This diet is named after its creator Dr. Dean Ornish who pioneered it in the 1970s. Also called the Ornish Spectrum Diet it is regarded to be more than diet but a holistic lifestyle approach as it emphasizes activities which boost physical and psychological wellbeing such as exercise and stress management on top of dietary changes. It is scientifically proven to help reduce weight and help with heart disease management and is rated highly by most dieticians.

The Ornish Diet

The process 

The Ornish diet recommends cutting down on refined foods and products, fat and animal protein. The diet is well known for Ornish’s five categories of food, providing a guide for the most to the least healthy with the idea of helping practitioners substitute any unhealthy items with better options.

Whole grain food products are highly regarded in the Ornish diet with very little animal protein on the menu. There should also be plenty of fruits and vegetables and as for dairy non-fat or low fat is ideal. The diet allows for moderate use of alcohol and caffeine drinks.

Aerobic exercises such as jogging are seen as part of the regime as well as stress reducing techniques like meditation and yoga. It is also advised to seek emotional well-being by strengthening relationships with friends and family


  • Nothing is really off the manual as the amounts taken are what matter providing more flexibility
  • The Ornish diet can help in short term long term weight loss.
  • It is proven to improve heart health and can help improve heart disease.


  • It might be difficult to follow as limiting or cutting out animal protein and fats can be a challenge
  • Adhering to wholegrain foods and organic fruit and vegetable options might be expensive.


Who should do it

The Ornish diet is highly recommended for recovering heart disease patients or those at a greater risk of heart disease as the low fat intake and emphasis on exercise can greatly improve outcomes. Apart from this group, it is open for anyone looking to better manage their weight while being physically and psychologically fitter.

Menu ideas

Day 1

Breakfast: Whole-grain cereal with fat-free yogurt and orange juice

Lunch: Baked potatoes stuffed with fat-free cheese and spinach and broccoli; potato salad with fat-free dressing, or a green salad with fresh fruit

Dinner: Bread with tomatoes and capers, whole-meal pasta with vegetables, and peaches in wine for dessert.

Day 2

Breakfast: Egg White & Vegetable Frittata

Lunch: Field Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Dinner: Leafy green salad with Italian dressing with spinach and mushroom lasagna.


More information can be found in a number of Dr. Ornish’s book including The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health.