The Flavor Point Diet

"Good Morning America" medical contributor Dr. David Katz has come up with a diet that promises to let people eat all their favorite foods and still lose weight.

After conducting extensive research at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, Katz found that by following flavor themes each week, dieters could reach the flavor point at which they'd feel completely satisfied and full.

Combining his medical knowledge with his wife's expertise -- she is a neuroscientist as well as a gourmet cook -- Katz has created a diet that he says will result in people eating less not because they are starving themselves but because they feel full.

An excerpt of the book is below.


Tapping into the Flavor Point will revolutionize the way you think about eating.

At some point during every eating experience, we all begin to feel full and fulfilled. When you reach that point of fulfillment -- what I call the Flavor Point -- you stop eating. If you reach the Flavor Point early enough, you will feel full and fulfilled on fewer calories. If you reach the Flavor Point too late, you overeat.

How do you reach the Flavor Point more quickly and fill up on fewer calories?

That's what the Flavor Point Diet is all about. This revolutionary diet taps into this little-known but scientifically proven fact: Flavor variety stimulates the appetite center in your brain, while flavor repetition soothes it. You can eat a variety of flavors over time, but eating too many flavors at any one time puts your brain's appetite center into overdrive. Let that sink in for a minute. It's every bit as profound, powerful, and life changing as it is simple. To safely and permanently lose weight without being hungry, you need only organize the flavors in your meals and snacks. Don't misunderstand me, though. You don't need to give up flavors. You don't need to give up specific foods or entire categories of foods. You don't need to give up the joy of eating delicious food, and you certainly don't need to give up the convenience of easy-to-prepare foods.

The Power of Flavor Organization

From breakfast cereals to snack foods to fast foods, our culinary landscape has become crowded with an overabundance of conflicting flavors that overstimulate important appetite-controlling cells in our brains, making us need more and more food to reach the Flavor Point. For example, many sweet breakfast cereals contain as much salt as potato chips. Yes, salt! Conversely, salty snack foods often include lots of sugar. You don't always notice all of these flavors when you eat, but your brain registers their presence, triggering hunger and overeating.

When you taste too many flavors at once -- whether from too many different foods or too many flavors processed into one food -- you overeat before feeling full. On the other hand, when you organize flavors in your diet, you feel full and satisfied on fewer calories and lose weight without feeling hungry! Quite simply, you will want to eat less!

The Flavor Point Diet subdues appetite on two levels. First, it uses the powerful benefits of flavor themes to subtly organize your eating. These themes infuse your meals with a specific flavor, such as orange or chocolate or pineapple. When you taste this flavor repeatedly throughout your day, you more quickly satisfy your brain's appetite center so you're able to fill up on fewer calories. Second, you'll shift to a new way of eating -- to the Flavor Point way of eating. You'll learn how to choose and cook delicious meals using relatively simple, wholesome, minimally processed foods that don't contain an overabundance of extraneous flavors.

Over the next 6 weeks and beyond, the Flavor Point Diet will change your appetite, your weight, your appearance, your health, your relationship with food, and your life -- for good! The plan comprises three phases.

Phase 1. During the first 4 weeks of the meal plan, you'll drape a delicate flavor theme over your meals for an entire day, with every meal and snack sharing a common ingredient. On Cranberry Day, for example, you'll eat delicious cranberry-banana muffins for breakfast, a salad with cranberries for lunch, cranberry and onion turkey cutlets for dinner, and Cranberry-Vanilla Soft Ice Cream for dessert. On Pineapple Day, you'll have a pineapple smoothie for breakfast, Pineapple-Walnut Chicken Salad for lunch, and Pineapple Shrimp for dinner. On Lemon Day, you'll have lemon-poppy muffins for breakfast, Lemon Tabbouleh Salad for lunch, and lemon-flavored tilapia for dinner.

This subtle yet repeated exposure to the same flavors will subdue your appetite center in a delicious and powerful way. But you won't eat enough of the flavor of the day for it to feel monotonous. Instead, your appetite center will merely register the flavor and, as a result, feel soothed and contented.

Phase 2. As you get into the habit of choosing and preparing foods according to Flavor Point principles, you won't need to depend on the daily flavor themes as much to control your appetite. In other words, as your mastery increases, you'll need fewer rules. This is why, during weeks 5 and 6, the meal plan includes a greater variety of daily flavors. In this phase, each meal or snack has a theme, but there's no single theme throughout the day. Thus, the flavor theme for your breakfast will not be the same as the one for your lunch, and each of those will differ from dinner. For instance, breakfast might have a lemon theme, lunch a basil theme, and dinner a tomato theme. In each meal, the flavors are subtle but effective, harmonizing the food -- and your appetite!

Phase 3. The Flavor Point Meal Plan guides you through 6 weeks of weight loss by using flavor themes for each day during the first 4 weeks and then for each meal during weeks 5 and 6. After that, you'll be ready for phase 3 -- the beginning of the rest of your life! Phase 3 is permanent, using flavor management at the level of individual foods. We provide examples to get you launched, but then, with the habits you've acquired, the knowledge you've gained, and the principles you've mastered, you'll be ready for lifelong Flavor Point success. During phase 3, you'll continue to lose weight until you reach your goal, and then you'll keep it off.

In Chapter 6, you'll find dozens of tips to help you convert your old family recipes into meals that are just as delicious but conform to Flavor Point principles. In the appendix, you'll find lots of Flavor Point Diet approved brands of simply flavored, delicious, and convenient foods sold at your local supermarket.

From the first day to the last on the meal plan, you will consume a perfectly balanced, healthful diet. You could stay on any phase of the meal plan forever -- it's that good for you. As a physician, preventive medicine specialist, and parent, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am not a "diet doctor"; I am a doctor who happens to be an expert on diet and nutrition. No matter how important weight loss may be to you, your overall health -- and that of your family -- is what matters most to me.

Does This Really Work?

As I was putting the finishing touches on this book, many people asked me, somewhat skeptically, "Can flavor themes really subdue appetite?" Am I proposing something radical? Inventing a theory? Going out on a limb? Defying my academic colleagues? Not at all.

Under the scientific-sounding name sensory-specific satiety, the Flavor Point's main concept has been appearing in the scientific literature for nearly 3 decades. It has been percolating near the surface of dietary guidance, but its full potential for weight control simply wasn't recognized -- until now. Although this meal plan is unique, the science is tried and true. In Chapter 1, you'll learn how millions of years of evolution have hardwired this trait into the appetite center of the brain of every human on the planet. If you've ever overeaten, however, you may already understand how it works. Have you ever enjoyed a delicious holiday feast and eaten until you felt stuffed? Did each bite taste slightly less delicious than the bite before, especially as you became more and more full? Did the main course eventually completely lose its appeal? At some point, did you put your hand on your stomach and groan, "I'm so full I couldn't eat another bite!" And in the next breath ask, "What's for dessert?"

Yep, you found room for dessert, didn't you? Me, too! It wasn't because of that hollow leg or extra stomach that some wisecracking relative referred to. It was because of sensory-specific satiety! You had filled up on the savory flavors provided by the main dishes but not on the sweet flavor of dessert.

As you'll soon learn, each flavor we eat stimulates a different set of cells in the brain. Sweet flavors stimulate one area of the brain's appetite center, salty another, and sour yet another. Once you turn on an area of the appetite center, you must eat until those cells register fullness. If you turn on many areas at once, you must eat much more food before you feel full. Turn on just one or two areas, and you'll eat less but feel just as satisfied.

I owe a lot to the scientists who have studied sensory-specific satiety during the past several decades. As soon as I learned about it, the power of it was immediately obvious, and I began applying it to my diet and those of my patients. Although many scientists have documented this phenomenon over the years, the Flavor Point Diet is the first to use sensory-specific satiety to enable long-term weight control without hunger.

In my work at Yale as well as in my private practice, I've now counseled hundreds of patients who desperately wanted to lose weight. When they came to me, most of them knew what they needed to do to shed pounds. They knew they should eat less and exercise more, but they couldn't figure out how to do it. Each time they went on a diet, they lost some weight. Eventually, though, their cravings and hunger would win out, they'd break the diet, and they'd gain the weight back -- and usually more.

When I taught these patients about sensory-specific satiety and how to use Flavor Point principles to subdue appetite, weight management without hunger suddenly became feasible for them. They would tell me that for the first time in their lives, they had no difficulty holding themselves to reasonable portions. They finally were able to enjoy eating without guilt. It changed their lives and those of their families. I observed this over and over, using each experience to refine the Flavor Point plan -- and here you have the culmination of that work.

Recently, I asked 20 men and women to test the meal plan you'll find in this book. Some wanted to lose just a few pounds; others wanted to lose many more. They came from all walks of life and included stay-at-home moms, working mothers and fathers, and singles. Most shared one trait: They were busy and didn't have time for complicated meal preparation. Their results, after 12 weeks on the plan, just blew me away. On average, they lost over 16 pounds. (One gentleman lost 31 pounds!) Their blood cholesterol levels dropped an average of 14 points. Blood pressure, blood sugar, and other health indicators also improved. They lost an average of 3 1/2 inches off their waists! Not only did their clothes fit better but they also felt more energetic, slept better at night, and experienced fewer cravings. Most important, they loved the food -- and so did their spouses and children, who in many cases also lost weight and improved their health. Officially, they weren't even on the diet!

The study participants told me that their cravings for certain foods shifted. After 12 weeks, even the most hard-core junk-food junkies among them preferred this new way of eating. Take a look at some of their comments.

"I'm full and definitely satisfied on this program. I had a little bit of dessert the other night -- and that's all I wanted. It actually tasted too sweet!"

"Not only are the foods delicious, but I don't have heartburn anymore!"

"I actually look forward to eating dinner every night. The food is excellent. I love this program, and I think I could eat like this forever."

Those study participants followed an extended 12-week version of the Flavor Point plan. I've streamlined it for you. In this book, you'll find 6 weeks' worth of mouthwatering, simple, convenient, appetite-subduing meals. These meals have helped me, my family, my friends, and my patients fill up on fewer calories -- enjoying food as well as the satisfaction of lasting weight control. Now they will do the same for you!

Delicious and effective

In this diet, the pleasures of eating food that's good and food that's good for you can -- and do -- come together. The joys of food and of lasting weight control and good health are not mutually exclusive! When you commit to the Flavor Point Diet, you commit to a diet that:

Delivers lasting weight loss. Based on the results of the people who tested the Flavor Point Diet before this book went to press, you can expect to lose 9 to 16 pounds in 6 weeks and continue losing weight until you reach your goal. The Flavor Point Diet isn't one that you go on and off of. Rather, it provides a simple and easy transition to a new way of choosing and organizing foods -- forever.

Not only helps you shed fat but also improves your health. Every step of the way, the pattern of foods and nutrients you will consume is as good or better than the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Institute of Medicine, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Dietetic Association.

Liberates you from the bondage of shunning certain so-called fattening foods. At no point does this diet restrict any foods. At no point does it place a whole nutrient category off-limits. Because the Flavor Point Diet is not based on food exclusions -- that's right, there are none -- each phase of the plan is balanced, sane, delicious, healthful, and in step with the very best of modern nutrition science.

Allows you and your entire family to lose weight together. Unlike so many diets out there, the Flavor Point Diet is safe for your whole family. Yes, your kids can follow it with you. Yes, it's safe during pregnancy. Yes, it's fine while breastfeeding. Yes, it's appropriate if you have diabetes. Yes, anyone can follow this diet at any time! It is safe for life. Makes healthful eating quick and easy. The Flavor Point Diet replaces the convenient processed and fast foods that trigger overeating with foods that trigger fullness and are just as convenient and delicious. Many breakfasts and lunches in the Flavor Point Meal Plan take 5 minutes or less to prepare! Many dinners take 15 minutes or less.

Puts the joy back into eating. The Flavor Point Meal Plan includes incredibly delicious meals, snacks, and desserts. In fact, you can eat dessert every night if you are so inclined!

Flavor management makes all this possible. You're about to embark on an exciting journey to a slimmer, healthier you. In Chapters 1 and 2, you'll discover the science behind the meal plan. In Chapter 3, you'll find out how the meal plan works. Chapters 4 and 5 bring you the Flavor Point Meal Plan and corresponding recipes. Finally, in Chapter 6, you'll find out how to move on to phase 3 and maintain the Flavor Point way of eating for life.

Since the food is delicious and the nutrition stellar every step of the way, why would you ever go off this plan? If, after 6 weeks, you find that you have lost a lot of weight (you will), are feeling great (you'll see), and are loving the food (just wait!)--why on Earth would you ever look back? You won't. The next 6 weeks and beyond will change your whole relationship with food, and your body, forever.

Sensory-specific satiety: The tendency to feel full and stop eating when flavors are limited and to stay hungry and keep eating when flavors are diverse.

Results from the Flavor Point

Our group of testers, 20 in all, tried the Flavor Point Diet for 12 weeks, and their results were amazing. Not only did they lose pounds and inches, feel more energetic, and experience fewer cravings, several key measures of their health improved dramatically. Check out some stats from the Flavor Point.

Pounds lost: Average: 16.7; Most Changed: 31

Change in BMI: Average: -2.7; Most Changed: -4.2

Inches off of waist: Average : 3.53; Most Changed: 7

Percent body fat lost: Average: 4.82; Most Changed: 8

Blood pressure points dropped: Average: 11.4; Most Changed: 28

Reduction in resting heart rate (beats per minute): Average : 4.86; Most Changed: 12

Total points cholesterol lowered: Average: 14.2 ; Most Changed: 72

Fasting blood glucose (mg/Dl): Average: -1.13; Most Changed: -15

Satisfaction at the Flavor Point

"I gained weight slowly and steadily over the years. It eventually crept up to about 200 pounds. I knew I needed to make a lifestyle change, so when I heard a few women discussing Dr. Katz's new program, I was intrigued and decided to go for it. I was thrilled when I heard I'd been chosen.

"My husband has been doing the program with me, and he actually lost more weight than I did in the first 12 weeks -- 24 pounds! More important, he's been able to cut his blood pressure medication dosage in half.

"Health improvements aside, we're eating good, healthful foods--and they taste great! I'm discovering many new seasonings, like curry, that I really enjoy. Also, many of the vinegars and oils the plan recommends add wonderful flavor to the recipes. I don't feel hungry on this program, and my cravings are gone. When I first heard about the flavor themes, I thought, "We're going to eat apples for a whole day? Eww!" Eventually, I realized the other foods mixed in with the theme of the day, like nuts and chicken, keep you from getting sick of it. The concept really works.

"Both my husband and I love the recipes. I have actually served some of the dishes to guests because they're so tasty. On my days off, I make the French toast, muffins, or multigrain pancakes with honey yogurt sauce for breakfast. The Pumpkin and Chocolate Grilled Panini is one of my favorite lunch recipes, as well as the peanut butter and peach jam sandwich. I had the sandwich on Easter Sunday -- I made it and took it to work, and I couldn't wait to go to lunch to have that sandwich!

"For dinner, the pastas are great, and my daughter loves the chicken in Dijon 'creamy' mushroom sauce. My husband and I aren't big fish eaters, but we like the tilapia, so we substitute that for tuna and salmon, and it works just fine.

"For a snack, the fruit smoothies are both refreshing and filling. I also like the granola. We went hiking with another couple the other day, and I made individual baggies of granola with nuts and apricots. It was plenty to get us all through the hike.

"The main dishes and snacks are satisfying enough, but there are also a bunch of good desserts on the program. We love Baked Bananas with Rum-Pecan Topping, amaretto strawberry salad, brownies, and Peach Flat Cake. And who ever heard of indulgence days on a diet? I've done the chocolate day twice, and I plan to try the coconut day in the future. "I've also learned some handy tricks I'll take with me forever. I now use olive oil on veggies instead of butter or cheese. Instead of spreading mayonnaise on a sandwich, I use hummus. I also carry a container of powdered milk in my purse wherever I go to use in my coffee.

"It feels wonderful to have so many people tell me I look good and that my face looks thinner. My clothes fit better, I have much more energy, and it's a little weird, but I've also noticed that my fingernails are stronger. Both my husband and I love Dr. Katz's program and are going to stick with it indefinitely."

The Flavor Facts

Name: Debbie Vashlishan

Age: 50

Hometown: Oxford, Connecticut

Family status: Married with two children, ages 24 and 25

Occupation: Registered nurse

Starting weight: 201

Pounds lost: 17 in 12 weeks

Health stats: Blood pressure dropped 16 points; resting heart rate improved; waist measurement shrank 3 1/2 inches; 5 percent decline in body fat