Chuck and Maria Barbrow from Aurora, IL, on his third
visit in 17 years
|The U.S. food industry produces 3,800 calories of food per day per person.
Except for loggers and cowboys, this is twice what anybody needs. But apparently we eat it
all anyway. We consume three pounds of sugar per week per person, three-quarters of it
hidden in food. The consumption of corn syrup has increased 500 percent in 30 years.
We're fat! Obesity has increased dramatically with the increase in sugar, protein and
Chuck and Maria Barbrow getting into the swing of things
on the treadmill
The Pritikin Program for health and longevity can solve this problem, if only we would
pay attention and do what they say: eat but 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day to lose weight
(three regular meals and two snacks), exercise aerobically for 45 minutes at least six
days of every seven, do some weight training three days a week for strength and some yoga
or stretching exercises three days a week for flexibility. For walkers, the recommended
goal is a minimum of 10,000 steps per day, about five miles. That's 30 miles per week.
The food is the tricky part: aim for 10-20 percent fat, 10 percent protein and the rest is
all complex carbohydrates. The more complex, the better, and the less caloric density, the
better. A pound of broccoli, for instance, has only 130 calories (that's raw and
unbuttered, of course) but a pound of chocolate chip cookies has 2,140 calories.
There is a residential Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa located at the
Doral Golf Resort in South Florida where people
regularly attend sessions of one week or longer. Over 70,000 people have visited the
Pritikin Centers to lose weight, to prevent health issues from occurring, and to improve
their health. Many more have read the ten books on the Pritikin Program. The Pritikin Diet
is naturally low in fat, emphasizing fruits, grains, vegetables, and some lean animal
protein. The London Business Times described the Pritikin Approach as "arguably the
most effective diet, exercise, and lifestyle change program in the world."
I decided to take the adventure for one week and this is my report. To avoid suspense,
yes, I lost weight - five pounds. Most people lose more.
Sitting around the dinner table the first night, our concerns for what might be a tough
week ahead turned the talk to great human feats. Things like running marathons, breaking
the 6-minute mile, the Army Ranger's 72-hour endurance test - where the first charge is to
run, but you don't know for how long. The Boeing guy from DC has heard about guys so
spaced they try to put quarters in trees to get a Coke and want to check into the motel
they "see" in the middle of the swamp.
The first morning they draw your blood & urine, well, you draw your own urine. After
the "product testing," you've got a base line to measure your progress against.
One guy at breakfast (hey, I'm ready to put a quarter in a tree if that's what it takes to
get a cup of coffee, but I'm told they'll give me an aspirin for the caffeine headache
that's due any time now) has all sorts of numbers to reel off. His pedometer counts his
steps, this is his sixth week here, three to go, he's losing 12.5 pounds a week, and his
fervent wish, his motivation for being here actually, is to drop enough weight and become
strong enough by football season back home, that he'll be able to run along the sidelines
to follow the plays and to show his old coach that "it can be done."
||The other Steve at the table, looking pretty good for someone here to
salvage his health, says he comes here once a year for a kick-start to keep his motivation
up for another year. He actually avoids restaurants entirely for his first few months back
home. He says after a week or two here with no salt, no oil, and, damn, no coffee, that
the first touch to the tongue of any fast food shows you convincingly what bad food it
really is. That first french fry, the first salted potato chip, almost makes your stomach
churn, he says. You'd think that would turn anybody off from having a second, but he says
the salt and oil are addicting, that the old ad that says, "Bet you can't have just
one," is really true.
Leaving the breakfast table together, I notice it's not even 8:30 yet. "That's the
other thing," Steve says. "You think you need all this sleep, so you go to bed
early for the busy day ahead, and damn if you're not wide awake and raring to go at 5 a.m.
This diet is really good on your system and you just don't need all the sleep you used
All the experiences - the exercise, the lectures, the food - are so well focused on
personal gains it would be hard to not become infected by it all.
I did my cardio workout on an exercise bicycle. I liked it, but couldn't get my heart rate
into my target heart rate zone. I guess my lungs and heart are way ahead of the rest of
Then it was stretch & abdominals class, where I was astonished to learn we did 200
crunches - lots of different types that add right up. I'm passing on aerobics today, but
I'll go to machine weights before the Diseases of Affluence class. This afternoon is
Pilates and an osteoporosis lecture.
Back on schedule the next day, I had my blood draw, breakfast, treadmill and yoga all done
by 9:15 a.m. Later I went to the mall with the kids and sprung free for a Starbucks.
Kids learning tennis skills in the Pritikin Family
|Speaking of kids, the center repeated its popular Pritikin Family Program
last summer and will again this summer June 19 - July 3, 2004. Of the children who
accompanied their parents last year, 95% did not want to. But by the end of their stay,
none of them wanted to leave, and all of them said they wanted to return this year .
Apparently they all had fun. In the process, some of their cholesterol levels dropped 100
points and many lost 10 pounds or more
|The program offers a combination of age-appropriate education, low-fat
dining, menus and cooking tips, and structured exercise. This is an immersion program
where the whole family learns healthy lifestyle changes that are supposed to last a
lifetime. In the one- or two-week program, Pritikin creates a camp-like atmosphere where
the kids, ages 9 and up, play get-moving fitness games, wear chef's hats for hands-on
cooking classes, and attend kid-friendly workshops on nutrition. On field trips, the
children learn how to make good choices at fast food restaurants and food courts.
||Kids in the Pritikin Family Program learn that healthy
eating is possible at a shopping mall food court.
The faculty is comprised of Pritikin's doctors, dietitians, and exercise physiologists
as well as guest faculty including Dr. Susan Spear, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics,
Columbia University and New York Presbyterian, specialist in adolescent medicine, and
television personality Dr. Ruth Peters, NBC Today Show's expert on child and family
For maximum benefit, a stay of one to three weeks is recommended. Room rates depend on
length of stay. The rate for children in the program is $1,800 for the first week, $1,200
for the second week, $1,100 for the third week, and $1,000 for the fourth week. Maximum 2
children per room with 2 parents, or 3 children per room with 1 parent.
For reservations and rate information, call the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa at
(800) 327-4914 or visit the website at www.pritikin.com.
Chuck & Maria Barbrow
Over the years, more than 75,000 people have participated in the full Pritikin program,
many more than once. Chuck Barbrow from Aurora, IL is on his third visit in 17 years. At
age 64, he figures this is a tune-up, a badly needed one. His wife Maria, age 46, is here
to support him, but her medical evaluation turned up some early stage osteoarthritis that
can be helped with tailored exercise and a special vitamin pack with calcium.
"The food is edible now," says Chuck. "It wasn't back then, 16 years ago at
the Pritikin center in Santa Monica. Back then they set you up for failure when you went
I went there in trouble. After less than one minute on the treadmill, they pulled me off
and laid me down. 'We can't do anything for you here,' they said." Chuck answered
that they had to keep him, whatever the conditions and waivers he'd have to sign. They
finally agreed to keep him, but insisted he wear a blood pressure cuff all the time. By
the fourth week he was actually running on the treadmill. After the program, Chuck kept on
the diet religiously for one year, and lost 65 pounds. He has continued the exercise to
the present day, but once again he's on lots of medications and doesn't like it.
"I maintained the exercise all these years, but I have diabetes, high cholesterol and
high blood pressure. I'd like to see my three grandchildren graduate, since I'm paying for
their college. I have a young wife, a good life, and I don't want to check out.
"It's a much better program now. They prepare you better for the real world. I have a
frustration with traditional medicine, whose answer is to take another pill, and then get
the side effects. I cut a blood pressure medication in half after one week here this
Chuck feels on the mend again, and says, "My doctor isn't going to like that I cut my
blood pressure medication in half. . ."
The food plan
In the Pritikin Family Program, kids learn how to be their
own snack chefs.
|Pritikin suggests a plant-based diet with an emphasis on foods that are
minimally processed. The plan is to eat lots and lots of vegetables and three to four
servings of fresh fruit daily. When it comes to carbohydrate-containing foods, starches
and grains in their most natural state are recommended. Examples are white and sweet
potatoes, whole grain cereals, beans and peas, and winter squashes. Refined sweeteners of
all types are restricted. Seafood is the preferred choice of animal protein since it
contains omega 3 fatty acids and the least amount of saturated fat. Poultry, without the
skin, is the next best choice, followed by lean red meat. The serving size is limited to 3
1/2 - 4 ounces per day.
Sodium intake is limited to 1600 mg per day maximum. Excess sodium can increase
appetite, aggravate high blood pressure and accelerate bone loss, especially in the
presence of a diet high in animal protein.
|The meal plan is limited to the fat that occurs naturally in foods. The
daily intake is approximately ten percent of the total calories with no more than 100 mg
of cholesterol daily. Although the program limits fat, there is an adequate supply of
essential fatty acids to support health. For individuals who are in their recommended
weight range, there are a variety of healthy fats, such as unsalted nuts and seeds that
can be used in small amounts. On the other hand, processed foods containing hydrogenated
oils or trans-fatty acids found in baked goods and margarines are eliminated.
For more information, visit the Pritikin Website, call 800.327.4914 or Email email@example.com
The children's program includes:
2 lectures per day
2 cooking workshops per day
2 activity sessions, 1-1/2 hours each (tennis, swimming, beach volleyball, etc.)
All meals, prepared on-site by the Executive Chef and the culinary team
Deluxe hotel accommodations with access to all resort amenities.
Comprehensive medical evaluation
Sample Daily Menu (for all guests)
Oatmeal, Barley or Assorted Cold Cereals with Raisins (optional)
Florida Grapefruit or Banana
Skim Milk or Soy Milk
Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, or Yogurt Cheese
Pico de Gallo or Salsa
Harvest Vegetable Soup or
Golden Split Pea Soup
Garden Salad Bar
Grilled Vegetable Summer Pizza
Julienne of Zucchini
Fresh Tropical Fruit Cup
French Onion Soup or
Garden Salad Bar
Sliced Baked Plantain
Onion Basket Stuffed with Carrots and Spinach
Steamed Fresh Asparagus
Chardonnay Poached Pear