The premise behind the Hay diet is that the body can heal itself if given time and the raw materials it needs. In the case of obesity, the Hay diet’s premise is that by eating the right foods in the right combinations and eliminating the foods that hinder your natural defences, your body will be able to operate more efficiently and eliminate excess fat stores with relative ease. It is a natural approach, using neither supplements nor special foods – in fact, the Hay diet stresses the principle of eating whole, unprocessed foods. The cornerstones of the Hay diet programme are that fresh fruits and vegetables should make up at least fifty per cent of the foods consumed and that dieters should not mix protein and starch in the same meal.
Hay dieters follow a meal plan that is often described as confusing, but with the publication of a number of clearer books, including ‘Get Well with the Hay Diet’ and ‘The Hay Diet Made Easy’ by Jackie Habgood, the average person hoping to lose weight with the Hay diet will have little difficulty adhering to the plan. Basically, the Hay diet is a ‘food combining diet’ – this means that carbohydrates (starchy foods, like potatoes and bread) and concentrated proteins (such as meats and cheeses) should be taken at separate meals.
The basic rules of the Hay diet are:
1. Don’t eat proteins and acid fruits with carbohydrates in the same meal.
2. Eat vegetables, salads and fruits as the key parts of your diet.
3. Proteins, starches and fats should be consumed in small quantities.
4. Exclude refined and processed foods, such as white flour, white sugar and margarine – instead choose whole grains, unprocessed starches and other ‘whole’ foods.
5. Leave at least 4.5 hours between meals based on different food groups.
The Hay diet rules are based on the principle that digestion is aided by separating proteins, which require a more acid environment to digest, from starches, which digest most effectively in an alkaline situation. The theory is that when starches and proteins are mixed in the same meal, the acids required to digest the protein effectively inhibit the alkaline reduction of starch. This conflict may be responsible for a wide range of health problems.
In addition to being a successful weight loss programme, the Hay diet is celebrated as providing relief for people suffering from high blood pressure, arthritis, indegestion, asthma, diabetes, allergies, skin problems, migraine, fatigue and some mental illnesses. Hay diet followers, despite their initial circumstance, tend to report an increase in energy, vitality and quality of life.