Recently, I was asked to review JJ Virgin’s book The Virgin Diet Cookbook. At the time, I didn’t realize the impact this book would have on me. I’ve written about a lot of great products on this site, but this one just blew me away. I recommend it to everyone — not just those who go gluten free.
The cookbook is a companion to JJ’s previous publication, The Virgin Diet, which explains that food intolerance can sabotage your health and cause weight gain. Virgin identifies seven hi-FI (food intolerant) foods that are most likely to trigger symptoms. Gluten is one of them.
Before I read this cookbook, I wasn’t familiar with JJ Virgin or The Virgin Diet. I found that the cookbook gave a very thorough explanation of everything the diet entails.
The Virgin Diet in a nutshell
This diet removes seven hi-FI foods for three weeks:
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
The three weeks that you don’t eat these foods are known as Cycle 1. Afterwards, you move on to Cycle 2 where you systematically test your system each week with one of these foods: soy, dairy, eggs and gluten. If you’re on this site, you already know that gluten is a problem so I would skip the gluten test.
As for corn and peanuts, Virgin recommends staying away from them 95% of the time. She advises to permanently stay away from artificial sweeteners and to limit sugar to 5 added grams per 100 calories in any food item.
After Cycle 2, you customize your diet by staying away from any of the problematic hi-FI foods you identified, and then move on to Cycle 3 where you learn to maintain your healthier lifestyle.
About JJ Virgin
The back cover of the The Virgin Diet Cookbook reads as follows:
JJ Virgin, CNS, CHFS, is a prominent fitness and nutrition expert, public speaker, and media personality. Internationally recognized as an expert in overcoming weight-loss resistance, she is a board-certified nutrition specialist through the American College of Nutrition, board certified in holistic nutrition, and a certified nutrition and fitness specialist. JJ Virgin is the New York Times bestselling author of The Virgin Diet.
What this cookbook includes
This book is broken up into three parts: Drop 7 Foods, Feel Better Fast, The Virgin Diet Recipes and Three-Week Virgin Diet Meal Plans.
Part I – Drop 7 Foods, Feel Better Fast
This first section covers several topics such as the differences between food intolerances vs food allergies, why the seven hi-FI foods can cause problems and weight gain, how each cycle works, how to replace foods you love with other options and how to create the ideal plate for the best nutrition and fat burning. I also like that she includes success stories from people who have switched to The Virgin Diet, lost weight and greatly improved their health. Part I contains essential information — don’t skip it!
Part II – The Virgin Diet Recipes
This middle section has 150 recipes, which are broken up into the following categories:
- Wraps, salads and sandwiches
- Mains: Beef, pork and lamb, Poultry, Fish and shellfish, Meatless mains
- Soups and stews
- Sauces, rubs and dressings
Part III – Three-Week Virgin Diet Meal Plans
The last section goes into detail about how to eat each week. Virgin provides key strategies that describe how to be most successful, and then she gives you a specific meal plan for each of the three weeks. You also get customized, weekly shopping lists for the menus. What I really like is that you don’t get just one generic plan. Instead, you have seven variations of the plan to best suit your lifestyle:
- Fast weight loss
- Vegan and vegetarian
- Diabetes and pre-diabetes
- Paleo/low carb
- On the go
- On a budget
The last pages also include resources, a metric conversion chart, more information about JJ Virgin and an appendix to help guide you through traveling and dining out.
How JJ Virgin addresses gluten intolerance
Virgin estimates that 30% to 40% of Americans are negatively influenced by gluten. She continues to write:
And I’ll be honest with you, I find that 90 percent of the people I pull off of gluten feel better without it (I’m convinced the other 10 percent didn’t really get it all out) (Virgin, 14).
What makes this book different
- All recipes are already gluten free so you don’t need to modify anything.
- This cookbook is not just for people who want to lose weight. If you have a medical condition like diabetes, for example, Virgin provides key practices and a tailor-made way of eating to help heal your body.
- Virgin provides what she calls “lateral shifts,” which replace one hi-FI food with another. Soy sauce, for instance, is swapped for coconut aminos.
- You’ll learn how to identify the cause of issues, such as eczema and headaches, when you test different hi-FI foods in Cycle 2.
- This diet can be adapted to your needs. For example, you can stay on Cycle 1 longer than three weeks if you have more than 30 pounds to lose. When you extend Cycle 1, you go through Cycle 2 when you’re within 5 pounds of your goal weight.
So how much weight can you lose?
If you check out the The Virgin Diet Cookbook image above, you’ll notice it states, “Drop 7 Foods Lose 7 Pounds Just 7 Days.” Reading through the book, Virgin states that 7 pounds in 7 days is the average, but some people have even lost 12 pounds in the first week.
I highly recommend this book, but you might want to be aware of a couple of things.
The fast weight loss plan mentions “burst training” exercise as a tool to help drop weight quicker, but it doesn’t go into detail about what this is and how to do it. If you have The Virgin Diet book, you can get all the information there. Otherwise, do a Web search for “JJ Virgin burst training” to find out more.
Also, Virgin recommends products, such as monk fruit extract and shirataki noodles (the non-tofu, traditional kind), which I found difficult to find. The resources in the cookbook has more information about where to get these items, so you might have better luck finding them. You can also try ordering them online.
More than a gluten free weight loss program
Reading through this book, I got that this is not just about losing weight. It’s more about living your healthiest life and understanding how different hi-FI foods affect you personally. That’s empowering.
Plus, it’s awesome having 150 more gluten free recipes. I’ll write about my experiences on The Virgin Diet in a future post. Stay tuned!
Disclosure: The PR team for The Virgin Diet Cookbook provided me with a free copy of this book. All opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are 100% honest and not influenced by any form of compensation.