How Not to Die By Dr. Greger – Plant-based nutrition book summary

I have long been a fan of NutritionFacts.org. Funded only by donations from individual visitors, Dr. Michael Greger and his team read every English-language journal article on nutrition every year and share their critical analysis free of charge. When it can feel like everyone is trying to manipulate and profit off of others, sources like these stand out as much more credible to me.

After a long wait from the library, I have finally read Dr. Greger’s book How Not to Die. Again, all proceeds go directly to fund his free educational website – he takes no compensation. For most books I discuss on here, I provide a comprehensive summary of the key takeaways as I see them. For this one, though, you can just go directly to NutritionFacts.org and search for any and all the information that interests you. If you’d still prefer a summary, check out the one done by Chewfo or the video published by Dr. Greger himself.

Instead, I’d like to share with you the little notes I took for myself to give you an idea of what the book offers.


First up, probably the most controversial: a whole foods, plant-based diet recommendation. This blog demonstrates how open I am to considering all different ways of eating and I still believe that there is no one right way – not only because we are individuals with different needs and different reactions to foods, but also because a good diet I can incorporate into my life is heaps better than a great diet I can’t keep up. All that said, this book devotes the first half to explaining exactly why a whole foods, plant-based diet is best for optimal health and avoiding the 15 leading causes of death.

One of those causes is depression. I’m aware that with the exception of the most severely depressed, anti-depressant medication has not been proven to be more effective than the placebo effect. If capable of exercise, 30 minutes of walking is at least as effective as those drugs without the negative side effects. And interestingly, certain foods are naturally beneficial for mood-enhancing neurotransmitters: apples, grapes, onions, green tea, cinnamon, and sesame, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds.

Plus, an intriguing theory was presented: since consuming a lot of manufactured highly-palatable foods can make a person less sensitive to the dopamine it continually spikes, which often leads people to overeat those foods trying to reach the original “high,” some people then find it harder to achieve their usual “reward” feelings from other sources in their lives – this can lead to the common symptoms of low motivation and reduced interest towards things enjoyed before depression. By eating mainly whole foods, not only will you soon better appreciate their tastes but you can also better appreciate the joys of life.

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The Diet Fix Reset (Book Summary)

Day 1: Gear Up

  • Body weight scale for the start and finish of the 10-Day Reset
  • Digital food scale
  • Measuring spoons and cups (maybe 2 sets)
  • Journal or food diarizing app
  • First grocery shop: mostly real foods and minimal processed foods (avoid trans-fat) including solid proteins and complex carbs (i.e. whole grain instead of instant oatmeal)
  • Tupperware and Ziplock bags
  • Comfy exercise clothes and shoes
  • Clean and organized kitchen

Day 2: Diarize

  • Record in real time food and exercise without changing anything
  • Track hunger and cravings as well as any emotions or thoughts related to food
  • At the end of the day, rank from 1 to 10 the “day’s degree of difficulty”
  • Use for data, not judgement, to guide future decisions
  • Keep a food journal for at least 30 days – maybe forever for maintenance – and if you try stopping, start daily weighing to keep it within 3 pounds

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Tracy Anderson Method Day 8

In 7 days following Tracy Anderson’s Metamorphosis exercise plan and her book’s meal plan, I’ve gone from 168.6 pounds and 34% body fat to 161.6 pounds and 33% body fat!

Yesterday was my rest day and boy did I rest. I made meals from leftovers because that day seemed so unappetizing, but I still based it around previous days on the meal plan. Despite the great results, I’ve been contemplating ending the plan earlier than 30 days… maybe 2 weeks… I’m worried I’ll injure myself working out because I don’t have a strong enough foundation. The moves requiring core strength are particularly tough for me to keep balance, nevermind complete the move properly, which Tracy emphasizes is key. And I’m not feeling in a rush to lose all the weight in a month. 

Mixing it up and hopefully making the eating side of things easier, I’m moving from the book to the Metamorphosis meal plan. It starts with a “nutrient boost” week of pureed foods, the same meal every day. We’ll see how satisfied I am eating the same thing every day – I don’t actually anticipate a problem. And preparing all the meals in advance should be a lot easier than last week.

As planned, I ate about every 2 hours. I don’t have or want a juicer, so I bought freshly juiced kale, spinach, carrots, and celery which was fine, I’ve had it before. Second was blueberry applesauce, which I’ve also had last week, and it was much appreciated. Third, sweet potato and corn didn’t blend too well in my Magic Bullet but still tasted pretty good. Fourth, carrot and parsnip puree was good too! Fifth, gazpacho… not so good, but tolerable. I may switch it out for Tracy’s broccoli soup. Sixth, the chicken vegetable soup is good, also a repeat from last week. And finally, the chocolate chestnut pudding. The Magic Bullet let me down again but it was still delicious! I love having chocolate on a diet!

I decided to do the muscular structure workout before cardio this time because I was really struggling last time. I performed a teeny tiny bit better. And then I slacked off in cardio, taking breaks the whole way through. I still worked up a good sweat but didn’t feel over-winded afterward like usual. I feel like doing a bit of an experiment – do I need to go 100% in cardio or can I get my desired results by challenging myself at an enjoyable level?

Tracy Anderson Method Days 2-6

In 5 days on the Tracy Anderson Method, my weight has dropped from 168.6 to 162.8 pounds and the scale says my body fat percentage has gone down with it! I feel very good about what I’ve accomplished already. I did just under an hour of intense sweaty burning exercise 6 days in a row and I’ve been committed to the meal plan.

It’s been tough, though not exactly in the ways I expected. I knew the cardio would be very difficult so the first day, I just did as much as I could, which was 15 of the 29 minutes. Each day thereafter, I’m proud to say I’ve added one minute more, plus two minutes at the very end. So today, Day 6, I completed 22 minutes of jumping nearly non-stop. It’s very challenging, but each extra minute has been doable when I make it a must. 

I thought the toning, the muscular structure workout, would become easier as I grew more familiar with the movements. I improved over the first few days, but today I regressed a bit taking several big breaks and really half-assing the final set of reps. I felt like I just couldn’t do more. I know I could, though, because I did just yesterday. I think part of it was fatigue from a long day yesterday and a generally lower mood today than the previous 5 days. I have to remember why I’m doing this and insist on a regular habit to achieve those results.  

Now, the diet was the area where I anticipated the most trouble but it’s been a breeze compared to the exercise. Sure, a few of the meals haven’t been very unappetizing, but I haven’t really been hungry and I haven’t really had cravings – which quite rare for this Miss Emotional Eater. I’ve even gone out with friends a couple times and watched everyone else eat while I sit there with my water, not hungry, only feeling a little weird. Still, I haven’t been able to be 100% because of mistakes I’ve made with grocery shopping, cooking, and understanding the portions from the book. 

Thank God tomorrow is a rest day from exercise! I need it! It’s so hard I’ve contemplated a few times trying something less intensive, more diet-based, but then I recommit to the original minimum 30 days. One thing I’m changing is from the book’s meal plan to the Metamorphosis dynamic eating plan. The biggest frustration with the diet has been unclear portions and wasteful ingredients, which doesn’t look to be an issue with Metamorphosis. I’m excited to make that component easier (and have chocolate every day for the first week) plus hopeful the rest day will help me get back to progress with the exercise.

Tracy Anderson Method Day 1

I’m so excited for the Tracy Anderson Method, I just can’t hide it. So I’m sharing. A lot. I’m doing the meal plan from Tracey’s 30-day bootcamp book with the cardio and toning from her hip-centric metamorphosis set. I wrestled with this decision because most of what I read about bingeing is to avoid dieting. But “normal” healthy eating is much harder for me and I believe getting started with new recipes and a plan already set will really help get in that habit as well as retrain my hunger cues and taste buds.

Yesterday was too busy to stock up on groceries, so I hopped to the store this morning for breakfast ingredients. Then later I trudged through the rain for a larger haul from a different grocery store. Unfortunately, I haven’t been too lucky in the availability of required ingredients. Strawberry Mint SaladSo I’m substituting. A lot.

To start, strawberries in the morning were delicious with cilantro and honey (because I couldn’t find the mint and agave called for in the recipe). And for me, it was satisfying. I love sweetness way more than fatty foods so this plan fits my tastes better than diets like Paleo.

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