bland tofu here!) and being authentically excited about the knowledge I gained each family member started to try a vegan diet out for themselves. Now they are just as enthusiastic as I am about eating vegan. There has been weight loss, increased energy, and a reduction in aches and pains all around.

    I never would have thought that my parents or brother would embrace such a significant diet change but once they took the first few steps and felt the results first-hand it was a steady move into new eating habits for all.

  29. The timing of this post is really ironic. I have always been into staying physically fit, and my wife has always been rather self conscious about her weight. Several times, I was able to coax her into going to the gym with me, but the consistently was never maintained. While I hate to admit it, we love eating out. Even worse, we love the fast food. Despite getting rather chubby last year, a trip to Thailand and 10 hours a week of Muay Thai for four months helped me work that right off. On the opposite end, my wife did not have the success I did.

    Because I have been away from weight lifting for over a year, I decided I would get back into it. I never felt better than when I was squatting double my bodyweight. Of course, I want my wife to feel better about herself which, in turn, means she wants to look better and shed a few. This time, though, I have leverage. I have been growing my hair since last year, and she abhors it. I mean, she straight up tells me how disgusting it is. I have never gotten so much satisfaction out of hair. On the day I returned to the gym, I made a deal with her: I will cut my hair when she loses the amount of weight she has had as a goal for years. I have never seen her more determined. She carries her smartphone around with her and counts calories religiously. She wants me to get rid of this damn white man afro.

    Funny thing is I was going to cut my hair the weekend before I went back to the gym. I figured it was not worth it yet and would hold off for a week or so. Boy, am I glad I did that.

    P.S. Just thought I’d add, she hates you, Tim. Almost as much as the beans you prescribe. 🙂

  30. Thanks for introducing us to Darya. I’ve preordered her book and am excited about learning more.

  31. If only there were Jedi mind tricks to get my best friend from curbing his drinking.

    I feel like food is an addiction, the severity of it might be comparable to alcoholism for some… but I feel like the chemical dependency of alcohol might create different challenges. Thoughts anyone?

    1. John

      Have you watched “Sugar : The Bitter Truth” on YouTube? Alcohol is fermented sugar and is metabolized in a similar but different way, causing intoxication. My dad is a recovered alcoholic, but he still takes a bowl of ice cream with him to bed each night. I think the sugar crash helps him get to sleep?

      I suggest getting yourself a pint of water after each drink you have with him. Hopefully that will nudge him towards fewer drinks and remembering the entire evening. And not hating life when he wakes up the next morning.


  32. Great post Darya, thanks for taking the time to write it.

    I feel like such a pusher now! My poor little sisters were about to be bribed to do a 30 day “get healthy” challenge. I’ll push less, but keep passionate about my health, and hopefully they catch on.

    I am a big fan of juicing organic fruits and veggies, and have read a lot (1 Norman Walker book) about how these help our bodies. Are you a fan of juicing? Do you think juicing could help Steve’s daughter gain a little weight, and Laurie with her auto-immune disease?

    Good luck with the book! I think you found Tim’s secret, quality.

    P.S– Hope you and Kevin are enjoying yourselves 🙂

  33. I wrestled competitively for 14 years, so I have a lot of experience losing weight. I agree that eating a vegetable-filled, packaged-food-less diet is great, but the absolute, most critical factor in a successful weight-loss program is being able to apply your WILLPOWER to stick to your diet or exercise regimen, and the absolute, most critical factor in being able to do that is to be COMMITTED to achieving your weight-loss objective. No question Darya is a wonderful daughter and she helped her dad see the light, but the main reason he lost weight was the “wake-up call” he got from the stroke that almost stole his ability to play guitar. That was when he realized he didn’t want to die and became committed to losing weight. And it was this commitment that enabled him to apply his willpower to the task at hand. I believe he could have gone on a low-calorie diet (less than 1,800 calories per day), with 75% of the calories coming from JUNK FOOD, and he still would have lost weight and improved his health. As an experiment, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, went on just such a diet and lost 27 pounds in two months and, surprisingly, his bad cholesterol dropped 20 percent and his good cholesterol increased 20 percent. He also reduced the level of triglycerides, a form of fat, by 39 percent. You can read about it here (

    1. I actually have two chapters in the book explaining how willpower (ch 2) and conviction (ch 14) are two different things. Willpower is exhaustible and conviction isn’t. I’d love to hear your take after reading.

  34. Darya and Tim,

    My journey towards fresh fruits and vegetables started with a standing date with a friend every Wednesday at Sunflowers, a produce market. We influence each others choices, and now, her toddlers are far more likely to snack on apples and berries, rather than the usual crackers and candy.

  35. Well, that’s a post for me. I want to eat healthy – I really try and most of the time even manage to do so! But I still crave for huge pepperoni, it’s my favourite taste. As well as ice creams. This must be changed for better overall results in a longer period of time.

  36. Last week I almost lost my daddy who suffered due to poor healthy eating. He was hospitalized and have to undergoing surgery. It was an eye-opening for him.

    I myself changed my healthy lifestyle. My dad told me, “You are my role model. Don’t fall off the wagon. Keep up!”

    This is very important!

    We know how it is difficult to combat with plethora of of contradictory what is a healthy lifestyle. It is hard to see our loved one suffering as they struggled to be healthy. They thought they are doing right thing which they were severely misled.

    I am excited about Darya’s book. I hope I will benefit in motivating and inspiring my loved ones to achieve an optimal, healthy lifestyle.

    I am in for a treat especially I loved the working of neuroscience.

  37. Darya, thank you so much for your great article. I love that you inspired him in such a gentle and authentic way. 🙂 I shared your book with my mother-in-law who has taken an interest recently in new food ideas. I’m looking forward to reading it myself. Your stories touch on many generations of eaters – it’s great. Yay!

  38. I´m going to try it . I didn’t buy-eat fresh beetroot for years . Occasionally vacuum sealed. Thanks .

  39. Great article! This was very encouraging to hear. My dad and I have a great relationship in every aspect except health. Hopefully, this example will inspire my dad to do the same.

  40. It was pretty crafty putting the link to Summer Tomato without actually putting the link to the Salt Video that was her dad’s catalyst. Made me rummage around on that site for a few minutes, looking for the original video to no avail.

  41. Going to have to try the beet recipe. I have some growing in my garden right now and my mint just sprouted roots, so that’s going in a pot later today. (I need to get some tomatoes in the ground too, but I have to fence the garden first or my hens will dig them up.)

  42. This was great Tim and Darya. Although I was going to tweet you this question, I figured it would be easier to see what others might add to this dilemma: One question that I keep getting from friends and relatives, and personally I think bears me asking as well, is about the morning routine for eating within 30mins of waking up (the 30g within 30m). I prefer to do my morning workout before breakfast, but then I know I’m not following the 30min rule. But isn’t exercising after eating breakfast harmful to your system? Aren’t you supposed to wait at least 2 hours for proper digestion before engaging into an exercising activity?

    Thanks again for a great post to share with others and will see you soon.


  43. Whoever can achieve similar success with a sensitive wife/girlfriend, will deserve a medal.

    I am very fit and active and exercise religiously. My beautiful wife has put on a few pounds and has been unable to get rid of them. She is very sensitive about it and I try to be cautious, but she has picked up on my disapproval of her diet (she loves her cheese and bread) and her exercise (exercises regularly but stays away from intensive workouts). I managed to get her to work out and run with me in the past but my excitement and passion scared her away and made it a very frustrating activity for her.

    Now it got to the point where anything that has to do with food/exercise is a very touchy subject and the more I push, the more she resents it.

    She is beautiful, and not obese by any means, but she couldn’t definitely lose 20 lbs or so. I hate myself for being shallow, because she is an amazing woman, and I love her, but fitness is a huge part of my life, and I would love it if she shared that same lifestyle. I know she wants to be fit, but I don’t know how to make suggestions at this point without her resenting them.

    I think the key is to let her make those changes on her own, and to realize that I will love her no matter what. That will be my new strategy.

    1. I’ve had the same issue with my husband. The difference is that you’re dealing with a woman. I’ll be the first to admit it: we can be oversensitive about these things. It really does feel like rejection if we don’t measure up in your eyes, and we know it. Dote on her. Spoil her, and let her know you adore her, and leave no doubt. When she really feels that you value HER above all else, and not her turning into a hottie, the intrinsic desire to earn what you’ve already given her (your approval) will likely manifest in a renewed interest in fitness.

  44. 4 months ago my Dad had a heart attack at age 71. I’ve since seen a dramatic change in him. For the first time he is actually thinking about what he is eating and if there is a better alternative.

    He has always been a stubborn & fussy eater but he thought he was looking after his body. He has never been over weight, had any cholesterol issues or smoked, he always keeps fit & active. He has finally realised that you have to be healthy inwardly too and that variety & nutrition go a long way towards that. We have always been there for him if he ever wanted to make a change. However it has taken something serious for him to actively start asking questions on what is better for him and to have open ears ready to listen to the answer.

    He explained that his mind is in such a routine that he needs alternatives so there isn’t a constant stress of “what’s ok to eat”.

    Across the board every store cupboard product was swapped to a lighter, low salt/sugar (no sweetners) version – he barely even noticed the change. Beans, sauces, cooking oils, soups etc. For meals he now substitutes his old fave foods with better options. So for example instead of reaching for ice cream he’ll pick a probiotic yogurt. Fresh fruit instead of a fruit pie, fresh steamed fish instead of breaded fish, boiled eggs instead of fried eggs, whole fibre bread instead of white bread (because it’s more filling and means he eats less bread all round) There’s still the same amount on his plate.

    There are still lots more improvements he can make but actually enjoying the better options is a huge thing for him. Even though weight was not an issue he has lost 20lbs without trying. The small food changes add up. My Mum has also lost weight too just from the default foods being slightly improved.

    I could have never opened his ears for him but hope I’ve helped when he showed he was keen to change.

    The key here and in a lot of the other comments is leading by example. Making it clear to family & friends you get huge enjoyment from eating delicious and healthy food. A positive food role model is what a lot of people are lacking. Make food an open topic of conversation instead of a source of tension. It leads to genuine interest where those that need to change decide what’s ok to try. It’s less of “you should try this, you’re so stubborn” and more of an open invitation to share food and try whatever they feel they might like.

    Those that naturally love food (both bad & good) are easier to influence because they eat for the taste & healthy food can taste great too. Fussy eaters with a limited range of likes are tougher.

    While we may want to be credited with changing others mind views, we have to respect other people’s tastes. They’re often slow to change. You can’t expect people to like all flavours. Be ok with it when someone tries something and still doesn’t like it.

    The change has to come first from recognising what they are eating isn’t good enough. Then they go in search of a healthier replacement. No-one just wakes up and decides to cook a meal they’ve never had before, they need to have seen or heard of it before. That’s why exposing family & friends to new ingredients and flavours is an important contribution.

    I’ve had a lot of success adding new foods into my parents & partner’s eating range by adding it in small amounts. I find the tastiest way to introduce an ingredient is as part of an already loved meal. I then chop it up so fine they barely know it’s there, slowly increasing the size each time we eat the meal. I’ve done this with onions, peppers, garlic, mushrooms – even fresh tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli & chillis. Now we’re at a point where if I leave a new ingredient out of a dish, they’re like “this is missing something”.

    Good luck to all those helping family & friends through food changes and thanks to Darya & Tim for this post.

  45. My sibling needs some of this finessing. I haven’t figured out a way to kill her mandatory cookie a day regiment…but this is a start. Thanks.

  46. The hardest thing is motivating others to do what is good for them. Getting them to go off their diet is way easier.


  47. I have some severely unhealthy family members and I was feeling hopeless on the matter until I read this article. I want to help facilitate a healthy life style for them without coming across as judgmental. I simply care about them and want the to live and thrive as long as possible. Persistent is a huge factor and I will try to be patient but continue offering them healthy opportunities and information.

  48. I bookmarked this page to read right before my boyfriend and I visit his parents for a week. This trip is significant as my boyfriend’s mom took a sabbatical from her super stressful job so she can recover physically and mentally. While she worked she barely did any weight bearing exercises, had an aversion of doctors (read: no annual check-ups), and has had a bad habit of eating out all the time and loading up on carbs. I have seen her weight fluctuate over the past few years, but no one really knows how much she weighs. I suspect this big lady weighs anywhere from 250-350lbs. None of her kids or her husband are willing to suggest healthy changes for a forceful breadwinner of the family. Read: Fear, sensitivity, and dependency between loved ones. Your post nailed it.

    We plan on making a healthy home cooked meal for his mom on Mother’s Day. But this post affirms that we could cook all week for his mom as a subtle way to introduce health eating and lifestyle. When she visited us last year, she kept telling me that I did not have to go through all the trouble of cooking dinner every night for every one. I have been so accustomed to cooking fresh groceries (I try to grocery shop frequently and cook it immediately) that this was no big deal to me. But it was a big deal to her because of her stress habits. When I realize she would polish off her plate and ask for more, I knew that something paid off. And so we are at it again this coming week. Wish us luck with her subtle Mother’s Day “present” all week. I think this is a decent way to deal with my boyfriend’s mom’s weight issues without having to discuss it head-on.

  49. I’ve been telling my mom how much I love smoothies for a while now. We’re both big sweets lovers, and I feel like a spinach smoothie with cacao powder and almond butter is the best sweet-tooth satisfier that you can have and feel good about too! She wasn’t hearing it though – her blender broke recently and even though I suggested she check out a nutribullet, she wasn’t all about it.

    Then one day a couple weeks ago she calls me up and says, “Hey I wanted to tell you I got a nutribullet and have been making all kinds of smoothies. It’s the greatest thing and so easy to clean! And it’s the smoothies taste so good and are so filling!” She went on for a bit about how much she loves it and how she’s making spinach smoothies and even adding things like parsley and mint. I had the same reaction you did, Darya. Surprised, laughing because it was so funny how the light bulb just suddenly went on, but HAPPY because she tried it.

    Just yesterday she bought two more and shipped them to my sisters. 😉

  50. What a beautiful story. Reading about how healthy changes brought happiness to Darya’s father is incredibly inspiring.

  51. Family can defentily be such a pain when it comes to suggesting dietary changes. Specially when you are not ready to receive that information as it pokes on your ego. Following simple guidelines from the USDA is not bad either as a starting point in the quest for a healthy lifestyle.

  52. Ok I started this diet 2 weeks ago. I weighed in at 170 and my body fat was at 15%. Here was my normal diet before I committed to the diet. Oatmeal with protein shake after I woke up. Snack at 10am with fruit. Lunch of whatever. Snack on fruit at 2-3pm. Work out at 5pm-7pm. Eat stir fry mostly at 730. Sleep at around midnight. Weekends eat whatever and drink.

    Since I’ve been on the diet I’ve only lost 1 pound and no body fat.

    Wake up: eggs, different protein like chick or turkey, black beans

    Lunch at around 12: lunch with eggs, lettuce, balsamic vinegar dressing, chick, tomatoes

    3pm: shake with half Muscle milk light and EAS protein shake with glutamine powder

    Work out from 5-7

    Dinner at 730: stir fry with Veges and meat and black beans

    And I drink at least 64 oz of water each day

    Saturday is my cheat day and I’ve eaten all day with my stomach hurting all day!!

    I am pretty disappointed with only losing 1 lb in 2 weeks. What could be the problem. I haven’t touched any supplements. My friends haven’t touched the supplements and have lost a lot of weight. What is my problem!? Thanks for your help!!!

    1. If you want a 1 sentence answer; too much protein from low quality sources and not enough vegetables, starchy carbs and fruit.

      Also, read your own post : My friends aren’t taking supplements, they are losing weight. I take supplements and I am not losing weight. Try to get your nutrients from real food, not supplements. Supplements are the hard alcohol of food, best taken sparingly.

  53. Darya,

    Wonderful post! Great story as well! It’s nice to see someone who believes “habits” are really the answer to weight loss and being healthy. Sounds like your dad learned a wonderful habit from you, without being forced 🙂 That is exactly what I live by and teach to people all around the world. It is actually very rare to run across someone who has such similar beliefs, and who took a similar career path as well. I’ll grab your book and read it this weekend – absolutely looking forward to it. Hopefully we’ll even catch up at some point soon. Inspired to continue on this journey. Thanks again!


    Great stuff as always! T minus one day until I depart from the safety net of my “regular doctor” job. I have you to thank as the catalyst, hands down. My fiancé cried the other day as she read a list of “goals” that I checked off one-by-one over the last 2 years. The funny thing was, I wasn’t even conscious that I was completing them, let alone completing them in the exact order I had written them down. I was only reminded of that list 2 weeks ago, when I stumbled across the list of outrageous goals I set for myself. I owe much of this to you, your beliefs, and your actions. I am eternally grateful.

  54. Thanks so much for this post Darya and to Tim for sharing it here on your blog… this post speaks so directly to me right now as I seem to be hitting my head against a brick wall repeatedly, with little progress when it comes to my own father, and despite him agreeing how important many of Tim’s advice is, he doesn’t “wake up” and realise how important it all he…

    I’m going to give your method a go Darya and if anything I won’t be so hurt by it anymore if he chooses not to try and be healthier and happier etc. Thanks for your help.

  55. This is very helpful. My cousin is obese and I know she’s getting tired of being bullied in college. Even though she does not say anything I know she is very much willing to lose weight. As a starter, I think she is just afraid that people may just laugh at her instead of encouraging her to live a healthy life. I am practicing some of the steps stated above to help her lose weight.

  56. Great post! I bookmarked your site so I can look around when I have more time. I’m looking forward to it 🙂

  57. Nothing tastes as good as thin feels! There are so many people that would be great looking if they lost weight. I would rather jack off than have sex with a big girl.

    1. Family comes first 🙂

      I was completely losing hope because of my father’s habit in eating but when I read your article, I was really moved about this. Imagine, helping a member of your family without sacrificing LOVE?! Whoah! I will surely give this a try to my father. LOL

      I’m gonna post this on facebook for everyone who has also the same problem with me.

  58. I have twin boys and my husband is a junk/processed food junkie, and they picked up the habit of soda/chips/doughnuts and heat and serve stuff. When they were younger I tried to cajole/bribe/force them to eat healthy food. DID NOT WORK. So for the last few years I just let it alone, didn’t comment, and went ahead and made my delicious healthy meals all for myself. Little tastings and watching later, they are now 16 and eat only whole grains, almost no sugar, and local organic fruit, vegetables and meat only. No nagging. My husband is the hold out, and whether he changes or not is up to him (and his Spam and cheeto dinners). One thing that impressed the boys was the disappearance of acne and the surge in energy.

  59. My mom is now 60 and widowed, 7 years ago my dad committed suicide and since then she appears to be getting worse every year despite the constant health reminders I give her about the food and the cigarettes she smokes. I’m 23 and have almost given up/accepted that she is stuck in her ways because every time I do mention this it ends up annoying her. I have attempted this at so many different angles and it’s frustrating to see no results.

    Your article has re-inspired me to try and help her out but it also lacks actual ways how. I am not a doctor nor do I have a book on this stuff nor can I cook that great. My mom is an excellent cook but seems to not venture out of her comfort zone in regards to food. For smoking she has tired an “e-cigarette” but says that it’s too pricey to maintain. Our relationship is strained because of this. I wish I could force my mom to quit smoking and eat healthy but of course that’s not an option despite it being the only conceivable option I have at this point.

    I know this article is old but any advice from anyone could potentially help save my moms life.

    1. I am so sorry about your mom. She sounds depressed and her cigarettes and her food are the only things that she can count on to be there and not leave her. Giving up that habit, along with the nicotine is a killer. Maybe you can go over and just take her out for a walk…a short 5 or 10 minute walk. Do not focus on her quitting smoking. Just get her outside and breathing. Even if it is only once a week, it will be a positive change and something that she is not “failing” at but something new that might feel good. And if she continues once a week, maybe it will inspire more walks and more healthy choices. Try to stay away from mentioning quitting smoking and just focus on something positive. I am here if you want to talk…:)

  60. She must believe that she will live longer if she quits smoking (or cuts down to just one or two cigarettes a day) and eats less (and/or exercises more), and that living longer is well worth the sacrifice. Try to convince her that if she wants to improve her odds of watching her grandchildren grow up (promise her that you intend to have children), she must make the sacrifices. You must convince her that enjoying her grandchildren far outweighs the pleasure she gets from smoking and overeating.

  61. Thanks Tim for posting this info.

    And thanks Darya…you’ve given me some hope. My father is a stubborn man and my mother has struggled for years with his health (he’s already had a stroke and is diagnosed with type II diabetes). There is no quick fix, but I now may have an idea for how to approach something I thought was a lost cause.

  62. I have the same reactions as some others – I just emailed this to a few close friends.

    I’m 50, not perfect health or fitness, but not bad. I’ll probably live until my 80s.

    I have friends my age who will be lucky to make another decade. Imagine being one heart attack in, yet still smoking, salting everything, being almost proud of avoiding exercise, and living off fast foods. It’s like a short term death wish.

    Even small changes at first can make massive differences!

  63. I’ll admit to having forwarded this to a few family members.

    I’m pretty fit, I eat somewhat healthily, I have family that, well, will probably take a decade + off their lives if they do not do something better

    PS: The Roasted Beets recipe is awesome!

  64. I once got a fortune cookie that seems relevant and fundamentally true:

    “Your capacity for patience will be rewarded sooner or later…”


  65. Hi there

    i was hoping to find some advice here but it’s not really relevant to my situation. My dad is very overweight but is a great cook and loves to eat fresh, wholesome, (albeit sometimes rich) food and good wines. He shops at local markets and mostly cooks for himself and the family, but he’s very overweight and getting bigger all the time – I think it’s the portion sizes, lack of proper exercise (hard to start when you’re overweight and your joints ache) and a bit too much alcohol. So how can I help him to lose weight? He’s very sensitive on this topic… I’ve tried to tell him it’s important to me but he gets anxious and offended.

    1. Hey Sarah,

      I “know” your dad!!! I have worked with many clients that are just like your dad. It is so hard for most family members to hear any type of advise from another family member, right??? Same with the husbands and wives I have worked with. “I TOLD him so many times exactly the same thing!!!” First, your dad has to want to make the change. He is getting offended because he KNOWS he has to but he does not WANT to yet. He KNOWS you care and his health is on the line but until he is ready, he is only going to be upset when you bring it up because he knows he is letting you down. I would be happy to talk to you…or your dad…or both. 🙂 Good luck…this is so much deeper than food.

  66. Oh, I so agree. My experience was so similar….and now I am a beet and brussels sprouts lover and have incorporate vegetables fully into my life. I started out three years ago and have lost 130 lbs and have been exercising almost daily for two and a half years. My husband actually finds all my energy a bit annoying….

  67. Beets are high in sugar, so not suitable for people dealing with candida, for instance, though of course very good for athletes and cardiovascular patients (or people with high blood pressure) due to the nitric oxide.

    However… by roasting them so thoroughly, aren’t you creating AGEs?

    Also, the recipe seems overly complicated to me… I cannot quite follow the processing you describe. I’d just roast them, cool them and mix with some of the chevre and mint.

  68. Tim,following you is on the verge of changing my life for the better,but i’m having a hard time believing that all you accomplish you struggle to be happy daily,all that said i m starting to relate

  69. Wow, even though the actual topic is a passion of mine, I don’t even care– the amount of selfless, patient LOVE you show towards your father is just amazing. For a girl who is estranged from abusive parents, this has me nearly in tears. What an incredible reminder of what kind of person I want to be.

    And… another reminder (yes, I’m part Italian) that food is love… 😉

  70. Lovely lovely story Tim about you and your Dad – very inspirational in a very down to earth way 🙂 thank you