The bestselling book by Dr Herman Tarnower MD FACP D-IM (1910-1980) and Samm Sinclair Baker (1909 – 1997) was published simultaneously in the USA and Canada, in 1978 and also includes Dr Tarnower’s Lifetime Keep-Slim Program. It sold more than three million copies.

Dr Herman Tarnower was a cardiologist both before and after World War Two, and served in the US Army Medical Corps, during it, becoming a Major. After the war, he began Scarsdale Medical Center, in Scarsdale, NY. From 1975 until his death, Dr Tarnower was Clinical Professor of Medicine, at New York Medical College.

Samm Sinclair Baker co-authored The Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss Diet (1967), The Doctor’s Quick Inches Off Diet (1969), The Doctor’s Quick Teen-Age Diet (1971) and Dr Stillman’s 14 Day Shape-Up Program (1974), all with Dr Irwin M Stillman (1896-1975), a consultant in Medicine at Coney Island hospital, in Brooklyn, New York and a Fellow of the American College of Angiology and American Geriatric Society. After Dr Tarnower’s death, Sinclair Baker wrote his own diet book, Delicious Quick-Trim Diet, in 1985.

Update: The Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss Diet should arrive Friday 17/07/20 for review

The very first person mentioned in the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book, was Jean S Harris (1923 – 2012 ) (nee Jean Witte Struven), the lover who later murdered him. It reads: ” We are grateful to Jean Harris for her splendid assistance in the research and writing of this book”.

Also mentioned in the acknowledgements, was Dr Tarnower’s secretary, Lynne Tryforos with whom he was in a relationship, as well.

Chapter One details how a diet he had used with his patients at Scarsdale Medical Center, was picked up by their friends and relatives and got out into the wild. Many people lost weight and articles appeared in the New York Times, Westchester Magazine and Family Circle.

The restaurant at The Beach Point Club, in Mamaroneck, NY started putting Scarsdale Diet dishes on their menus. A VP at Bloomingdales, lost 20 lbs in 14 days and the diet was popular with police officers in NYPD. With all the letters coming to Scarsdale Medical Center from around the world, Dr Tarnower decided to write a book.

There are those who call the Scarsdale Medical Diet, a fad diet and it may well be, because dieters are supposed to stay on it for fourteen days only. If they regain more than four pounds in weight, Tarnower advises them to go back on it. He does recommend, that slimmers should consult their physician to approve and supervise their diet. An alternate method, is two weeks on the Scarsdale Diet followed by two weeks on Dr Tarnower’s Lifetime Keep-Slim Program (included in the book).

The Scarsdale Diet is often referred to as as low carbohydrate diet. In Chapter Two, Tarnower and Sinclair Baker, use Principles of Internal Medicine (Harrison, 8th edition McGraw-Hill, 1977) to show that the typical American diet back in the Seventies, was a daily mix of 40 – 50% carbs, 40 – 45% fat and 10 -15% protein. The Scarsdale Diet reduces carbs to 34.5%, reduces fat to 22.5% and increases protein, to 43%. It’s a high protein, lower fat, lower carbohydrate diet.

The Scarsdale Diet requires dieters to chart their weight loss. There are rules, such as eating only what is assigned, not drinking alcohol and the only snacks allowed are carrots or celery. Coffee and tea must be drunk without cream, milk and sugar. The only seasonings for salads, are lemon and vinegar or the home-made dressings in the book. Eggs must be cooked without fat. All visible fat must be removed from meat. Bread is banned unless it’s the home-made protein bread from the book. In fact, there are a heck of a lot of rules, on this diet.

There are quite a lot of recipes, for a diet which lasts only two weeks. Low carb ones would include Chef’s spinach salad gourmet, vinaigrette dressing, celery au gratin, lamb a la Provencale, eggs and chicken livers farm-style, eggplant Pamigiano, pimento steak, liver and onions, ratatouille, watercress soup, Scarsdale eggplant Parmesan, gazpacho and more. Quite a few contain wine, even though alcohol is banned.

Further chapters include advice on sticking with the diet when eating out or travelling, advice on allergies and common health problems and FAQs.

Because it has so many rules and isn’t a low carb diet, and because my personal opinion is that on-off diets aren’t a great idea, it’s a NO from me.

Having said that, there are about three recipes which we may try.

Jean S Harris had been in a relationship with Dr Tarnower since 1966 and it seems that when he got into a relationship with his secretary, she was upset and jealous. On 10th March 1980, she drove to his home in Purchase, NY with a .32 calibre pistol. In her trial, she maintained that there was a struggle and the gun went off and she had intended to confront him, then commit suicide. Lynn Tryforos didn’t participate in the trial or give any interviews.
Jean S. Harris, Killer of Scarsdale Diet Doctor, Dies at 89 – The New York Times (

The Strange Affair of Madeira School Headmistress Jean Harris and Scarsdale Diet Doctor Herman Tarnower — New York Magazine – Nymag

There are a couple of movies, one starring Ellen Burstyn, the other Annette Bening, which can be found on IMDb: Ratings, Reviews, and Where to Watch the Best Movies & TV Shows

For a more academic approach, try Professor Sarah Fields of University of Colorado Denver

Harris was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 1981. She was granted clemency by Governor Mario Cuomo in 1992 and paroled in 1993. She died in 2012 at the age of 89.

Tryforos. inherited a sizeable sum from Dr Tarnower’s estate and when her daughters had graduated high school, she moved to California, in the late Eighties.

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