What do you get when you pile a whole tangle of world class nutrition experts, researchers, and physicians on one big platter, like a big heap o’ brown rice?

John McDougall, M.D., Lani Muelrath

Lively debate (they don’t agree on everything). Spirited discussion (everyone kept their sense of humor). And perhaps surprisingly (there were plenty of eggheads in the mix) clear education.

The Advanced Study Weekend (ASW) proved to be thrice its weight in information gold. If you wanted solid, don’t-give-me-hype-or-quack nutrition science, that is. Something you can wrap your head around AND sink your teeth into. Literally.

The presenters roster read like a Who’s Who from my nutrition bookshelf and web archives; Dean Ornish, John Robbins, Dr. John McDougall, Jeff Novick, RD, Doug Lisle, author of The Pleasure Trap. And that was just for starters.

Everyone proved to be heavy on thought provoking to entertaining, and usually both. Everything from McDougall to Piraro. Yes, Bizarro’s Dan Piraro, long time animal welfare advocate was our Saturday night entertainment.

The program was intense, with barely breathing space between sessions. But that didn’t stop the McDougall camp from preparing endless, bountiful buffets for each and every meal. What an unimaginable treat to be able to dive into a food line and not have to ask after what the cook might have dumped into the pot. Yes, it matters.

You see, the delicious never quit. Besides a colorful salad bar and all the veggies you could

Catching up with John Robbins, Diet for a New America

ask for, there were potatoes (mashed or baked or latkes? You name it!), pizza, lasagna, shepherd’s pie mountains of salsa and bowls of gravy and dressings, burritos, and hey – a dessert table with brownies and ice cream. Nothing with a face or a mother anywhere. Nothing swimming in oil to spoil your figure and yet keep your appetite unsatisfied. Eating this way, hungry and full can be your guide. Just like it should be.

As a matter of fact, true to form, I ate my fill. And, um, not the 80% rule, more like the 110% rule because I was having such a ball NOT being the cook. My attitude was “More of everything!”

With just a few shy of a dozen guest speakers with varying opinions, you might think that a “nutrition” weekend would close leaving you with more questions than answers. Certainly, the presentations opened new windows of thought opportunity.

Dr. Dean Ornish shared about the Medicare win: inclusion of the Ornish program for heart disease

Yet I came away with new respect and reinforcement for what I have found to be an optimal diet for fitness, staying trim, excellent energy, and vitality to match. It’s the foundation of the eating guidelines you recognize from my Booty Camps.

Whole foods. Mountains of quality whole grains or starchy vegetables with piles of veggies. Throw on a cup of beans or legumes for the day, and decorate it with a couple of fruits. Sprinkle on some nuts or seeds. Save all the rest for decoration, condiment, or feast occasions. There you have it.

For a review of the weekend events and a slide show of the headliners to boot, go to my Healthy Living Column at examiner.com.

You’ll find the slide show at the end of the article, just click on one of the photos and click your way through.

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