I have been using this book for about 3 years, and have just ordered a copy for my brother. If I could, I would give a copy to everyone I know who has a weight and health issue, if only because of his concept of "meditative eating".
When I reflect on this book, the element that impresses me the most is the compassion with which the book is written. Ornish clearly wants to help people be healthy, and be happy in their lives. He does not promote extreme goals or unattainable body images- he talks about real people who want to feel better, have more energy and be able to do the things in life that they want to do. He encourages the reader to be mindful of what they are eating and doing, to eat with joy and pleasure, to savor and meditate upon the experience of nourishing themselves in a healthy manner.
Many people looking for a make-over book look for not just a diet plan, but an exercise plan, an journaling plan, a food log, and a lot of rules. Ornish is not presenting a weight-loss, get fit fast plan, to remodel your outer body by Christmas. This book is about remodelling your inner self so you want to make better choices about what you eat and do. He recommends a healthy diet, and a moderate amount of exercise, things that you will do ALL your life. This is not a short-term project, it's a life-style retraining guide that treats you gently.
I love to cook, and I'm partial to the vegetarian life choice, so I found the recipes not only delicious, but inspiring. Over time, I have been able to convert almost my old fat-laden favorites to his guidelines. Also found that my tastes changed over time, and I desired less fat and salt and sugar in foods. This has been a slow process, as Ornish no doubt intended, a gentle metamorphosis into a more mindful life.
In addition to the excellent recipes, which are fun to make, there are simple and helpful hints that you can use in your everyday cooking, hints that don't add any more prep time to your cooking but add flavor and cut down on fats. And what I really love are his simply stated general guidelines about what you can eat, and how much. With those guidelines in mind, you don't need to diet or follow a food plan, just remember what you're eating.
For those who regret the absence of meat in this eating style, well, I don't think Ornish intends for you to give up every single thing you love. I dearly love avocados- and have them now and then. You learn to have those things less often, but to enjoy them so much more. Far from giving up the things you love, following Ornish's advice allows you to make room for them in a way that does you no harm. It's all about balance and paying attention to yourself.