The “Con-Tradiction” Diet

WARNING:  It is best to check with your doctor before starting The “Con-Tradiction” Diet – especially if you are a diabetic on insulin or a sulfonylurea (e.g., glipizide or glyburide), or on medicine for high blood pressure.  In those cases, you must watch your sugar and/or blood pressure levels closely, as it is very likely that they will fall, and you may need to adjust your medicine.

The “Con-Tradiction” Diet

Compared to The SLIM TLC 7-Phaser, which is a “phase-up” approach, The “Con-Tradiction” Diet is a “break-it-down” approach.  I have always considered the word “diet” to be a four-letter word, unless used to describe the way we eat, as opposed to an extreme, restrictive strategy that inevitably results in short-term weight loss.  For many years I have preached, “Never make any changes to lose weight that you cannot maintain for the rest of your life – with one exception:  If you do it as a learning process.”  That’s what this “Con-Tradiction” Diet is meant to do – to teach us new habits and help us break addictions.  Any “diet” without that purpose in mind is a waste of your time and money (and probably negatively affects both your physical and emotional health)!

What prevents us most from being able to follow The 4:1 Rule is that we are flat-out addicted to “whatever” foods like sugar, oils/fried foods, white flour, meats, and dairy foods.  I first learned this valuable lesson by reading the book Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.  I have also observed that unhealthy traditions and/or habits also present a significant barrier to our success.  The “Con-Tradiction” Diet is an approach that counters or breaks “tradictions,” which is a combination of the words “traditions” and “addictions.”  Remember that this is not intended to be a lifelong strategy, but instead a learning tool to help us overcome unhealthy traditions/habits and addictions, then to settle into a more livable, lifelong healthy diet, e.g., The 4:1 Rule.

Foods to Avoid

Ready to jump in with both feet?  Grab a partner (for support, troubleshooting and brainstorming), and for three weeks (the time required to develop new habits), cut out all addictive substances – which includes all processed food (plants that have all the nutritious components processed out – e.g., sugar, all oils, white flour and rice, alcohol, syrup, and juice), all dairy, all meats other than fatty seafood (described below), and all sweeteners (we need to “reboot” our taste buds, which have been hijacked by powerful sweeteners, so that they are perfectly satisfied with the natural sweetness of fruits).  These foods are addictive, high in caloric density, low in nutrition, and/or pro-inflammatory (lead to disease).

Foods to Include

Any kind of whole plant (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs) or fatty seafood, which includes well over 100 options (see below), or foods made from such.  As long as they are prepared healthfully, i.e., not containing processed foods (described above), I don’t care if they are eaten raw, cooked, frozen, or out of a can.  If there is something on the list that you don’t like or otherwise cannot eat, then don’t!  There are plenty of options.

What Do I Do after Those Three Weeks Are over?

After following The “Con-Tradiction” Diet for three weeks, you will find that you have far more power over food, rather than vice-versa.  From then on, you may introduce other foods, but know that you may be playing with fire, depending on how much you allow yourself to return to your previous “tradictions.”  Your goal is to keep those foods to under 20% of your total future intake (The 4:1 Rule).  YOU must find the balance (and you will!).  You may have to set a limit for yourself, i.e., only allow a certain number of “whatever” foods per day (e.g., 3-4).  If you find yourself slipping again down the slippery slope of poor health and weight struggles, follow The “Con-Tradiction” Diet again, and repeat as needed.  Each time you do, it will get easier, and your power over food will grow each time!

Don’t Obsess Too Much! 

During these three weeks, I do not recommend worrying about portion control or counting calories, or any other type of record keeping.  Free your mind, and focus simply on eating only healthily-prepared plant- and fatty seafood-based foods.  Try to get a decent balance of the different kinds – but remember that it does not matter what kind, as long as they are prepared in a healthy fashion (to reiterate, with little to no processed food, dairy, or meat products other than fatty seafood)!  For example, I’m not too worried if whole wheat bread or tortillas, or peanut butter, have just a little processed food in them.  Plant-based milk and spray butter are acceptable, too.  You may use salt, as long as it is in moderation (I am of the strong opinion that salt in most cases is not a great evil, and mainly harmful because of what accompanies it down the hatch).

“Just Tell Me What to Eat!”

I’ve had MANY patients over the years say, “Dr. Cluff, if you’ll just tell me what to eat, I’ll lose weight.”  I have always adamantly resisted, saying, “I can’t be by your side for the rest of your life, telling you what to eat, so YOU need to figure it out, within YOUR world, based on some general guidelines.”  Well, I finally caved (partially)…

Sample list of foods you CAN eat (some classifications are debatable):

Fruits:  Apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, clementines, coconut, cranberries, dates, dragon fruit, figs, grapefruit, grapes (green/red/purple), guavas, honeydew, kiwis, lemons, limes, mandarin oranges, mangos, monk fruit, nectarines, oranges, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapple, plums, pomegranates, prickly pears, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, watermelon

Vegetables:  Artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beets, bell peppers (green/red/yellow), bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, garlic, grape tomatoes (red/yellow), jícama, kale, leeks, lettuce (iceberg/romaine, etc.), mushrooms, mustard greens, nopales (cactus), okra, olives (black/green), onions, potatoes (white/red/yellow), radishes, rhubarb, spinach, squash (acorn/spaghetti/summer/yellow, etc.), tomatoes, turnips, yams, zucchini

Legumes:  Bean sprouts, beans (black/green/pinto/red kidney/string, etc.), edamame/soybeans, lentils, peas (black-eyed/green/snow/sugar snap, etc.)

Whole grains:  Barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice (brown/colored/wild, etc.), rye, sorghum, wheat

Nuts and seeds:  Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts

Fatty seafood:  Anchovies, halibut, mackerel (preferably Atlantic), mahi-mahi, mussels, oysters, salmon (preferably wild-caught Alaskan), sardines, shrimp, trout, tuna (although albacore is high in mercury)

Ideas for:


  • Smoothies (e.g., frozen fruits combined with vegetables and plant-based milk)
  • Oatmeal with raisins, walnuts, and blueberries
  • Raisin bran with rice or almond milk
  • Whole wheat/grain toast or bagel with spray butter, with two fruits


  • Vegetable and mushroom soup with salad (without cheese or croutons)
  • Natural peanut butter and 100% fruit preserves on whole wheat/grain bread, with apple slices and carrot sticks
  • Baked potato topped with salsa or mushroom bean chili and chives

Dinner (use fruit for dessert)

  • Whole grain spaghetti with mushrooms, onions, & Brussels sprouts, with whole grain garlic bread (spray butter)
  • Brown rice bowls containing shrimp, artichokes, mushrooms, almond slivers, mandarin oranges, and soy sauce
  • Grilled salmon with asparagus, watermelon, roasted Cajun red potato wedges, and whole grain bread
  • Whole wheat burritos with black beans, guacamole, salsa, onions, peppers, lettuce, and olives
  • Whole wheat pizzas topped with mushrooms, pineapple, olives, onions, and peppers


  • Any fruit, vegetable (raw or cooked!), nut/seed, or whole grain
  • Baked tostadas (e.g., Mission® brand in the blue packaging) broken up into chips, with salsa and/or guacamole
  • Celery or apple slices and peanut butter
  • Popcorn (at least 94% fat free) or sunflower seeds
  • Smoothies or shakes made from whole fruits and vegetables and plant-based milk

Need more ideas?  Search the internet for “Whole-foods, plant-based” recipes, and add fatty seafood if desired!