The Jerusalem Diet

By Ted Haggard

I know this book isn’t on the current ‘best selling’ list, but it was given to me and my budget is tight so instead of picking up the hot-off-the-press “Flat Belly Diet” – I decided to read cold-off-the-shelf “The Jerusalem Diet” by Ted Haggard; the same Ted Haggard that made the news for being in an inappropriate relationship while pastoring a very large church.  But momma always said, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” – so I approached the book with optimism.

The Point

The concept from the book is a good one: On the Jerusalem Diet, you weigh in everyday.  If you are at or below your weight goal for that week, then you can eat whatever you want.  If you are over, that day is called a Fat Day and you eat only fruits, nuts, vegetables, and seeds, drink only water, and work out for an hour.  Take it one day at a time and lose the weight slowly.

The Pace

How slow is slowly?  One pound a week.  That’s a difficult idea to accept after watching your favorite contestant on the “Biggest Loser” drop 24 lbs in a single week!  Despite the sensationalism we get from our televisions, one pound a week is an extremely fast pace.  Think about it – you most likely didn’t put on 52 lbs this year; in fact, if you are a 100 lbs overweight like me, you more likely gained 10 lbs a year for the last 10 years.

My wife was discouraged at the idea that I would set a one pound a week goal because she would love for me to get health more quickly.  I don’t blame her – I started this blog with the idea of 3 pounds a week, but to be honest if I can loose 50 lbs this year – I am going to be very happy.  I’m actually considering lowering the pace to 20 pounds a year.  Sure it will take me five or six years to drop the weight, but it took me 10 years to put it on and being at my ideal weight at 36 doesn’t sound bad at all.

The Problems

Let’s start with the name, The Jerusalem Diet.  Sounds spiritual, right?  Its not.  Its not Bible based; there is no Jewish tradition; no kosher diet information.  So why the name?  Because the author made up the diet in a hotel room in Jerusalem.  It could have just as well be called the Boston Diet.  I’m not quite sure why that bothers me, but it annoyed me greatly.

In addition to the name, the first two chapters Mr Haggard explains that he has no medical background, no health or fitness training, and spends most of the text explaining how much he loves Mt Dew and Skittles.  Actually, almost all of the first chapter was about how much he loves all the wrong kinds of foods AND how on this diet he is ALLOWED to eat them (as long as he is at or below his target weight for the week).  I almost put the book down completely because of how much time he invested in the task of talking about the diet as though every day is a feast of junk foods.

Lets talk about the diet itself; Fruits, Nuts, Vegetables, and Seeds.  The one hour work out is great and the water too, but there are no rules around how much you eat, just what kinds of foods you can eat.  I’m a food addict!  I can easily put away 3k, 4k, or even 5k calories in fruits and nuts in a single day.  Nuts are a high calorie food.

In addition to the name and the author’s bad eating habits, we have the author himself.  Ted Haggard isn’t a doctor, he has no fitness training, and despite his best efforts to make the reads feel he knows what its like to be heavy, at his heaviest, he was a massive 23 lbs over his ideal weight.  I am not belittling his weight loss, just pointing out that most of us have a great deal more to loose than 20lbs.

On a sidenote, this is a minister that (to put it nicely) ‘fell from grace’.  I believe we all have issues to overcome in our lives and I don’t particularly expect more from a man just because he is a preacher.  I understand that many people do believe we should hold preachers to a ‘higher standard’.  I will agree, it is difficult to read an entire chapter dedicated to breaking addiction off your life knowing the author never broke his own addiction to sexual misconduct.  I pushed through the chapter knowing a minister is anointed to preach it, not to live it – they have to face similar struggles as us ‘regular folk’.

The Pros

The book does have some highlights – first, I really believe that we should all consider the pace of one pound a week (or even slower).  Gradual weight loss is sustained weight loss.  You can go lose 30 lbs in 30 days if you like – but I’ll bet you put on 45 lbs in the 30 days that follow.

Haggard also introduced the concept of a “secret diet”.  I love the idea.  This  diet allows you to diet without telling anyone.  You eat whatever you want on days you are at or below target, and fruits, nuts, vegetables, and seeds on days you aren’t.  Think about it – what diet have you ever been on where you didn’t have to make an announcement to your friends, family, and co-workers?  Before you answer that question – consider how many times you answered a co-worker about where to go for lunch with “I can’t go there, they don’t have [pick your diet food]”.  Most every place you can go out to eat has a dish that meets this diets criteria when you are on a Fat Day, but if you can’t find something on the menu or if ordering the salad would expose your diet to your lunch buddies – then order something NOT on the diet.  The point of the Jerusalem Diet is to change the direction of your life gradually – so if you end up eating the burger on a fat day when you shouldn’t have, its OK as long as you continue down the path of changing your life one day at a time.

Haggard calls this a “shame free” diet.  I have felt the shame of explaining why I ordered the salad at my favorite burger join, but I never thought about the shame I expose others too because of my diet.  The example he gives in the book is going to eat at a friends house that is more overweight than you are and refusing the eat the bread that they already had two pieces of because carbs are bad and you are trying to lose weight.  I never considered how my diet choices could make others feel.  To some, I’m sure this sounds ridiculous but I get it and I’m glad I have a new vantage point.

My Position

Don’t buy the book.  While there are a few good concepts here, overall I did not enjoy the book and don’t consider the author to be a subject matter expert on the material.  Like the funny preview to a b-flick movie, all the best parts are right here in this post…  If you are going to buy the book – click the book image in this post and buy it from Amazon… Maybe I can make a buck or two.

* This is my first book review.  I’ve considered reviewing those hot-off-the-press books you see at Walmart but I’m not sure if people would find it worth reading.  If you liked this review and want to see more – please leave me a comment and let me know.

12 thoughts on “The Jerusalem Diet

  1. Love the book review. Love that is was an older book. Your review was excellent. I’d love to see more.

    I disagree with the 1 pound a week for everybody. Yes, if you are only 20 pounds or so over weight, then that might be a good idea. If you are over a hundred pounds overweight (like the Biggest Loser example you mentioned) taking a year to lose 20 pounds may not be a good idea. You can clearly see (on last night’s episode) that each contestant has gained major measureable health advantages from the weight lose. Every season this is true.

    It is my understanding that any negative to massive quick weight loss is outweighed (sorry for the word usage) by the benefits of no longer being morbidly obese. Dr. Ian who is a part of the 50 million pound weight lose challenge has stated that if you are 100lbs or more over weight that losing it quick (the right way) is not normally an issue. The right way being exercise and eating properly.

    Let’s be careful that accepting a slow weight lose philosophy is not really an excuse for not working as hard as we should. I know I have done that.

    Also, I see how nuts could add up to a lot of calories but have you had a 5k calorie day on fruit and vegetables? I’d love to see that food journal.

    1. @Craig – I agree that some of us extremely overweight folks could lose the weight faster – but I’ve been overweight for years and its not like I haven’t tried the fast weight loss route a time or two. I see this approach as the tortoise verses the hare, only in real life everyone is trying to be the hare and almost every hare running the race fails to move much past the starting line. I’ve never made any progress as the hare – I’m going to try the tortoise… know what I mean?

      1. I’m concerned this new approach would just help me (okay really I mean you) make excuses that you don’t need. The weekly weigh-ins sometime hurt but that can be a good thing.

        Yeah, I know what you mean but do you? LOL The hare loses not because of going too fast but because he becomes unmotivated and quits. Be the hare but just don’t quit, again.


        You can do it!

        1. @Craig – but that is the point – I’ve tried the fast weight loss route and I find that I never lose weight as fast as I want – so I get unmotivated and quit. At least with the slow approach I expect slow weight loss. I would have quit every diet I have ever been on when I stopped losing weight – but I’m still here this time despite having not lost a pound in a month.

  2. Thanks for the review. I looked at this book on Amazon. Glad I didn’t get it… and maybe once I get to goal, I’ll use the concept… but that’s a while away!

    1. @Amy – thanks for the comment! I’m glad the review was helpful. Is this type of book review post something you would want to see more of on I Quit Again?

  3. It is an interesting concept…I am on WW and break the cardinal rule of weighing in every day…if I am down, I give myself a little room to be human, but if I am up, then I make sure I stick to the plan perfectly…

  4. I appreciate the book review. I would have been disappointed because I would have expected something spritual based on the title. Actually, I ate very well in Israel last year because I was determined to try new foods. The point you make about losing 1 lb a week I think is a reasonable goal but I’ve learned that life gets in the way sometimes. Or I should say my emotions get in the way. If I only ate when I feel physical hunger and then ate healthy foods, I would be at my goal by now. I’ve been on this journey for over two years and I’m half way to goal. It’s o.k. if it takes 5 years instead of 5 months. Over the course of this journey, I’ve discovered I love veggies and now I look forward to them and eat them first. One of the first things I ask at a restaurant is do you have steamed veggies. Most do but why search a 7 page menu for them. You can do this. Sorry, I’ve been too busy with work, the foundation & church to do a lot of blog reading but I decided to take today to catch up.

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