Bill Clinton's Diet - why I think it's "extreme and not sustainable"

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Tuesday, 05 October 2010.

Bill Clinton's Diet - why I think it's
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Recently there's been a lot of comment on my opinions of Bill Clinton's diet, as expressed in the Sydney Morning Herald article of 23 September. I said that I thought his diet was "was extreme and not sustainable in the long-term". Here's why...

 Bill Clinton was never famous for his good food choices. His diet, as reported by his wife Hillary, The New York Times and the White House community, was heavy on saturated fat, sugar and kilojoules/calories in the form of cheeseburgers, chicken enchildas, barbecues and desserts. Vegetables formed only a small part - if any - of his daily diet.

Why "extreme"?

That's why the change to a strict vegan diet is what I regard as "extreme". A vegan diet is difficult for all but the most philosophically committed to sustain. What's more, to be healthy - and it certainly can be a healthy diet - it requires a certain degree of planning and care.

In order to be "OK" nutritionally, it needs to provide all the food groups for protein e.g. legumes, nuts and grains. Even with this, it can be deficient in B12 and minerals. (Vegan diets are not recommended for children or pregnant women but a vegetarian diet that does allow eggs and dairy is fine.)

Why "weird"?

Well for a man who loved his meat and dairy so much and who has to attend so many "luncheon and dinner functions" to cut them both out completely and thus limit his food choices so drastically is a bit weird, don't you think?

Especially living the lifestyle of such a public persona where he has to attend special galas and functions all the time. I really can't imagine him partaking of stir-fried vegetables, nut cutlets and protein shakes at these occasions for long.

The bottom line

That takes me to what I regard as one of the most important points - sustainability.  I don't believe that such a drastic change - from a burger lover to all plant food - is sustainable. You need to stick to something for the long haul.

The best and most healthy diet changes are made in less radical ways. Swapping cheeseburgers for beef steak sandwiches; adding more vegetables for bulk; having several serves of dairy to fulfil calcium requirements; and fish for omega-3s.

Such changes make it easy to eat a varied diet that is satisfying and easy to continue. This makes it more likely that the change will be a permanent lifestyle change and not a Yo-Yo dieting episode.

What's more, exercise - even something as simple as walking for 30 minutes or moving more over your work day - is an important part of any healthy weight loss regime.

I wonder if Bill had the vegan fare or the grass-fed, organic beef at the wedding? What do you reckon?

Photo by Genevieve De Manio / AFP - Getty Images