The Fiddle Diet

The Fiddle Diet

January is always a month of rejuvenation for me.  It is an opportunity for me to start the year off healthily. Post-FBC (f-bomb breast cancer), I no longer do yo-yo dieting (not that I haven’t ever done it — prior to getting sick, I was a master at gaining and then losing weight). Not only is it not a good idea for people who have had cancer to yo-yo, but it’s just not good practice in general.

So, every January, instead of finding myself in a position of wanting to lose weight, I am in a place of wanting to be as focused and has conscious as I can possibly be of my exercise and eating habits (because I did fall off of the healthy eating wagon a few times this season). The Silver Lining falling off the food wagon is that my food hangovers are AWFUL and they automatically redirect me to craving good, healthy, real food.

My dear friend Maili – who writes most of the recipes that you find here! – has come up with a wonderful program for those people like me – who want to recalibrate – AND for those who want to lose weight. Now, this is NOT a medically tested program and I am NOT advocating that you try it. As always, I just share with you what is of interest to me and what I’m up to.

So here is the program. Maili calls it “The Fiddle Diet.” Throughout the month, Maili (on her blog) and here on The Silver Pen is going to share helpful hints and “Fiddle Recipes” that are amazingly delicious and utterly healthy, a double Silver Lining!

Now, I know that what I’m about to say is common sense, but as nurse, I feel completely obligated to reiterate that it is imperative to consult your physician before starting any eating program. After all, some foods can actually prevent certain medications from working. So whatever you do, whenever you do it, partner with your physician so that everyone is on the same page.

Now, let’s have some fun!


  1. STAGE 1 – FIDDLE WARM-UPS: Preparation is the key to success.  You want to take the time to grocery shop, find the best way for you to record your calories whether it is through a web site, iphone app or handwritten journal or notebook. It is also a good time to look at your social calendar and find out which time frame will work best for the Palate Purification stage (see below). During this research and warm-up stage your main goal is to focus on adding two fruits and two vegetables to your everyday eating.  Shockingly, adding fresh fruits and vegetables is challenging.  The average person in the test group on the fiddle diet lost two pounds during the warm-up period just from ADDING fruits and vegetable to their diet before they even went on the actual diet.
  2. STAGE 2 – FIDDLE 10-DAY PALATE PURIFICATION: The purpose of this stage is not only to jumpstart your weight loss but to literally transform your palate. So many of us are used to eating artificial sweeteners and things that have changed our palate.  This is only for the first ten days of the diet. These are the 10-day guidelines:
    • NO SUGAR, NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER, NO HONEY, NO WINE/BEER/ALCOHOL.  After the 10-day purification if it is food then it is on the diet.
  3. STAGE 3 – FIDDLE FUN – BOOSTS AND BALANCES: Boost your metabolism with Boost Days, which fit perfectly into real life as well as satisfying your cravings.  You’ll never have to feel like you are “cheating” on your diet again because it is actually part of the diet to have a day when you eat more.  Then go back to your normal Fiddle Balanced days.
  4. STAGE 4 – FIDDLE EXERCISE: Once you find the joy in eating and the joy in real food then we’ll add your favorite exercise that works with your lifestyle, body type, interest and schedule.  Stage 4 also includes stabilization weeks to set your body up for maximum weight loss in the following weeks.  Stabilization weeks are great for vacation, special events, holiday times when food is a part of the celebration and you want to maintain your weight.


  1. FIDDLE FIRST 10 – PALATE PURIFICATIONFor the first 10 days only: no refined sugar, no artificial sweetener, no honey, no wine/beer/alcohol.  After the 10-day period, if it is food, it is on the diet.  Anything artificial or fake is never on the diet.  The purpose of this first ten day cleanse besides a jump start on the weight loos is to literally change your palate.  Artificial sweetener is  sweeter than natural sugar and sweeter than fruit.  You want to be able to taste real food again.
  2. KEEP THE FIDDLE CIRCLE OF FOOD HAPPINESS IN MIND (see above): Balance makes you satisfied.  Think of it as a circle of three’s:  3 fruit servings, 3 vegetable servings, 3 fats/oils, 3 servings of starch, 3 servings of protein.
    • Women should aim for 1400 calories a day.  (300 of those calories need to come from fruits and vegetables.)  Please do not go under 1200 calories per day.  Anything under this is too low and ruins your metabolism and puts your body in a starvation fat-saving mode instead of a weight losing mode.
    • Men should aim for 1800 calories a day with 400 coming from fruits and vegetables.
  3. EAT THE FOOD YOU LOVE AND FOOD THAT TASTES DELICIOUS.  Just keep proteins, starches and fat portions controlled while eating fruits and veggies to your hearts content.  Make sure to have a minimum of two fruits and two vegetables per day (i.e. an apple, canteloupe, spinach and celery.  Any combination of four total will work.)  Ideally you want six (3 fruits and 3 vegetables per day, but the minimum is two of each.)  The KEY component to the Fiddle Diet is adding fruits and vegetables. Fruits and Vegetables have fiber and a myriad of vitamins and health benefits.  Your skin will glow from eating fruits and vegetables.
  4. VITAMINS, FIBER, PROTEIN AND CALCIUM: I recommend taking daily vitamins while you are on the Fiddle Diet but still look to real food as the source of your nutrients (again, talk with your doctor before adding any vitamins!). Fruits and vegetables are considered “nutrient dense” because they are packed with vitamins and fiber, yet are low in calories.  Fiber is essential to healthy weight loss.  Women need 25 grams of fiber per day and men need 30 grams.  Women need 38 grams of protein per day and men need 46 grams.   If you don’t eat dairy, look for other sources such as vegetables rich in calcium.  Kale, spinach arugula, collard greens are all rich in calcium (which also contain fiber, vitamin C and all these other great things). You can see why fruits and vegetables are the KEY to this diet.  They are powerhouses for both weight loss and health
  5. WATER: Your body needs water to lose weight.  Aim for 8 glasses a day.  To keep it interesting add fresh mint, a squeeze of lemon or lime, cucumbers or a grapefruit slice.  Melon water or sliced apples in water are also lovely.  Get a pretty glass and keep filling it up.  Sparkling water like Perrier, La Croix or Pellegrino are good choices for those who crave bubbles.
  6. FOOD JOURNALING: The simple act of recording what you eat makes a HUGE difference in any weight loss program.  Do what works best for you.  There are many free apps on phones, as well as web sites that let you track calories. CalorieCountLose It! and Livestrong all have lists of foods with their calories and nutritional information. Another alternative is to use a beauitful journal.  Do whatever works the best for you.  There is nothing worse then nervously snacking on something unhealthy that you didn’t enjoy and weren’t really even aware of what you were eating.  Recording what you eat makes you mindful of what you are eating and gives you a greater appreciating for the food you are consuming.
  7. BE HAPPY AND ENJOY WHAT YOU EAT! Food isn’t “good” or “bad.”  Food nourishes our bodies and makes us healthy and happy.  Look at food with gratitude.  Enjoy it and taste it.  Cooking is another way to joyously interact with food.  Cooking good food and eating good food means you get to enjoy the pleasure of it twice!

To give you an idea of caloric content, here are some averages:

FRUIT: Aim for about 180-200 calories a day in fruit

  • APPLES (1 medium apple )   65 calories
  • APRICOT (1 average size)    17 calories
  • BANANA (1 average size)  105 calories
  • BLACKBERRIES (1 cup)  62 calories
  • BLUEBERRIES (1 cup)  83 calories
  • CANTALOUPE (1 cup) 60 calories
  •      (or 1/4 wedge of a whole melon 50 calories)
  • GRAPES (20 grapes)  60 calories
  • PEARS  (1 average) 96 calories
  • PINEAPPLE (1 cup)  80 calories
  • POMEGRANATE SEEDS (1 cup) 70 calories
  • STRAWBERRIES (1 cup) 49 calories
  • TANGERINES (1 average size) 37 calories

VEGETABLES: Aim for 100-120 calories a day.  Some vegetables are so low you can easily eat them in a large variety.

  • ASPARAGUS (1 cup) 27 calories
  • BROCCOLI (1 cup raw) 30 calories (1 cup cooked) 54 calories 
  • BRUSSELS SPROUTS (1 cup) 38 calories
  • CABBAGE (1 cup) 17 calories
  • CARROTS (1 cup) 52 calories
  • CAULIFLOWER (1 cup) 25 calories 
  • CELERY (1 stalk)  6 calories
  • CUCUMBER (1 cup) 16 calories
  • GREEN BEANS (1 cup) 44 calories
  • KALE (1 cup) 33 calories
  • MUSHROOMS (1 cup) 4 calories
  • RADISH (1 radish) 1 calorie
  • ROMAINE LETTUCE (1 cup) 10 calories
  • SPINACH (1 cup) 7 calories 
  • TOMATOES (1 cup) 30 calories
  • ZUCCHINI (1 cup) 20 calories

Next week, I’ll share some great new, Fiddle-worthy recipes!  And even if you don’t do the program, the recipes will still be fun, easy and yummy!

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