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EATING GREENS, SHEDDING POUNDS

I met Al Knauss, a slim, kind-faced 55-year-old man, at an Indianapolis Vegetarian Society potluck dinner. I found it hard to believe this hospital president used to be a "meat and potatoes pudgo," in his words. When he dropped meat from his diet almost two years ago, he also dropped 40 pounds. But it was more than the meat; he changed everything about the way he ate.

Cancer does that. Diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer, which had metasticized to his lymph nodes, he and his wife, Kathy, who shortly after was diagnosed with leukemia, adopted the macrobiotic diet. They eliminated all meat (except occasional fish), sugar, dairy, eggs, and salt from their life. Instead, they eat 50 to 60 percent whole grains, 20 to 30 percent vegetables, and five to 10 percent protein-rich bean products. They also drink lots of purified water.

"When I entered the world of vegetarianism, losing weight wasn't necessarily my goal. I wanted to get better," Knauss says. "But since I've lost the weight and begun eating the right foods I have much more energy and a clearer mind." And both he and his wife are in remission-cancer free. They attribute this to their medical treatment and their change in eating habits.

Macrobiotics is a way of life for the Knauss's. It's for that reason that most vegetarians, when they lose weight, usually keep it off, says Indianapolis nutritionist Pam Pedigo, RD. "Vegetarians generally have higher success because it's a lifestyle for them, not a fad diet," she says. "In my experience they're generally slimmer and keep weight off because, overall, they are more health conscious. They usually exercise, don't smoke, don't drink alcohol excessively, and tend to eat out in restaurants with high-fat foods less often."

Also, vegetarians usually eat more nutrient-dense foods, which gives them more mileage on less fuel, says Ann Louise Gittleman, MS, author of several books on nutrition, including Your Body Knows Best (Pocket Books, 1996). "It's not a matter of calories or quantity so much as quality of foods you eat," she says. "If you're nutritionally satisfied you're not going to want to eat more."

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE -->Written by: Leslie Krampf


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