Beverly Hills Diet

Definition

The Beverly Hills diet is a fad diet created by Judy Mazel (1943–2007). Mazel believed that weight loss could be achieved by eating foods in the proper combinations and in the correct order. Her diet is strongly opposed by mainstream medical organizations, including the American Medical Association.

Origins

Judy Mazel claimed to be an overweight child who struggled with her weight for 20 years. She was told by a doctor that she was “destined to always be fat.” Six months after this pronouncement, she went skiing and broke her leg. While she was recuperating, she read a book on nutrition that a friend had given her. From this she developed her ideas about how the body works and how to lose weight and stay thin.

Mazel reported that she used her new theories to lose 72 lb (29 kg) without ever regaining the weight. In 1981, she published her diet in The Beverly Hills Diet. The original book reportedly sold more than one million copies, and in 1996 Mazel published a revised and updated version called The New Beverly Hills Diet. Mazel also wrote a cookbook designed to go with the diet as well as The New Beverly Hills Diet Skinny Little Companion, a slim volume designed to provide inspiration and tips to help dieters through their first 35 days on the diet.

Mazel died at age 63 due to complications from peripheral vascular disease.

Description

The Beverly Hills diet is based on the idea that the order and combinations in which foods are eaten causes weight gain. Mazel claimed that eating foods in the wrong order could stop some foods from being digested, causing fat build-up. The diet divides foods into four groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, and fats. Fruit, even different types of fruit, must always be eaten alone. If a different type of food is eaten, such as a protein, the dieter must wait until the next day to eat fruit again.

On the Beverly Hills diet, protein and carbohydrates cannot be eaten together. Most dairy products fall under the protein group for purposes of categorization. This means that dieters can drink milk with protein meals but not with carbohydrate meals. Fat is allowed to be eaten with either group but may not be eaten with fruit.

The order throughout the day in which food is eaten is very important on the Beverly Hills diet. Each day, fruit should be eaten first. After fruit, the carbohydrate group can be eaten, then protein. Once a dieter has changed food groups, he or she cannot eat from the previous groups again until the next day. Dieters must wait two hours between eating foods from different food groups.

The diet provides readers with a 35-day plan. Every day, dieters are told what foods are allowed and in what order they must be eaten. Most foods do not have a quantity limit. Instead, dieters may consume as much of a given food as desired until they move on to the next food. Dieters must eat the foods in the order listed and cannot go back or make substitutions. The diet is very restrictive, with most days allowing no more than two or three types of foods.

For example, on the first day of the diet, dieters are instructed to eat pineapple, corn on the cob, and a salad made of lettuce, tomatoes, and onions with Mazel dressing (a recipe included in the book that shows up frequently throughout the diet). This means that dieters may eat as much pineapple as desired in the morning, but once they begin eating corn on the cob, they cannot go back and eat more pineapple. Once the salad is eaten, both corn on the cob and pineapple are no longer allowed. Dieters are instructed to wait between changing foods to ensure proper digestion.

Some days on the new Beverly Hills diet, only one type of food is permitted during the entire day. Day three of the diet allows the dieter only to consume grapes. On other days, the dieter is only allowed to eat watermelon. Although these rules are extremely restrictive, they are not as restrictive as original Beverly Hills diet—on that diet, dieters were only allowed to eat fruit for the first 10 days, and animal protein was not allowed until the nineteenth day. The new Beverly Hills diet includes vegetables and carbohydrates occasionally during the first week and lamb chops and shrimp on the sixth day.

Function

The Beverly Hills diet promises dieters that they will lose up to 25 lb. (11.5 kg) in 35 days. The Beverly Hills Diet is intended to be a lifestyle, and dieters are expected to continue to follow the rules of the diet after the 35 days of meal plans are finished. The diet does not provide exercise recommendations.

Benefits

Although there are benefits to losing weight, the Beverly Hills diet is very restrictive and is not recommended. A healthy rate of weight loss is 1–2 lb. (0.454–0.907 kg) per week. It may also be difficult to consume enough calories while on this diet. Very low-calorie diets, which are diets below 800 calories per day, are usually medically supervised. Following such a restrictive diet for an extended period of time could result in nutritional deficiencies.

KEY TERMS
Dietary supplement—
A product, such as a vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, or enzyme, that is intended to be consumed in addition to an individual's diet with the expectation that it will improve health.
Mineral—
An inorganic substance found in the earth that is necessary in small quantities for the body to maintain health. Examples: zinc, copper, iron.
Very low-calorie diet (VLCD)—
A term used by registered dietitians to classify weight-reduction diets that allow around 800 calories or less a day.
Vitamin—
A nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to remain healthy but that the body cannot manufacture for itself and must acquire through diet.

Precautions

The new Beverly Hills diet's website, while no longer active, cautioned that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people with diabetes, ulcers, spastic colon, or various forms of irritable bowel disease should not follow this diet. The website also cautioned that anyone with a serious illness or chronic disease should only begin this diet under medical supervision.

Even dieters who do not have a serious illness should consult a doctor or other medical professional if considering this diet. It limits important sources of nutrients and is not recommended. A physician or registered dietitian will be able to suggest alternative and healthy diets.

Risks

This diet requires that dieters eat only a small variety of foods each day, and on some days, only one type of food is allowed. No protein is allowed until the sixth day of the diet and it is not included regularly after that. This means that it will be extremely hard for dieters to get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are needed each day for good health. No vitamin or supplement can replace eating a healthy, balanced diet.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR

The excessive consumption of fruit and the limited consumption of other foods may cause diarrhea, which can lead to severe dehydration and malnutrition. People considering this diet are advised against it and should talk to a medical professional about safe options for losing weight.

Research and general acceptance

There is no scientific evidence to support Mazel's claims. In 1981, after the original Beverly Hills diet book debuted, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article stressing the dangers of the diet. It called the diet “the latest, and perhaps worst, entry in the diet-fad derby” and said that the diet could cause severe enough diarrhea to cause fever, muscle weakness, and, in the most severe cases, extreme drops in blood pressure that could lead to death. The article told physicians to discourage their patients from trying this diet.

People interested in the Beverly Hills diet are strongly encouraged to meet with a registered dietitian or physician to discuss alternative options for weight loss. The Beverly Hills diet is highly restrictive and is both impractical and potentially dangerous in the long term. Federal sources such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate ( ChooseMyPlate.gov ) provide consumers with credible information on a well-rounded diet.

See also Artificial preservatives ; Artificial sweeteners ; Calorie restriction ; Carbohydrates ; Dehydration ; Fad diets ; Malnutrition .

Resources

BOOKS

Mazel, Judy, and Michael Wyatt. The New Beverly Hills Diet. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1996.

Mazel, Judy, and Susan Shultz. The Beverly Hills Diet. New York: Macmillan, 1981.

Mazel, Judy. The Beverly Hills Style. New York: Stein and Day, 1985.

PERIODICALS

Mirkin, G. B., and R. N. Shore. “The Beverly Hills Diet. Dangers of the Newest Weight Loss Fad.” Journal of the American Medical Association 246, no. 19 (November 13, 1981): 2235–37.

WEBSITES

U.S. Department of Agriculture. “MyPlate.” ChooseMyPlate.gov . http://www.choosemyplate.gov (accessed April 12, 2018).

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th ed. December 2015. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/ (accessed May 1, 2018).

ORGANIZATIONS

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plz., Ste. 2000, Chicago, IL, 60606-6995, (312) 899-0040, (800) 877-1600, amacmunn@eatright.org, http://www.eatright.org .

U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC, 20250, (202) 720-2791, http://www.usda.gov .

Tish Davidson, AM
Revised by Laura Jean Cataldo, RN, EdD

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.