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Oprah Winfey's Seven Day Diet Analyzed

In January 2007 Oprah Winfrey kept a food diary for seven days. This article details the meals she ate and analyzes the nutritional value in each day's food.

The Food Diary

Many of us watched with fascination as Oprah revealed her seven day diet. In a world where we consider celebrities to be as much a part of our lives as the neighbors dog, there is always an open eyed interest in every aspect of their personal lives. Winfrey's eating habits are no exception and the nation gathered round to see what America's favorite billionaire swallows each day.

Oprah's diet is designed by fat fighting master Bob Greene. Bob and Oprah have had a fourteen year relationship after meeting at a Colorado fat farm. Since then Bob and Oprah have launched three best selling diet books the latest of which is “The Best Life Diet”. Oprah's seven day food diary is based around this book.

Here at metabolismadvice.com we wanted to know if Oprah's eating habits were all they were made out to be so we set about performing a fine grained analysis of everything she ate. This article is the result of that research.

Day 1

Breakfast

Fruit and yogurt smoothie and almonds
4 ounces calcium-enriched orange juice
1 cup mixed berries
1 banana
½ 6-ounce container Yoplait Original Harvest Peach yogurt
Serve with a handful almonds (about 12).

Oprah's breakfast choice seems pretty healthy, the combination of anti-oxidizing berries and cholesterol reducing nuts. I'm particularly pleased to see that Oprah has included a generous helping of protein in her breakfast almost half an ounce or around 30% of her daily recommended allowance. Eating protein early in the day helps you to avoid snacking through the day. All the ingredients have a low glycemic index (the measure used to identify slow releasing carbohydrates) so this will also help her to feel full throughout the morning.

My only criticism of this breakfast would be her choice of yogurt. I did notice on Oprah's site she has a Yoplait advert which makes me think she is putting the interests of her purse above her interests of her health. The yogurt contains high fructose corn syrup, a product produced by processing corn starch to yield fructose. High fructose corn starch is a cheap, sweet and long lasting sweetener but many studies have show that it negatively affects metabolism and it is believed to be a major contributer to obesity in the western world.

A better choice would have been a natural plain yogurt with a teaspoon of honey if additional sweetness is required.

Snack

2 slices Wasa crispbread topped with:
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon SaraBeth pineapple apricot jam

Oprah's mid-morning snack cannot be faulted. Not only is it quick and convenient but all the ingredients are natural. The Wasa crispbread and the SaraBeth jam are both products which are manufactured with attention to health concerns and we support their effort. Peanut butter ensures the glycemic index will stay low.

Lunch

1 slice Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Bread with:
2 teaspoons light mayo
3 ounces smoked turkey
sliced thin 1 slice pepper jack cheese
½ cup grilled onions brushed with 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 thin slice avocado
1 slice tomato
Lettuce

8 ounces sugar-free iced tea

The bread is a first class health choice so full points there. She needs to pick her smoked turkey carefully; many contain sodium nitrate a possible cause of cancer. The ideal solution is to roast your own turkey and cut it into slices which can be frozen for later consumption. Separate the slices with freezer bags to make it easier to take a slice at a time. You won’t have smoked turkey but you’ll have something good.

Personally I think Oprah has been a little stingy on the salad in her lunch time salad, why not go wild and put in half a tomato rather than just one slice.

Snack

6 fresh-scooped watermelon balls
Remaining yogurt from breakfast

Although I am hesitant to criticize Oprah too heavily for her afternoon snack I do find watermelon a slightly strange choice. Watermelon is one of the few fruits that has a high glycemic index as it consists mostly of sugar and water. This snack is going to spike her blood sugar and leave her wanting later. Combined with the yogurt she eats 7½ teaspoons of sugar (1 ounce) in this snack. A better choice would be two kiwi fruits.

Dinner

1 cup wild rice
2 cups mixed vegetables (broccoli, green peas, or carrots) sautéed in 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets, 6 ounces total, grilled with a little olive oil

Dinner seems to be an round healthy meal. A generous helping of vegetables, plenty of protein from the meat and a small portion of complex carbohydrates from the rice. She could even add a little salt and pepper to the chicken to make it taste better. She has only eaten 1g of sodium of her 2g daily allowance so a small pinch of salt will not hurt.

Day 2

Breakfast

¼ cup (dry) steel-cut oatmeal
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
½ cup fresh blueberries
1 cup nonfat milk
splash of hazelnut coffee creamer

Day 2’s breakfast scores full points for attention to the glycemic index. Each of the foods will leave Oprah with long lasting energy thought out the morning. Fruit and nuts are a particularly good breakfast choice as they provide a balance of natural proteins and vitamins.

The coffee creamer, however, was not such a good addition. It contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or trans fats which have been linked to heart disease and out of control obesity. Admittedly a splash will contain less than 1g of trans fats and is unlikely to do a lot of damage, but as a general rule avoid trans fats.

Snack

1 6-ounce container Yoplait Light Key Lime Pie yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped almonds

Another shocking, presumably sponsor influenced choice of Yoplait yogurt for a morning snack. Apart from the high fructose corn starch, key lime flavor contains the colorant 'blue 1' a substance banned in most European countries as it is possibly toxic. My personal preference would be to not take the risk, switch for a natural plain yogurt.

Lunch

2 slices Wasa crispbread topped with:
2 ounces turkey
1 ounce pepper jack cheese
2 fresh basil leaves

1 cup Curried Squash Soup
(1 tbsp olive oil, 1 medium onion, 1 garlic clove, 1¾ cup reduced sodium brooth, ¼ apple juice, 2 10-oz boxes frozen winter squash, 2 tsp curry powder, ½ tsp coarse salt, ¼ cup half-and-half)

Oprah's lunch looks healthy and filling and I have no major objection to the small amount of half-and-half that is added to the soup. Recent research has shown that trans fats are a more significant factor in health problems than saturated fats, and in small quantities, as featured in this soup, there should be no cause for concern. As a general rule try and keep saturated fats to less than 5 percent of your total calories and prefer coconuts and macadamia nut oils as sources of saturated fats.

Snack

1 pear
1 ounce sharp cheddar cheese

A healthy afternoon snack.

Dinner

1 cup chicken breast strips sautéd with:
2 cups vegetables
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken stock
1 cup cooked Barilla PLUS pasta
juice of 1 lemon
black pepper.

Pasta is a good low glycemic index meal option and Barilla Plus has a good mix of beneficial ingredients. Dinner is a nicely presented balance of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins.

Day 3

Breakfast

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie
Blend together:
8 ounces chocolate soy milk
4 ounces strawberries
4 ounces bananas a little ice
1 tbsp wheat germ

I love the simplicity of this breakfast option, but I fear that Oprah will be hit by hunger pangs after an all liquid breakfast. Although juicing has proved popular in dieting circles it breaks down the fiber in fruits. Fiber reduces the speed at which food is absorbed by the body and gives a feeling of fullness without adding calories. These effects will be diminished somewhat by the blending.

Snack

1 apple, sliced
4 teaspoons peanut butter

A nutritious and quick morning snack.

Lunch

Southwestern Veggie Burger Supreme:
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. chili powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
4 soy-based veggie burgers
1 avocado
4 tomato slices
1 cup arugula

1 orange
8 ounces sugar-free iced tea

This is a nicely balanced meal with a generous helping of lean protein.

Snack

1 1/2 cups vegetables grilled in olive oil
1 hard-boiled egg

A boiled egg makes a great convenient snack and a few can be prepared at one time and saved in the fridge for a few days.

Dinner

1 can Slim-Fast Optima Creamy Milk Chocolate
2 slices Wasa crispbread
1 ounce cheddar cheese

I'm not a fan of meal replacements. It is generally better for you body if you can eat foods in their natural form. In particular vitamins received from fruit and vegetables have been shown to have a more positive effect on health than those taken as supplements. But if you are in a hurry then this meal could be considered as an option.

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