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The 80/10/10 Diet: A Book Review
By Justin Lelia

Dr. Graham occasionally mentioned that he was working on a book that would define his life’s work in the field of nutrition.  I was always excited to hear this because I have been studying his diet and lifestyle for over six years.   Recently, I asked Dr. D what was new and exciting in his life.  He acted surprised, “Are you kidding?” he questioned.  The printing of The 80/10/10 Diet is the most important event in the raw food movement since Kulvinskas’ Survival in the Twenty First Century was published, he declared.  I had never heard Dr. Graham speak so boldly.  What would he include in his latest book that wasn’t in his other products?  How would he impress us with this long awaited project?

My first impression of the actual book itself was that it was thick compared to his other books.  The 80/10/10 Diet is 348 pages and the font is considerably smaller than that of Nutrition and Athletic Performance and Grain Damage.

The Preface finds Dr. D filled with excitement.  “I feel ecstatic”, he proclaims, “that I finally have succeeded in writing about the program I have taught for years in the raw and vegetarian communities…Now, with sample calculations in hand, I stand before the raw-food community with clear evidence of the dangerously high fat consumption common in our ranks—and with a clear articulated plan for those who wish to raise the bar a notch and reach for the ultimate low-fat plan for raw health.”  Yet, don’t get the doctor wrong, The 80/10/10 Diet is not just for raw fooders and vegetarians.   It is not an “all or nothing proposition”.  This program allows you to continue eating the way you have while introducing you to a unique perspective on nutrition, using real health foods, fruits and vegetables, as your source of energy.   “Direction, not speed, is the most important aspect of learning to succeed with 80/10/10.”  Dr. D encourages. 

After a touching Tribute to T.C. Fry, and the doctor’s warm Acknowledgments, we reach the Introduction.   Here, Dr. D points out how Americans are fatter and sicker than ever, they do not recognize nutritional science, and they are busy treating symptoms of illness instead of creating health.  The fact is that Americans get 25% of their calories from junk food: soft drinks, alcohol, sweets and desserts.  Furthermore, in a head to test of basic nutrition knowledge between patients and doctors, the patients won.  But what’s most sad, in Dr. Graham’s opinion, is seeing people who are so obsessed with healing their diseases, losing or gaining weight, and feeling excited about life, that they are willing to sacrifice their own well-being and vitality over it.  He wants you to know that image is not everything; that what you will become attracted to with 80/10/10 is your own personal growth.  And this book, in his words, was created “as a definitive resource for those who want to reach for the sky.”

How catchy the trademark 80/10/10 looks on the colorful cover.  These numbers represent an important benchmark that takes some understanding to grasp.  80/10/10 represents a fuel mixture, a ratio between the three nutrients in which we derive calories from.  The three nutrients represented by 80/10/10 are carbohydrates, proteins and fat, respectively.  When people eat, they primarily do so to fuel themselves, if you will.  After doing twenty years of dietary analysis for his clients, Dr. Graham found that typical Americans eat 42 % of their diet’s calories from carbs, 16% from protein, and 42% from fat.  The target 80/10/10 represents a high carbohydrate, low protein, low fat diet where one eats, at minimum, 80% of his or her calories from sugar (predominantly found in sweet fruits), and a maximum of 10% of their calories each from protein and fat.  According to Dr. Graham’s research this is the macronutrient ratio that nature has designed humans to thrive on.   By teaching us how to use the percentage of calories model, Dr. Graham helps us to discuss and compare appropriate carbohydrate, protein, and fat consumption, despite our personal differences like gender, activity levels and weight, for instance. 

The first chapter of the book “determines our true dietary nature” leading us to the conclusion that we are frugivorous animals, most similar in our anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and psychology to the anthropoid primates.  It may sound weird, since we are used to eating whatever we would like, and we are proud of being civilized, but chapter one does a thorough job of showing us how we are not designed by nature to eat meat, grains, grass, weeds, leaves, tubers, legumes, milk, fermented foods and other common foods we eat.   Furthermore, Dr. D says that we are not fat eaters either.  Sure, we may enjoy an occasional avocado or handful of nuts and seeds, but we are designed to thrive on the carbohydrates in delicious fruits like the species most closely and genetically related to us. 

“Meeting Fruit Concerns Head-On” is one of the more important chapters of this book.  Anybody’s whose fruit eating has ever been questioned, will appreciate this chapter immensely.   There is interesting information here for the fruit lover to use on those occasions where someone accuses fruit sugar for the cause of disease, or when someone blames fruit eating for his or her feeling “spacey” or “out of sorts”.  Dr. D writes that, “feeling ‘spacey’ after eating fruit doesn’t happen on a long term low-fat diet.” With amazing clarity, Doug proves how fat, not fruit, is the cause of sugar metabolic problems.  He provides a solid education in biology, pathology, and physiology that has yet to been seen in any other raw food or commercial health book I have read.  Dr. D did some serious homework in order to combat those who are condemning fruit.

Although non-fiction self-help books are not known for paradox, in Chapter 8, Dr. Graham uses his wit to illustrate the ironic fate that awaits the new raw food enthusiast.  This is the most entertaining and fascinating chapter of the book.  Dr. D explains how the majority of raw vendors, chefs, speakers, trainers, restaurateurs etc. sell fatty products because people tend to gravitate towards high fat diets.  He writes, “With delight and abandon, they eat their fill of luscious raw concoctions that are tremendously rich and difficult to digest, certain that they have reached ‘nutritional nirvana’.   In the back of their minds, they may recall someone having mentioned that these are ‘transitional’ or ‘celebration’ foods, but today they are still celebrating their transition…and what a party it is.”  Dr. D sounds as sharp and witty as the great health writer Dr. Herbert Shelton.  Dr. D explains how many people can’t escape the high-fat current of our culture.  He reports what he has seen at the vendors’ booth next to his at the festivals he attended, what’s being served at the raw restaurants, potlucks, retreats, trainings and festivals.   Like the detective Colombo, he proves to us how raw fooder’s eat more fat than their cooked counterparts.  Dr. Graham gets credit for his courage here, ringing the alarm on the unhealthy raw food market.

          Chapter 8 puts the 80/10/10 challenge into perspective.   Some of the biggest pitfalls of achieving health are being dug by well-meaning raw fooder’s them-selves.   Dr. Graham doesn’t want you to be misled, so he includes five incredible reasons why “cooked or raw, too much fat is still too much fat”.   Insights about cancer, diabetes, heart disease, adrenal related diseases, and The China and Framingham Heart Studies are mentioned. 

Also, Doug analyzes “Why Raw Fooders Eat So Much Fat” and what they are actually eating that allow them to eat 60%+fat.   Doug takes us on journey of an actual raw fooder’s daily fare and recalling this lady who swore she ate a low fat diet only to find after he crunched the numbers, that she ate almost half her calories from fat.  He provides interesting comparisons between staple raw meals and standard American ones.  In Nuts and Seeds Take the Place of Meat and Dairy, he compares the amount of fat in a nut loaf and a veg-nut loaf to the fat in an 8oz hamburger.  Both loafs easily topped the fat content of the burger.  

He shows us how the common method of replacing grains with seeds, when making raw crackers, leads to a much “fatter” cracker than Nabisco, Triscuit and Ritz produce because seeds are high in fat.  The flaxseed, which contains the least fat of all the nuts and seeds, packs 58% of its’ calories from fat.  Making crackers out of seeds may help someone to stay raw, but Dr. Graham shows us that there’s more to good nutrition than simply staying raw.  It’s important to eat a low fat diet.  And what do raw fooder’s like to eat with their flax crackers?  Dr. D answers, “Why, a nice fatty nut and veggie spread, a seed cheese, or guacamole, of course.”  The sarcasm continues as Dr. D explains a sidebar called “Fat in Raw vs. Traditional Pie”.    He writes, “The fat in a raw pie crust makes the Pillsbury Doughboy look lean.”

What I loved most about Chapter 8 is the section on Fatty Fruits—and Lot’s of Them.  I can’t help but refer to my own challenge of eating 80/10/10. 

One afternoon in 2001, Dr. Graham treated me to a meal of durian in Chinatown, Manhattan.  I had only just recently developed a liking for the rich Asian delicacy, and I was no sooner convinced that I would like to live on it, maybe even visit Thailand to eat fresh ones.  Durian contains between 20-30% of its’ calories from fat and is one of the world’s most unique fruits because of it’s smell, look and texture.  It is shipped to the U.S. frozen from Southeast Asia. 

Years have passed since I heard Dr. Graham tell me that durian isn’t a food to eat often, but I haven’t listened.  I really enjoy this fatty/sweet treat. I’ve eaten durian meals every week since Dr. D helped introduce them to me.  Dr. Graham keeps saying that durian isn’t ideal, but I keep eating durian after durian anyway.  As I write this, there are two durians in my fridge.  Now, with the publishing of Doug’s attractive book and his catchy trademark 80/10/10, he’s carved an indelible standard in the area of nutrition and health.  Such a mark of excellence was what drew me to the raw food diet in the first place.  It makes more sense to keep the fat under 10% of your total calories.  Time to eat less durian and more fresh low fat fruit.    

Dr. D hits us from many angles in order to teach us why we ought to eat more simple carbohydrates and less fat.   There’s something for everyone in The 80/10/10 Diet.   There is humor, easy to follow calculations, fascinating facts and sidebars, wild testimonials, recipes, recipes, recipes, irony, and motivation.  What I love the most from the book is the philosophy of Natural Hygiene, the science of health that Dr. D so artfully represents.  T.C. Fry and Dr. Shelton, two of the greatest hygienists, would be proud of this work.  No matter if you’re a veteran health enthusiast or rookie health seeker, it will be hard to deny that The 80/10/10 Diet is an incredibly well done project that only an extremely healthy person could succeed in completing.  I’m glad I own a copy, and I plan to refer to certain chapters in order to refine my low fat diet.   This book will be read for many generations to come, and I will be surprised if anyone, including Dr. Graham himself, can produce a more important work in the field of health and nutrition. 

Click here to link to where you can purchase the book.   




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