Saturday, August 05, 2006

What if the Shangri-la Diet doesn't work for you?

First off, maybe it really doesn't work for you. That can happen with anything that works for most people. I had a friend who was immune to Novocaine. His dentist insisted that that wasn't possible. It was painful for both of them.

But, maybe there is a solution to why the Shangril-la Method (SLM or "slim") isn't working when you try it. This I'm going to go over some of the solutions that have worked for some people.

  • Reduce "ditto foods." Most people find that so-called ditto foods (high in flavor, always the same -- think chocolate bars or cokes) raise their set points. If you just reduce the ditto food -- replace eating snickers bars with penuche, for example -- that often makes a difference. For some people, the ultimate ditto food appears to be alcohol.
  • Look for, and reduce sources of flavor during your two hour flavor-free window.
    • snuff
    • breath mints, especially long lasting or super mints
    • mouth wash
    • gum
    • cigarette smoke, including second hand smoke
    • rancid, smoke flavors, or other flavors in the oil or sugar; vanilla in the protein (many "natural" flavor protein mixes have vanilla added in).
  • switch the type of flavor free calories
    • if you are using sugar water, switch to oil
    • if you are using oil, switch oils, or add a little bit of sugar water to the oil (only a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of water)
    • switch to protein powders (get some of the new rice protein and mix it 50/50 with supro flavorless soy protein, for example).
  • Get enough sleep. a number of people have reported that the diet quit working for them (or did not work as well) when they had long periods of time when they had to go without enough sleep. Consider some mild exercise (gardening, stretching, walking daily) -- that will help you sleep better.
  • Get enough protein and vitamins. Take a supplement if you need to. Take a vitamin and mineral supplement anyway.
  • Drink enough water -- stay fully hydrated. It is easy to just quit drinking sodas on the diet (a lot of people lose their taste for sodas) and not replace it with water.
  • Keep track of your weight. Especially at 2-3 pounds a month, it is easy to lose track of where your weight was. My favorite story of this effect was with someone who kept complaining that they had lost some weight at first, but none thereafter.
    • The first week's weight loss was first five pounds, then ten pounds, then fifteen pounds then twenty pounds. At that point, as we were talking, they realized that some of that weight loss had to have come after the first week.
    • I've noticed the same effect in my own life. I was plateaued in the high 170s ... unhappy about it because I'd been plateaued so long at 173 ... I'd moved from 178 down about five-six pounds and kind of not noticed it.
  • Use a food plan. That will make sure you get enough protein, enough vitamins, and exclude ditto foods. I use a food plan, with a lot of non-fat yogurt in it (I like yogurt) that my wife jokingly calls the heritage diet (since I have substantial Greek heritage from George and Lela Mylonas, my grandparents).
  • Ask yourself if you have real issues. You may need counseling or or to feel you "deserve" or "have earned" the right to lose weight. Face and work through your issues so they do not weigh you down.
  • Be consistent. Same time, same method. Your body will adjust to a method. If you change types of oil, each time you change it will take a week or so for your body to adjust to the differences (all oils are not the same, not even close, which was a surprise to me. I thought oil was oil. It isn't).
  • Use enough calories. Less is not more. If two tablespoons barely works, one tablespoon is not better -- three tablespoons is. The guy who was using teaspoons -- of sugar -- instead of tablespoons of oil -- wasn't having any effect because he wasn't using enough calories.
  • Take enough time for your set point to catch up with your weight. If you've pushed your weight below your set point by force of will, strict calorie restricted dieting and exercise, you won't feel the diet until your set point catches up with your weight. That can take some time.
  • Don't worry about plateaus. You will go through them over and over again -- but unlike a "normal" diet where a plateau = failure, on SLM plateaus just mean your body is getting ready for the next move in losing more weight.
Those are things and approaches that have worked for many people who were having problems (it is why the boards have a large section devoted to "why am I not losing weight").

I now have my wordpress blog at -- it is on negotiation, which I don't expect to interest anyone here. I'll get started with posts there probably next week or so.

As do that, I expect my posting will slow down here and I will post more on relationship and grief issues.

As always, if you aren't seeing enough on the Shangri-la Method, visit the forums at


Anonymous said...

Thanks, this is a good summary and parallels my experience. I have 40-60 pounds to lose and had to go up to 4 tablespoons of oil (2T twice a day) before I got the full effect.

Also, I'd been trying to cut calories the weeks before SLD but hadn't been weighing myself. Thinking through the numbers it's quite possible I was as much as 5 pounds below my setpoint.

I have something to add. In following the Forums, it seems that some people don't know how to keep track of calories. I'm wondering if a very simple walkthru of how to transfer nutritional information from the back of the box to a piece of paper and how to measure and compute what you've consumed would be helpful. Working correctly with packages that have 2.5 servings does require some understanding of arithmetic!

Stephen said...

I think you are right.

I'd also note that most people who are overweight are blissfully unaware of how much they are really eating. One of the first thing that happens on SLD/SLIM is that you become aware of your food.

I had one guy tell me that he really liked SLD, that he had lost some significant weight, but that he was surprised that he was eating more.

Mind you, he was taking smaller portions (and not raiding the office snacks like the wild horde), having less pizza, etc. but he was now aware of everything he ate and so concluded he must be eating more, though in the example he gave he also mentioned that he had ordered less.

Why don't you add a walkthrough to the FAQ section.

Anonymous said...

I hv been on ElOO alternate with sugared water deligently for a month. Vigourous walking 45-60 minutes, three times a week. so far nothing happen yet. What should I do. What did I do not right. I am at 5'6" @190lbs.