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The Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin (2012): What to eat and foods to avoid

The Virgin Diet - book by JJ Virgin PhD CNSThe Virgin Diet Cookbook by JJ VirginThe Virgin Diet (2012) is a book about losing weight by avoiding food intolerances that affect you personally.

  • Eliminate gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, sugar and sweeteners
  • Eat unprocessed, whole, natural foods that are humanely and naturally raised
  • 1-2 meals a day are shakes – Virgin Diet Shakes
  • Challenge (reintroduce and check reactions) with dairy and eggs to see if there are any reactions and how frequently you can reintroduce them into your diet
  • Challenge with gluten and soy to see if you should avoid them completely
  • Continue to avoid foods you’re intolerant to and regularly check your intolerances

Below is a detailed outline of the food recommendations in the book.  Cycle 1 – elimination  |  Cycle 2 – reintroduction  |  Cycle 3 – lifetime  |  Virgin Diet Shake instructions.  There’s a lot more in the book.

Use this page as a cheat sheet alongside the book. Send this page to friends, family, and anyone else you’re eating with so they can understand what you’re eating.

Buy a copy of the Virgin Diet to get the full details.

Get The Virgin Diet Cookbook for more recipes.

The reasoning behind The Virgin Diet

This book advises that the key to weight loss is avoiding and overcoming food intolerance – food intolerances stress your system and give you negative symptoms including weight gain.

Some people’s bodies simply have difficulty tolerating certain foods, such as gluten, lactose, or MSG. Usually, this is because the intolerant people are lacking a specific chemical or enzyme that they need to digest the food. This is simply a genetic problem, and there isn’t much you can do about it except to avoid the foods.

Another issue is food sensitivities, which affect at least 75% of us. They’re a type of immune reaction, but they mobilize a different type of antibody than food allergies do – not IgE, but immunoglobulin G, or IgG. The symptoms don’t appear until hours or days after you’ve eaten, and if you continue to eat the offending foods, food sensitivities keep your immune system fired up on a chronic basis.

Virgin Diet plan food list – what you can eat, and top food intolerance foods to avoid

This diet has 3 stages:

  • Cycle 1 – elimination – 21 days – cut out all the top 7 FI (food intolerance) foods; eat healing foods and healing supplements
  • Cycle 2 – reintroduction – 28 days – every week for 4 weeks, test one potentially healthy high-FI food. Based on your responses, determine whether each food should stay or go
  • Cycle 3 – lifetime – avoid corn, peanuts, and sugar and artificial sweeteners 95% of the time, rechallenge the potentially healthy high-FI foods that your reacted to in Cycle 2 after 3 to 6 months to see if you can now tolerate them; every 12 months repeat the program

Do not count calories.

Virgin Diet Shake – how to make it, where to buy pea-rice protein, buying premade shakes

Virgin Diet Shakes are used as meal replacements in all stages of the diet. You can make them yourself using vegan pea-rice protein, fiber (fiber blend, chia seeds, hemp seeds, freshly ground flaxseed meal or nut butter), organic frozen berries, liquid (water, unsweetened coconut milk or coconut water), and some optional extras (recipe on p. 170 of the book). If you’re looking for pea-rice protein, JJ’s store sells Thorne VegaLite; you can also look for pea-rice protein at Amazon or other online stores or at health food or vitamin supplement stores. It might be called plant protein on the label – look at the ingredients to see which plant proteins it contains. If you can’t find pea-rice protein, look for pea protein, rice protein, and/ or hemp protein (p.171). Note that hemp protein should never be used as a stand-alone protein powder in your shake or otherwise. Rotate your source of fiber – e.g. between flax seeds, chia seeds, and Extra Fiber.

Alternatively you can use a pre-made shake. You can buy the Virgin Diet All-In-One Shake prepared shake powder from www.jjvirginstore.com or Amazon.  When assessing a premade shake, here are JJ’s guidelines (p.171):

  • No artificial sweeteners
  • 5 grams or less of sugar (although the diet guidelines say you should avoid sugars)
  • No whey, dairy, milk solids, egg or soy (Soy lecithin is okay.)
  • No maltodextrin
  • 5 grams or more of fiber
  • Pea protein, rice protein, and/ or hemp protein
  • Sugar alcohols (Stevia is acceptable.)

Virgin shake serving size (from the FAQs):

  • Full amount of the recipe on page 170 of the book (if it says “Serves 4,” this is a misprint – should say “Serves 1”)
  • 2 scoops of the pre-made Virgin Diet All-In-One Shake

If you don’t like the taste or the texture of shakes, here are some suggestions from the FAQs:

  • Try changing the consistency of the shake – add more liquid, or less fiber.
  • Try the protein powder on its own and see if that’s what you dislike – if so, try another plant protein instead.
  • Add a tablespoon of almond butter
  • Try different berries
  • Vary the milks (try coconut milk or water instead of unsweetened almond milk)
  • Add unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Make the shakes warm (warm the liquid before adding the other ingredients)

Virgin Diet cycle 1 / elimination – food list

This phase is for 21 days / 3 weeks, then move on to Cycle 2 reintroduction.

Cycle 1 of The Virgin Diet – what to eat

  • Week 1 – jump week – each day eat 2 Virgin Diet Shakes, 1 meal, optional snack.
  • Weeks 2 and 3 – healing weeks – each day eat 1 Virgin Diet Shake, 2 meals, optional snack (you can do 2 shakes if you prefer)
  • Keep a food journal of everything you eat
  • Eat a substantial, balanced breakfast, generally around 400-500 calories
  • Everything you eat should have 5 grams of sugar or less
  • You should never eat the same foods every day, as that can cause food intolerances. The shakes are an exception as they are low-reactive.
  • Meal timing
    • Drink your Virgin Diet Shake within an hour of waking up. If you’re working out first thing, you can have half your shake before and half after.
    • Eat only every 4-6 hours, 3 meals a day (less ideal option – 2 meals, an afternoon snack, then a final meal). If you are an athlete and actively increasing your muscle mass, eat every 4 hours and have a meal 4 times a day instead
    • Stop eating 2-3 hours before bed
  • Plate proportion
    • Percentages not given in the book, here is an approximation of what’s shown
    • 25% clean lean proteins, 30% nonstarchy vegetables, 25% healthy fats, 15% high-fiber, low-glycemic carbs, 5% nuts
  • Fiber
    • Eat at least 50 grams of fiber per day – slowly increase your fiber so your body can adjust to it
    • Soluble fiber is great
    • Top sources: Raspberries, lentils, nuts, seeds (especially chia seeds and freshly ground flaxseeds), kale, quinoa, avocado, apples, winter squash, broccoli
  • Water and other beverages
    • When you get up: 16 ounces
    • 30-60 minutes before each meal: 16 ounces
    • During  a meal: limit to 4-8 ounces
    • Start drinking water again 60 minutes after each meal
    • Before bed: 8 ounces
    • Daily total: 64 ounces minimum, more if you are in a hot climate, exercise heavily, or are heavier. You should be drinking approximately half your weight in ounces.
    • Green tea is a good option
    • Limit coffee to 1 or 2 cups per day.  If you can enjoy a cup in the morning and it doesn’t keep you awake at night, choose organic coffee, grind your own beans, and use either a French press or unbleached coffee filters.
    • If you drink green drinks, e.g. from a juice bar or home-made, they should be all green vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach and celery – no fruits, beets, apples, carrots, or other high-glycemic vegetables or fruits. You can use powdered green drinks as long as they don’t have sugar in them.
  • Clean, lean proteins
    • 4-6 ounces for women, 6-8 ounces for men per meal
    • Grass-fed beef, hormone-free free-range chicken and turkey, pasture-fed lamb and pork, pea-rice protein, wild cold-water fish, wild game
    • Enjoy lean red meat 3 or 4 times a week, focusing on game and lamb. Get the rest of your protein from chicken, turkey, fish, and Virgin Diet Shakes
    • Enjoy 2-3 6-oz servings of lowest-mercury fish per week – anchovies, butterfish, calamari/squid, catfish, farmed caviar, clams, king crab, crawfish/crayfish, flounder, Alaskan halibut, herring, spiny/rock lobster, oysters, pollock, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, sole, tilapia, freshwater trout, whitefish
    • For vegetarians: eat a good blend of nuts, seeds, grains and legumes, especially lentils, which are the highest in protein
  • Healthy fats
    • 1-3 servings of healthy fat per meal; 1 serving = 100 calories. 1 tablespoon of fat, 1/3 avocado, or the fat in grass-fed beef, pasture-fed pork, lamb, or wild cold-water fish
    • Avocado, coconut milk or oil, extra-virgin olive oil (don’t cook it at medium or high heat) , olives, palm fruit oil, sesame oil, wild cold-water fish
    • Rock stars: red palm fruit oil and coconut oil
    • Raw nuts (no peanuts) and nut butter, raw seeds (chia, hemp, freshly ground flaxseed meal), Nuts – soak them overnight to reduce issues from lectins, phytates and other enzyme inhibitors. Limit of 1-3 servings a day (5 brazil or macadamia nuts, 10 walnuts, almonds, or cashews, or a tablespoon of nut butter, not peanut butter)
    • You can enjoy ghee, or clarified butter, ideally from grass-fed cows, even in Cycle 1 as it has no milk solids
  • High-fiber, low-glycemic carbs
    • ½ cup for women, 1 cup for men per meal
    • Legumes including: Adzuki beans, black beans, chick peas / garbanzos, cowpeas, great northern beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, split peas, white beans. Whenever possible, consume soaked, sprouted, or fermented
    • Non-gluten grains including: Brown rice, brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta, brown rice wraps, millet, oat bran, quinoa. Whenever possible, consume soaked, sprouted, or fermented
    • Starchy vegetables including: Beets, carrots (raw only and along with other foods), french beans, jicama, okra, pumpkin, squash (acorn, butternut, winter), sweet potato or yam, tomatoes, turnip. Note – don’t eat potatoes, which are high on the glycemic index (JJ says they’re basically just big lumps of sugar) and most people have more than just a tablespoon or two of them
    • Grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables can be incorporated into a healthy diet if they are not eaten in excess – 1-4 servings a day, where a serving is approximately ½ cup
  • Non-starchy vegetables
    • 2+ cups raw or 1+ cups cooked per meal, the more the better
    • Arugula, beet greens, cabbage, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, endive, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, radicchio, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens, watercress
    • Artichokes, asparagus, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bell peppers*, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cassava, cauliflower, celery, chives, coriander, eggplant*, endive, fennel, garlic, green beans, jalapeño peppers*, kohlrabi, mushrooms, onions, parsley, radishes, shallots, spaghetti squash, summer squash, tomatoes*, zucchini (*nightshades, may cause issues for some people)
  • Low-GI to moderate-GI fruits
    • In moderation
    • Low-glycemic index fruits – favor these – blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, elderberries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries
    • Moderate-glycemic fruits – eat in moderation – apples, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, kiwi, lemons, limes, melons, nectarines, oranges, passion fruit, peaches, pear, persimmons, plums, pomegranates, tangerines
    • If you have issues with insulin resistance or high triglycerides, you should only have one fruit per day or maybe even none
  • Low-FI foods – the least reactive foods
    • Proteins: Hormone-free free-range chicken and turkey, pasture-fed lamb, pea, rice, and/or hemp protein, wild cold-water fish
    • Nonstarchy vegetables: All, but especially focus on: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, deep green leafy vegetables, kale, spinach
    • Fruit: Apples, blueberries
    • Fats: Avocado, chia seeds, coconut oil and coconut milk, extra-virgin olive oil, freshly ground flaxseed meal, palm fruit oil
    • High-fiber starchy carbs: brown rice, lentils, quinoa, sweet potatoes
  • Fermented foods
    • Soaked, fermented, sprouted, or pickled – not commercially
    • Pickled cabbage – traditionally prepared sauerkraut, kimchi
    • Fermented fish sauces without gluten
    • Kombucha without added sugar
    • Dark chocolate – up to 2 ounces per day
    • In cycle 3 if you can handle some dairy – greek-style yogurt or kefir
  • Sweeteners
    • 100% organic pure stevia extract powder with no maltodextrin; xylitol. Also see JJ’s take on alternative sweeteners, which says that monk fruit and erythritol are okay.
  • Healing foods and spices
    • Aloe juice, apples, artichokes, avocado, beets, blueberries/berries, broccoli, cabbage, chia seeds, cilantro, cinnamon, coconut / coconut milk, curcumin/turmeric, dandelion greens, extra-virgin olive oil, flaxseed meal, fresh garlic, ginger, green tea, lentils, oregano, palm fruit oil, pomegranate, red onions, red peppers, rosemary, sauerkraut, sea salt, seafood (especially salmon, sardines, sole, scallops), sweet potato, xylitol

Cycle 1 of The Virgin Diet – what not to eat

  • The top 7 high-FI foods – completely avoid even the smallest traces of these foods:
    • Gluten – in all brans, baked beans, biscuits and cookies, blue cheeses, bread and bread rolls, breadcrumbs, brown rice syrup, bulgur wheat, cakes, cheap brands of chocolate, chutneys and pickles, couscous, crispbreads, crumble topping, durum, farina, gravy powders and stock cubes, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), imitation crabmeat, licorice, luncheon meats (may contain fillers), malt vinegar, malted drinks, many salad dressings, matzo flour/meal, meat and fish pastes, muesli, muffins, mustard and dry mustard powder, pancakes, pasta (E.g. macaroni and spaghetti), pastry and pie crust, pâtés, pizza, pretzels, Pringles potato chips, pumpernickel, rye bread, sauces (often thickened with flour), sausages (often contain rusk), scones, seitan, self-basting turkeys, semolina, shredded suet in packs, some alcoholic drinks, some breakfast cereals, soups (may be roux-based), soy sauce, spice blends, stuffing, waffles, white pepper, Yorkshire pudding. Make sure you’re only buying oatmeal marked “gluten-free”
    • Soy – in Asian foods, energy bars and shakes, miso, prepared foods, soy protein powders, soy milk, soy sauce, tempeh, teriyaki sauce, textured vegetable protein TVP, tofu, veggie burgers
    • Dairy – in butter and many margarines, chocolate (except some dark chocolate products), cottage cheese, cow’s, goats, and sheep’s milk, yogurts, and cheeses, cream, sour cream, half-and-half, whipped cream, cream soups and chowders, creamy cheese or butter sauces (often served on vegetables and meats), creamy soups and sauces, ice cream, macaroni and cheese, many baked goods (bread, crackers, and desserts), many baking mixes and pancake mix, many canned foods (e.g. soups, spaghetti, and ravioli), many salad dressings (e.g. ranch, blue cheese, creamy, and Caesar), mashed potatoes, shakes and hot chocolate mixes and drinks, whey protein powder. Dairy may be listed on labels as: Butter or artificial butter flavor, buttermilk or buttermilk solids, casein, caseinate, sodium caseinate, cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, lactose, lactalbumin, milk, milk solids, nonfat milk solids, whey, yogurt, kefir
    • Eggs – especially corn-fed – in baked goods, batter mixes, Bavarian cream, boiled dressing, bouillon, breaded foods, breads, cake flours, creamy fillings, custards, egg drop soup, egg replacers such as Egg Beaters, flan, french toast, fritters, frosting, hollandaise sauce, ice cream, macaroons, malted drinks, marshmallows, mayonnaise, meat loaf, meringues, noodles, pancakes, puddings, quiche, salad dressings, sauces, sausages, soufflés, tartar sauce, waffles. Egg may be listed on labels as albumin, egg protein, egg white, egg yolk, globulin, livetin, ovalbumin, ovomucin, ovomucoid, ovovitellin, powdered egg, vitellin
    • Corn – in breakfast cereals, cerelose, corn chips, corn syrup, dextrose, dyno, glucose, grits, high fructose corn syrup HFCS, hominy, maize, margarine, popcorn, puretose, sweetose, corn starch, corn oil, vegetable oil
    • Peanuts – in baked goods, baking mixes, battered foods, biscuits, breakfast cereals, candy, cereal-based products, chili sauce, Chinese dishes, cookies, egg rolls, ice cream, margarine, marzipan, milk formula, pastry, peanut butter, satay sauce and dishes, soups, Thai dishes, vegetable fat, vegetable oil. May be listed on labels as emulsifier (uncommon), flavoring, ground nut, oriental sauce, peanut, peanut butter
    • Sugar and artificial sweeteners. Sugar in agave nectar, barley malt, beet sugar, blackstrap molasses, brown sugar, buttered syrup, cane juice crystals, cane sugar, caramel, carob syrup, castor sugar, confectioner’s sugar, corn sweeteners, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, d-mannose, date sugar, demerara sugar, dextrin, dextrose, diastatic malt, diatase, ethyl maltol, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, galactose, glucose, glucose solids, golden sugar, golden syrup, grape sugar, high fructose corn syrup HFCS, honey, icing sugar, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, muscovado sugar, panocha, raw sugar, refiner’s syrup, rice syrup, sorbitol, sorghum syrup, sucrose, sugar, syrup, treacle, turbinado sugar, yellow sugar. Artificial sweeteners including diet sodas, other artificially sweetened foods, sweeteners including acesulfame potassium, alitame, aspartame, aspartame-acesulfame salt, cyclamate, NutraSweet, saccharin, Splenda, sucralose. Note that this isn’t a no-sugar diet, it’s a low-glycemic diet and you shouldn’t add sugars – everything you eat should have 5 grams of sugar or less – learn more about why the Virgin diet is not a no-sugar diet.
  • Processed foods, including gluten-free processed foods
  • Proteins
    • Avoid commercially fed animal protein, fed on corn/soy and given hormones
    • Avoid farm-raised fish
    • Avoid fish that’s heavy in mercury and other heavy metals – grouper, king mackarel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish
    • Limit other high mercury fish to 1-2 6-oz servings a month – saltwater bass, bluefish, Atlantic halibut, American/Maine lobster, mahi mahi, sea trout, canned white albacore tuna, fresh bluefin tuna, fresh ahi tuna
    • Eat no more than six 6-oz servings of lower-mercury fish per month – cod, crab (Dungeness, blue, snow), monkfish, snapper, canned chunk light tuna, fresh Pacific albacore tuna
  • Fats
    • Avoid rancid, refined, or hydrogenated (trans) fats
  • Sometimes nightshades can cause you trouble
    • If you have joint pain, try avoiding: Eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes
  • High-glycemic index foods
    • Fruits: Bananas, grapes, mango, papaya, pineapple, watermelon
    • Fruit juice
    • Dried fruit
    • Potatoes, and anything made with potatoes
    • Any other high-glycemic index foods
  • Beverages
    • Avoid soft drinks
    • Avoid alcohol
    • Bottled water in plastic bottles
    • You could have rice milk, almond milk, or hemp milk a bit here and there if coconut milk is not available, as they’re loaded with sugars or carbohydrates  without nutrients. Fallback is unsweetened almond milk.
  • Genetically modified foods / GMOs

Virgin Diet cycle 2 / reintroduction – food list

This phase is for 28 days/4 weeks. Every week for 4 weeks, test one potentially healthy high-FI food. Based on your responses, determine whether each food should stay or go. Then you can go on to the Cycle 3 lifetime diet.

Cycle 2 of The Virgin Diet – what to eat

  • As above, plus reintroduce one forbidden food per week – eggs and dairy (as they’re potentially healthy), soy and gluten (potentially unhealthy, testing to see whether you need to by hypervigilant about them).
  • Only use healthy, unprocessed versions of these foods and in moderate amounts. Do not indulge in these foods during reintroduction
  • Week 1 – test soy
    • Monday to Thursday, add 1 meal that includes soy to your meal plan, from the recipes in the book
    • Friday to Sunday, go back to your soy-free diet
    • Track your symptoms every day – http://thevirgindiet.com/symptomschecklist (free registration)
    • continue to have at least one Virgin Diet Shake each day, stay hydrated, and follow the meal timing rules
  • Week 2 – test gluten
    • Monday to Thursday, add 1 meal that includes gluten to your meal plan, from the recipes in the book
    • Friday to Sunday, go back to your gluten-free diet
    • Track your symptoms every day
    • continue to have at least one Virgin Diet Shake each day, stay hydrated, and follow the meal timing rules
  • Week 3 – test eggs
    • Monday to Thursday, add 1 meal that includes eggs to your meal plan, from the recipes in the book
    • Friday to Sunday, go back to your egg-free diet
    • Track your symptoms every day
    • continue to have at least one Virgin Diet Shake each day, stay hydrated, and follow the meal timing rules
  • Week 4 – test dairy
    • Monday to Thursday, add 1 meal that includes dairy to your meal plan, from the recipes in the book
    • Friday to Sunday, go back to your dairy-free diet
    • Track your symptoms every day
    • continue to have at least one Virgin Diet Shake each day, stay hydrated, and follow the meal timing rules
    • If you can’t tolerate cow’s milk, you may be okay with goat’s and sheep’s milk in Cycle 2. The best way to consume this type of milk is raw and fermented, in the form of kefir or yogurt. Try a separate challenge for these
  • Even if you discover that you can tolerate gluten, soy, or eggs, do not add them back into your diet during the other three challenge weeks
  • If by mistake you have one of the forbidden foods in cycle 1, make sure you wait 21 days before you challenge the food you inadvertently ate
  • If you show a response on the first day, then that’s not a food that you should be eating. You can rechallenge it again in 3 months if you want to.
  • If you notice a symptom by the fourth day, you can put that food into your diet every fourth day – not any more often, or you might start reacting more intensely
  • If you show no reaction, especially to eggs and/or dairy, then these are foods that you can work into your diet in cycle 3 – every second or third day, not every day
  • If you still have symptoms and aren’t noticing that they’re triggered by these four foods, you might have trouble with the second tier – shellfish, tree nuts, citrus, and strawberries. Give yourself a 3-week period to drop those completely from your diet and see what happens

Cycle 2 of The Virgin Diet – what not to eat

As cycle 1, but the foods listed in Cycle 2 “what to eat” are reintroduced

Virgin Diet cycle 3 / lifetime diet – food list

Cycle 3 of The Virgin Diet – what to eat

  • As cycle 1, plus the foods that you can tolerate tested in cycle 2
  • Continue assembling meals as before, using the Virgin Diet Plate (plate proportions) and focusing on clean, lean protein; healthy fats; high-fiber low-glycemic carbs; and nonstarchy vegetables
  • At least 95% of the time, avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, gluten, corn, soy, and peanuts
  • Use the 3-bite rule – once or twice a week, you can have three polite bites of something you otherwise wouldn’t eat (including desserts) as long as it isn’t something to which you react badly.
  • If you can tolerate them, include healthy forms of eggs and dairy based on how you did in cycle 2: if you had no reaction, you can eat them every other day. If you had a reaction by the fourth day, you can eat them every 4 days. If you reacted immediately, leave them out for at least 3 months
  • Follow the meal timing guidelines above
  • Substitute 1 meal each day with a Virgin Diet Shake
  • Stay hydrated
  • You can reintroduce alcohol – limit to one glass of red wine per day for women or two glasses for men. You could perhaps treat yourself to one gluten-free beer per week; choose dark beers
  • Use non-food rewards
  • If you’re still trying to lose weight
    • Replace 2 meals per day with Virgin Diet Shakes
    • Replace your high-fiber starchy carbs with more nonstarchy vegetables
    • Drink more green tea to boost your metabolism
    • Up your fiber
    • Make sure you drink enough water
    • Shift from higher fat animal protein such as grass-fed beef and lamb, to lower fat chicken breasts, turkey breasts, and scallops

Move through cycles 1, 2, and 3 once a year, every year, for the rest of your life, to recheck what you can tolerate as this may change

Cycle 3 of The Virgin Diet – what not to eat

  • As cycle 2
  • Any foods that you react negatively to
  • Alcohol over 1 glass a day for women and 2 glasses for men; mixed drinks
  • 95% of the time avoid the forbidden foods that you don’t react negatively to. Use the 3-bite rule – once or twice a week, you can have three polite bites of something you otherwise wouldn’t eat as long as it isn’t something to which you react badly.

Health benefits claimed in The Virgin Diet

The diet in this book claims to reduce the risks for: abdominal cramping, acne, ADD/ADHD, anxiety, arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, bloating, blood sugar crashes, brain fog, candida/yeast overgrowth, chronic mucus/stuffy nose, congestion, constipation, dark circles under the eyes, depression, diarrhea, dull lifeless hair, eczema, fatigue, food addiction, food cravings, food intolerance, gas,  headaches, heartburn/GERD, hyperactivity, inability to lose weight, insomnia, insulin resistance, irritable bowel syndrome IBS, irritable bowel disorder, joint pain, leaky gut syndrome, moodiness, muscle pain, overweight/obesity, poor or unsteady energy, premature aging, psoriasis, rosacea, sinusitis, skin rashes, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth SIBO, throat clearing

As always, this is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical diagnosis or treatment for a medical condition. Consult your doctor before starting a new diet. This page describes what the authors of the diet recommend – Chewfo is describing the diet only, and does not endorse it.

Buy a copy of the Virgin Diet to get more information on food intolerance, recipes, and exercise recommendations.

Buy now from Amazon Diet book

Get The Virgin Diet Cookbook for more recipes.

Buy now from Amazon Cookbook
See also the diet website at http://thevirgindiet.com, the products store at www.jjvirginstore.com. You can get Virgin Diet ready-to-eat meals delivered to your door through Artisan Bistro – http://thevirgindiet.com/artisanbistro or https://www.artisanbistrodirect.com. The Twitter feed is https://twitter.com/jjvirgin.

JJ doesn’t coach any more, but you can book one-on-one personalized wellness coaching with her coaches – see http://jjvirgin.com/coaches/

How have you found the diet helped you? Please add a comment below.

{ 439 comments… add one }

  • Mouse Doar February 9, 2013, 6:45 pm

    I am on the Virgin diet just to see what my food sensitivities are because I am feeling sluggish, light headed, no energy , chest pains , itchy skin, nodules on my thyroid, no energy….. I do NOT need to loose weight! I am 5’5″ and 109 lbs. I have been on the diet for only four days and I already see improvement.

    But here’s my big question. I am NOT a drinker. But I like 1/2 a glass of Pinot Noir four nites a week. On the JJ diet I am not drinking any Red or White wine to see if I have a sensitivity to it when I can test it out in two or three weeks.
    But I was wondering if I could have a thimble full of vodka or gin? I don’t normally like Vodka or Gin but I like the little relaxation a thimbleful would give me. Would I be ruining all of my hard work on the jj diet if I had a teeny tiny bit of vodka or gin?

    I sound like I need to sign up for AA instead of JJ. Don’t worry . I don’t. I have several family members who have done that. And that is one area I don’t have a problem with!

    Many thanks for your response!

    • Penny Hammond March 3, 2013, 2:05 pm

      Hi Mouse,

      How wonderful that you’re seeing some improvements after only 4 days!

      JJ suggests avoiding alcohol completely in the first 21 days (Cycle 1) and then reintroducing red wine only, up to 1 glass a day (and maybe one dark gluten-free beer a week) in Cycle 2, the next 28 days. In Cycle 3, the lifetime diet, she suggests limiting alcohol to 1 glass a day for women and 2 glasses for men, and avoiding mixed drinks (presumably because of the sugar).

      Seeing as she suggests introducing spirits in small amounts only after the first two cycles are finished, it looks like she’s advising to avoid a thimble full of vodka or gin in the first two cycles. Could you manage for 3 weeks without any alcohol, and then go back to your usual 1/2 glass of Pinot Noir four nights a week?

      You can also contact The Virgin Diet directly at http://thevirgindiet.com if you have questions.

      Hope that helps,

      • Angie July 18, 2013, 1:07 am

        Hi, I started the Virgin Diet recently and I just made a meal and included a little bit of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce to spice it up. Distilled vinegar is listed in the ingredient list. I was wondering if this is safe to eat during the Virgin Diet because I don’t recall JJ mentioning it.

        • Penny Hammond July 18, 2013, 9:26 am

          Distilled vinegar should be okay – the only type of vinegar JJ says not to use is malt vinegar, which isn’t gluten-free.
          According to the manufacturer, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce is gluten-free (http://www.franksredhot.com/info/faq).

  • Jude Drapeau March 10, 2013, 11:15 am

    What happens to Olive Oil if I cook with it? What should I use as an alternative for cooking especially for stir fry? Thanks

    • Penny Hammond March 12, 2013, 3:40 pm

      JJ recommends not cooking with extra-virgin olive oil at medium or high heat because it doesn’t hold up well to heat – it reaches its smoke point and starts to break down. She suggests that you use regular olive oil, palm fruit oil, coconut oil or sesame oil when you cook (page 110).

  • Maryann Bishop March 12, 2013, 1:05 pm

    You my feel that this diet the best but, my God what are people suppose to eat??? I am lactose tolerant so to have my system clear out daily I drink 6oz of milk every evening morning and free my system daily. I think this way is a natural way instead of taking an over the counter pill daily. If God gave me a way to do what I need with out the meds I will do it that way. Forget the diets to lose weight, God taught me how to listen to my body. Just recently I was eating onions in my scrambled eggs and everything I could and why because, I listen to my body. Onions have vitiamin K and that was what I needed at that time. Once I had enough of vitamin K there wasn’t a need to eat the onions since. I love to eat and if my body tells me not to I will listen. I am going to make a appointment with a allergy doctor to know for sure not eat what I should avoid.

    • Penny Hammond March 12, 2013, 3:44 pm

      I’m listing the recommendations of the diet, not saying it’s the best diet – it’s up to you to choose what’s best for you.
      Some people find that their bodies crave foods that they are intolerant to – you may crave the very foods that are hurting you, and eat them every day. Good luck with the visit to the allergy doctor.

    • Kira August 11, 2013, 2:32 pm

      JJ’s book is essentially an elimination diet, which helps people figure out their food sensitivities. An allergy doctor cannot help you figure out your sensitivities — only allergies. According to my allergy doctor, I don’t have any food allergies, and yet my body is much happier when I don’t eat gluten (I’m still testing the other foods).

      Unfortunately, listening to your body doesn’t work when it’s highly addicted to the foods formulated to cause us to eat more. Yes, it works when you eat a whole foods, plant-based diet. But even something as simple as homemade french fries or potato chips can cause some people to not “hear” their body’s signals of fullness.

      • BG December 29, 2013, 4:56 pm

        actually you can have a food sensitivity blood test done. I had one done at an integrative doctor. It immediately showed me what I needed to cut out (all dairy, whey and egg products along with fairly insignificant sensitivities to random foods such as cranberries). You just have to research where to find a doctor that will do a blood test. i agree though. listening to your body never works if it’s so addicted to bad stuff. If i am lazy and am not avoiding the foods i know I’m not supposed to have my body tells me i need multiple glasses of milk, cheese and foods that contain dairy and eggs every day. certain foods can act as a drug or illegal substance would. our bodies don’t like detoxing from the foods that we shouldn’t have and therefore we crave it more.

    • Ms Monroe February 25, 2015, 5:25 pm

      Why are you even on here, just to hear yourself talk? Everything you said has nothing to do with this. This is a great diet and a great way to live healthy.

  • Joyce Clark March 12, 2013, 1:06 pm

    Today is only my 2nd day of the Virgin Diet & I feel like crap! My head hurtss, I feel really bloated, nauseaus, joint paid, moody. What am I doing wrong?

    • Penny Hammond March 12, 2013, 3:48 pm

      Sorry to hear that. It sounds like you may be going through withdrawal symptoms. Page 39: Your immune system is used to making antibodies that would zap the dairy, eggs and soy in your system, and now those antibodies are causing you to crave those foods intensely. “You know how serious the addiction is based on how tough the withdrawal symptoms are. Your cravings are telling us that we are totally on the right track, so just give it a few more days.”

    • Penny Hammond July 20, 2013, 11:47 am

      Another idea from the FAQs – if you’re not used to eating much fiber and now you have bloating, reduce the amount by half and slowly increase it so your body can get used to it.

    • Lee Ann September 13, 2013, 9:04 pm

      I felt really sick and i thought I had the flu.but i feel much better. was this from the diet?

      • Penny Hammond September 14, 2013, 7:21 pm

        Was that when you first started the diet? If so, it could have been detox symptoms, which happen sometimes if you’ve been constantly eating something your body reacts badly to.

  • tess March 21, 2013, 8:10 pm

    ok i have read enough to just about know this is a plan that is unrealistic… where in the world am i supposed to get these ingredients for this food in the book. also, i will be starving. nothing even sounds remotely appealing to eat. looks like lots of cardboard and cabbage on the menu… help? i eat . i cannot be drinking rice and peas 2 meals a day.
    any suggestions? what can i buy from a regular grocery store that i can also feed my husband and make this work?

    • shannon March 24, 2013, 4:46 pm

      If you will really read the book in detail and take notes, you will quickly see that it is totally realistic. One of the things that helped me tremendously was just realizing that I am basically eating all fresh and raw organic foods, nothing in a bag or a box. Her recipes in the back are very simple, with most taking less than an hour to prepare AND cook. They are very tasty! Once you truly embrace it, play strictly by the rules and do not cheat, I promise you it will fall into place for you. Just start out cooking what she suggests. Once you get a little confidence and know what you can and cannot have, you will find other recipes easy to read and keep or discard. If there is an ingredient you cannot have, discard it for the time being and move on to another. It is truly simple if you will just try. Good luck!

      • DD April 23, 2013, 4:22 pm

        What the heck do you eat for breakfast?

        • Penny Hammond April 23, 2013, 5:58 pm

          Most people will have the Virgin Diet Shake for breakfast, and have “solid” meals for lunch and/or dinner.

        • Carrie May 22, 2013, 11:05 am

          I have been doing the Virgin diet for about two weeks now and my biggest question was “What do I eat for breakfast” I have found that JJ’s shakes are two expensive for me so I make my own smoothie every morning. (I was pretty much doing this already for convenience, just throw stuff in a blender and go) I found a vegetable protein shake at a health food store and sometimes I use that and sometimes I just have a plain smoothie with a few slices of chicken or other protein on the side. Just throw coconut milk & veggies and fruit in blender and blend.

          • Wendy June 21, 2013, 7:56 pm

            Hi Carrie,

            I read your entry about making your own shakes. Could you give me specifics? ie. regular coconut milk or lite, how much, etc.? The Virgin shakes were causing me intense gastro distress and GAS!!

            Look forward to hear from you

          • Betsy February 28, 2014, 10:05 am

            Carrie, This was one of my biggest fears of this diet – not being able to afford the shakes. Do you always use the veg protein or do you most often make up your own smoothies?
            I feel like I could wake up and do one w/ coconut milk, kale/spinach, and berries w/ some ice and be done!

          • Tiffany February 14, 2015, 5:10 pm

            I make my own shakes…i buy a vegan, gluten, dairy, sugar, soy free protein at whole food for $22 and it lasts me a month…i use frozen berries and kale with unsweetened plain almond milk and water…i also add a little avocado to give it a smoother texture.

  • js March 23, 2013, 12:21 pm

    I follow the link to the symptomschecklist, and am unable to access it. I have purchased the book, completed 4 weeks of the diet &would really like this info. Why is it such a secret? Why the separate link to the info that isn’t there?

    • Penny Hammond March 24, 2013, 3:57 pm

      The symptoms checklist is on The Virgin Diet website; we’re not the author. To access it, you have to sign up with that website. Symptoms listed on that website include energy levels, sugar and carb cravings, sleep quality, bowel movement regularity, mood, productivity, clarity of thought, hunger, motivation, skin (acne, rashes, rosacea), gas, bloating, gut issues, sensitivity to smell, joint pain, headaches, and difficulty losing weight.

  • Penny Hammond March 24, 2013, 4:16 pm

    John asks:
    Positive Urinalysis Test / Virgin Diet Shake
    ( I can’t find it at the moment ), but I want to say I read somewhere that your Virgin Diet Shake Protein Powder Shake had traces of hemp seed in it. Being in the military, this would cause major problems if I showed up positive for a urinalysis test. Did I read that correctly, because I just bought the powder, but not seeing hemp seed on the ingredients.
    Is there hemp seed in your powder mix?
    I also have been on this diet for 1 week ,and have already lost 5 lbs. 5 lbs in one week, I never would believe I could do it.

    Congratulations on your progress!
    I don’t know what the ingredients are for the packaged shakes, although I can’t see any hemp in the ingredients list at http://www.jjvirginstore.com/virgin-diet-all-in-one-shake. You’d have to check with JJ Virgin or the manufacturers to be certain (try http://www.jjvirginstore.com/contact_us). You could always make your own shakes from scratch – the basic ingredients include vegan pea– rice protein powder, fiber (fiber blend, chia seeds, hemp seeds, freshly ground flaxseed meal or nut butter), organic frozen berries, and liquid (water, unsweetened coconut milk or coconut water), plus optionally chopped spinach or kale. The recipe is in the book, along with alternative versions.

    • marc April 7, 2013, 5:45 pm

      John, The tests you would be concerned with are tests for THC….hemp products shouldn’t have any as it is made from seed…and THC products are not generally currently legal.

    • Ms Monroe February 25, 2015, 5:28 pm

      I’m in the military and i have milk with hemp in it and i just did a urinalysis and nothing happened.

  • Penny Hammond March 24, 2013, 4:19 pm

    Deborah asks:
    Is fresh coconut permitted in cycle 1? This would be the coconut cracked and cut out of the shell.

    In cycle 1 you’re encouraged by the book to eat coconut. Enjoy!

  • Jackie Hornsby March 25, 2013, 6:18 pm

    I am on Day One, of the Virgin Diet. May I eat Potatoes on this plan, and May I have sugarless Gum? Wish Me Luck !!

    • Penny Hammond March 25, 2013, 8:38 pm

      JJ points out that potatoes are high on the glycemic index, and says “as far as I’m concerned, a potato is just a big lump of sugar.” If you can only have a couple small forkfuls it’s okay, but a whole potato would be too much. She says you can have sweet potatoes.

      She doesn’t say anything about gum, but doesn’t want you to have artificial sweeteners – so I’d guess that sugarless gum is out.

      Good luck!

      • Kristina April 18, 2013, 11:17 am

        except if you find gum sweetened with xylitol and/or stevia…. those are the acceptable sweeteners in the book 😀

        • Sue June 2, 2013, 9:39 pm

          Be sure and look at all ingredient labels, even gum. I was surprised how many of them contain soy – and you need to avoid soy for the first 21 days to be able to challenge it.

      • Tracey February 14, 2014, 1:50 pm

        There are lots of gum & mint products with Xylitol, which JJ allows.

  • Lynn March 26, 2013, 7:48 pm

    Hi, I am only medication for acid reflux and high blood pressure (average 116 over 68). I started the diet and felt awlful when put coconut water and mixed berries in my second smoothie. I am supposed to only put raspberries and can I do two meals instead of 1 in the first cycle to slowly re train my body. I already eat a lot of veggies and only chicken breast and ground chuck. Please advise

    • Penny Hammond March 27, 2013, 11:45 am

      Some ideas:

      • You could be experiencing withdrawal symptoms from the foods you cut out, and it might be purely coincidence that this happened at around the time of your second smoothie
      • You might be reacting to something in the smoothie – try using water instead of coconut water, or make sure the berries are organic (USA-grown blueberries are listed as a “Dirty Dozen” produce with a lot of pesticides
  • Brenda Ortiz March 29, 2013, 11:48 am

    I have just started the plan, and ordered the book. I have noticed headaches with almonds and almond butter. I am avoiding almonds for now, but also noticed a slight headache when I added chopped walnuts to a quinoa recipe. I know that peanut butter also gives me a headache. This diet is helping me listen to my body, I have also lost 4 lbs in 4 days. Not to mention the obvious benefits of eating organic foods. Thank you for this summary, it is very informative.

    • Judy June 23, 2013, 1:11 pm

      I have been putting fruit in the protein shakes but I thought I saw on this site it said no fruit in the shake?

      • Penny Hammond June 23, 2013, 5:56 pm

        That was for green drinks, which are different than the Virgin Diet Shakes – they’re blended green vegetables. I’ve modified above to clarify it, thanks for pointing it out!

  • Eli March 30, 2013, 2:20 pm

    Good Day! I am 40 pounds overweight and have been in relatively good shape all of my life except for now being in menupause. I started following a lot of the suggestions in JJ’s book since March 7th and today have lost 10 pounds without feeling like I’ve been dieting. I will say when shopping I look at a lot of labels. I have learned to listen to my body. I am definitely lactose intolerant and have Asthma and GERD. My breathing has improved tremendously since I started the diet and I am never bloated or experience any bathroom emergencies anymore. This diet makes sense! It is not for everyone but if you know certain foods cause you to be uncomfortable after you eat them, then you should not be eating them. The avoidance foods listed by JJ are the top allergy producers which is why they can cause digestive problems. All I can say is that I knew I had to do something about the way I eat, I did and I am glad I listened to JJ!

  • shelly April 2, 2013, 4:30 pm

    use organic!!! Organic almond butter works great for me. Regular almond butter gives me a rash. Pesticides make a difference in how your body can tolerate something.

    • donna October 24, 2013, 2:00 pm

      I have learned from the website WholeNewMom that most almonds in the U.S. are pasteurized with engine fuel. Yep. Engine fuel. Bob’s Red Mill almond flour is safe, as they pastuerize with steam. Costco almonds are pasterurized with engine fuel.
      Go to Whole NewMom and the link for buying almonds online that are NOT pasteurized with engine fuel. Not a huge cost difference.

  • Cindy April 3, 2013, 9:26 am

    What about soy yogurt? One of the other candida elimination diets I’ve been trying to follow says no soy, but then recommends soy yogurt. So, it’s a bit confusing and soy seems to come in so many forms.

    Also, any thoughts on coconut syrup or tapioca syrup (I’m assuming those are sugars, but don’t see them addressed here).

    Also, I see that xylitol is allowed but don’t think I saw Stevia or agave addressed above.

    I will definitely buy the book after getting all this free advice! Thx.

    • Penny Hammond April 3, 2013, 5:37 pm

      This book recommends eliminating soy completely during cycle 1, the first 21 days. So no soy yogurt then.
      You could probably use soy yogurt to test soy in the first week of cycle 2.

      Coconut syrup and tapioca syrup are sugars, so they should be excluded during cycles 1 and 2 and are a “forbidden food” which should be avoided 95% of the time.
      Same with agave nectar – “Agave is higher in fructose than high-fructose corn syrup. Natural or not, it could not be worse for you.” (page 136)
      A blend of xylitol and stevia is allowed, although straight stevia is not allowed (page 142).

      I hope you enjoy the book!

  • SHAUNA ORR April 3, 2013, 3:56 pm

    I have been doing this for 2 weeks now, do not eat red meat and very little chicke so is tricky planning meals. I eat a lot of roasted vegetables and beans and sauerkraut . Just realized that bananas are not recommended the first week but I pump up my potassium with these as I am on B>P> med.
    My question is about rice as it is says brown rice but what about wild and black rice??
    Thank You
    I am actually starting to enjoy the smoothies and have found a health restaurant to eat.

    • Penny Hammond April 3, 2013, 5:47 pm

      The idea is to avoid processed and high glycemic foods. White rice has had the brown fibrous part removed, which makes it higher glycemic.
      Wild and black rice aren’t mentioned in the book – here’s my assumption based on JJ’s recommendations in the book. They aren’t processed, which is good. Wild rice is relatively low on the glycemic index, and black rice / forbidden rice might be higher but not as high as processed white rice. There are lots of different measurements for glycemic index; I got the information from http://www.healthcastle.com/diabetes_rice.shtml; you can also see http://www.glycemicindex.com/.

      So I’d guess that wild rice is fine, and black rice might be okay as a half portion.

  • Robin April 3, 2013, 3:57 pm

    This sounds great! my question is about sugars… do I need to eliminate all forms of sugar? what about Honey or fruit sweetened items, grain sweetened. I have been doing sugar alternatives like Agave or beet suyrp for awhile. is that what you mean by sweetners? or do you mean things like maltidol and aspertian? chemical sweetners.
    if alternative and natural sweetners are OK which ones? Thanks

    • Penny Hammond April 3, 2013, 5:51 pm

      Yup, all kinds of sugars and sweeteners, natural and artificial – except xylitol and a mixture of xylitol + stevia.

      “The idea of healthy sugars is crazy. I’m sorry. They don’t exist.” (page 135)

      • Heather October 16, 2013, 10:46 am

        Lo han/ monk’s fruit was also played for this diet.

      • Shayla February 25, 2014, 12:56 pm

        I also have been using Erythritol which can be purchased at health food stores. It is similar to Xylitol and has no aftertaste like Stevia does. It most closely resembles sugar and is 100% natural and allowed on the JJ Virgin Diet.

  • Penny Hammond April 3, 2013, 6:34 pm

    I’d love to be able to add a Facebook link so you can Like this page!
    Facebook has decided that links on this site are “spammy or unsafe” – sometimes they do that for no particular reason.

    They’re not listening to me when I say that’s not so… could you help?
    Try to post this page in Facebook, and if you get a message saying you can’t, please click the “let us know” link and tell them why you should be able to post it.

    Thank you very much for your help!

    • Penny Hammond September 23, 2013, 6:55 pm

      Finally Facebook allows links to the Chewfo website. Thanks everybody for your help.

  • Mary J April 5, 2013, 5:10 pm

    Where can you find water that’s not in a plastic bottle when purchased. Most water comes in plastic containers.

    • Penny Hammond April 5, 2013, 9:19 pm

      You’re right, it’s difficult to find bottled water that’s not in plastic containers. There are some mineral waters in glass bottles, but these are usually expensive. You could put filtered tap water in a metal water bottle (I have an insulated one that’s great for keeping water cold) – does that work for you?

  • Jess April 6, 2013, 8:10 pm

    Hello. I’m on day three of this diet. It’s been a challenge at the grocery store, but I’m not going hungry yet! My question is, I’ve looked all over and I know olive and coconut oil is best, but if you happen to find items with canola oil in it, is that a bad thing? Should I avoid canola oil all together?

    • Penny Hammond April 9, 2013, 9:43 am

      Here’s what JJ says about canola oil:
      “If you’re using canola oil, that’s fine. Just make sure that it’s not genetically modified and that it’s been cold-pressed. Do not heat it, no matter what the manufacturers say. Canola oil has been bred to be rich in omega-3s, which are fragile, and the last thing you want to do is expose them to heat.” (page 110)

      Foods that contain canola oil could contain genetically modified canola oil (unless they’re 100% organic), and as cold-pressed canola oil is difficult to find and expensive it’s unlikely that processed foods will contain it. So, if you’re following this diet to the letter it’s probably best to avoid items with canola oil in them.

  • marie April 7, 2013, 6:12 pm

    Hi I am not a diet person and after reading the book and quick start guide I have no idea how to make this work. Are there any sample menu plans anywhere? I am 5-11 and 205 lbs and very athletic. Any suggestions , do intense conditioning work outs, 6 days a week. How many meals, what do i eat before eve workouts? Help, help, I dont get it.

    • Penny Hammond April 9, 2013, 10:03 am

      There are recipes in the book, but I haven’t found any menu plans. JJ asks you to eat only 3 meals a day, 4-6 hours apart, preferably without snacks. There isn’t any calorie counting, although there are portion sizes for many foods, and you can eat unlimited amounts of nonstarchy vegetables. As you’re much taller than the average woman, perhaps you can have larger amounts of the limited foods, say portion sizes between those recommended for women and for men.

      There’s no guidance on eating before exercise that I can find, and nothing talking about eating more because of exercise, sorry I can’t help you there. (Exercise suggestions are on pages 225-234). You could ask JJ a question directly at https://twitter.com/jjvirgin.

  • Dominique April 8, 2013, 11:40 pm

    So glad I found this! I’m “reading” the book by listening to it on my iPhone through audiobooks.com, and therefore don’t get the fancy “extras” that come along with buying the book itself. I know she encourages vegetarians/vegans to have animal-based proteins in their diets but says if they can’t be persuaded she has other suggestions, (or something along those lines). I happen to be a new-vegetarian-trying-to-go-vegan and was wondering what these other suggestions are. I either missed it in while listening or haven’t gotten to that part yet, (there’s less than an hour left to and I assume recipes are towards the end). What can a vegan eat while trying this diet??

    Thanks for any advice!!

    • Penny Hammond April 9, 2013, 10:30 am

      JJ suggests nutritional supplements for vegans/vegetarians – “If you’re avoiding all meat, poultry and fish, make sure you’re supplementing with a good vegetarian multivitamin mineral formula that contains iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and all the good B vitamins. Do a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test to evaluate your levels, and supplement with vitamin D3 to prevent a shortage. Vitamin D2 comes from plants, is not made by humans and is way less bioactive and stable than vitamin D3. Nearly all vitamin D3 comes from lanolin (i.e., sheep), but this is worth making the exception for, as vitamin D is a prohormone that is essential for strong bones and a healthy brain, heart and gastrointestinal tract. Also, be sure to take omega-3s from algae so you get enough DHA, and make sure you are taking extra vitamin B12. Check the Resources section on my website for recommendations on testing and supplements.” (p.158)

      Other thoughts for vegetarians (see pages 155-158 of the book for a full discussion of vegetarianism):

      • Watch out for soy and gluten – many vegetarians and vegans eat a huge amount of both, and they’re reactive foods
      • Dairy and eggs are also reactive
      • Grains and legumes are high in lectins, which can create insulin resistance, alter your gut flora, and make you feel hungry (p.69)
      • Grains and legumes are also high in phytates, which are an antinutrient because they make minerals bio-unavailable (p.69)

      What you can eat:

      • Drink the Virgin Diet Shake, from pea–rice protein
      • Make sure to eat a good blend of nuts, seeds, grains and legumes, especially lentils, which are the highest in protein.
      • Eat grain alternatives including quinoa, buckwheat, millet, rice, amaranth, arrowroot, sorghum and tapioca
      • Whenever possible, consume soaked, sprouted or fermented foods to reduce the antinutrient impact of phytates and lectins

      “Nutritionally speaking, you would do well to have 1 or 2 servings per week of meat from a grass-fed cow that’s been treated well, killed humanely and not choked with antibiotics and hormones. Other clean, lean proteins include wild salmon— not farm-raised fish!— other wild fish and free-range chicken. These are all healthy choices, and they’re a critical part of an optimal diet.” (p156)

      • Ann June 4, 2013, 12:27 pm

        Sorry Penny, there is no such thing as KILLED HUMANELY. As a former cattle rancher remarked: “Cows know exactly what is going to happen to them, they smell the fear and death around them.” Shame on recommending such to a vegetarian/vegan.

        • Penny Hammond June 4, 2013, 12:50 pm

          I was quoting the book. If you have an issue with JJ Virgin’s recommendations, you can contact her directly.

          • dave July 12, 2013, 9:53 pm

            Vegetarians and vegans would probably try alternative sources to meats like pea protein, whey protein and seeds, nuts like almonds are all HIGH in protein to replace Meat. You can find alternatives to meat and still go by her diet.

        • Laurie January 30, 2015, 10:25 pm

          We raise grass-fed cows and that is not true. We have the processor come to our house and they are very quick. I am very concerned not only about their quality of life but also about the possibility of adrenaline in my freezer. That would ruin the whole effort. We are always present to witness the processing and let me assure you that our cows are loved throughout their lives and killed humanely. Not every cow goes through a slaughter house.

      • arnie May 25, 2014, 4:41 pm

        Hello Ann,
        I understand what you are saying and it is absolutely true. I don’t think JJ was directing the humane comment to any vegans/vegetarians in particular but even humane slaughter is still just that. The PhD’s are trodded out promoting their latest scientific breakthroughs along with their cookbook, knowing full well that nothing makes a better stocking stuffer than a cookbook and that it has a very short shelf life. This book is correctly identified as a glorified eliminmation diet. If you are concerned with food allergies or sensitivities, the tests are available now and they are not out of reach financially.The main thread of all these unnecessary diet books is not what you eat but what you leave out. I think it is a very sad commentary on how we live in this country. Where else but the industrialized nations, could we ever be so glutinous, always looking for the next book to save our souls, with themes ranging from it’s not your fault you’re fat and eat your fat to stay slim and fit, etc. There is far too much info available to us now for us to ever need another diet book again. The best advice I can give is to brush these books with garlic and olive oil, put them in the broiler and then the trash.

    • Penny Hammond August 1, 2013, 9:39 am

      Also, see JJ’s Manual for Vegetarians and Vegans, a 50-page pdf document that you have to register to receive. http://thevirgindiet.com/veganguide/. It includes a list of optimal protein sources for vegetarians/vegans (p.16 of the guide), as well as advice on how to avoid nutritional deficiencies, and vegan recipes.

  • ocheonsa April 9, 2013, 3:23 pm

    thank you for this breakdown. it was very helpful for me. I am trying to eat to reduce inflammation because of fibromyalgia. It seems I have all the odds against me losing weight until i get my inflammation under control. I have already cut out gluten and dairy. i will now work on cutting out the other 5 foods to begin. This seems like a reasonable, logical, and good plan. thank you.

  • Cindy April 9, 2013, 7:20 pm

    The book says unsweetened vanilla extract is okay, but I don’t know what to buy. The unsweetened ones all seem to have grain alcohol (so not gluten free) and the gluten free ones all seem to have sugar or artificial sweeteners. Any thoughts?

    • Penny Hammond April 10, 2013, 9:53 am

      I make my own vanilla extract – get 3-4 really good quality vanilla beans, chop them in half and slice them open, put them in a jar and add a cup of potato-based vodka, leave it for 1-2 months to develop flavor (you can re-use the vanilla beans a few times).

      Distilled grain alcohol is gluten-free (http://celiacdisease.about.com/b/2009/09/07/is-grain-alcohol-gluten-free.htm), if that helps.

      Does anyone have a recommendation for a store-bought vanilla extract?

  • Jane April 10, 2013, 12:14 pm

    The Virgin Shake recipe calls for frozen organic berries. Is it ok to use fresh organic berries instead?

    • Penny Hammond April 10, 2013, 3:53 pm

      Yes, absolutely. You can freeze them if you want a colder, thicker shake.

  • frany April 11, 2013, 10:02 am

    I started the diet 2 weeks ago and I am still having diarrhea, it does wake me up sometimes. Any suggestions? I did not use the chia seeds.I have always been a big vegetables and fruits eater so I don’t think it is the fiber. I do like this diet, I do feel better except for the diarrhea. I have only lost 1/2 lbs though…

    • Penny Hammond April 11, 2013, 10:27 am

      Sorry to hear about the diarrhea. Are there any new foods that you’re eating, or any foods that you’re eating much more than usual? You could try to cut back on them or avoid them to see if that’s what’s giving you the symptoms. Note that diarrhea can be a symptom of food sensitivity, and the top 7 food intolerance foods are not the only ones you might be intolerant to…

      If that doesn’t work, try prebiotics and probiotics to protect the good bacteria in your digestive system – these can be found in traditionally fermented foods (soaked, fermented, sprouted, pickled – avoid commercially fermented foods p.178) and/or supplements

    • bonnie wickenden April 13, 2013, 3:45 pm

      Yes the weight came off in the first week as advertised but I had severe cramps, the runs & nausea. After researching information, found that the almond milk which was suggested as a substitute, causes these symptoms & much worse for many people & especially children. The cause of these ailments is that the almonds are sprayed with propylene oxide which is very carcinogenic to humans. Be aware of any changes when you first begin using almond milk. Many people have no problems but many do.
      Nothing else has changed & many websites are warning against this product. Stopped drinking it & no more problems

      • dave July 12, 2013, 9:58 pm

        Organic almond milk unsweetened is NOT sprayed with propylene oxide. Always organic for many things. Google “dirty dozen foods” and you’ll know what you can eat that is NOT organic but still healthy to eat.

  • Sherri April 15, 2013, 11:35 am

    I had a friend post on FB this weekend that she has lost 20lb in 5 week on this diet, so I had to know what it was all about since I have been having a had time losing weight for over a year now. I started reading the book this weekend and thought WOW, this really explains a lot of the problems I have been having. I have not been able to finish the book yet, but I wanted to get started on the diet right away. After reading this artilce, I realize that that in Cycle 1, she suggests that you have 2 shakes and 1 meal per day which I don’t know how that will work since I am a full time working single mom, so I need to be able to cook dinner at night and I do not have access to a blender while I am at work, so can I have a small salad or something at lunch instead of a 2nd shake?

    • Penny Hammond April 15, 2013, 2:41 pm

      2 shakes and 1 meal per day is only for the first week. The shakes contain protein and other nutrients, so a salad wouldn’t be a good substitute.
      A couple options:

      • Make a double-sized Virgin Diet Shake at breakfast and take half of it to work with you in an insulated flask
      • Have your solid meal at lunchtime and the second shake for dinner, if you’re eating something different from your family already
  • EG April 16, 2013, 1:00 pm

    I have been on the Virgin Diet since January 2, 2013. It has changed my life. I have lost 49 pounds so far. I feel great, my energy level is way up, I sleep better and I no longer have sinus congestion. I would recommend this to anyone who needs to lose weight, feel better.

  • Kristina April 18, 2013, 11:36 am

    I read about this last week, it made so much sense that I bought the ebook, read it, decided I had no idea what to eat and let it sink a little. I’m not eating nightshades because of osteoarthritis (no tomatos, potatoes, bell peppers and aubergines), allergic to dairy and gluten intolerant. I do believe that all this is mainly due to a high sugar intake and being overweight.
    I started doing Cycle 1 on tuesday (2 days ago, today is day 3), I have replaced breakfast and dinner with a shake (not very adventurous but I’m starting to see a lot of other possibilities, gradually growing into it) and the most amazing news is : I have lost 1.8kg in 3 days! Unbelievable! Especially considering that the last 15 years I have only put on weight and the last 2 years my metabolism was totally stuck!! I am so happy, I really feel like my body is functioning much more efficiently again. GREAT!! Thanks very much!!

  • susan April 22, 2013, 11:47 am

    Thx for all the info. I am really interested in this way of eating, I love vegetables and cooking/eating non processed foods. My question is regarding nut butters, JJ suggests Almond but i dont see anything about Sunflower Butter, which i love and can get from my TJ’s.

    • Penny Hammond April 22, 2013, 12:50 pm

      I can’t see anything on sunflower butter either. But she does mention that seeds are good, especially raw seeds – she mentions chia, flaxseed and hemp seeds, and that you should avoid anything that’s gone rancid. So I’d say you should be able to eat sunflower butter, as long as it’s fresh and you don’t overdo it. You could shoot her a question at https://twitter.com/jjvirgin if you want to be certain – let me know the answer so I can post it here for others!

      • Kristine August 8, 2013, 11:56 pm

        Trader Joe’s sunflower seed butter has sugar in it, so it would not be a good choice for this diet.

  • Kim Smith April 24, 2013, 5:55 pm

    I just started the Virgin diet Monday and I weighed this morning (Wednesday) and have already lost 5 pounds! Amazing. I was having a problem with my legs and feet swelling really bad in the afternoon and that has gone away. I also was having hot flashes and keep a fan under my desk. I haven’t needed it the last two days. I have tried every diet imaginable and this one seems to be working. I also want to feel better and this seems to be helping. I have tried finding the rice chips and can’t find them. Do you know where I can get them?

    • Penny Hammond April 24, 2013, 10:37 pm

      How wonderful that you’re feeling so much better.
      I can’t find rice chips mentioned anywhere in the book. Do you mean rice cakes? They’re in healthfood stores and some supermarkets. Does anyone else have suggestions?

  • gindy April 25, 2013, 9:36 am

    Im not a fan of the shakes, can I eat something else in its place or won’t the diet work?

    • Penny Hammond April 25, 2013, 5:28 pm

      The shakes are pretty central to the diet, and JJ doesn’t offer any alternatives if you don’t like them.

      • Kyah February 23, 2014, 4:56 pm

        That’s convenient for her pocket book now isn’t it? :/ Has this changed…does her cook book have alternatives?

        • Penny Hammond February 23, 2014, 7:45 pm

          There are 7 more shake recipes in the cookbook.

  • Tammy April 25, 2013, 1:44 pm

    haven’t read through the whole book yet, but was trying to find information on pickled items,
    like any peppers, green or black olives, pickles, etc.

    • Penny Hammond April 25, 2013, 5:27 pm

      JJ mentions pickled ginger, kimchee and sauerkraut as good to eat as they act as prebiotics and can feed your good gut bacteria (p.22)
      Olives are mentioned as a source of good fat.
      With pickles (gherkins), watch out as they might contain gluten.
      She mentions fresh peppers, and says that as they’re a nightshade they might cause troubles such as joint pain – keep a food journal to see how you react. But she doesn’t say anything about preserved peppers.

  • Nina Overton April 29, 2013, 6:35 pm

    What food can you eat at Panera Bread when on the Virgin Diet?

    • Penny Hammond April 29, 2013, 9:19 pm

      The breads are an obvious no – Look at the salads and soups to see if there’s anything there that fits within the guidelines.
      In salads, look out for corn oil / soy oil / vegetable oil in the salad dressing; also look for croutons, eggs, and dairy.
      In soups, look out for flour (often used as a thickener) and dairy (in creamy soups).
      In everything, look out for sugars – it’s amazing how often they’re added to give a kick even to a savory food!

  • Anne May 4, 2013, 12:06 pm

    Finally got the hang of what to eat after starting stage 1 the first of March. Its now May. I’m feeling so
    much better, I’m afraid to reintroduce anything. So, I’m still on 7 foods to avoid. By the time I get home at night, I must admit I’m hungry enough to eat my foot. The protien shake I had hoped to buy seems to include Stevia…instant migrane, xyletol as well. I am using a rice protien powder, no pea protien included. Is this a complete protien? The rice/pea version is not, I don’t think, available locally. Thanks

    • Penny Hammond May 5, 2013, 11:34 am

      Rice protein isn’t a complete protein source – if you combine a grain (like rice) and a legume (like peas) you can get all the essential amino acids. Pea protein powder is usually made from split yellow peas, the type you get for soup. You can usually buy the powder in supplement stores or health food stores – if you need one that doesn’t have additives, health food stores would probably be a better bet. You can also buy it online.

      If you’ve been following the elimination diet for 2 months, your body may have recovered quite a lot from the stress it was under from foods you were sensitive to – healing a leaky gut, cooling inflammation, and giving the immune system a chance to calm down. If you’re really sensitive, don’t force yourself to follow a fast agenda reintroducing the foods – do it on days when you’re not so busy, use the purest forms (and if reintroducing soy, make sure it’s fermented soy like tofu or miso), organic if you can. And if there’s something you don’t like and can avoid, or you’re 100% sure you react to, then you don’t really need to reintroduce it! I went through an elimination/reintroduction diet years ago and was really surprised by what did and what didn’t cause problems for me – don’t make assumptions about what you’ll react to.

      By the way, if you still have some symptoms at this point, you could try a stricter elimination/reintroduction diet to see if there are any other foods causing issues for you – The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas is a recent example http://www.chewfo.com/diets/the-plan-by-lyn-genet-recitas-2013-what-to-eat-and-foods-to-avoid-food-list/.

  • Pamela Gray May 5, 2013, 6:34 pm

    Is erythritol OK on Virgin Diet? I know she mentions a sugar alcohol, but it is not this exact name. I drink a green tea with it everyday but it is calorie and carb free. I am about to begin and want to be careful but also hope to retain somethings that I like.

    • Penny Hammond May 5, 2013, 11:34 pm

      The only sugar alcohol she mentions as being okay is xylitol. “Sugar alcohols have less calories per gram than regular sugar and don’t significantly raise blood sugar. Xylitol specifically has some benefits not seen in other sugar alcohols. It slows down stomach emptying and suppresses ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger. It doesn’t feed yeast, it’s antibacterial, it doesn’t promote cavities and it helps with bone remodeling. It is amazing stuff! It is a nutritive sweetener, if you can imagine that, making it my favorite to recommend.” (p.143)

      She doesn’t say not to use other sugar alcohols…

  • Melanie May 6, 2013, 4:56 pm

    I have/read the book but I would really love a meal plan…I want something easy peasy so I don’t have to plan out my meals…lazy, I know!!

    • Jennifer February 10, 2014, 5:05 pm

      Hi Melanie,

      I just started this plan today and I found this company that makes food specifically to suit JJ’s guidelines. Follow the link. I just ordered a 14 day supply so I’m not sure how good they are but figured it was worth a shot for those times when I just need a quick meal with no thought involved. https://www.artisanbistropro.com/shop

  • Debra May 8, 2013, 10:01 am

    How many calories does one serving of the virgin shake have? I’m finding I’m hungry an hour or so after I have a shake in the morning. I’m used to having a big breakfast or eating twice in the morning and this shake doesn’t feel like its enough to get me through to lunch.
    Thanks in advance Penny

    • Penny Hammond May 8, 2013, 1:12 pm

      Hi Debra,
      It’s going to depend on your exact recipe for the virgin shake – if you’re making it yourself, there are lots of variables. (If you’re buying it, the calorie information should be on the packaging).
      You could increase the serving size of the shake, and/or drink lots of water to fill you up. Or if you’re only having one shake a day, you could have a “solid” breakfast and your shake for another meal.

    • Anita May 11, 2013, 1:27 am

      How much fruit and fiber are you adding to your shake? Perhaps you could increase those ingredients to extend the filling quality of the shake.

      • Tina June 29, 2013, 12:19 pm

        I found that I needed a little extra fat to the shakes, such as the flax seeds, chia seeds, or avocado. With the right combo of protein, fat, and carbs (fruit), it will easily sustain me for 5-6 hours. In addition, water intake must stop at least 30 minutes before the meal/shake and nothing for 60 minutes following. Otherwise JJ says the stomach enzymes do not have sufficient time to process the nutrients into the body. Getting all the variables right are key I found.

  • Cheryl May 10, 2013, 3:28 pm

    I am in love with the Virgin Diet and have introduced my daughter to it also. I have lost 10 pounds and am in my 6 week and have now stabilized. Not interested in adding gluten or dairy. This is an amazing lifetime plan. Question: I am sure I have a definite sensitivity to soy and can not find a soy free seasoning sauce that also excludes gluten. Their is a product called Coconut Secret- Raw Coconut Aminos – soy free seasoning sauce. I am living in Ontario — ANY SUGGESTIONS.

    • Penny Hammond May 10, 2013, 6:38 pm

      You won’t find coconut aminos in many stores – look for them in health food stores, or it might be easiest to buy them online.
      I find coconut aminos fairly weak compared with other seasoning sauces – you have to use a lot of it to get the same intensity you would get with soy sauce

      You could also try fish sauce – look for it in the ethnic foods section of your supermarket or at Asian stores. It’s used in Thai, Vietnamese, and several other Asian cuisines. Ingredients are usually anchovies or other oily fish, sugar, and salt – these are fermented. Fish sauce is, however, a bit of an acquired taste for some, and can be a bit smelly. Use very little to add an “umami” effect to your food like you get with soy sauce.

    • Veronica July 11, 2013, 1:56 pm

      Not sure if you found the answer to your question or not, but I ordered mine on Amazon. It’s a bit sweeter than soy to me, but I used it mixed with raw tahini for a miso substitute in vegan spreads and salad dressings and it does the job.

  • Anita May 11, 2013, 1:29 am

    Thank you Penny, this site has very good informaion. I’ve put it in my favorites, I’ll come back to visit.

    • Penny Hammond May 11, 2013, 2:53 pm

      Hi Anita, I’m glad you find it helpful! Thanks.

      • Diane January 6, 2014, 11:35 am

        I’m about to start this investment in my Health can I have farina cereal also is honey allowed

        • Penny Hammond January 7, 2014, 12:22 pm

          Farina cereal is usually made from wheat, and you’re not supposed to eat wheat in cycle 1.
          You could use it to reintroduce wheat in cycle 2, and if you reintroduce wheat successfully in cycle 2 you can eat it in cycle 3.

          Honey is considered a sugar in this diet. You should avoid it in cycle 1 and cycle 2, and you can have it very occasionally in cycle 3.

  • donell May 19, 2013, 5:54 pm

    2 things
    I have been unsuccessful in finding free range chicken that is not fed corn and soy at local grocers or online. How is it possible to eliminate corn and soy when it is fed to your poultry that you eat?
    The other thing is the jj virgin shake directions say 2 scoops- those scoops are quite large. It seems like it should only be one scoop?

    • Penny Hammond May 19, 2013, 10:35 pm

      Probably the best place to find free range chickens is at your local farmer’s market – although you should check with them what they use to feed their chickens. See http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/ for a listing of farmers’ markets in the USA. Or, if you have a local Whole Foods or other natural food store, try there.

      If you’re using the Virgin Diet All-in-One Shakes from http://www.jjvirginstore.com – the instructions say 2 scoops of about 22-23 grams (3/4 ounce) each, and give you the number of scoops per container. Maybe try measuring out a whole container to see if you’re getting the right number of scoops, or if you should take smaller scoopfuls.

  • cheryl May 25, 2013, 10:50 am

    Hello all
    I purchased JJ’s book and read it in entirety! WOW! The next day I went to health food store and purchased ALL JJ recommemded foods. I cleaned refridge and cabinets! I have only followed 2 days-woke up feeling refreshed and no achey joints. Dont know about weightloss yet–will wait 7 days. This way of eating feels really great already. Thanks for instruction and direction !!!!!

  • sam May 29, 2013, 2:03 pm

    My daughter wanted to try your diet to lose a few pounds before her wedding. When she substituted coconut milk for regular milk or fruit juices in your smoothies she found that she strongly dislikes the taste of the coconut milk and gags on it. Is there another substitute she could try. I know her grandmother is allergic to coconut milk. Could her gagging reflex to the taste be an allergic reaction albeit in a mild way?

    • Penny Hammond May 29, 2013, 3:14 pm

      The Virgin Shake recipe (p.170) says you can use (filtered) water instead of coconut milk or coconut water.

      If you’d like something with more flavor, try unsweetened almond milk (p.105) – the author prefers this to rice water and hemp water as they can have a lot of sugar

  • Kelly June 3, 2013, 9:04 pm

    I just started the diet to figure out some food intolerances in addition to being G-Free for a year. I live on an island so getting the shakes is not feasible. I was able to find a Natural Soy Free Veg Protein Booster (could not find pea rice). This powder has corn bran in it. I know eliminating corn is one of 7 foods and I am not sure I can have the corn bran. Suggestions? Or ideas to add to Smoothie in the morning? Could I get away with not adding the protein to the smoothie? Thanks in advance!

    • Penny Hammond June 4, 2013, 12:39 pm

      The book says no corn, so corn bran is out. See if you can find rice protein or hemp protein (make sure hemp protein is combined with another protein). Hope that helps.

  • Linda Spencer June 5, 2013, 12:47 am

    I was already to buy the pea & rice protein, the seeds, etc to make my own shake. One major problem; I live in the
    sticks of MO. I am lucky to find frozen berries, none organic. The only organic fruit I have access to is red delicious
    apples, occasionally gala apples, oranges, and bananas. I have been diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency. Both my cortisol and DHEA are low. Any suggestions? I don’t have the money to order organic fruit to be shipped to me. I am also showing some signs of glucose resistance. I am not a diabetic; just had my labwork checked. I am unable to lose weight from my waist. Thanks in advance.

    • Penny Hammond June 5, 2013, 12:12 pm

      If you can’t get organic, it’s not the end of the world – the general theory is that it’s better to have conventional produce than no produce at all.

      JJ says “One to two pieces of low-or moderate-glycemic index fruit per day should be it. And if you have issues with insulin resistance or high triglycerides, you should only have one fruit per day or maybe even none.” (p.139). It sounds like you should probably have low or no fruit.

  • Shar Hall June 5, 2013, 2:11 pm

    I am reading this article while I eat my perfect breakfast of 2 eggs on toast and peanut butter and jam on toast with a cup of tea with milk and stevia.
    OH OH something has to change.

  • Lisa Elea June 5, 2013, 4:28 pm

    I have been on the diet for 11 days and have lost 10 lbs. Here’s a great website for getting meals that do no contain the forbiddens. My doctor had a paplet for them and told me she allowed the meals on the diet. I’ve had 2 of the meals so and they taste great! https://www.artisanbistrodirect.com/

  • Charlene June 8, 2013, 4:26 pm

    I can not find vegan pea-rice protein. Would you send me a brand name or website to buy it from?

    • Penny Hammond June 9, 2013, 6:09 pm

      Looking at JJ Virgin’s website store, http://www.jjvirginstore.com: as well as the ready-to-use virgin shakes they recommend Thorne VegaLite, a proprietary pea / rice protein blend.

      You can also search on Amazon or another online retailer for pea rice protein. Some of the results say “plant protein” – check the ingredients. You can also ask at your local healthfood or vitamin supplements store.

    • Veronica July 11, 2013, 1:59 pm

      Vega also makes a shake that appears to adhere to all of the Virgin diet rules. I am vegan and was using the Vega shakes previously. They all taste great and combine well with other ingredients (I’ve even mixed the shake with chia seeds to make a protein breakfast pudding to change things up). You can find info on them here – http://myvega.com/, and they can be purchased in Whole Foods, amazon or through the Vega site.

  • Ellen June 9, 2013, 7:52 pm

    I am on day 5 of cycle 1 and have been following the diet religiously. I have the shake for breakfast and lunch, and lean protein (fish or chicken) for dinner, with fresh veggies and either baked sweet potato or butternut squash. I am following the water guidelines. I don’t usually post on boards such as this, but I guess I am looking for some motivation since I am not feeling the benefits of more energy, weight loss, etc. In fact, I am very bloated, somewhat constipated, and achy. Can someone give me some words of wisdom as to what I might be doing wrong? I am feeling discouraged but don’t want to quit!

    • Penny Hammond June 9, 2013, 8:27 pm

      Are you taking any probiotics? They might help you.

  • CrissyK June 10, 2013, 11:38 am

    I just read the label of JJ’s pea rice protein powder that she recommends and one of the ingredients is organic cane juice sugar. Would it be better to use that or something by a company called Planet fusion that lists fructose as an ingredient ? I was surprised to see the cane juice sugar in JJ’s shake as her book is very clear that all sugars except xylitol and stevia are to be avoided.

    • Penny Hammond June 10, 2013, 12:08 pm

      You’re right, that’s weird. The All-in-One Shakes say they have “5 g or less of sweeteners, none from fructose” and list organic cane juice sugar as the first ingredient. Thorne VegaLite says it is low sugar, not no sugar.

      This is what JJ says to look for in shake powders (p.171):
      No artificial sweeteners
      5 grams or less of sugar
      No whey, dairy, milk solids, egg or soy (Soy lecithin is okay.)
      No maltodextrin
      5 grams or more of fiber
      Pea, rice and/ or hemp protein
      Sugar alcohols (Stevia is acceptable.)

      Here are some thoughts about the product with fructose listed as an ingredient: “High doses of free fructose can make the intestinal lining more permeable and loosen up the tight junctions that are supposed to keep partially digested food from leaking out into your system.” (p.118) – JJ’s talking about high fructose corn syrup there but could also be referring to fructose as an ingredient. Many people are starting to consider refined fructose to be the worst type of sugar – for example Robert H. Lustig MD calls it “the toxin” in his bestselling book Fat Chance.

  • Brightlady Texas June 10, 2013, 1:25 pm

    What can be substituted for MAYO?
    I love to eat broccoli everyday…but I love my teaspoon of mayo on it!
    Please tell me ASAP 🙂

    • Penny Hammond June 10, 2013, 4:05 pm

      You could try a substitute product such as soy-free Vegenaise (which might be considered a processed food which should be minimized), look up a recipe for no egg no soy mayonnaise, or try something naturally fatty instead like mashed-up avocado or a raw nut or seed butter (not peanut butter – other nut or seed butters like cashew butter or tahini; there’s a limit of 1-3 tablespoons a day).

      • Brightlady Texas June 10, 2013, 4:24 pm

        Thanks for the suggestions Penny….much appreciated!
        I will post if I find a no egg no soy mayonnaise.

        • Lucy June 14, 2013, 1:28 pm

          If you mix mustard with a little bit of vinegar, and then oil, little at a time, with a fork, you get a thick vinaigrette that looks like mayonnaise. Without eggs.

  • Brightlady Texas June 10, 2013, 5:11 pm

    Hi all – Found a mayo that meets the requirements…link:
    You can put in your zip to find a store that carries it.
    Here is a recipe I found.
    Corn-Free, Egg-Free and Soy-Free Mayonnaise
    Makes about 1/2 cup of mayo. Website: Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom
    1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use a lighter colored oil, such as canola or sunflower for a whiter mayo)
    1/4 cup Water
    1/2 tsp. Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
    1/2 tsp. White Wine Vinegar
    2 tsp. White Rice Flour (or use 1/2 tsp. coconut flour for a grain-free alternative)
    1 tsp. Arrowroot
    3/4 tsp. Guar Gum (or use 1/2 tsp of Xanthan Gum if corn is not an issue for you)
    1/2 tsp. Agave Nectar
    1/4 tsp. Dry Mustard
    1/2 tsp. Sea Salt (iodized salt contains corn in the form of dextrose)
    • Throw everything into a blender and blend until mixture emulsifies and thickens.
    • Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

    The consistency is SPOT ON for mayo! A side by side taste test with a store-bought mayo that contains egg, and the only difference is that the egg-free mayo obviously lacks the “egginess” but definitely think it’s a great substitute!

  • Denise June 11, 2013, 10:49 pm

    I have read most of the comments on this site and not too many are pleasant. Although I have already placed my order for my book today I’m very skeptical about this new way of eating. I have to try something because I am in pain everyday. I’m always bloated and constipated so hopefully this will be an answer for better health.

  • Mary Tschetter June 12, 2013, 3:15 pm

    I am just starting this diet. I purchased sprouted brown rice protein but now I see it has fermented soy. Is that ok, or do I need to get a different protein?I have done some research on fermented soy and can not really tell if it would be ok or not. I see where soy lecithin is ok. If anyone knows I would appreciate it.

    • Penny Hammond June 12, 2013, 4:19 pm

      To follow this diet to the letter, you shouldn’t have fermented soy or any other soy (except soy lecithin). The idea is to avoid soy protein (which isn’t present in soy lecithin), as that is what sparks allergies (p.91)

  • Mary Tschetter June 12, 2013, 4:54 pm

    Thanks. I appreciate your info,

  • Rachele McNutt June 12, 2013, 6:19 pm

    Greetings! I have been gluten free for a couple of years now and that has improved things for me. I have cut Soy where ever I can find it…that has been sad since I love ranch-style dressings. I use Agave sweeteners when I need to, but that is not often these days. I also feel better for cutting soy out. I discovered corn is not my friend just last month. Sad, but I can live without it. But I am a lover of one yummy dairy….thick, fruit-on bottom Greek yogurt. I have these with my protein powder 4 to 5 times a day with frozen fruit and Rice Dream “milk”. I need to switch the yogurts up, but to what? Any options that make good smoothies? Thanks for the help in advance.

    • Penny Hammond June 12, 2013, 7:52 pm

      You’re right – thick, fruit-on-bottom Greek yogurt sounds delicious, but it’s definitely something to eliminate for this diet – because it’s dairy/milk, and because the fruit almost certainly has sugar or sweeteners.

      For the creaminess – try some ground seeds or nuts, such as flaxseed meal (or even soaked chia seeds, which I think are fun but would have a different mouthfeel). For the sweetness – learn to love the natural sweetness in fruit. For the tanginess… any ideas, anyone?

  • Shauna June 15, 2013, 11:59 am

    I love JJ’s diet and way of eating. What other fruit can we eat in addition to berries and apples?
    And can we have oatmeal during the first week? With the shake or separately?

    • Penny Hammond June 16, 2013, 6:16 pm

      Here are the general fruit guidelines, listed above:
      Low-glycemic index fruits – favor these – blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, elderberries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries
      Moderate-glycemic fruits – eat in moderation – apples, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, kiwi, lemons, limes, melons, nectarines, oranges, passion fruit, peaches, pear, persimmons, plums, pomegranates, tangerines
      If you have issues with insulin resistance or high triglycerides, you should only have one fruit per day or maybe even none

      Here’s what JJ has to say about oatmeal:
      “Oatmeal itself is gluten-free, so in theory, you should be able to eat anything made with oats (as long as it doesn’t contain dairy, eggs or gluten!). However, oatmeal is often made in places where they also process grains that do contain gluten, and there is a great deal of cross-contamination. So make sure you’re buying only oatmeal that is marked “gluten-free.” (p.73)

      • Kyah February 23, 2014, 4:47 pm

        And that oatmeal is about 3-5 times the price. :/ Oatmeal is my favorite breakfast…but I can get two huge Quaker oats for $5 while the gluten free were about $7 for a bag half the size.

  • Sophi Zimmerman June 17, 2013, 10:32 pm

    I tried this diet for three weeks and lost about 1 pound. My doctor says its a repackaging of a diet from the 80s and there is no such thing as leaky gut syndrome. He also points out that there’s no solid scientific evidence that most people should avoid gluten except for about 1 percent of the world’s population have celiac’s disease. He is adamant about this and he is a respected Houston physician with a very high patient and community rating.

    • Penny Hammond June 18, 2013, 12:47 pm

      Sorry to hear this diet wasn’t successful for you in terms of weight loss – perhaps it lessened symptoms of other conditions you have. Pretty much all diets have a certain amount of repackaging from past diets. It’s currently believed that around 1% of the population has celiac disease, but this isn’t what the book’s trying to address – it’s believed that many more people have some type of gluten intolerance, partly because of the standard diet which involves eating highly processed wheat 3-4 times a day every day. This diet also looks to address other possible intolerances including soy, dairy, eggs, corn, and peanuts, also sugar and sweeteners – and then asks you to reintroduce foods to see if you have a reaction to them. If your doctor has other recommendations, feel free to follow them.

      • Tina June 29, 2013, 12:04 pm


        I’d like to add a comment here if it’s helpful to you. After a life-threatening illness last year, I made the decision to severely alter my dietary intake. I followed JJ Virgin’s diet to the ‘t’. It proved very effective. I wasn’t concerned about losing weight, although that was a bonus. I was focused on healthy eating. What I hadn’t realized until I followed her concept was that I’m not allergic to any food type; however, I do have food intolerances to dairy, eggs, and gluten. I had no idea about the gluten or the eggs until I tried to re-introduce them. I am in the medical field and physicians are no different than anyone else. They have their own beliefs and philosophies and may not be up-to-date on current research literature.

        If you read JJ’s book you will realize that you are eating healthy, natural, organic foods without chemicals, pesticides, hormones, and most do not come processed in cans, bottles, or boxes. This new way of eating has become very natural to me now and when I do accidentally or by choice eat something that my body has an intolerance to I react very quickly to it.

        The bottom line is that I’m eating healthy foods and feel so much better than I ever have and I’m not starving myself at all. Best of luck!

  • Debra E. June 18, 2013, 1:03 am

    I like to use dates as a sweetner. Are dates allowed??

    • Penny Hammond June 18, 2013, 12:50 pm

      Can you do without sweeteners while you’re on the diet?
      “Consuming something sweet or high-carb — a piece of cake, a handful of dried fruit or even a glass of orange juice — causes your blood sugar to spike and messes with your insulin response.” (p.13)

  • Ellen June 19, 2013, 5:12 pm

    I have been trying to follow the basic principles of this diet, not the hard-core book version. My body feels better, and I have lost 4 lbs. The shake I have been drinking once a day is Vanilla Spiced Chai Raw Meal. You can get this online or at the health food store. My main objective is to pinpoint what is triggering my IBS. I am only in week one, so I will check back in a couple of weeks.

  • Wendy June 21, 2013, 5:03 pm

    My nutritionist had me doing a shake for breakfast and one for lunch, then the recommended dinner. Problem however…I had a very bad reaction to the shake digestively…extremely (that’s an understatement!) bad gas (I stopped going places and stayed at home because of it!!), stomach cramps and intestinal discomfort.

    Therefore, I stopped the shakes as of 2 days ago. The problem is…I have no idea what to replace them with and have basically gone for two days not eating breakfast or lunch…I’m starving!! Can you help? Maybe some alternatives/menu plans I can have for those two meals?


    • Penny Hammond June 22, 2013, 1:19 pm

      As far as I know there aren’t any alternatives given for the shakes. JJ has a cookbook coming out at the beginning of next year that includes alternate shake ideas – see http://jjvirgin.com/4255/breakfast-battle-shake-recipe-upcoming-cookbook/ – but they use the basic recipe and add things.

      Sorry to hear about your bad reaction. It may be a good idea to find out what you’re reacting to, so you can avoid that ingredient generally.
      Are you using a premade shake or making it from scratch? If premade, try making your own to see if you have any better luck. Take it down to the minimum to see if that helps – pea/rice protein, a fiber blend or seeds that you know you’re okay with, organic frozen berries, and water. Don’t drink it like you would drink water – chew it slowly before swallowing so your digestive system can work properly on it. If that doesn’t work, try taking out the fiber/seeds or the berries. Or you could even try the pea/rice protein on its own to see if that’s doing it, and if so change to rice protein or hemp protein (hemp protein should be combined with another protein). Good luck!

  • VC June 23, 2013, 9:20 pm

    Great synopsis of the book, I am going to use it as a guideline to start this diet. I understand the principles of elimination, reintroduction and life cycles. Thank you

  • suz June 24, 2013, 5:24 pm

    i stumbled accross a sweetener called ‘ Just like Sugar’, made from chicory root dietary fiber, calcium vitamin C, natural flavors from the peel of the orange. In one gram fats 9, carbohydrates 4, protein 4.
    What do you think?

    • Penny Hammond June 24, 2013, 5:47 pm

      There’s nothing there that’s listed as not to eat on this diet, so it should be okay. Looking at reviews on Amazon, it might not be as sweet as you expect. Also note that chicory root is a prebiotic, but may cause gas in some people.

  • Pattie B. Lane June 25, 2013, 2:17 am

    Very informative, think I will try it soon !

  • Carol June 26, 2013, 5:25 pm

    Maybe you can clarify something for me. My husband and I have been on the Virgin diet since april. We have succeeded to lose 50lbs and 33lbs. His sugar levels are normal, the doctor lowered his dose of diabetes pills. Recently, we saw the Dr. Oz show about supplements. Dr Oz said that supplements and vitamins with magnesium stearate should be avoided because it stops the nutrients from being absorbed. I
    buy our supplements in an all natural organic shop, but there is magnesium stearate in several of them. I believe its used as filler.. not sure. Are we defeating our own purpose taking the supplements with this added? Thanks for your reply in advance,
    Carol and Rocco

    • Penny Hammond June 26, 2013, 5:51 pm

      Hi Carol and Rocco,
      How wonderful that you’ve managed to lose so much weight so far and lowered your sugar levels!
      I concentrate on the food part of diets, not supplements (or exercise or any other part). I had a quick check on the Virgin Diet website, and couldn’t find anything on magnesium stearate. You could try contacting JJ and her team with your question – http://thevirgindiet.com/faq-question-submission/.

  • Kathy June 27, 2013, 8:00 am

    Is rice milk ok or no? I can’t use any almond milk because I get cold sores with almonds and walnuts.

    • Penny Hammond June 27, 2013, 9:45 am

      Have you tried coconut milk?
      JJ says in the book that you can use rice milk a bit here and there if coconut milk is not available, as it’s loaded with sugars or carbohydrates without nutrients (p.105)

  • kutkut baby June 29, 2013, 4:20 pm

    Just breath air and drink water – everything else is garbage. Hahaha. Live your life, enjoy by following her book and then die. Comon now Y’ll. What she did not say that coconut is full of saturated fat. People know for last million years peanuts are good. She is saying bad. Crazy. How about Splenda. I am sure JJ will find something negative if it is not in her book. Well check with your doctor before you try what she is suggesting. Is she Medical Doctor? Just be careful. She is just trying to sell books. Can I drink water from the tap or have to buy organic water?? Give me a break.

    • Kyah February 23, 2014, 4:41 pm

      Actually, Splenda is really bad for you. But I agree…the list is ridiculous…and not something most of us could afford (I know I can’t afford organic meat for my family of 4…as much as I’d love to!) And saturated fat isn’t as bad as they once thought. Coconuts have other amazing benefits. . It’s about food sensitivity…not really what is “good” or “bad”. But artificial sweeteners ARE bad for you. They’ve been linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s.

  • nancy June 29, 2013, 7:45 pm

    hi my name is nancy. i was 10 lbs overweigh and I am only 4 feet 11. this is my fourth week i have lost 6 lbs. however, I did have some cheese cake for dad’s birthday. I am eating quenoa and coffe almond milk for breakfast and a berry shake one hour after breakfast. I am not a bif eater before the virgin diet all i had was peanut butter and jelly for breakfast some times eggs. and again peanut butter for luch with whole grain bread, i was never hungry i always fetl full and bloaded. when i started on the virging diet now my body lets me know i get hungry and i eat three times a day. i eat quinoa and coffee with almond milk in the morning. quinoa for lunch and quinoa for snack around 2 pm later a piece of apple and a shake before going tobed. i also have one more shake mid afternoon. it is working for me because i don’t crave meat or other food i have a problem with eating i didn’t get humgry so before so i ate what ever just to live. now i prepare quinoa with chicken broth, i add a little bit of onions and garlic i freeze the containers and i have quinoa everytime i feel the need to eat. i have not eaten peanuts bread eggs butter meat chicken for the past 4 weeks, i lost 6 lbs. i still feel i am lossing inches, i did have a strong headache the first week. I feel excellent, I am wearing clothes i was not able to wear due to the bloating inflamation on my stomach, i go to the bathroom twice a day something i had problem before. I feel great, If I cheat is only on cheese cake which i love, then i go back to the regular diet. i find eating quinoa one cup twice a day the shakes in between and piece of apple with almond butter is fine for me. Again because I was not a big eater these three foods have done the trick for me. I feel light sharp and no more bloating. I hope some one can benefit from my testimony.

    • Penny Hammond July 1, 2013, 10:41 am

      Hi Nancy,
      Thanks for your testimony, and I’m happy to hear you’ve been losing weight and got rid of your bloating.
      It sounds like you eat a lot of quinoa – that may be working for you in the short run but it may be a good idea for you to branch out into other foods. There’s a theory that if you eat a food constantly you can become intolerant to it – that could be the reason so many people have intolerances to wheat and dairy, as they’ve eaten them 3-4 times a day all their life. For you, as you were eating a lot of peanuts and bread before, those could have been the foods you were intolerant to and gave you the bloating. To make sure you get a good variety of nutrients and don’t get stuck with another intolerance, I’d suggest you add a bit more variety to your diet, and some vegetables.

  • Iris elley July 1, 2013, 10:05 am

    I am in my 89th year have very good health but after reading about the JJ Virgin Diet I have started on a journey to
    get my body in optimum condition. I am into the second week of the diet but only lost three pounds after the first seven days. I am five feet tall, small boned with a starting weight of 116. That is not a problem for me because I only hoped to lose about nine pounds overall.

    I have a bit of osteoarthritis, particularly in my knees. I have had orthoscopic surgery on both and recently started a series of shots of joint fluid therapy and getting good results. I am hoping that the diet change will help with that condition. I play golf twice week and walk two miles the days I am not playing golf.

    I am hoping this diet will give me better brain clarity and energy. Any suggestions for a women of my advanced age?

    • Penny Hammond July 1, 2013, 11:42 am

      Having better brain clarity and energy is a great goal! And 3 pounds weight loss in your first week is pretty good when you’re so close to your goal weight.
      Many people find that foods in the nightshade family trigger their osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. You could try excluding them to see if that helps – these foods are listed with stars above. Bell peppers, eggplant, jalapeño peppers, tomatoes; also other peppers, pepper spices (paprika, cayenne pepper, chili sauce, etc). And potatoes which you should be avoiding anyway on this diet. If you’ve been having trouble with your knees, hopefully that last bit of weight loss will help as well.

  • Barry Allan July 2, 2013, 3:10 am

    Hi Penny,
    Have you tried travelling much on the diet? I’m kind of put off by the prospect of carrying a mini blender and batch of powder if I go away. I’m about to embark on a 3 week holiday to Asia and it feels like this will be a sticking point. Have you come across any alternative breakfast options?

    • Penny Hammond July 2, 2013, 9:14 am

      Hi Barry,
      Good question, but I don’t know the answer.
      Has anyone traveled on the diet, do you have any suggestions?

  • Anna July 2, 2013, 8:16 am

    I have been on the diet for almost two weeks. What I find remarkable is all my (what seemed like) daily joint pain in legs and arms disappeared. I have lost 5 pounds so far, too (I only need to lose 10 pounds total to reach my ideal weight). I think as far as weight loss, people should be realistic and give it time… but I do see immediate results in how my body *feels*. It is like my digestive system is at peace! I have noticed a bit of a reaction when I eat Asian foods… I have eaten in restaurants two times, and tried to choose wisely, but I think something did make me temporarily feel a little “off” (soy? gluten?)… I guess I will see the culprits when I test the foods.

  • S.H. Tortie July 6, 2013, 10:18 am

    I am trying to follow the diet exactly….(loving it so far by the way!!) A couple of questions:

    (1) On p. 170 of The Virgin Diet, it says The Virgin Shake serves 4??? I have been drinking the entire portion for each of my drinks and I am wanting to make sure that the “serves 4” is a misprint. It is my understanding that 2 scoops of powder and 1 cup of liquid make only 1 serving….is that correct?

    (2) In the book, JJ indicates that we should eat NO sugar or sugar substitutes whatsoever during cycle one; however, the JJ Virgin All In One Shake mix ingredients include “organic cane juice sugar & stevia extract”. Can we use her shake mix during Cycle 1?

    Thanks so much!

    • Penny Hammond July 7, 2013, 11:24 am

      (1) “Serves 4” was a typo – the recipe is for a single serving
      (2) Yes, you can use her shake mix during Cycle 1 – see her guidelines on page 171, which say that shakes should have 5 grams or less of sugar. Yes, this is a contradiction, and 5 grams of sugar is about a teaspoon.

    • Penny Hammond July 20, 2013, 11:41 am

      From the FAQs: When creating the shake mix they wanted to make sure it tasted good, and they tried several formulations – this was the best liked. A teaspoon (5 grams) of sugar will not be a problem for most people. The All-in-One shakes also contain several nutrients including magnesium and chromium that enhance blood sugar levels. Put it into perspective: 2 cups of broccoli have about 5 grams of sugar. And JJ points out in her blog that the Virgin Diet is a low-glycemic diet, not a no-sugar diet.

  • Bonnie July 6, 2013, 6:43 pm

    Hi..a question about fruits in shakes..quanity?? I have been putting berries such as,raspberries and blueberries and strawberries and spinach all together at one time plus rawmilk protein shake powder with unsweetened almond milk….I have seen to be careful how much fruit to eat..You have said one fruit???..or should we have.one serving??? like 5 blueberries or only 1 strawberry or I cup blueberries..how much shake should we be drinking per serving?/ 1 cup?/..I have been doing this elimination diet for month and a half and have lost 25 lbs.. doing shakes 2x a day and 1 meal..I feel maybe could be over doing with fruit per serving// that’s all. even though I do low index glycemic berries and an apple a day sometime with almond butter for snack….I am 63 yrs old and feeling better than ever..Dr says degenereted bone disease and beginning osterporisis.. I need to still lose 40 more lbs..I will continue this lifestyle for rest of my life..To me this was my miracle answer,..Thank you all soo much for input…Bonnie in calif..

    • Penny Hammond July 7, 2013, 11:42 am

      There aren’t strict guidelines for fruit, just to eat them “in moderation.” Stick to low- to moderate-GI fruits, so berries are good. The shake recipe calls for 1/2-1 cup of frozen berries.
      If you have issues with insulin resistance or high triglycerides – she says 1 serving of fruit a day or even none. 1 serving of fruit is usually about 1 cup of berries in most guidelines, so if you’re limiting fruit to 1 serving a day and having 2 shakes a day, limit fruit to 1/2 cup per shake (slice the strawberries to measure them).

      For the shake serving size, follow the recipe guidelines on page 170 – it’ll probably be about 1 1/2 cups total.

      By the way, you mentioned you’re using raw milk protein shake – that’s dairy and dairy is supposed to be excluded in cycle 1, so presumably you already eliminated dairy for the first 21 days and it tested okay for you.

      If you haven’t already started the phase 2 reintroduction phase, don’t be afraid to go ahead – it’s good to know whether you have issues with common foods, and to have flexibility to allow you to eat what works for you.

  • Renee July 8, 2013, 1:48 pm

    Can I just Drink Filtered Water from my tap? I don’t know what kind of water to drink thats not in plastic.
    I really don’t like mineral water.

    • Penny Hammond July 8, 2013, 2:55 pm

      Yes, JJ encourages you to drink filtered water (p. 175)

  • Maggie July 9, 2013, 9:36 am

    Iam in my second week of your diet. And I am having problems with constipation I am following it as directed. I wondered what I could add. Or increase or delete. To have better illumination Thanks

    • Penny Hammond July 9, 2013, 10:05 am

      Try more green leafy vegetables, more water.

    • Penny Hammond July 20, 2013, 11:16 am

      Other ideas from the Virgin Diet FAQs:
      – Increase amount of fiber you eat – add more fiber to the Virgin Diet Shake. This could be from a fiber supplement like Thorne Extra Fiber (recommended by JJ and available in the JJ Virgin Store), and/or more flax and chia seeds, and/or high-fiber foods such as legumes, nuts & seeds, leafy greens, berries & avocado. Your ultimate goal is to work up to 50 grams of fiber a day.
      – Try magnesium supplements

    • Penny Hammond August 1, 2013, 11:09 am

      There’s also a whole section in the book on “improving your poops” (p. 31).
      Use fiber to bulk up your stools: top 10 sources are raspberries and other berries, lentils, nuts, seeds (especially chia seeds and freshly ground flaxseeds), kale, quinoa, avocado, apples, winter squash, and broccoli.
      Eat 50 or more grams of fiber each day – work your way up by adding 5 grams more each day.
      Drink plenty of water.
      Other ideas: drink hot coffee or tea in the morning; sip peppermint tea throughout the day; throw 2 or 3 prunes into your shake.
      There are also other suggestions in the book, including supplementation, exercise, and herbs.

  • Sophie July 11, 2013, 8:56 pm

    In my first week and enjoying the food choices and lost 5 pounds. I have a headache every afternoon. Will those stop or should I check for something specific in what I am eating?

    • Penny Hammond July 12, 2013, 9:05 am

      You could be detoxing (but it would be unusual for the headaches to be so time-of-the-day-specific, and a week is a long time – usually headaches from detox only last for a few days).
      Or the headaches could be a reaction to a food you’re eating, perhaps something you’re having every morning or lunchtime.

  • Sheri July 15, 2013, 1:39 pm

    I was reading the book last night and it said to daily track what you eat and how you feel on a Tracker that is available on the website. I looked for it to run off and even Googled it but cannot locate it. Can you help? Thank you.

  • cindy July 19, 2013, 3:35 am

    i am vegetarian. what would you recommend for a daily menu

    • Penny Hammond July 19, 2013, 10:09 am

      There isn’t a daily meal plan in the book; instead there’s a meal assembly guide (page 240).
      – Clean, lean proteins: 4-6 ounces for women, 6-8 ounces for men per meal. For vegetarians she recommends a good blend of nuts, seeds, grains and legumes, especially lentils, which are the highest in protein.
      – Healthy fats: 1-3 servings of healthy fat per meal; 1 serving = 100 calories.
      – High-fiber, low-glycemic carbs: ½ cup for women, 1 cup for men per meal
      – Non-starchy vegetables: 2+ cups raw or 1+ cups cooked per meal, the more the better
      See above in Cycle 1 What to Eat for a list of recommendations for each of these.

  • Lily July 20, 2013, 2:28 am

    Is there anything that you can make with the ingredients for the shake that is not a liquid, smoothie-type drink? I’m afraid the JJ Virgin shake is just gagging me. Has anyone come up with something like a muffin we could make from the shake ingredients plus other permitted ingredients?

    • Penny Hammond July 20, 2013, 11:06 am

      It’s funny, JJ says that she wants you to drink smoothies so that you don’t end up eating muffins for breakfast (p.167)… although that’s mainly because of the flour, sugar, and dairy they contain.

      Several other diets want you to have liquid meals because they say it helps the body digest better or eliminate toxins (e.g. Clean by Alejandro Junger) or because it will accelerate weight loss (e.g. SHRED by Ian K. Smith). But it looks like this book suggests shakes as an easy, high-protein alternative that people like. I can’t see any reason why there shouldn’t be an alternative recipe for a solid food – has anyone found one?

      You could also try changing the consistency of the shake – add more liquid, or less fiber. Some other suggestions from the FAQs – Add a tablespoon of almond butter; try different berries; vary the milks (try coconut or unsweetened almond milk); add unsweetened cocoa powder; make the shakes warm (warm the liquid before adding the other ingredients)

  • Lily July 20, 2013, 2:29 am

    Thank you very much by the way. Your answers on this website have been so helpful.

    • Penny Hammond July 20, 2013, 11:06 am

      You’re welcome, glad to help!

  • jill July 21, 2013, 5:02 pm

    Hi — I am on day 2 of the Virgin Diet and have found your website to be extremely helpful; thank you so much! I have a question..on page 249 of the book, under the Snack Ideas, it lists Lentil Soup and says to go to her website to find out which brands are acceptable. However, when I go to the website, I can’t find anywhere where they are listed. Do you know which soups are acceptable? Thank you so much!

    • Penny Hammond July 21, 2013, 5:23 pm

      Okay, I had a look around for you – I can find the Resources section but nothing about soups. Frustrating.
      Here’s a list of gluten-free soups from 2012 – obviously you should check for the other 6 food intolerance foods as well. Hope that helps – and if anyone else knows which soup brands and types to use, please let us know.
      Glad you’re finding this page helpful!

      • jill July 22, 2013, 2:50 pm

        thank you, penny! I’ll check out the list you posted.

        • Barbara Buckley January 5, 2014, 11:49 am

          JJ Virgin Diet Book has a recipe for the lentil soup.

          • Penny Hammond January 5, 2014, 3:09 pm

            You’re right – on page 267.

  • jill July 23, 2013, 3:32 pm

    Hi Penny…another question for you. I’m now on day 4, and each afternoon I experience cramping/bloating – painful stomach pains — etc. Any idea what this is from? It is after having the two shakes — I have the JJ Virgin Chai mix and make the recipe that is in the book. Thanks —

    • Penny Hammond July 23, 2013, 5:13 pm

      Hi Jill,
      It does sound like it’s probably a reaction to the foods/drinks you’re having in the morning. If you’re increasing the amount of fiber you eat, that could temporarily give you cramping/bloating as your body gets used to more fiber or a different type of fiber. Try cutting the fiber in the shakes by half to see if that’s better, and then build it back up to the full amount.

  • sona July 24, 2013, 11:51 pm

    Hi Penny. I have alopecia and generally bloated after eating and fuzzy brained and would like to try and fix these, especially the autoimmune disease. I just bought the book and trying to plan out meals. Is tinned tuna okay for protein? So I don’t have the same old chicken fillet everyday? And rice thins? Im not sure if rice is allowed as its a carb and sugar isn’t allowed? Cause thats what I was going to have as a snack with avocado or tomato:
    •Made with all natural ingredients
    •Free from artificial colours and preservatives
    •Gluten free
    •GMO free
    •Contain 4% dietary fibre
    •wholegrain brown rice (99%)
    •sunflower oil
    •sea salt
    •herb extract
    So it has a little bit of sunflower oil, is that okay?

    • Penny Hammond July 25, 2013, 8:23 am

      Hi Sona,

      You can have tinned/canned tuna for protein, but only occasionally because it tends to have a lot of mercury – the book says canned white albacore tuna 1-2 times a month (6-oz serving size) and canned chunk light tuna 6 times a month (6-oz serving size).
      Get most of your protein from chicken, turkey, (lower-mercury) fish, and Virgin Diet Shakes.
      You should never eat the same foods every day, as that can cause food intolerances. The shakes are an exception as they are low-reactive.

      The rice thins sound tasty. Brown rice is allowed. Sunflower oil is a refined fat and not on the permitted list, but it’s not on the lists of foods to avoid so a tiny bit probably wouldn’t be the end of the world. I think the issue with the rice thins is that they’re processed, which tends to push up the glycemic index. A quick search for “rice thins glycemic index” found a few websites that said the GI of rice crackers is 91 – that’s firmly in the high GI range (anything over 70 is high) and that means that you shouldn’t be having them with this diet.

  • Amy July 25, 2013, 8:24 pm

    I am curious about soybean oil. While on this diet I have been diligent about reading labels. In doing this, I noticed that some foods list soybean oil in the ingredients and yet do not have a “Contains Soy” warning. I have not purchased these items to be on the safe side, but it made me curious. I did some research and found that the FDA does not consider highly refined soybean oil to be an allergen. This being the case, I am wondering how careful I need to be about products that contain soybean oil. As the purpose of this diet is to try to avoid common allergens/high FI foods, if soybean oil not an allergen is it truly necessary to avoid? Any thoughts or insights?
    Oh, and thanks for this summary!

    • Penny Hammond July 26, 2013, 9:27 am

      In many cases, people with allergies to a protein are advised that they can eat an oil from the same source because the process of highly refining oils removes pretty much all the protein. The same may be true of sensitivities… if it’s a sensitivity to the protein that’s the issue, rather than a sensitivity to something else in the food.

      The book advises you to avoid refined oils as they are “damaged.” No further detail, no list of refined oils to avoid. A number of other current diets/healthy eating books suggest avoiding refined seed oils / polyunsaturated oils (including soy oil) because they are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can promote inflammation if they considerably outweigh omega-3 fatty acids. JJ suggests avoiding corn partly because of its pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid profile, but doesn’t outright say the same thing about soy. My guess would be that you should try to avoid it for this diet but shouldn’t obsess over it.

  • Sophie July 27, 2013, 10:43 pm

    I have just completed my three week elimination phase. I started with a vegetarian protein powder I found at a health food store and then switched to another that seemed closer to what was in the JJ powder. I finally broke down and ordered the JJ powder and like that I can easily make a breakfast and lunch shake. Only trouble is that when I make a shake with it I feel bloated and really uncomfortable. I don’t normally have any issues with that. Would something in her shake be a problem? Also, I have lost at least 10 pounds and want to continue the elimination phase, is that a bad idea?

    • Penny Hammond July 28, 2013, 10:33 am

      Check to see if the Virgin Diet All-In-One Shake has a lot more fiber than the ones you were using before – if that’s the case, it could be the increased fiber, so you could try cutting back on the serving size and then increasing it as your body gets used to the fiber. If not – it’s possible that something in the shake powder is causing the bloating – stick to another one that doesn’t give you the side effects, as long as it meets the shake guidelines (which should also work for checking protein powders).

      The elimination phase gets rid of the foods that your body is intolerant to, and lets the body heal. While you could carry on with this phase (JJ says this is basically how she eats), I encourage you to try moving on to reintroduction (after you’ve solved the bloating issue as you don’t want to give false results when testing foods).
      It can actually be pretty liberating to find out that a particular food doesn’t work for you and gives you symptoms you’d like to avoid – you now have the knowledge that this is a food you definitely should avoid, and proof as well. If you reintroduce one of the 4 foods and it doesn’t cause symptoms, they you know you can eat it without issues – that doesn’t mean you have to eat it every day (in fact you shouldn’t), but you know that it’s an option.
      You could test these foods and then go back to the guidelines in the first phase to help you continue to lose weight, if that works for you.

  • Sophie July 29, 2013, 9:02 pm

    I have lost 10 or more pounds on this diet. I am enjoying planning and preparing more healthy balanced meals. It appears that I have stopped losing weight. Any ideas? Thanks for all your help.

  • Betty Langenfeld July 31, 2013, 2:38 am

    I have been on this diet play for over 4 weeks now and have lost around 13 pounds. I use a Pea powder in my shakes now and recently added Spriulina to the shake. I can’t find anywhere in the book if this Algae is allowed or not.

    • Penny Hammond July 31, 2013, 1:36 pm

      I can’t find anything either in the book about algae / seaweed / sea vegetables. You could consider them a type of vegetable, and they’re not excluded; I’d say spirulina and similar foods are probably okay on this diet.

  • Betty July 31, 2013, 1:53 pm

    I haven’t found in JJ’s book any mention of portion sizes or number of servings of fruit. She addressed to focus on the types of foods, timing and water consumption during the day rather than calories. I use apples and approved nuts as snacks between my shakes and meals as they are easy to consume during my 10 hour work days. I have just finished my 5th week and expected to lose more than I have so I wonder if it is the amount of food I eat daily. Since she doesn’t recommend counting calories it’s hard to know if the portions are the problem. I suppose it could be I’m losing inches rather than pounds but at this point I’m not sure.

    • Penny Hammond July 31, 2013, 3:14 pm

      Hi Betty,
      Have a look at the meal assembly guide on page 240 – fruits are included as high-fiber, low-glycemic carbs. Portion size is 1/2 cup for women, 1 cup for men. Keep an eye on this for portion sizes.
      You should only be having one (optional) snack a day during the first 3 weeks (p.168) – think of them as mini-meals and include 0 or 1 starchy carb, 2 to 4 ounces protein, 1 fat and lots of nonstarchy veggies (p.249) – so you could have a little fruit as long as you have some protein and fat (nuts should be okay for those), and veggies.

  • sona July 31, 2013, 7:39 pm

    Hi Penny, Im vegetarian some days. Is it okay to have boiled chickpeas as protein in salads? I had canned mixed beans at home but they state sugar as an ingredient. Are other beans allowed, black eyes peas etc? And yellow split peas for dhal?

    • Penny Hammond August 1, 2013, 9:46 am

      Hi Sona,
      In her vegan/vegetarian guide (50 pages, registration required), JJ says that you can use legumes as a protein source, but you have to make sure you mix them up with other vegetarian protein sources to meet your protein quota.
      Chickpeas, beans, black eyed peas, split peas, lentils – all types of legumes/pulses are okay (including types of urad, moong, masur, besan, any dal). The only exception is except soy/bhatma.
      JJ suggests you soak, sprout, or ferment them if possible, and make sure you don’t eat the ingredients every day.
      Most Indian cuisine contains milk (ghee or yogurt), so you might have a tricky time during the elimination stage and may have to be inventive.

  • sona July 31, 2013, 8:23 pm

    Also, its been really hard to find organic chicken..will eating normal chicken fillets seriously affect phase 1?

    • Penny Hammond August 1, 2013, 9:53 am

      Factory-raised chicken may contain hormones and antibiotics, and may not be healthy birds. It’s possible they’ll affect phase 1, but there aren’t any strong guidelines in the book.
      If you find you’re still getting symptoms when eating it during phase 1, try cutting it out to see if that makes a difference.

      • sona August 1, 2013, 7:51 pm

        Ok. I saw some brands that are non GM chicken, but they also said grain fed so I didn’t buy incase that means corn fed :S

  • sona July 31, 2013, 9:40 pm

    Sorry Penny one last email for now haha.. Being indian I eat a lot of food cooked in spice. I can make it healthier by by using coconut oil to hat the spices before cooking then it’ll be okay right? I’ve read curcumin and turmeric are allowed, which are 2 staples in our cooking, but the biggest spice is coriander seeds that my mum dries and crushes at home in a spice mixer. is that okay to eat if we heat it in coconut oil then add chicken or veges like beans or chickpeas?
    The rice we eat is called handpound parboiled rice from Asia and its reddish brown in colour. We boil it and take out the white or starchy stuff that rises to the top. Im not sure whether that’s brown rice?

    • Penny Hammond August 1, 2013, 10:51 am

      Any pure spices are fine – if you’re using a ground spice mix, watch out for additives that may contain gluten.
      Cooking in coconut oil is fine.
      If there’s an outer coating of a different color on the rice (the bran that’s removed to make white rice), you could consider it brown rice.

  • Carina August 1, 2013, 1:12 am

    Does anyone know if Quest Protein Bars are acceptable for Cycle 1 or even cycle 2 of The Virgin Diet? It’s really hard for me to make the shakes before I head out to workout and a protein bar would be ideal. Thanks!

    • Penny Hammond August 1, 2013, 11:12 am

      The first ingredient is a protein blend of whey protein isolate and milk protein isolate – which should be avoided in cycle 1 as they’re milk products.
      When you’re testing milk in cycle 2, you should be testing it in an unprocessed form, so they’d be out for that phase as well.

      Could you have the shake for another meal instead?

  • sona August 1, 2013, 7:59 pm

    thanks for your answers Penny, they were really helpful. I went shopping last night to look for things and realised I had been having almond milk with a little bit of agave syrup! Should I not include the previous days and restart phase 1? Ive bought unsweetened kind now.
    I really wanted coconut milk but the ones here are mostly water and include an ingredient Im not sure about, i’ll check it and get back to you because if its allowed that would be good so I can mix up the milks.
    Im in Sydney so we don’t have as much gluten free items as U.S. I saw gluten free oats but they had sunflower oil. A couple of thing that ticked all boxes include a little bit of sunflower oil so I didn’t buy them since Im unsure if that’s allowed. We’re having different colours of sweet potato or strawberries for breakfast but oats would be good!
    My main goal is to heal my leaky gut-will that still happen if Im having rice, albeit brown, and sweet potato and some sugar in berries?
    As always thanks for the support Penny

    • Penny Hammond August 1, 2013, 9:25 pm

      Sure, why not start again, using what you’ve learned in the past few days.
      Coconut milk is mostly water – you soak shredded coconut in water and squeeze it out (there’s a bit more to it but not much). You could try making nut milks yourself using nuts and water – do a search for homemade almond milk or homemade coconut milk. If there’s a little bit of preservative in the nut milk, it’s probably not the end of the world.
      It’s possible that this diet could help you with leaky gut. If you’re interested, there’s a recent diet that has leaky gut at it’s center – Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger.

  • sona August 2, 2013, 2:19 am

    Thanks Penny, that diet looks very similar to this except for the sweet potato which isn’t allowed. A bit of sunflower oil is allowed on the clean gut diet so im probably okay to buy the gluten free oats I saw which has some sunflower oil. At least then I can stop having sweet potato for breakfast and that’ll be better for my leaky gut 😀

  • Jo August 3, 2013, 4:00 pm

    I am interested in trying this diet to see if I can clear up some of my digestive issues. A good source od protien for me has been eggs. Can you tell me why eggs are not allowed?

    • Penny Hammond August 3, 2013, 4:10 pm

      The author says that eggs provoke a lot of food sensitivities, and are inflammatory (p.109); and that they can trigger gas, bloating, heartburn, eczema or psoriasis in certain people. There could be other symptoms not listed here.
      This could be the eggs themselves, or resulting from the chickens being fed corn or soy.
      She doesn’t say that eggs are bad – she says you should test them, which is done in this diet by excluding them during Cycle 1 and then reintroducing them in controlled circumstances in Cycle 2 and seeing if you have any negative reactions.

  • Liza Salonia August 3, 2013, 10:56 pm

    I know corn is a no-no, but what about corn starch? It is an ingredient in a lot of foods. I am thinking it’s not okay but wanted to double check.

    • Penny Hammond August 4, 2013, 9:53 am

      You’re right, it’s a no because it’s made from corn.

  • sona August 5, 2013, 3:02 am

    Hi Penny,
    Its day 4-5, and my bloating is still there but Im feeling so sleepy. All day at work for the past few days I feel like I can easily fall asleep. Am I on the right track?

    A lot of the pea protein powders don’t ship to Sydney which is frustrating so I’ve been having 2 meals a day and having shakes for breakfast with peptitas, other seeds, strawberries and LSA. Is that okay? I had fresh coconut water and spinach and avocado on another day. One pea protein does ship here and just waiting for it to arrive.

    • Penny Hammond August 5, 2013, 10:10 am

      This diet is designed to find the foods that you’re reactive to and eliminate them.
      If some of your symptoms improve, you could carry on and go through the elimination/reintroduction cycle to find out what the trigger foods are for those symptoms. You can then go on to try eliminating other foods for your other symptoms, which is outside the scope of The Virgin Diet.
      If none of your symptoms improve, or if there are symptoms that don’t appear to have any food triggers, you should check with your doctor to rule out other causes (you should do this anyway).

      Your sleepiness could be nothing to do with what you’re eating, or it could be a reaction to something new you’ve added to your diet. It’s not something that usually happens with this diet.

      Are you eating a lot more fiber than you were before? That could lead to bloating. If so, go down to 1/2 the fiber and slowly work your way back up.

      Pea protein isn’t the only option – doing a web search for “plant protein Australia” it looks like there are a few rice protein powders – look for plant protein or vegan protein and look at the ingredients. Rice protein powders are fine as an alternative to pea protein.

      • sona August 5, 2013, 8:31 pm

        Thanks Penny. I thought maybe the sleepiness was from me cutting out caffeinated tea and coffee. Since I was little, I would start the day with a tea and have tea/coffee in the afternoon. So 2-3cups a day and I’ve been cold turkey now for 5days.
        Yes I have had beans/lentils-they’re high in fibre right? On Sunday my mum slow cooked some Faba beans in spices that she had soaked overnight. So I had that for lunch and had the leftovers for Monday lunch..then yellow split pea dhal last night for dinner! To even it out I wont have lentils or dried beans for the rest of the week, maybe just steamed French beans. And we’ve had steamed cauli/broccoli most nights with food.

  • Robyn Wood August 5, 2013, 10:35 am

    I am allergic to peas and brown rice among other things. Here is a complete list. One from testing done in 2006 and another in 2011. I don’t seem to have any discern able reactions to the foods on the list.

    2006: *Corn (can have corn oil, corn starch and corn syrup), *Yeast (no beer, aged cheese, bread, or doughnuts), *Cabbage, Oranges, Pineapple, Lobster, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Acacia Gum, *Whole Wheat, *Oats, *Beef

    2011: Wheat+, Oats+, Brown rice, Coffee, Tomato, Coconut, Oyster, Turkey, Peas, Raw yeast+, Sweet potato+, Cottonseed meal

    *extra allergic
    +allergic since 2006
    What suggestions do you have as far as whether or what I should substitute?

    • Penny Hammond August 5, 2013, 2:07 pm

      Poor you, that’s a lot of allergies!
      Have a look at Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger – it may help repair your gut which may help reduce food allergies.
      Also see Food Allergies and Food Intolerance by Jonathan Brostoff to learn more about creating your own elimination/reintroduction diet.
      You could try using hemp protein in the shakes, but if you’re so susceptible to getting allergies you should be careful about having the same food every day, which would make it a bit difficult to follow the shake recommendations on this diet.

  • sona August 6, 2013, 9:41 pm

    Hi Penny,
    My sleepiness has gone, so I think it was maybe from not having tea for so many days after being used to having tea every morning. I’m having raw cocoa powder with unsweetened almond milk in the evening. Haven’t found a stevia that’s definitely safe yet so I’m going without. Also not having sweet potato or brown rice incase I do have leaky gut. If I have brown rice in phase 3, and feel bloated, will that mean I should start again or go on with eating whatever I’m now able to eat without symptoms and just try rice again in 3months?

    • Penny Hammond August 7, 2013, 10:22 am

      Go on eating whatever you’re now able to eat without symptoms, and test brown rice again in 3 months.
      Note that some people react to the bran on cereals such as rice, wheat, etc. (I’m one of them) – if you test later and react to brown rice, you should then try testing brown rice that has been soaked long enough to start sprouting, and white rice.

  • George Baker August 8, 2013, 5:21 pm

    Hi Penny,
    I just saw JJ on PBS last nite and learned about this and can’t wait get started on it. It will be very easy for me because I have always been a health freak and I allready eat almost all of the things that JJ recommends, all I have to do is drop some and switch to a few others. Would you know if a little maple syrup would be OK now and then in place of Xylitol ? I am so excited about this 21 coming days, because I have always wanted to just create three of the healthiest meals to eat everyday for the rest of my life, this way I just fill my tank with the same three meals everyday and just run out and enjoy life. I feel confident that with JJ’s diet I will now be able to make the worlds healthiest three meals to eat for for the rest of my life. That means simple shopping and cooking and a lot more time to enjoy my goal to reach 100 years, without any meds. Only 23 more years to go.

    Thanks, George Baker

    • Penny Hammond August 9, 2013, 4:19 pm

      Hi George,
      According to this diet, you shouldn’t have maple syrup – it’s listed as a sugar which you should be avoiding.
      Try to find more than 3 meals to eat – if you eat the same foods every day, you could become intolerant to them (just what you’re trying to avoid with this diet!).

  • George Baker August 8, 2013, 10:02 pm

    Hi Penny,
    Please help me with this question. After reading every word above, under ‘Clean lean proteins ‘ the list of what fish to enjoy includes Tilapia. Then a little below it says’ Avoid farm-raised fish ‘ now as far as I know Tilapia is only a farm raised fish and 60% of it comes from China and it was created in a science lab as far as I know.
    Am I wrong ? Where can I buy wild Tilapia ? because for decades now I have refused to eat Tilapia because its nothing but a cheap farm raised man created modified fish, please tell me if I am wrong.

    Thanks in advance, George Baker

    • Penny Hammond August 9, 2013, 3:45 pm

      Hi George,
      You’re right. Tilapia is listed as a low-mercury fish in the book (p.155), and JJ says “Cold-water wild fish only, please. You don’t want to eat what farm-raised fish are eating” (p.154).
      It could be that tilapia slipped through the net (no pun intended) as they were putting together a list of low-mercury fish – and the same with catfish, which is also usually farmed. Or maybe it’s in there for the few people who can find it wild.

  • sona August 8, 2013, 10:55 pm

    Hi Penny,

    White rice always made me bloat which is why I switched to the handpound one. Bloating is less sever but still there hence why I’m leaving it out until phase 3.
    I was on a stevia hunt last night and found 2 brands, both with other ingredients included so just wanted to check with you..
    1) Erythritol, natural sweetener(extracts of stevia leaves-steviol glycosides 1.4%), anticaking agent (cellulose powder), natural flavourings. It doesn’t say what makes up the natural flavourings

    2) Natural sweetener (steviol glycosides), sodium bicarbonate, monosodium citrate, L-Leucine, flavour. Also doesn’t say what flavour is made up of :s So I haven’t bought either one yet

    • Penny Hammond August 9, 2013, 4:27 pm

      That’s tough – you’re right, “natural flavourings” and “flavour” could mean anything, and could contain gluten.

  • Jan farley August 8, 2013, 11:56 pm

    Where is the scientific evidence that shows cutting out food that you are sensitive to causes weight loss? There isn’t any. It is just a gimmick so people buy the book. And let me tell you the only people that can afford all this expensive organic,all natural,grass fed stuff and expensive shake powders are the affluent. And not only that it kills your social life because there is no place anywhere around here that people eat like this.

  • Gail August 9, 2013, 10:00 pm

    I saw JJ Virhin on a TV program last week …bought the book Sunday ..went shopping and bought a few foods to et started .in 5 days I have lost 9 lbs .. Seriously!! I feel great …I have had gluten free oatmeal two days for breakfast topped off with fresh blueberries. At Vitamin World I bought Pea Protein (OL Lean and Healthy) 25 grams per serving .. Gluten free,non GMO, soy and dairy free) large container for $37..
    At Costcos I bought a large bag of mixed berries …I blend two glasses at a time (2scoops of protein, 1/2 cup berries,
    10 oz water, tablespoon of Chia seeds and flaxseeds..(organic, Whole Foods) the shakes are delicious!!
    I have cooked spaghetti squash(first time ever) topped off with organic mariner sauce..
    Baked Ratatouille (recipe from book) Costcos wild salmon/ veggies.. Lots of water …first time I have been this successful on ANY diet in many many years ..thank you JJ!!

  • Steph August 13, 2013, 9:34 am

    I’ve been making the virgin shakes, but I see on here you say to keep sugars below 5 g per serving. I calculated there to be about 10g with the products I’m using. I’m not sure if this is ok?

    • Penny Hammond August 13, 2013, 2:33 pm

      Are you counting added sugars in the protein powder or shake mix, or are you calculating the protein/shake plus the fruit and other ingredients?
      If it’s added sugars, you should change the products you’re using so each shake has below 5 g per serving.

      • Steph August 14, 2013, 5:20 pm

        Oh I’m counting the fruit, too. Thanks!

  • alejandro bravo August 14, 2013, 8:49 pm

    hello greetings , I want to know how I can gain weight ,I have a problem called gastritis and makes me lose weight
    can help me with a diet ,not want to grow being skinny . can help me

    • Penny Hammond August 15, 2013, 7:47 am

      According to WebMD, food recommendations for gastritis include avoiding hot and spicy foods, and eliminating irritating foods from your diet such as lactose from dairy or gluten from wheat.
      So an elimination diet like The Virgin Diet, where you eliminate dairy and gluten, may be able to help you heal (along with any recommendations from your doctor) and digest food better so you stop losing weight.

  • Kathleen August 15, 2013, 10:56 am

    Have been on this program for eight days with Hubby. He has lost 10 pounds. My net out is a gain of .2. Very disappointed with my results. I am the shake maker and hubby helps with dinner. My energy level for the most part has been pretty good, but in the late afternoons I get a bit lethargic (first 4-5 days). We only have three meals-no snacks. I feel bloated and like I need to have a serious “blow-out”. My poohs are minimal and once a day. We are consuming a ton of water and I feel like we are doing everything right. We do need to incorporate more exercise. Should I increase fiber, decrease fiber, drink more water? I have even tried a T. of olive oil at bedtime (3 times). I like the diet so far, but wish I had better results. Please help.

    • Penny Hammond August 15, 2013, 11:19 am

      If you’re eating a lot more fiber than you used to, that may be causing the bloating – try cutting back and then adding it back in slowly. If not, you could try a different protein powder or shake mix.
      Exercise may get things moving….

      • Kathleen August 15, 2013, 4:07 pm

        Thanks, Penny. We started with PlantFusion powder and I would add chia or flaxseed plus kale and berries mixed with water and coconut milk or coconut water. Hubby ordered LifeTime Life Basics plant protein mix ( pea, hemp, rice and chia) and I add the same fruits and veggy and liquid. Not adding additional fiber. On week two now so having “real” food for lunch as well as dinner. We’ll see how that goes…Love all the amazing food we can eat.

        It surprises me to hear people are disgruntled and that their social life is a mess. Went out to dinner last night and had lovely scallops sauteed in olive oil and white wine on a bed of spinach and side salad with vinegar and olive oil. Night before made Mid-Eastern spiced Chix and rice from Virgin Diet cookbook. Yummy! Did feel bloated after that meal though…maybe due to spices not used to eating. Still love the plan.

  • Cristi August 16, 2013, 2:09 pm

    Lost 1.5 inches of belly fat after 6 weeks on JJ Virgen. During the first 3 weeks, I realized that I am “super” intolerant to dairy. As an infant, I only tolerated goat’s milk. Unfortunately, most of the family meals included some dairy and as a child my colitis was attributed to anxiety. I spent my whole childhood and much of my adulthood (by not changing old habits) with colitis. Going through perimenopause hasn’t been fun either, and I recently began to experience arthritis in both hands. With exercise and JJ Virgen shakes I noticed the inflammation on knuckles subside and I haven’t experienced abdominal discomfort. I feel awesome and look great.

    • Penny Hammond August 16, 2013, 2:41 pm

      That’s great!

  • Carol August 18, 2013, 11:22 pm

    I’m in week 3 & getting ready for challenge weeks. First week is soy. Are there other recipes that I can use?
    I have never eaten miso soup, tofu or BOCA burgers in my life, nor do I plan to. I realize there is soy in soy sauce. which I use to marinate flank steak, and soy listed in the ingredients for salad dressings and mayo that I use. Can I just try to reintroduce them? Help needed, please.

    • Penny Hammond August 19, 2013, 10:14 am

      Soy’s a pretty common hidden ingredient, so it may also be in foods you don’t expect. To challenge an ingredient, you need to have enough of it to be able to tell that you’ve had a reaction. If you don’t have a reaction to soy, you can go back to using the soy sauce and salad dressings/mayo that you were using before, but if you do have a reaction you’ll know to look for alternatives and keep a closer eye on ingredient lists.
      To test it, you need to have 4 meals that contain soy. Maybe you could get some gluten-free veggie burgers (check for other FI ingredients) for a couple of meals and try edamame in the others. You won’t have to eat them again afterwards.

  • S August 19, 2013, 3:43 pm

    Please help I just started this and my shake is horrible I couldn’t even finish it! I’m using they pea protein/ unsweetened almond milk blueberries…. It was terrible I drank as much as I could but that was about half !! HELP!!!

    • Penny Hammond August 21, 2013, 5:25 pm

      Is it the taste you don’t like, or the texture, or a mixture of both?
      Some suggestions (mostly from the Virgin Diet FAQs):
      – Try changing the consistency of the shake – add more liquid, or less fiber.
      – Try the protein powder on its own and see if that’s what you dislike – if so, try another plant protein instead.
      – Add a tablespoon of almond butter
      – Try different berries
      – Vary the milks (try coconut milk or water instead of unsweetened almond milk)
      – Add unsweetened cocoa powder
      – Make the shakes warm (warm the liquid before adding the other ingredients)

  • Corinne August 22, 2013, 1:27 pm

    I’ve been following this of eating for quite some time (not this specific diet) and I think it brings results in feeling healthier and having more energy. I do not eat any legumes, thus avoiding peas. I have a rice based protein shake. I find it interesting that one is to avoid soy and peanuts (legumes), but the one of the protein powders is pea based. If I’m not mistaken pea’s are in the legume family and estrogenic like soy?

    • Penny Hammond August 22, 2013, 3:35 pm

      Yes, you’re correct, all of them are legumes. If avoiding legumes works best for you, great, but the same may not be true for everybody.
      The reason soy and peanuts are excluded in the elimination part of the diet is that a lot of people have intolerances to them. Peas and other legumes are eaten far less frequently, and intolerances to them are fairly rare.

      • Corinne August 23, 2013, 9:12 am

        Thank you

  • Kathleen August 23, 2013, 10:36 am

    Hi Penny,
    On plan now for two and 1/2 weeks. Net weight loss for me is 3 lbs. Hubby has lost 13!! Wish weight loss was more dramatic for me, but hey I am feeling better. Not feeling as bloated and eliminations are better. After reading an earlier post, I think I need to be more diligent about when NOT to drink water. Was drinking right up until mealtime. Pretty good about after meal water consumption. Hopefully that will help with weight loss and better digestion.

    Bad news…AAagggh! Last night I ate red chile that I made before starting the plan (hubby out of town). It is made with New Mexico red chilis, water, garlic, cumin and then I add ground beef. No problem right? Well forgot that I use about 2 Tbls white flour to thicken about 4 qts. of chili sauce! That’s before adding meat. What have I done to myself?? How will that bit of gluten foul up things? I do not have any side effects (bloating, cramping etc.). Lost .4 of a lb. Does this undo all of my hard work? We start reintroduction next Wed. Please advise.

    • Penny Hammond August 23, 2013, 12:18 pm

      So you’ve done just over 2 weeks of the 3 week elimination diet to the letter. I’m guessing you didn’t eat 4 quarts of chili sauce, so you had a lot less than 2 tablespoons of flour. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Maybe try testing gluten first in the reintroduction cycle – if it tests okay, you’re fine; if not then you could try giving yourself a little longer on the elimination diet to clean up your body, allow it to heal, and give you a better baseline for testing the other foods.

  • Kip August 25, 2013, 1:58 pm

    I was having a lot of trouble with my stomach and had just completed all of the tests, (endoscopy, colonoscopy, blood work) I started watching JJ on PBS television describing the 7 things to eliminate from your diet. I told my husband that since everything medical was normal, it must be what I am eating. That was on July 6th, 4 days before my 62nd birthday. I bought the book, we started the plan, and in 3 weeks I lost 14 pounds and my husband lost 20. Immediately my stomach pain and bloating went away. I started sleeping like a baby for the first time in 30 years, I had more energy, my sugar cravings dissappeared the first day, and as of today I am 20 pounds lighter and went from a size 14 to a 10. More than that though, last week I had a checkup and my doctor said “who are you?” My cholesterol is perfect, my pre-diabetes is gone, and when I told her I hadn’t taken my medicines for these since I started the plan she was amazed. (and she is going to start the plan herself) This is the easiest thing I have ever done and I will continue it for life! DO NOT HESITATE! You can do anything for 3 weeks!

    • Penny Hammond August 25, 2013, 8:26 pm

      Wow, that’s great!

  • Susan Holmes August 27, 2013, 10:22 pm

    I just finished week 1 and I feel great. I am down 5 pounds (have more to go) and am not craving anything. I am still working on finding my perfect cup of coffee and missing half and half. Does anyone know if I can use 1 Coffee mate creamer ? It is lactose free but does have an insignificant amount of sugar. Although , If that is my only cheat, I will consider myself way ahead. I really like this diet and can see incorporating smoothies as a permanent meal replacement. If you are looking for something healthy and easy, try the Virgin Diet. I am glad I did!

    • Penny Hammond August 28, 2013, 11:05 am

      I’m glad that the diet is going well for you so far!
      Coffee mate creamers usually have soybean oil as well as corn syrup / high fructose corn sugar. They also have sodium caseinate, a milk product. So I think they’re a no-no on a number of fronts.
      You could try an unsweetened almond creamer or some other substitute instead.

  • Roberta August 28, 2013, 12:48 pm

    I have been on the Virgin Diet for about 6 months and it is the first diet to ever make sense to me! I have lost 30 lbs. – it just keeps coming off gradually. I apparently had alot of fluid in my legs too, because for the first time in years I have ankles and my thighs don’t rub together anymore! I have gone from a size 14 dress to a size 6! My cholestrol has gone from the 200’s to 168 – can’t wait for my yearly physical this fall!! Like anything else, you have to plan what to eat but I have managed on a couple of trips away from home without gaining the weight back. I don’t buy JJ’s shakes – make my own with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, ground flaxseed, a vegan rice protein powder, banana, spinach and berries – delicious! I did buy a small blender that I travel with now! This is the best thing to happen to me in a long time and I love the compliments I get plus love sharing when people ask how I lost the weight. If you really want to feel better and lose the weight, you won’t pick at what you don’t like about the diet but embrace the parts that will really work for you. Yes, I miss Pepsi sometimes but not enough to go back to the way I was before. You get out of this diet what you put into it! It works!!

  • Anika August 29, 2013, 2:56 pm

    couple of questions…

    I did eat Bananas and Dates in week 1, does that mean I have to restart again?

    Also, since I started this diet, I have a light heartburn, is this normal? I never had heartburn before… I used to eat yogurt before and i stopped it, wondering if that is the reason.

    • Penny Hammond August 29, 2013, 3:56 pm

      If you just had a tiny bit of fruit, I wouldn’t worry about it, just avoid them for the rest of the diet. If you had a lot, that may affect the elimination phase, in which case it may be better to start again.

      I haven’t heard of people having issues with heartburn on this diet.
      The only reason that stopping eating yogurt might cause symptoms would be that you had symptoms all along but the yogurt was masking them – but I think you would probably have noticed it before now.
      What foods are you eating more of that may be a trigger? Examples of trigger foods include fatty foods; acidic foods such as carbonated beverages; chocolate; hot sauce/spicy food; tomatoes; onions. See a longer list in this description of Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook.

      • Anika August 29, 2013, 4:06 pm

        Thanks, I think I need to restart the diet, I ate a whole banana every day as a snack…

        I am also wondering if it is the bananas that is causing the heartburn – more to experiment. Thanks for the prompt reply!

  • Kathleen August 30, 2013, 11:01 am

    Hi Penny,
    We are in cycle 2 now and reintroducing gluten. I was disheartened by the Ezekial breads ( which I though were go to for bread products). All of them have sprouted soybeans in them. I know JJ likes sprouted stuff, but she also says stay away from all soy except soy lecithin. We ate a sandwich with it yesterday. Today, Hubby is concerned about mild joint pain. Do you think this is gluten intolerance or from the soy? I think we will stay away from the bread for the next two days and see how he feels. I would like to know if sprouted soybeans are an OK food. Can not find anything solid about this on JJ’s site. Your site is so much more informative. I think she needs to give you a financial reward for all of your help with her plan!$$

    • Penny Hammond August 30, 2013, 12:20 pm

      Good question – I can’t see any guidance from JJ about soy sprouts. She says bean sprouts are okay (and preferable to beans), but nothing about soy sprouts specifically.
      My go-to resource for food intolerances, Food Allergies and Food Intolerance by Jonathan Brostoff, doesn’t list soybean sprouts when talking about soy intolerance.
      When seeds sprout, their constituents change – people with gluten intolerance can eat wheatgrass, but wheatgrass is a lot further along from the wheat grain than soy sprouts are from bean sprouts.

      What I’d suggest would be to take some time off and start testing again – when you test gluten, make sure that there isn’t any soy there. Then you’ll have a much better idea of which food you’re intolerant to.

  • S August 31, 2013, 7:40 pm

    Ok getting discouraged! I’ve been on this for about 2 1/2 weeks following to a T! I lost 5 lbs in the first week now nothing more:(. I feel like weight should be falling off me considering all the foods I’m cutting out! I get to the point where if I’m not losing then why deprive myself of the foods I want! Any suggestions to speed up the weight loss???

  • Greg August 31, 2013, 8:30 pm

    I have been on the diet for two weeks and I have lost 15 lbs. Can I stay on phase 1 for a few weeks longer to lose more weight? I use stevia in my morning shake every day and alternate 1 tbs of hemp seed, chia seed and flax meal. I read in one of your comments that you should not use stevia by itself so I will try to eliminate it. I am a home winemaker and can not wait to get to the point where I can start to have a glass of wine every day.

    • Penny Hammond September 1, 2013, 10:09 am

      Sure, you can stay on phase 1 for longer – JJ says this is how she always eats.
      Phase 2 isn’t about slowing down the diet – it’s about testing foods to see whether or not you have a negative reaction to them. You might find that they seem to make you put on weight, or aggravate a health condition.
      If you don’t have a reaction to the food you’re testing, you can feel free to incorporate it into your diet (not too much!) or not.
      If you do have a reaction to the food you’re testing, then you’ll know that you should be avoiding it if you have a severe reaction, and only have it occasionally if you have a mild reaction.

  • Greg September 3, 2013, 8:56 pm

    Is it possible to skip a meal occasionally or to fast for a day on this diet?

    • Penny Hammond September 4, 2013, 5:20 pm

      This diet asks you to eat 3 meals a day, including at least one shake, and snacks are optional. It’s not designed for skipping meals or intermittent fasting. Many people combine more than one diet to create their own customized plan, so you could try that if you want, but be aware you may have different results than if you follow the suggested diet.

  • Judy Dwyer September 6, 2013, 1:07 pm

    My stomach starts grawling about 2 hrs. after I drink the shake. I am using the JJ Virgin shake, chia seeds and flax meal along with a cup of blueberries. I feel very hungry and sometimes i have been eating a few spicy pumkin seeds to curve my appetitie. Is there something you recommend? I have lost 10 lbs in 12 days. I do drink 2 cups of coffee in the a.m. maybe i should cut this out. Most of my weight came off during the first week and it slowed down to 1 lb. this week.

    • Penny Hammond September 6, 2013, 1:22 pm

      Do you usually get blood sugar peaks from sweet foods? You could try cutting the blueberries to 1/2 cup.
      Make sure you’ve got the full serving of the protein.
      You could also try having the shake for a different meal, breakfast if you usually have it for lunch or vice versa, to see if that works better for you.

  • Judy September 6, 2013, 3:32 pm

    I will try cutting the blueberries and try a little more protein. I go to the gym every other day so i might need more protein. So far I have been doing the shakes for breakfast & lunch and having my meal in the evenings. I lost so much the first week I couldnt believe it. I knew it would slow down this week and my hungar pains have increased. Thanks for your advice.

    • Penny Hammond September 6, 2013, 6:06 pm

      If you tweak the shakes and you’re still getting hunger pangs, you could try swapping over to 1 shake a day and 2 meals.

  • Patty September 10, 2013, 8:58 am

    This is a great shake with this diet. myshakeology.com/pfree

    • Penny Hammond September 10, 2013, 10:24 am

      Most of the flavors of this shake have whey protein as the first ingredient, which is a milk product – shouldn’t be used at all in phase 1 of this diet, and should only be used if you’ve tested okay on milk.

  • Lori September 10, 2013, 2:39 pm

    I take a number of vitamins daily; co-q-10, b-12, c, d, calcium, mag, zinc, e, should I continue to take all these with the 1st week of diet?

    Thanks for your help, haven’t located anything on this yet in book.

    • Penny Hammond September 10, 2013, 2:49 pm

      I look at the foods side of diets, not really an expert on vitamins or supplements – JJ talks about taking a good multivitamin and mineral formula to help balance blood sugar (p.131) and also mentions vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D (lots of mentions) and magnesium as being good. I can’t see anything in the book about not taking vitamins.

  • Jen September 13, 2013, 8:12 am

    Hello – can you do this diet while breastfeeding? Or a modification of it perhaps? I know some protein shakes are a no-no while breastfeeding.

    Thanks for any insight!

    • Penny Hammond September 13, 2013, 9:49 am

      Check with your doctor before starting the diet, or a modification of it.
      If you’ve been eating a highly processed diet before, you might go into detox for a few days – that may not be very good for your baby. A workaround may be to express enough milk for several days before you start.
      While breastfeeding, your nutritional needs are higher even than they were in pregnancy, so you should probably eat more than the recommended serving sizes.
      Make sure you get enough calcium – non-dairy and non-soy sources include leafy green, broccoli, canned fish (eat the bones), oranges, and nuts and seeds
      The majority of foods suggested in the diet are natural – check the labels of any processed foods such as protein powders or shake mixes.
      Some breastfeeding babies react badly to the mother eating cow’s dairy, soy, wheat, or eggs, so this diet may be beneficial in that way.

  • Jeanne September 17, 2013, 7:52 pm

    Hi Penny, thanks for this great site! I watched JJ’s PBS show & ordered the book – can’t wait til it gets here. In the meantime my boyfriend and I are getting a head start by avoiding as best we can the 7 foods she cites. I bought some raw Stevia packets but after reading on this site, checked out the ingredients and it mentions Dextrose. Oh no! I need something sweet in my coffee – is this ingredient enough to derail me? Thanks again.

    • Penny Hammond September 18, 2013, 9:15 am

      Hi Jeanne,
      That’s annoying that the stevia has dextrose in it – for the duration of the diet, could you find one that has xylitol instead? Erythritol and monk fruit are also okay.

  • Jeanne September 17, 2013, 7:54 pm

    Oh, I forgot to ask, are psyllium seed husks acceptable to use in the shakes?

    • Penny Hammond September 18, 2013, 9:20 am

      I can’t find anything saying that psyllium seed husks aren’t acceptable. Most of the options JJ suggests are whole foods that happen to be high in fiber, such as whole seeds. That way you get all the nutrition in the food. On the other hand, the Extra Fiber product that she offers has some isolated insoluble fibers such as rice bran, but also has soluble fibers like prune powder. You could try using a mix of different fibers.

  • Ptti September 19, 2013, 12:38 pm

    A co-worker and I are on day three of the diet and it does work but we are having a lot of trouble getting the shakes down. The graininess of the shakes is really bothering us. We have tried different fruits but the taste and consistency really bother us. I almost dread lunch.

    • Penny Hammond September 20, 2013, 7:07 pm

      There have been quite a few comments from people wanting advice on alternatives for the shakes – I’ve added suggestions at the bottom of the Shakes section above. Hope it helps.

  • Tony Wise September 21, 2013, 11:03 am

    How can I get copies of The liver cleansing diet by Sandra Cabot

    • Penny Hammond September 22, 2013, 10:45 am

      You can get it online, for example at Amazon. If you go to the Chewfo page for the Liver Cleansing Diet, as with all other diets on the website, there are links with the book name at the top and the bottom of the page to help you get to the Amazon page for the book.

  • Melissa September 21, 2013, 11:51 am

    I am on day 6 of this diet and I couldn’t feel better. I started the diet at 213.4 lbs ( my night time weight before day 1) and this morning I weighed in at 203lbs. I am weighing myself in the mornings but know that we naturally gain weight throughout the day.
    I am eating two shakes a day and following the plate recommendations for food. I have adopted a very strict shopping list and only buying organic grass fed meats and organic veggies. I have started adding flax seeds to my shakes and am drinking a ton of water. I am hungry between my meals so I listen to my body and have snacked on apples and almond butter, nuts ( almonds and pecans) and last night I was hungry and made oatmeal and coconut milk as a late night snack. I just can’t sleep with a rumbling tummy. I slept a about two hours after eating this.
    Is this weight loss normal and safe? I am really motivated now that I see the scale down.
    Overall he most notable differences are my energy is up my stomach has gone down and I feel like my head is clearer.

    • Penny Hammond September 22, 2013, 10:22 am

      Hi Melissa,
      How wonderful that you’re feeling so much better!
      I’m not qualified to say whether this level of weight loss is normal and safe. It’s possible that a lot of it was basically water weight – if your body was inflamed it was holding on to water, and as the inflammation goes down it’s letting the water go. Also, if you’re eating more fiber, it’s possible that you’re getting rid of the stuff in your digestive system more quickly (which could be part of the reason that your stomach has gone down), and that could also have contributed to weight loss. So don’t expect that the weight loss will continue at this pace.

  • Carol September 21, 2013, 4:23 pm

    Ever since jj’s snack bars came out I have been having trouble with her store site.
    When I click on products the info flashes for an instant then its gone.
    My computer is working fine otherwise.

    I would really like to get on her site, as I want to order the bars and some supplements.
    Any info would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Carol Ann Spano

    • Penny Hammond September 22, 2013, 10:15 am

      Hi Carol,
      We’re not affiliated with JJ’s website or online store, sorry.
      You could try using a different browser to see if that works.

  • Francie September 24, 2013, 3:14 pm

    What is your experience with type one diabetics doing this diet? My biggest concern is treating any low blood sugars as that reguires sugar. Sounds like sugar will knock me out of phase 1. Any suggestions? Any modifications?

    • Penny Hammond September 24, 2013, 5:40 pm

      I can’t find any guidelines for type 1 diabetics on this diet. There are low glycemic carbs and fruits in phase 1, so although you don’t get any sugar, you’ll have some carbs so your blood sugar level may stay fairly constant. If you do have episodes of low blood sugar, maybe you could make an exception to the “no fruit juice” guideline.

  • Emelie Hansson September 25, 2013, 10:59 am

    Is it ok to eat and drink lactose free products, like lactose free milk and yoghurt?

    • Penny Hammond September 25, 2013, 11:53 am

      Hi Emelie,
      During elimination, you should avoid all milk products, including lactose-free. Many people react to lactose in milk, but you can also react to other elements of the milk, which is why you should remove milk products completely for the elimination stage.

  • Emelie Hansson September 26, 2013, 4:59 am

    Is it ok to eat home made gluten, dairy, soy and egg free bread? if so is yeast ok?

    • Penny Hammond September 26, 2013, 10:56 am

      JJ talks a lot in the book about avoiding yeast overgrowth, partly by not eating the sugars that can feed it. She doesn’t specifically say anything about not eating yeast, but you might imply it from what her thoughts on yeast overgrowth. An alternative would be to use baking soda / baking powder instead – a gluten-free bread won’t benefit from the slow rise that yeast gives because it doesn’t have the gluten structure to hold large air bubbles. But there aren’t any mentions in the book or the website of baking soda or baking powder.

  • Emelie Hansson September 27, 2013, 1:58 pm


    Is it ok to eat food with potato fiber?


    • Penny Hammond September 27, 2013, 8:02 pm

      JJ doesn’t think much of potatoes because of the way they raise sugar levels. Potato fiber, which I’m guessing is made from potato skins, probably doesn’t have the same effect. However, in general she advises you not to eat processed foods – if there are more than a few ingredients on the food you’re looking at, you might want to reconsider.

  • Rita September 28, 2013, 8:58 am

    I am wondering about Costco sweet potato chips? Ingredients are sweet potato, expeller pressed canola oil and/or safflower oil and/or sunflower oil, sea salt, beet juice concentrate for color. I love these for a snack but wasn’t sure if they were ok. I am going to start the diet Monday and am trying to get my foods lined out. Thanks!

    • Penny Hammond September 30, 2013, 8:42 am

      Sweet potato, sea salt, and beet juice concentrate are fine.
      JJ says canola oil is great as long as it’s cold pressed and not genetically modified – expeller pressed doesn’t necessarily mean cold pressed, and if it’s not labeled as non-GMO the only way to ensure that it’s not genetically modified is to get organic. Also she says that it shouldn’t be exposed to heat, and the chips were probably cooked at a high temperature. JJ doesn’t say anything about safflower oil or sunflower oil, but she doesn’t list them as healthy fats.
      In general, she tells you to avoid processed foods… I’d say these would probably be a “no” during elimination and reintroduction.

  • Wendy September 29, 2013, 1:09 pm

    Is it ok to cook with onions and garlic?

    • Penny Hammond September 30, 2013, 8:43 am

      Yes, absolutely, you’re encouraged to eat them on this diet.

  • Sheri G October 4, 2013, 10:39 pm

    I started on the Virgin Diet this June because I began experiencing intense joint pain in both knees starting last November. I am a very active person so this was depressing to go through. I, thankfully, turned the TV on and stumbled upon PBS while JJ was talking about her diet and about the joint pain and the surgeries she’s had over the years. This caught my attention immediately! I did everything she said to do on her diet recommendation and I was on it for 6 weeks because it was so incredibly easy. It is now October and I am still adhering to the Virgin Diet except for a few exceptions that I’ve reintroduced . I eat more food than ever and I love what I eat. I want for nothing and I never feel deprived. I lost 10 lbs. and I lost all the pain in my knees soon after beginning this wonderful new way of eating. I have created delicious recipes, I eat without feeling guilt and I don’t gain weight anymore or ever feel bloated anymore. I could not be happier. I am so grateful for this magical new way of eating and I will never go back to my old eating habits ever again. If you want my delicious recipe for Applejack Oat pancakes then just email me.

  • Emelie Hansson October 6, 2013, 10:52 am


    Is it ok to eat dried ginger?


    • Penny Hammond October 6, 2013, 12:58 pm

      Yes, dried ginger is fine.

  • Karen October 17, 2013, 9:09 am

    I am in week 7 and faithfully having the shake every morning. kale, spinich, coconut milk, water, unrefined coconut oil, frozen raspberries, flax and or chia seeds. Every afternoon to early evening I get gas. I am thinking it is the pea protein. hummus has the same effect. Any remedies? Thank you!

    • Penny Hammond October 17, 2013, 9:20 am

      I sounds like you may not be digesting legumes fully. A couple thoughts:
      First, try “chewing” your shake instead of just drinking it down. I know it sounds weird, but it could help. There are digestive enzymes released in your mouth when you chew that are part of the process for digesting carbohydrates. For every mouthful of shake, chew 3-5 times before swallowing it so it all gets a chance at being exposed to your saliva. The same with hummus, make sure you really chew when you eat it.
      If that doesn’t work, you can try a product like Beano – be sure to follow the instructions about when to take it.

  • Emelie Hansson October 21, 2013, 10:15 am


    In cycle 2 is it ok to test the forbidden food in any prefered order?


    • Penny Hammond October 22, 2013, 7:31 am

      JJ says that soy and gluten are potentially unhealthy, and dairy and eggs are potentially healthy. (p.192)
      You’re testing soy and gluten first to see whether your system can tolerate them – to find out whether you have to be hypervigilant about keeping them out 100% of the time, or just ordinarily vigilant and keeping them out 95% of the time.

      Remember that if you do have severe reactions to foods at this stage (and they’re foods you like), you can re-test them in the future (3 months, 6 months, 9 months) as your body may react differently to them after it’s rested from them. Even if they test okay, JJ says that you should still only have soy and gluten occasionally.

  • JMS December 7, 2013, 10:59 am

    I’m a 69-year old man who heard Ms. Virgin on Pubic Radio and thought, “If it’s on NPR, it must be true.” I bought the book and started the diet, not for weight loss as much as for the anti-inflammatory premise. Within a few days, my chronically stiff and sore hands (I work outdoors with my hands) were much improved. My flexibility improved as weight loss progressed, and I feel generally better all around. I stick with the Phase I plan, for simplicity’s sake, and that has become the way I live – no hassle, just me. I think it’s important to understand that behind the “technology” of the program, the base effect is to change the Reason you eat. I am Mindful of my food, but it is not complicated or burdensome. There is an entertaining Seasonal component, as well – I look forward to the rotation of good foods as they become available. JMS (P.S. – I have lost 35 pounds on a 5’10” frame and am wearing clothes I saved for 20 years, hoping to get back into them one day.)

  • Rosemary December 17, 2013, 1:37 am

    I am just about to start the diet but I take medication for an underactive thyroid called Thyroxin. I have heard that some foods counteract my medication such as grapefruit and vegetable belonging to the bracken family. Is this true? Do you have any advice for me please, I am eager to get started.

    • Penny Hammond December 18, 2013, 7:32 am

      Check with your doctor about any food-drug interactions. Also look at the instructions for use that come with the drugs.
      Grapefruit interacts with a lot of drugs, including some thyroid drugs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grapefruit%E2%80%93drug_interactions
      The only food I can find in the bracken family is fiddlehead ferns, which aren’t a common food.

  • Diane January 7, 2014, 8:28 pm

    Can I use Thai curry paste for soups an is honey okay to use as a sweetener

    • Penny Hammond January 7, 2014, 8:44 pm

      Check the ingredients of the Thai curry paste to see if it’s got any ingredients you should be avoiding. For example, make sure it doesn’t have any sugar.

      Honey is considered a sugar in this diet. You should avoid it in cycle 1 and cycle 2, and you can have it very occasionally in cycle 3.

  • Anne January 8, 2014, 10:58 am

    Can I eat Spelt bread in the Virgin diet ?

    • Penny Hammond January 8, 2014, 8:34 pm

      Spelt is a type of wheat and contains gluten, although at lower levels than wheat. This is a gluten-free diet in cycle 1, so you could use spelt bread to test gluten during cycle 2, and if you don’t have any reactions to it you can eat it very occasionally in cycle 3.

  • Sherry January 9, 2014, 12:29 pm

    Hi,I’ve been on virgin diet for a week first three days I felt good after that all the old problems came back and it’s getting worse, like not sleeping, constipation, headache that doesn’t go away with pain killer,upset stomach, should I do something different,
    Other than that I’m happy with the diet I lost 5 pounds and feel full and satisfied.

    • Penny Hammond January 9, 2014, 6:48 pm

      Sorry to hear that.
      Are you drinking plenty of water? (or green tea)

  • Diane W. January 13, 2014, 9:36 pm

    What other drinks are okay while on the diet also why no bottled water I enjoy Fuji water.

    • Penny Hammond January 14, 2014, 6:49 am

      As well as the shakes, you’re encouraged to water (plenty of it) or green tea. You may be able to have up to 1-2 cups of coffee a day – one part of the book says you shouldn’t have any coffee or tea, another part says you should limit them. You can also have home-made green drinks (not containing high-glycemic vegetables such as beets or carrots, or fruits/fruit juice).

      JJ advises you not to drink water that’s been in plastic bottles as it will have phlalates in it, a toxic ingredient in the plastic that may disrupt hormones and promote obesity. Water from glass bottles is okay in this regard.

  • M January 14, 2014, 4:59 pm

    I’ve been following the Virgin Diet for 9 days – 2 shakes a day plus the suggested proportions for dinner. The first week was fine and wasn’t ever feeling too hungry but now I’m feeling like I have less concentration/focus/more clumsiness. Is there something I’m not getting enough of?

    • Penny Hammond January 14, 2014, 5:21 pm

      For weeks 2 and 3, the guidelines are to each day eat 1 Virgin Diet Shake, 2 meals, optional snack (you can do 2 shakes if you prefer).
      Try adding a snack, or switching from 2 shakes and 1 meal to 1 shake and 2 meals. Also, try to eat a variety of foods within the guidelines.

  • Fb January 17, 2014, 11:39 am

    Yes, it is not easy! But so very worth it. I am never hungry, lost all cravings, brain fog gone, energy amazing, and the best off all lost 97 1/2 lbs so far.

    I have been doing it for a year, and can see myself doing this all my life. Still working on losing the last 50 lbs.

    Good luck all. I have found the one for me, hope it works for you as well 🙂

    • Penny Hammond January 17, 2014, 3:37 pm

      Wow! Congratulations on all your success.

  • Kim Valentine January 17, 2014, 5:46 pm

    Just started the diet Monday. Have lost 2 lbs. Just wondering if cashew butter is okay. Or are cashews related to peanuts?

    • Penny Hammond January 19, 2014, 11:03 am

      Cashews are listed as okay to eat, so cashew butter should be fine (check the ingredients – if there are any ingredients other than cashews, see if they’re on the “allowed” list).
      A serving size of any nut butter, including cashew butter, is 1 tablespoon, and you should limit nuts (including nut butters) to 1-3 servings per day.

  • Michelle January 18, 2014, 2:01 pm

    Is coconut milk yogurt okay (so delicious brand)?

    • Penny Hammond January 19, 2014, 11:35 am

      Check the ingredients.
      Coconut milk is fine as it’s an ingredient in the shake recipes. But a couple of the ingredients are sugars – organic dried cane syrup (i.e. sugar) is the third ingredient, and tapioca dextrose also sounds like a sugar. As this is a no-sugar diet, it sounds like that particular yogurt would be a no.

  • Toni Lobbregt January 24, 2014, 8:26 am

    I have been doing the virgin diet for I week today I lost 7 lb in 7 days !!! Yea. Broblem is I am very constipated !! I am eating salads and veg ! All the right things , maby you can help !! Best of all my suger was running in the 140 to 160 it is know 110 and 90 that is the best Toni

    • Penny Hammond January 24, 2014, 7:21 pm

      Are you drinking plenty of water? That often helps with constipation, especially if you’re having a lot of foods with fiber like vegetables and salads. You could also try a gentle laxative, e.g. senna tea. If nothing works, check with your doctor.

  • Lori January 27, 2014, 4:59 pm

    What is wrong with egg whites?

    • Penny Hammond January 27, 2014, 9:08 pm

      JJ doesn’t want you to have any eggs at all on this diet, as they are one of the main causes of food intolerance. Egg whites may cause more intolerance than egg yolks for many people.

  • Juan February 2, 2014, 6:10 pm

    What kind of gluten free bread do you recommend ? Thank you.

    • Penny Hammond February 3, 2014, 11:55 am

      The book doesn’t have any recommendations for gluten-free breads.
      If you’re in cycle 1, try avoiding all bread-like products, as gluten-free breads are often quite processed and may contain ingredients that could stop you healing.
      If you’ve tested gluten in phase 2 and found that you react to it, look carefully at the ingredients of any gluten-free recipes or products to check that they don’t contain anything else that you react to.

  • Michael February 6, 2014, 10:34 am

    Started JJ Diet and almost 3 weeks into it. The first week I lost 8 and a half pounds, but the second week without altering it gained 1 and a half pounds back. I didn’t alter my routine at all. I’m basically a couch potatoe who works 2 days a week and every other weekend as a nurse on a high intensity unit. The shakes are great and the Artisan Bistro foods are easy to reheat even as lunches at work. My only concern is I am over 250 pounds and am concerned about getting enough calories as a man. I know JJ doesn’t count calories in her diet but a low calorie diet for too long can have negative effects as the body tends to want to conserve fat. Additionally, I’m wondering if the food order to reintroduce matters. I would like to reintroduce eggs first to add additional protein to my diet. My next weigh in is tomorrow. I only weigh on Fridays since we started on a Friday. Any suggestions?

    • Penny Hammond February 6, 2014, 12:34 pm

      The serving sizes for men and women are different on this diet, so you should be getting some more calories than a woman. You can use the optional snacks. There are also some foods with calories that don’t have strict limits, such as fruits and some of the vegetables. I’m not sure whether this would count as a low-calorie diet. Use a calorie calculator to work out how many calories you would need to maintain your weight (there are a lot of these online) – if you’re trying to lose weight, you probably need less than this.
      This diet works on the premise that it’s the foods that you’re intolerant to that make you gain and maintain weight – keep an eye out to see which foods you might be intolerant to. This diet concentrates on 7 FI foods, but there may be other foods that you’re intolerant to.

      You could introduce eggs first if you want. But note that they’re a substitute for other proteins, not an additional protein.

  • M February 8, 2014, 12:38 am

    I just finished the egg challenge (now on day 5) and am feeling bloated after eating a dinner with no eggs. Can symptoms still occur in days 5-7?

    • Penny Hammond February 8, 2014, 6:10 am

      According to JJ, “food sensitivities are sneaky. We don’t know how intensely they’ll strike or how soon. If you eat a food 4 days in a row, you might feel something immediately, you might have symptoms 72 hours after the first bite or you might not notice anything for a whole 7 days. That’s why I have you reintroduce a food for 4 days and then take 3 days off before starting the next food. I don’t want you to get confused.” (p.198)

      5 days would be a pretty slow reaction time, and it’s possible that the bloating is a reaction to something else. Try this – get to the end of cycle 2 and then repeat the 1-week egg challenge (continuing to avoid gluten and soy, even if they tested okay) and see if you get the same results again.

  • Jennifer February 10, 2014, 5:08 pm

    I am using the Thorne Vega-lite protein powder; how many scoops should I use per shake?

    • Jennifer February 10, 2014, 5:13 pm

      Forgot to ask, since this protein powder does not have any fiber, how much flax/hemp/chia should I add to it?

      • Jennifer February 10, 2014, 5:46 pm

        Sorry, I keep coming up with more questions the more I read on this site. Are gluten free oats allowed? Rice? A little confused here.

        • Penny Hammond February 11, 2014, 8:25 am

          Gluten-free oats are allowed – it should be old-fashioned oats.
          Brown rice is also allowed – preferably sprouted (which usually means to soak it overnight before cooking it).
          Make sure that you stay within the guidelines for quantities of grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables – 1-4 servings a day, where a serving is approximately ½ cup for women and 1 cup for men.

      • Penny Hammond February 11, 2014, 8:21 am

        See the full recipe for The Virgin Diet Shake (using vegan pea-protein powder) on page 261 of The Virgin Diet book.
        JJ says the shakes should have “at least 5g of fiber.” Most of the recipes in the book call for 1-2 tablespoons of chia/hemp/freshly ground flaxseeds per serving of shake.

    • Penny Hammond February 11, 2014, 8:17 am

      Look at the serving size on the packaging. It looks like the serving size is 1 heaping tablespoon with 10 oz of liquid.

  • David February 11, 2014, 2:24 pm

    Are Original Pop Chips okay for the virgin diet?

    • Penny Hammond February 12, 2014, 7:21 am

      You’re supposed to avoid processed foods on this diet, including gluten-free processed foods.

  • Lisa February 12, 2014, 1:23 pm

    I’ve read you can eat quinoa pasta. However, the quinoa pasta that I have found has corn flour in it and we aren’t supposed to eat corn. Is there a quinoa pasta out there that doesn’t not have a corn product in it?

    • Penny Hammond February 13, 2014, 8:16 am

      Looking online I found Andean Dream quinoa pasta, which is made of rice flour and quinoa flour; the varieties I looked at say they don’t contain corn flour.

  • Gwen February 14, 2014, 2:25 pm

    What a wonderful resource this is – a big thank you! I began today with great enthusiasm and will update you on progress!

  • Carol February 21, 2014, 12:35 am

    I am getting ready to start this virgin diet. regarding processed food, can I have millet and flax chips? the only other ingredients is sea salt and olive oil. In addition can I have millet and flax bread?

    • Penny Hammond February 21, 2014, 7:19 pm

      The millet and flax chips sound like they’d probably be okay – just keep an eye on the portion size. For the millet and flax bread, check that all the ingredients are allowed in this diet, and again keep an eye on the portion size.

  • Carol February 22, 2014, 11:32 am

    more questions: I went to the local health food store to find a protein mix for shakes. I found a whole food one that met all of the Virgen frequirements but also include green foods, probiotics, whole food vitamin/minerals and omega 3-6-9. It does have 200 calories which is about 40 more than the other protein mixes. I felt like this was a healthier choice especially with the green foods. Is it acceptable to substitute this whole food protein mix for one that is just a protein mix.

  • Diane W. February 23, 2014, 11:41 am

    Hi penny, I was doing great on the diet an saw how my body was reacting to the shakes an the weight loss along with the unswelling of my abdominal area an I got ahead of myself. I fell off the wagon an am now trying to regroup an start again for real this time because all my old issues have come back with a vengeance. My question to you is are any organic wheat products gluten free if not how does or why does gluten get added to them if there supposed to be organic? Please help because it’s been so hard to weed out the gluten once I went to cycle 2 an found it was my root cause everything else seemed harmless except the gluten which effects my sleep, energy, an moods it’s really amazing an scary to know this an that the government is allowing these toxins to be put in our foods an it’s like they are supporting the company’s to keep the cycle of illness an drugs to somewhat cure you of the issues only to cause their own illnesses that’s just horrible to know.

    • Penny Hammond February 23, 2014, 12:48 pm

      Gluten is actually naturally produced inside the wheat grain and some other grains, as one of the proteins in the seed. Originally it was there only in tiny amounts, but thousands of years ago it was inter-bred so that wheat had more gluten. Gluten is the stuff that gives bread its stretchiness – it’s not an unnatural or added product. However, the amount of gluten in wheat has increased in recent decades as grains have been manipulated to get higher yields – there’s a detailed explanation in Wheat Belly by William Davis. What seems to have happened is that in recent years, as people have been exposed to more and more gluten, especially in processed foods, more people have become intolerant to it.

      This is why JJ asks you to remove gluten-containing foods from your diet in cycle 1. Wheat naturally contains gluten, which is why you should be avoiding all wheat products, including organic wheat products. In cycle 2, you test how reactive you are to gluten, so you can see how vigilant you are about it – if you’re not reactive to it, JJ says you can have foods containing gluten occasionally in cycle 3.

  • Kyah February 23, 2014, 4:24 pm

    I’m really frustrated. I have cut out all of the basics…I haven’t bought the book. But reading the list of things to buy (organic everything and grass feed/organic meat) Let’s be real here…not all of us can afford that. I don’t go to Starbucks, I don’t shop for myself at all, I don’t get my hair or nails done and we live paycheck to paycheck. I also have two children to feed and care for. How exactly is someone in a REAL budget, with nothing extra left at the end of the month, supposed to purchase all of these specialty items? I’m extremely educated about diet and exercise, I know a lot when it comes to what I need to eat. But that list seems really ridiculous to me…and there is NO WAY I could afford to purchase her specialty shakes. I did the Zone years ago…it was simple…nothing else to buy from the author of the book and I felt awesome. Unfortunately, everything I used to do to lose extra weight, no longer works for me after getting off of medication that I took for 10 years. This seems to be a good way for JJ to make money by selling books and shakes. :/

  • Sharon Mehedin February 24, 2014, 12:11 pm

    I am doing the diet and feel great. Two questions. Can I have organic, non gmo popcorn? Also I like to make wraps. I use all kinds of flour. Is spelt okay? How about garbanza been glour, millet, brown rice etc? Thanks for your help!

    • Penny Hammond February 24, 2014, 3:00 pm

      JJ wants you to avoid corn completely in cycle 1 and cycle 2, and that would include avoiding organic popcorn. “Corn is a pro-inflammatory food as well as a high-glycemic one, meaning that it can cause your blood sugar to spike.” (p.115)
      Corn is one of the foods that can only be eaten for about 5% of the time in phase 3.

      Garbanzo beans, millet, brown rice, and a number of other non-soy legumes and non-corn non-gluten grains can be eaten in moderation on this diet (½ cup for women, 1 cup for men per meal for high-fiber, low-glycemic carbs including grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables).
      Seeing as brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, and brown rice wraps are allowed, it’s probably safe to say that the flours of those legumes and grains can also be used. Just remember to use them in moderation; also whenever possible, consume them soaked, sprouted, or fermented.

  • Gwen February 27, 2014, 12:04 pm

    I am doing well. Six pounds lost in fourteen days is excellent for me and I am encouraged. I just noticed old fashioned oats are okay. I have cut them out too but will reintroduce them after another week.

    • Penny Hammond February 27, 2014, 9:32 pm

      Here’s what JJ has to say about oatmeal in the book:
      “Oatmeal itself is gluten -free, so in theory, you should be able to eat anything made with oats (as long as it doesn’t contain dairy, eggs or gluten!). However, oatmeal is often made in places where they also process grains that do contain gluten, and there is a great deal of cross-contamination. So make sure you’re buying only oatmeal that is marked “gluten-free.”” (p.73)

  • Michele March 1, 2014, 10:44 pm

    Hi , I am going to be starting this diet next week . Is coconut flour ok to use as a parm cheese substitute in cycle one? How about nutritional yeast ?

    Thank you !

    • Penny Hammond March 2, 2014, 10:36 am

      Coconut flour is mentioned in the book as a flour substitute, so it should be okay.

      Nutritional yeast isn’t mentioned in either the diet book or the cookbook, or anywhere on the website. Yeasts are used to ferment foods and naturally fermented foods are allowed on this diet, but not commercially fermented foods. Nutritional yeast is commercially produced and deactivated. So I’m not sure whether there’s a clear yes or no answer, but would lean towards not using nutritional yeast on this diet.

      • Michele March 3, 2014, 10:57 am

        Ok thank you ! Also , I take a multi vitamin right now daily . Is it still ok to take the magnesium and vitamin c that JJ recommends in addition to my multi vitamin ?

        • Michele March 3, 2014, 11:01 am

          Another question , is it ok to have organic no added sugar millet puffs for breakfast ? I need a little “crunch ” in the morning and I am not finding much in the book about breakfast foods except for the protein shakes !

          • Penny Hammond March 3, 2014, 11:57 am

            In week 1 on this diet you’re supposed to have 2 shakes and 1 meal, and on weeks 2 and 3 you’re supposed to be having 1 shake and 2 meals. Most people have one of the shakes for breakfast, which is probably why you’re not seeing so many breakfast ideas.

            If the product you’re looking at is just puffed millet, it should be okay as long as it’s part of a meal that follows the Virgin Diet Plate and consists of approximately 25% clean lean proteins, 30% nonstarchy vegetables, 25% healthy fats, 15% high-fiber, low-glycemic carbs, 5% nuts – even breakfasts should be high-protein, and a bowl of cereal on its own won’t meet these guidelines. Also mind the portion size, and remember that the only food you can eat every day is the shake.

        • Penny Hammond March 3, 2014, 11:47 am

          I concentrate on the food side of diets, sorry but I don’t look at supplementation.

  • Michele March 3, 2014, 6:31 pm

    Ok thank you

  • Charles Smith March 11, 2014, 8:22 pm

    I was scanning tv channels when I just happened to catch the tail end of your program and new the things you were saying were all true kind a like reading the Bible and you’ve read those same verses over and over and THEN wow I never heard it that way before a revelation. I knew sugar and wheat kept me craving foods and all the rest were know good for me BUT I believe everything in my life happens in God’s timing. So i mentioned the lifestyle to my son and he agreed lets include the whole family which we did which is a blessing cause if food is your vice and your the only one trying to moderate your eating it’s not long until you fall. So we decided the following Monday which was march 11th 2012 we began the detoxing, drinking two protein shakes and then a meal and eliminate-
    ing the SEVEN. WE began. I have to admit my weight started falling off fast starting at 305 lbs. I was loosing bout a lb. to pound and a half a day. I also started walking weather permitting, there is a sidewalk by our river and along that side walk there is a hand rail. I knew with my body weight and being not able to breathe I could use that rail to lean on I couldn’t walk much more than 10 foot at a time. I want to tell you this whole process has been a journey to remember, every step was an accomplishment I never thought I’d get to the place I could walk without leaning on that railing.But I stayed with it I had to learn to breathe all over again to walk without hyperventilating and soreness my whole body is still aching. When you gain that much weight everything becomes out of balance and then the pains of everything being aligned again many night without sleep.And then the weight kept coming off and I was walking farther I can still remember the first day I walked about a mile without stopping and leaning on that rail it was a day to celebrate and to be able to breathe and walk without such effort. Never knowing the concequences this journey has become a testamony to many an inspiration because I’m almost 62 and my walk is inspiring people of all ages and because my granddaughter took pictures of me when we began and to see that picture now I am 110 lbs lighter I am amazed and all the people that has been watching me and seeing the change Im sorry I do give God the Glory because without Him I am nothing But I also know He will use all of us for His plan. But my wife is down 50 lbs my son down 25 lbs, my granddaughter down 25 lbs. I now can walk as far as God wants me to. First it was a mile than two than three I walk three miles each day, then on the weekends or my day off I walk six to seven miles, of course every extra mile I get sore all over again but it’s all worth it. I Love it and the Beauty that God has His finger prints on all the nature just explodes in my eyes with LIFE. I Love me now and my new Life I thank you JJ VIRGIN for following your Heart. Blessings your Forever Friend Charles R. Smith down Florida where I can walk almost every day. ps I do share you with every person I talk to tell them about your plan and your BOOK. THANKS JJ people don’t even recognise me now.

  • Ann March 19, 2014, 1:07 pm

    When you can’t use the usual bouillon as it lists soy/corn/wheat protein what can be used to make soups?

    Any other suggestions for flavouring to make vegetable soups interesting?

    • Penny Hammond March 19, 2014, 7:41 pm

      Try herbs – a herb mixture, bay leaves, etc. You can also throw in some peppercorns (make sure to fish them out afterwards!).

  • Heather March 19, 2014, 1:52 pm

    I have finished my first week on the diet and have lost 5 pounds. I had what I would had considered normal stool before starting the program. Now I have very soft and sometimes diarrhea when it comes to my stool. (Especially if I realize I have ate something that is not to the plan; I know 100% not 95%, but I’m human and need some variety) The past two days I noticed blood even in my stool (Red; Clots). Today my stool is normal; well not normal, the soft stuff but no blood. Is this normal? Is this just my bodies way of getting use to this new way of eating ridding itself of the waste?….. I know I will loose weight for a short while as before I ate fast food, a lot of bread, a lot of cheese and A LOT of sugar. I weighted 180 and a week after program am at 175. I plan to stick to the program for a lifetime and be very strict for the 30 days, although will allow myself to not worry about “What could be in that food” for special occasions, and not splurge but just enjoy. It’s like having a drink; you don’t need to get wasted to enjoy an occasional drink right? *** I also must say, my skin looks great!

    • Penny Hammond March 19, 2014, 9:07 pm

      It’s possible that your digestive system is reacting to eating different foods, especially if you’re eating more fruit and veggies than before. Give your body a chance to get used to it. Blood in the stools isn’t good – if it continues, check with your doctor (it could be something unrelated to your change in diet).

  • Stella March 31, 2014, 2:03 pm

    I love gum! I typically chew the sugarless kind… I know…. its a no-no!
    I found with Xylitol but it contains sucralose & soy lecithin. Are those ok in phase 1?

    • Penny Hammond April 6, 2014, 1:51 pm

      Sucralose is a kind of sugar, and in this diet you should avoid it in phases 1 and 2. You can have it occasionally in cycle 3 / lifetime diet.

      Soy lecithin is a soy product, so you shouldn’t have it in phase 1 [correction – it’s listed as being okay to include in the smoothies, so it’s probably okay for phase 1]. It’s probably better to avoid processed soy in phase 2 as well – the only soy you should be having is during the test week, using whole or fermented soy foods in 1 meal a day for 4 days. If you test okay on soy, you can have it in cycle 3 / lifetime diet.

  • Kathryn April 15, 2014, 12:15 pm

    I have been doing this diet for 14 months. I LOVE it. I lost 30 pounds, have no acne, no more chronically stuffy nose, no more daily headaches. I have 2 shakes a day, healthy snacks, and lovely dinners. I eat fresh vegetables, fruit, meat (grass fed, farm raised when I can afford it) and I’ve never felt or looked better. I had been eating whole grain “healthy” bread, pastas, and cereals. I never ate junk food or soda or dessert, and still kept gaining weight. I just didn’t know gluten and soy were in everything and how bad they are. I also had no idea how damaging GMO foods are. Thank goodness I found this diet. I will never go back to eating what the mega-corporations (and our government) advertise as health foods again. I lost 30 pounds, have no acne, no more chronically stuffy nose, no more daily headaches.

  • Twitter.com April 22, 2014, 9:12 am

    Although you could switch to organic (a really suggested choice), the
    option could be pricey and may possibly not be easy for all create, depending on in which you
    reside and what is accessible in your neighborhood.
    You can be relaxed just by consuming food and drinks.
    You need to have a number of superfoods in your diet daily.

  • Reesie April 23, 2014, 12:32 pm

    Penny, do you think Seven Point 2 Shake would be acceptable to use with the Virgin Diet? It does not appear to have as much protein as the Virgin Diet Shake has, but it is advertised as Vegan, and free of sugars, soy, dairy, gluten, and whey. Thanks for the very informative site.

    • Penny Hammond April 24, 2014, 2:34 pm

      Here’s what I see listed as the ingredients for the Seven Point 2 Shake: organic certified sprouted brown rice protein, non-GMO yellow pea protein, high oleic sunflower oil, organic certified inulin, flaxseed, alfalfa sprout, quinoa sprout, millet flour, amaranth flour, natural vanilla flavor, organic certified guar gum, arabic gum, and stevia extract. All those are acceptable ingredients on this diet. A serving has 21 grams of protein, compared to 23 grams of protein for the Thorne/Virgin shakes, which is pretty comparable.

  • Laura Leigh May 21, 2014, 1:01 am

    I love the diet and the benefits it will bring. I’ve been I’m cycle one for 16 days and still have not had a poop to be proud of. My shakes are according to JJs recipes. 64 oz of water. (I’m 125 lbs). Good dinners as she recommends. What am I doing wrong.

    • Penny Hammond May 25, 2014, 1:26 pm

      A few thoughts, from pages 31-33 of the book:
      – Drink lots of water (you’re already doing this)
      – Make sure you’re having enough fiber – 50 grams or more per day is your goal, and you should increase your fiber by 5 grams per day until you reach that goal. Veggies in general can be helpful, and JJ lists these as the top 10 sources of fabulous fiber: raspberries and other berries, lentils, nuts, seeds (especially chia seeds and freshly ground flaxseeds), kale, quinoa, avocado, apples, winter squash, broccoli
      – For supplements to help avoid constipation, JJ recommends vitamin C and magnesium (see p.32 for amounts) – back off on these if your poop becomes runny. She also says that iron and calcium are constipating, so if you are on either of those, you may need some supplements to offset the effects
      – Get things moving with exercise
      – Try drinking some hot coffee or tea in the morning
      – Sip some peppermint tea throughout the day
      – Throw two or three prunes into your shake
      – When you move your bowels, consider elevating your feet with a footstool— our toilets are just about the worst possible setup for elimination
      – If none of this is working, try cascara sagrada, senna, Chinese rhubarb and/ or frangula (JJ prefers to use herbal blends of these) on a short-term basis

      Hope that helps. Another idea is to try probiotics – JJ doesn’t mention it in her thoughts on constipation, but it works for some people.

  • Beverly Coles June 12, 2014, 10:08 am

    I was just wondering if Ghee (butter that is clarified) is allowed and what about lactose free milk? I have been using coconut milk but it is not always convenient to take it with me. I have been on the plan for 11 days and many of my symptoms are gone which is amazing. However I have not lost any weight so far. Fingers crossed it happens.

    • Penny Hammond June 12, 2014, 11:17 am

      JJ says that you can enjoy ghee, or clarified butter, ideally from grass-fed cows, even in Cycle 1 as it has no milk solids.

  • Amy June 13, 2014, 6:35 am

    Can anyone explain why we should only eat every 4-6 hours, as the diet states? I was under the impression if you have blood sugar issues, you should always eat every 3 hours. I, for one, can not go more than 3 hours without a meal or I feel light headed. Eating 7 small meals a day works for me. The author would have me in starvation mode and sick with a foggy headache if I followed her advice.

    • Penny Hammond June 13, 2014, 7:30 am

      There’s no one diet that works for everyone – if this diet doesn’t work for you, you can try to adjust it or follow another diet.
      Some people find that if they eat more protein/good fat or fewer/less processed carbs, they don’t have spikes and crashes in blood sugar (or withdrawal from certain foods), so they can go longer between meals.

  • jmgulish June 13, 2014, 7:53 pm

    I am on day 12. I have lost 12 pounds. The first 3 days were rough. Now I don’t miss the 7 foods. I feel better and have more energy. I make my own smoothie every morning. No powder…just almond milk fruit and kale.

  • Delwyn July 23, 2014, 12:49 am

    Hi, could you please tell me if I’m supposed to soak chia seeds before using them in the shakes? I also have some fresh walnuts -should I soak these?

    • Penny Hammond July 23, 2014, 6:41 am

      JJ tells you to “whenever possible, consume soaked, sprouted or fermented foods to reduce the antinutrient impact of phytates and lectins” (p. 159).
      She mentions soaking grains and legumes several places in the book, and also once mentions soaking nuts.
      She doesn’t say anything about soaking chia seeds or other seeds, although because of the properties of chia seeds (swelling considerably after soaking) it would make sense to do so.

  • mae callaghan August 6, 2014, 12:45 pm

    Is bread made with spelt flour acceptable on the Virgin diet?

    Is pork acceptable?



    • Penny Hammond August 6, 2014, 2:54 pm

      Spelt is a gluten grain, although it contains less gluten than wheat.
      This is a gluten-free diet in cycle 1, so you could use spelt bread to test gluten during cycle 2, and if you don’t have any reactions to it you can eat it very occasionally in cycle 3.

      Pasture-fed pork is allowed in the diet.

  • Gail Davis August 10, 2014, 10:27 am

    I am on day 42 of the elimination diet. I have lost 11# and was doing exceptionally well until about 2 wks. ago. It started with me gradually feeling more and more tired, needing more sleep and then about a week ago I started having discomfort in my gut and back. It is now mostly on my right side and I still feel tired, weak and am not able to last all day shopping, etc. like I was able to do before the program. I walk the dog daily and go to Curves 4-6 times per week. I take vitamins and follow the JJVirgin program eating probably more protein than 3- 4 oz. I am very confused about what I may or may not be doing that is causing this. I have had rice about 3-4 times in 42 days and kidney beans on my salad occasionally however stay away from the other carbs other than veggies as I think I have an addiction and also sensitivity to them. I have not cheated one time ——–any recommendations???????? Gail

    • Penny Hammond August 10, 2014, 10:52 am

      It sounds like you may be going beyond the recommendations of the diet. It’s not a no-carb diet – it suggests having high-fiber, low-glycemic carbs, ½ cup for women / 1 cup for men per meal.
      I understand that you’re concerned about carbs other than veggies if you think you have an addiction to them – if you’re reducing the amount of carbs you’re probably following more of a paleo or low carb diet.
      When you’re eating less carbs, you need to eat more fat – you get energy from either carbs or fat. Increase the amount of fat you’re eating for a day and see if you feel any better. If not, you should go to your doctor in case it’s something not related to the diet.

      The diet also asks you to start testing and reintroducing foods after 21 days – this gives you more variety in your diet, which potentially means more nutrients. It’s probably a good idea after you feel a bit better to start testing foods – including the ones that you think you have a sensitivity to. We’re not always correct when we assume that we react to certain foods – you might have a pleasant surprise and find that you’re okay with more foods than you thought.

  • Ronny E August 12, 2014, 4:46 pm

    I have not purchased jjs cookbook or any shakes, but twice a year do a cleanse…5 of the “do not eat” foods are on my cleanse list already. I also add a cleanse supplement from a company called Renew Life. I have now added soy and peanuts to my list, am on day 9of my 3week cleanse and feel SPECTACULAR, as always, also having typically dropped 11 lbs. I truly believe the shakes r not needed and feel through a little research, MOST people (after common cleansing side affects), will feel just as incredible as myself…u don’t have to get brainwashed into buying things if u do a little research and guide yourself with confidence and wisdom…

  • ed September 21, 2014, 5:58 pm

    Has anyone tried the All In One protein powders and are they any good? Are these the shakes that cause stomach discomfort?

    Before I spend $79 plus S&H, want to make sure I’m not buying something that I can’t enjoy.


  • Charlotte December 9, 2014, 11:26 pm

    Alcohol is a neurotoxin. Why include any, even red wine?

    • Penny Hammond December 10, 2014, 8:33 am

      If you don’t want to have alcohol, you don’t have to introduce it on this diet; it’s optional (with limits) from cycle 3 onwards for people who want to consume it.

  • Sherry January 3, 2015, 5:17 pm

    I’m sorry but I can’t hold back any longer. Did these folks actually read the book? Nowhere in the book does it suggest you buy her shakes. The recipe for the shakes are in the back of the book and you can buy the ingredients at any grocery and health food store (protein powder). In addition, she gives you alternatives on pg 171 if you can’t stand the shakes. As for the comments – “what am I going to eat?” – the book is chock full of recipes in the back of the book that include meat, veggies, salads and desserts. For peats sake, what could you possibly be eating now if you aren’t already eating beef, chicken, fish, shrimp, pork, brown rice, potato, most veggies and fruit?

    I have read so many comments on the web saying she [JJ Virgin] is just trying to make money or sell something on the diet. As far as I can see, the only money she is making is on the book. She has products you can buy if you want pre-made shakes, as well as a list of resources where you can find the healthy foods she suggest if you are not familiar with them. Otherwise, everything is purchased from the grocery and health food stores.

  • Jen V January 20, 2015, 1:10 am

    I am about to start cycle 2 and I don’t have a copy of her book any more (checked it out from the library). I’m a little unclear about what to watch for, as far as symptoms go. I have a copy of the cookbook on the way but until it arrives I’m flying blind. For example:
    Week 1 – test soy
    Monday to Thursday, add 1 meal that includes soy to your meal plan, from the recipes in the book
    Friday to Sunday, go back to your soy-free diet
    Track your symptoms every day – http://thevirgindiet.com/symptomschecklist (free registration)
    continue to have at least one Virgin Diet Shake each day, stay hydrated, and follow the meal timing rules
    Can I just include organic edamame as the soy, or does it need to be something special? And the online checklist is just the test for finding out what your health issues and goals are. Do we just look for the same things?

    • Penny Hammond January 20, 2015, 2:11 pm

      The suggested soy challenge meals include soy in these forms – miso soup, soy-based burgers (BOCA burgers or any other soy-based, gluten-free burger), tofu with soy sauce, and edamame.

      Do you eat soy in any other forms except edamame? If you do, you should probably test other forms as well.

      Just look for the same symptoms from the symptoms checklist, to see if anything unusual happens when you reintroduce soy (or any of the other foods).

      Hope that helps. Good luck!

  • Christina Coldiron February 3, 2015, 12:49 pm

    People need to realize that when they cut out eating all the junk we normally eat that detox WILL occur. Sometimes very violently like flu symptoms, migraines, chills, vomiting, diarrhea…it is like an alcoholic coming off his favorite brand! Toxins are nasty little fellers and it is not easy, but you just have to have will power…that is what it comes down to…sheer will power! You can make a clear conscious choice of EVERYTHING that goes into your mouth and it either builds your body up or tears it down. It is a diet but diet means a way of eating. Some diets include bad ways of eating some diets are healthy ways of eating. A diet is a way of life…like forever…like forever and ever and ever. It is a choice…a desire to be healthy. My healthier diet started with eating clean and unclean meats in the Bible and I went from there. Much happier and healthier because of it. It is harder, you have to think about what you eat, what you buy at the store, it is a daily decision making process, asking questions at restaurants. I had to train myself to eat right and it was NOT easy with all the mainstream junk out there. Once your cravings disappear, it becomes easier, then you start to avoid certain places, bring your own treats or foods to places, the movies etc. You can do it..it can be done…will power!

  • Sherry March 3, 2015, 12:36 pm

    It’s my 29th day and I’m stuck on 12 pounds weight loss. What could be causing me to be stuck on on 12 pounds. I’m drinking shakes. Having veggies, nuts, chicken, fish, lentils , lots of salad and occasional apple. Eating berries also and drinking water. HELP

    • Penny Hammond March 4, 2015, 6:27 pm

      This diet only eliminates 7 common foods that cause food intolerances; it’s possible that you’re intolerant to other foods that haven’t been excluded here.

      You could try another elimination/reintroduction diet like The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas (very prescriptive) or Clean or Clean Gut by Dr Alejandro Junger.

      Just make sure you don’t continue to avoid potentially healthy foods in the long term that you haven’t tested – not everyone is gluten-intolerant or dairy-intolerant.

  • Kate Marie March 9, 2015, 1:19 pm

    I am on week two and would like to know when to add black ice coffee in again (no sweetener)? Also, once the cycles are complete and dairy has not affected me- is a milf form “ok” to add to coffee or half and half if its 2tblsp?

    thank you!

    • Penny Hammond March 10, 2015, 6:34 pm

      JJ considers coffee a health food – but only in small amounts. She says you can have 1 or 2 cups a day, organic only.

      If you test milk and find it’s okay for you, and after the reintroduction phase (cycle 2) is finished, you can add milk or half and half to your coffee.

  • bonnie rubinow April 13, 2015, 12:59 pm

    is wild rice a lo gly HiFi carb that can be added to the other suggested ones?

    • Penny Hammond April 13, 2015, 4:42 pm

      Wild rice isn’t mentioned in the book – here’s my assumption based on JJ’s recommendations in the book.
      It isn’t processed, which is good.
      Wild rice is relatively low on the glycemic index (http://www.healthcastle.com/diabetes_rice.shtml).
      So I’d assume that wild rice is fine.

  • Lynn Huffman April 17, 2015, 10:19 pm

    Have finished my testing with good results except to Ezekiel sprouted pasta! Would you believe?
    My question is, is it ok to eat organic corn in moderation? Thank you.
    Love this diet, and am feeling more energized for a 76yo!

    • Penny Hammond April 19, 2015, 5:09 pm

      How wonderful that you’re feeling energized!
      JJ says that for the lifetime diet, even after you’ve tested to see if they’re okay for you, you should avoid corn, peanuts, and sugar and artificial sweeteners 95% of the time. So you could occasionally have organic corn.

  • Marie April 23, 2015, 11:42 pm

    I have never been or followed a diet before, but because i have been eating unhealthy, lately, blaming it on my very stressful job situation, at this time. I have been following the JJ diet for 2 days now, between my first day & my second day I felt absolutely horrible. I was very light headed and I often felt, throughout the day, that I was going to faint, my vision seemed differetn at times, maybe my focus. Is that a common side effect of changing your eating habits. I used to drink 1-2 cups of coffee with cream & sugar every morning, then 1 decaf or chai latte during the day, I would eat dessert every night after dinner, I ate lots of fruits & veggies during the day, but I realise that I was concuming alot of sugar, dairy products and soy and I have stopped cold turkey.

    Can you give me examples of side effects that people get from following a diet, or changing your eating habits drastically. I don`t find it difficult to follow, I just get overly worried about my health, when I don`t feel my usual self. I am 44 yo, 5`6` and 170 lbs, I work full time as a store Manager & full time Massage Therapist student. My last physical was perfect, just trying to get healthier and stronger, I meditate every morning & also do yoga twice a week (for 4 years now) and recently joined the gym. I am trying really hard. Any thoughts or comments……

    • Penny Hammond April 24, 2015, 6:57 am

      Sounds like withdrawal symptoms!
      Could be from withdrawal from caffeine, or sugar, or potentially other foods.
      Common symptoms include headaches, tiredness, moodiness, irritability, joint pain, depression, constipation, muscle pain/stiffness, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, hunger, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, high blood pressure, chills or sweating (fun, huh?)
      It commonly lasts for 2-4 days but could be up to 5-6 days. If symptoms seem severe or if they go on for longer, check with your doctor.

      Good luck getting healthier!

  • Mary Lou June 8, 2015, 10:27 pm

    I drank gatorade (16oz) a day prior to starting the first three weeks of the diet for severe leg cramps at night when I sleep. They had gone away for the most part and I rarely had them. The leg cramps came back on day 2 of being on the diet after stoppin the gatorade. I’m on the 5th day of the diet and am still waking up every 2 hours with terrible leg cramps. I know the gatorade has sugar and the low calorie gatorade has a sugar substitute but I don’t know if I can go the other 2 1/2 weeks this way. Any suggestions, please advise.

    • Penny Hammond June 15, 2015, 11:51 am

      Sometimes leg cramps come from not having enough minerals, and “sports drinks” contain some of the minerals you need. However, they also contain a lot of ingredients that aren’t allowed on this diet.

      You could try having coconut water instead – it contains natural electrolytes without added sugar.
      Another thing you could try is to use unrefined sea salt (e.g. Himalayan pink sea salt) instead of regular salt – it contains a lot of different minerals, not just sodium chloride.

  • Bren February 21, 2016, 8:46 pm

    Can we drink coffee and Almond milk?

    • Penny Hammond February 24, 2016, 12:44 pm

      Sure – the book says that you should limit coffee to 1-2 cups a day, if you can enjoy a cup in the morning and it doesn’t keep you awake at night. Choose organic coffee, grind your own beans, and use either a French press or unbleached coffee filters.
      Coconut milk is the suggested milk substitute; the fallback is unsweetened almond milk.

  • Jacqi April 19, 2016, 3:19 pm

    Costco sells Orgain protein powder in large containers priced very reasonably and it has all the recommended ingredients. It comes in chocolate fudge but I also get vanilla on Amazon.

  • K June 21, 2016, 4:17 pm

    It is recommended that we eat 400-500 calories for breakfast, but the All In One (pre-made) shake is less than 250 calories. There are also a lot of references to reducing fiber, but I didn’t see anything about adding fiber to the pre-made shake (I assumed that All in One meant there was no need to add anything). Please help.

    • Penny Hammond June 27, 2016, 5:01 pm

      You’re right, JJ says “I like people to eat a substantial, balanced breakfast, generally around 400 to 500 calories.” (p. 168)
      I don’t know why she wrote that and sells shakes that have a smaller number of calories.
      The pre-made shakes already contain fiber.
      The instructions say you can add water or another beverage – if you want to increase the calories, perhaps you could use a beverage that’s allowed on this diet.

  • Jana McGinnis June 23, 2016, 3:38 pm

    I’m late to the conversation but I wanted to comment on the question: “What do I eat for breakfast?” We settled on steel cut oats with different varieties of fresh fruit. The oats filled us up and we weren’t hungry until lunch. And we never get tired of them. (We found a supermarket that sold us the 50-pound bags of steel cut oats)! I’m not saying everybody will have this experience, but it works for my husband and me:)

  • Shelley Kidwell September 26, 2016, 4:46 pm

    I was wondering about sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Are they ok to eat?

    • Penny Hammond September 29, 2016, 8:04 pm

      JJ specifically mentions chia seeds and freshly ground flaxseeds, but she also mentions that seeds are a great source of fiber and they’re good for protein for vegetarians. The specific seeds you mention are probably okay, along with other seeds that aren’t listed.

  • Karen September 28, 2016, 10:19 pm

    The shakes have berries in them? I feel like that won’t work for me. I already know that I have histamine intolerance, which already restricts a lot of foods from my diet. But, I am trying to figure out if gluten and dairy are altogether a problem. Histamine intolerance only requires me to restrict cheese, as it is high in histamine. However, I don’t think I can eat the shakes that are in the diet. I cannot eat most berries, as they are high in histamine and either cause me to break out in hives or have problems breathing with my asthma. I know I am not technically allergic to them, but I also have some food allergies as well. I don’t think I could do this diet, just because some of the foods in it are also foods I cannot have, like vinegar. I also can’t have foods in the nightshade family. Those give me joint pain. I tried restricting the other foods, while still eating those, and they definitely make my whole body hurt. I guess I will just stick to the low histamine diet, and not eat dairy. I just wonder if I would feel better getting rid of all grains, too?

    • Penny Hammond September 29, 2016, 8:09 pm

      This diet is a version of an exclusion/reintroduction diet; it assumes you’re intolerant in some way to the most common foods for intolerance.

      You may want to try another, more specific exclusion/reintroduction diet instead, to work out what foods you personally react to. Some examples:
      The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas
      Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger
      Food Allergies and Food Intolerance by Jonathan Brostoff (to learn more about creating your own elimination/reintroduction diet, which might be the best option for you with so many limitations in your diet already).

  • John October 29, 2016, 12:00 pm

    I’ve been on the JJ Virgin diet for two weeks and feel great. My question is, I eat seafood but no poultry or mammal protein. Are there enough recipes in your cookbook that I’d be able to eat?

    • Penny Hammond November 8, 2016, 8:17 pm

      There are a few seafood recipes, but most of the animal protein recipes are for meat/poultry. Perhaps you could try substituting for some of the recipes?

  • Susan November 7, 2016, 1:16 am

    Thank you for all of your helpful information!

    I am still wondering about soy lecithin. You mentioned several places that it is ok (I am thinking about in a sugarless gum with soy lecithin and xylitol), but then later you said that it should be avoided until the end of the cycles.

    Could you confirm if it is necessary to avoid this in Cycle 1?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Penny Hammond November 8, 2016, 8:43 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out – must have dropped the ball on that one (made a correction). JJ says that soy lecithin is okay in the shakes, so it’s probably okay in other foods as well. Probably a good idea to make sure it’s in moderation.

  • Liz December 21, 2016, 2:04 pm

    You can buy Virgin Diet compliant plant-based shakes from Costco, Target, or Jet for far less that her Virgin brand protein powder. Both Orgain Organic Protein and Vega Protein & Greens work and are very tasty despite being low in sugars.

    • Penny Hammond January 2, 2017, 12:39 pm

      Thanks – I had a quick look at the ingredients and they looked like they fit within the guidelines – always worth checking the ingredients for different flavors etc.

  • Simone Janssen January 10, 2017, 7:04 pm

    I am a concerned about the use of xylitol. JJ Virgin is a big supporter and I thought it sounded like a good idea until I started doing more research. Not only is it highly highly toxic to dogs (100x more than chocolate), I also read about that using more than 30g’s/day is considered unsafe–that’s 2 Tbsps… There is research that shows digestive issues and weight gain and many other side effects from using xylitol. All of this does not sound like a healthy sugar alternative. Looking forward to your perspective.

    • Penny Hammond June 20, 2017, 7:28 pm

      There are always differing opinions on whether foods are healthy. Xylitol is processed and it’s not always clear what goes into that process. However, the question may be whether you can avoid sweeteners altogether, and if you don’t is this healthier than the other alternatives.

  • frieda martirosian March 7, 2017, 3:58 pm

    If my food is a homemade soup, how do i measure her recommended portions of protein, carb, fat….per serving?
    btw, the soup is my own recipe with allowed ingredients.
    thank you,

    • Penny Hammond June 20, 2017, 7:29 pm

      There are various websites and apps that can help you with that. Search for something like “nutrition calculator”

  • Mila April 14, 2017, 9:47 am

    Is barley acceptable on this plan? I saw no mention of it in the book.

    • Penny Hammond June 20, 2017, 7:31 pm

      Barley has some gluten, which should be avoided on this diet. There’s a long section in the book on the problems gluten-bearing foods can cause.

  • Jeanette April 24, 2017, 10:02 am

    I am going to help my son to this. He’s 21 and having terrible tummy problems. Before putting him through the doctor regimen of food diary and blood tests which take a long time, I decided to try this 1st to help rule out an intolerance or two. My question: he doesn’t need to lose weight and would prefer him not to! Can he eat at will as long as he follows the rules? Can I add bananas to his shake; I realize for weight loss this wouldn’t be a good choice? So, if I follow all the directions can this diet be adapted to someone who doesn’t need to lose weight? Has anyone used this just for food intolerance?

    • Penny Hammond June 20, 2017, 7:33 pm

      This is an elimination/reintroduction diet, so for your son’s case it’s a way to eliminate certain foods that commonly cause issues, then reintroduce them to see how he reacts. There’s no need to strongly restrict serving sizes, as long as the diet is balanced.

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