The Hawaii Diet appears to be another fad diet waiting to crash the bestseller list. It has a hip name, a celebrity endorsement, and alluring terminology, and it makes outrageous claims, including, "Eat all you want" and "Lose up to 30 pounds in three weeks." To its credit, it advocates a low-fat, high-fiber, almost-vegan eating plan (the type of diet that has been shown to help lower cholesterol), but few people will lose weight when allowed to live high on the hog, calorie-wise.
The Hawaii Diet is based on Dr. Terry Shintani's Mass Index of Food (SMI), based on the number of pounds of a given food it takes to provide a day's worth of calories. The idea of the diet is to eat foods with a high SMI, such as celery (SMI=32.8), lettuce (SMI=39), and papaya (SMI=31.2) and avoid foods (some of which can still be part of a healthy diet) with a low SMI, like peanuts (SMI=0.9), bacon (0.8), and butter (SMI=0.8). To help you follow the plan, Shintani includes meal plans, recipes, and tips on how to make the diet work best for your eating habits, plus six ancient Hawaiian spiritual principles that are meant to enhance your Hawaiian Diet experience. While you will probably lose weight on the Hawaii Diet, some people may find it hard to follow, especially because the SMI is given for less than 200 foods. There are definitely better weight-loss books on the market, such as The 20/30 Fat and Fiber Plan. –Ellen Albertson