Meatless Monday Inspiration: Have You Read the Body Ecology Diet?

Me and this book go back. It’s more than ten years ago now that my mother gave me this candida-fighting bible, all dog-eared pages and post-it notes. So I was a little starstruck last month when I met author Donna Gates in the flesh at an event with Tata Harper. Donna was very excited about the natural beauty movement—and after our conversation, I was excited to go home and revisit some of the lessons of Body Ecology. It didn’t hurt that Donna, who looks about half her age, has skin that glows and not a gray hair on her head (she swears she has the secret to reversing grays… I plan to ask her about it!)

While the book is largely geared towards candida sufferers, it has some interesting health advice for all. In fact, I know a couple of people who swear that the diet reversed certain conditions—including some seriously pesky skin problems.

One of the book’s big messages is about probiotic and cultured foods (as well as sea vegetables)—which I’ve been rediscovering and quite enjoying. You know, kimchi, sauerkraut and all those delicious bubbly vegetable concoctions that are thought to seriously aid with digestion? I’d kind of forgotten about this category and I’m excited to have it back on the menu; good digestion has never been my strong suit. For the record, the Body Ecology Diet does not preach entirely vegan eating, but it is chockful of great vegan recipes and was probably one of the first popular health books that encouraged people to source meat responsibly—and to eat much less of it.

Have you read it or tried any of the recipes? I think I’m going to try to make my own sauerkraut this week!

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19 Responses to “Meatless Monday Inspiration: Have You Read the Body Ecology Diet?”
  1. I LOVE this book. As a Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach I implement a lot of Donna’s advice in my practice. Probiotic foods and proper food-combining can, likk you said,truly change someones digestive and skin health!
    And I’ve started making my own sauerkraut at home! It is much easier than you think.

    I wrote about it for MindBodyGreen – Here’s how:

    Thank you ladies for a great book, excellent website and amazing passion. You are true inspirations!

    All my best,
    Katrine van Wyk, HHC

  2. Naomi says:

    Wow – I’ve just read some reviews of it and my jaw is hanging open at the idea that so many of my own seemingly unrelated complaints could be tied into one physiological issue! (Lower back pain, joint stiffness, bloating, asthma, weight gain despite becoming much more calorie conscious, fatigue…) A few descriptions of the meals recommended in the book have been mouth-watering so I feel confident I will be able to adjust without too much difficulty. I’m ordering my copy today!

  3. nancy says:

    It seems that I just emerged from under a rock…I never heard about it and you say that you and the book go back ten years! :) Sure to open another great discussion with all postings that will come ….I’ll be looking forward for the day you post her secret on reversing gray hairs..

  4. Frannie says:

    Surprisingly I hadn’t heard of it either. I will check it out. I must say though, I wish you hadn’t mentioned kimchi. I can’t stand it~ Anxiously awaiting the info on reversing gray hair…

  5. Deanna says:

    So I took the quiz on that site … I’m sorry but this sounds fishy. The symptoms they ask you to report are so common — who doesn’t have occasional upset stomachs, headaches, feels tired or stressed? I think a more natural way of looking at the world is that we aren’t going to be in perfect health all the time. We should not have an expectation that our systems and bodies are functioning 100 percent perfect 100 percent of the time.

  6. eva says:

    I’ve been scouring the site too – and like Deanna I’m naturally wary of the idea (and the promise) that we should be GLOWING WITH HEALTH ALL THE TIME. I’m all for being more healthy but it strikes me as very…American, in a way, this idea that Perfect Health is just around the corner, if we only contort ourselves into yet another yoga position (but of course don’t stress about it!) and gobble up another (pricey) green powder. And supplement. And yet another supplement. In this economy, I don’t know who can afford to spend 80 bucks a month just on these supplements alone (and that’s the cheapest package!)

    I guess there’s just an inherent contraction in a part of the whole beauty/health movement that we perhaps don’t often recognize, in the sense that the message is all about empowering us – but of course it’s also about making money for a lot of people pushing that message.

    Still, I have long wanted to figure out more about pro-biotics and fermented food. And I’m getting the book because I do want to learn more and hey, I’m *always* up for being healthier. Just wondering if anyone else got a bit of an ambivalent vibe from the Body Ecology website?
    Perhaps it was just the lay out and the general tone that raised a red flag for me.

    Has anyone out there in NMDL land any experiences with following this sort of diet?

  7. Rachel says:

    I’ve had this on my wish list for a while now…you’ve just inspired me to pull the trigger and order it!

  8. Rebecca says:

    The appearance of the website didn’t lead me to want to look more, and a second click confirmed it’s selling a bunch of products. I didn’t go further, and I realize I’m making a superficial judgement there – just the way it’s presented doesn’t appeal to me. That said, I’m not opposed to supplements and do take some. From the description of the book it does sound like something I’d be interested in.

    Eating raw and vegan and getting rid of gluten completely changed my digestive system. I had what can politely be called extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient digestive malfunction, but I thought that was my “normal.” (have you seen the commercial for a gas reliever: “your son Rip is on line toot”?) And who knew I could actually get through a day without Immodium?? I am a HUGE believer in fermented foods too. Raw kombucha is a necessity for me!

  9. Jennifer says:

    You know, I used to think that headaches, fatigue, and stomach aches were natural…until I totally changed my diet. I used to be calorie conscious, but never lost weight! Even exercised and nothing. When I cut out ALL processed foods, ALL chemical additives, limited meat to just a few times a month, eliminated refined sugars and flours, added whole grains and TONS of veggies (especially greens), EVERYTHING changed!!! I lost 30 lbs. I was not longer tired (and I have three kids!!!). My migraines went away. My hypoglycemia went away. My stomach and digestion in general feel healthy and normal. I never knew what normal was. I have not read this book. The basis of my food changes comes from Pollan’s Food Rules, Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, and Miller’s Jungle Effect. But, I would like to read it because I suspect that it will confirm what I already know. I really encourage people to give this a go.

    Let me also say, as my family and I went this route, it took some adjusting. I decided to swear off all processed foods. That meant I learned to make bread, yogurt, cheese, granola. I have brought some things back (it has been over a year now). I buy cheese made by others. I buy whole grain pasta. I still make my own bread, yogurt, and granola. I buy handmade soap. I make my own beauty supplies. I make my own deodorant. I buy Intelligent Nutrients conditioner and styling products. It is all completely worth the effort. I feel better than I have ever felt! My husband and I were just discussing the cost of better food and beauty products how much better it has made our lives for the health it has brought us.

  10. MacKey says:

    I have heard of the book and the Body Ecology Diet. I totally love Kefir made from young green coconut water. However I don’t believe in taking a whole array of supplements; been there, done that, and the effects weren’t all that. So now I’ve changed my diet into fruit and vegetables (mostly fruits), and I love it, and I love the effects. Finally I’ve found relief from decades of various health problems, and hopefully I’ll be able to heal my body completely.

    Oh, and let me just say that Rhassoul Clay is a must try. I’ve begun using it as a facial, body and hair cleanser and it’s superb. It has made my rosacea so much better in just a couple of weeks, so now I use only the clay, some rosewater and 100% pure Argan oil. That’s my simple routine and I need nothing else now. I also need less moisturizer for the body as the clay helps with dryness as well, and my hair is stronger and soft like silk.

  11. comagirl says:

    Jennifer, that is really inspirational and I agree with you 100%. I adhere to Pollan’s Food Rules as well, because they are just based pm common sense as well as extremely practical. (I also started baking my own bread this year. What a difference.)

    Cheers to everyone who posted some practical skepticism with regard to this book and the over-the-top-commercial looking website. I wasn’t going to bite, but because of your posts I checked it out and I could not agree more. The book may or may not be great, but the website is a real turn-off and one I cannot get past.

    As for fermented foods – I used to gag on sauerkraut as a child, so that is a big no-no for me. I know myself and I could not stick to a diet that I couldn’t enjoy and that is what food is all about – breaking bread together, savoring, socializing. It is much more than sustainance.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Just wondering if anyone’s survived three months on this? How did you guys get the willpower? I feel its all very overwhelming, and I can never stick to cleanses.

  13. Tania Barnes says:

    There’s a lot that’s dubious about this study, but before you go thinking that kimchi, sauerkraut and pickles are the cure for all that ails you:

  14. eva says:

    Okay, I’m somewhat relieved to see that I’m not the only one with a few red flags about this website. I’d still really like to read the book and try to parse some information from it. I mean, I guess it can’t be shocking to claim that saukerkraut is super-healthy, right?

    I’m a firm believer in the multitasking of awesome clean products (like raw honey) and that sound practices like yoga and meditation benefit us in numerous, often surprising ways. But the claims about this diet essentially curing the symptoms of conditions as diverse as autism AND aids AND multiple sclerosis AND acne…..well, that just seems a suspect, On a personal level, the long and emotional testimonials about vaccines and autism really touched a nerve too. Someone every close to me was diagnosed (incorrectly as it turned out, but that’s irrelevant here) with Aspergers a while a go, so I’m (painfully, personally) familiar with the wrenching “WHY did this happen to our beautiful boy?” question. Still, science is an awfully nice thing, the Lancet withdrew the original study and the acute grief and desperation of parents is not something to be fiddled with lightly, especially not if someone is making money, somewhere…

    I don’t mean to keep ragging on this book, but I am honestly extremely fascinated – the PREMISE seems like a sound idea to me, and I am of course thrilled beyond words if any families have found relief and healing from following these recipes, but again, the website raises so many flags for me. Does anyone know of a, well, essentially less commercial, more scientifically minded version of this ?

  15. reese says:

    I just went to the library to get a few of these books!! I got Pollan’s Food Rules & Body Ecology… I love the idea of fermented foods & probiotics… and I definitely believe I have a candida monster to deal with. It’s just that, these “diets” “cleanses” what-have-you… are SO very intense. I am scared of the “die off” when the candida will die and that terrible day or two of super sickness. (something touched on in 3 Day Energy fast or the many candida books I’ve read) Someday when I quit whining I will do it and it will be worth it, I’m sure. Thanks for bringing this up… Too bad about the website being whorish for products ( =[ ) but, sometimes you gotta be the informed will-powered consumer and NOT consume; just take what works for you and make it work for you! We are lucky they have the book out; therefore showing they do just want to spread the knowledge (but hey, everyone’s gotta make a living) I agree that supplements & vitamins & all that mumbojumbo are mostly & typically unneeded, though they can be beneficial when you are first righting your body or focusing on the cause of a disease, etc. Thanks again for the post!

  16. Rebecca says:

    @Jennifer, what a great story! It’s wonderful that your family is on board – mine is not willing to go very far with me, and that kind of sucks.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Rebecca: I’m actually surprised my husband is on board because he is a huge meat fan. I think the key has been that I don’t exactly tell him we’re going meatless…I just cook a kick ass meals that he can’t complain about. I have learned to cook with this shift. I LOVE to cook with this shift. My kids are little (2yrs to 8 years) and would eat almost nothing before this. I cook WITH them. We grow a lot of our own veggies (which is an total miracle to them). I have involved them in this to the extreme and it has paid off. Typical American kids eating chicken nuggets and hot dogs, now eat kale, beans, spinach, salads, wheat berries, quinoa, millet, etc. They love the homemade cheese and bread. Life is an adventure in the kitchen! Also to the extreme (’cause that’s how I do things), we homeschool and cooking is a part of our curriculum. Food is actually part of the reason we pulled out of the school. Can you believe the school told me smarties on a daily basis, McD’s and pop served in the classroom, and the crap in the cafeteria were good for the kids and great learning initiatives…and how dare I question it???

  18. Anne says:

    Would love love love to hear her secret on reversing grays. Please share when you find out! :)

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