How We Lost Weight with a 7-Day ‘Mixed Mary’s Mini’ Diet

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We lost weight–nine pounds in 7 days–on a Mixed Mary McDougall’s Mini Diet, and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as we thought it would be.  My husband’s weight loss was 6.5 lbs. and mine was 2.5 lbs. in the first 7 days, and has continued to drop since then. This is our story of plant-based diet weight loss.

Mary's Mini Diet

We began our plant-based journey in 2013 and lost weight immediately–me 50 lbs, and my husband, Mickey, 23 lbs–and have kept it off with no problems. In addition, we both drastically improved our health.

Mickey’s cholesterol dropped from 300 to 153, and mine went from 220 to 141. Both of our blood pressures are excellent now, as well, with zero medications. To read about all of my health improvements, check out my About Page.

My Body Mass Index (BMI) is normal, but my husband’s weight loss stalled three years ago before he reached his normal BMI  and hasn’t budged since, so we decided to do something to get him headed in the right direction again.

I exercise regularly with yoga three to four times a week and walking/hiking daily with my German shepherd. Mickey does not do regular exercise during the week, but we go mountain biking nearly every weekend. While I am 100% plant-based, he is usually around 80%.

Snacking is a major problem

A major drawback is that he has an issue with snacking–what we call a ‘sweet-tooth’ to be exact. In the evenings, he feels overwhelmingly drawn to his section of the kitchen cabinet that contains high-calorie snacks– bags of dried fruits (mango is his favorite), spoonfuls of peanut butter, honey-roasted nuts, and dark chocolate or carob-covered almonds or cashews when they are available.

With all of this, plus no regular exercise, it is actually quite amazing that he was able to maintain his weight loss.

I told him about Mary McDougall’s Mini Diet (she is the wife to Dr. John McDougall). It is a trimmed-down, fast-acting modification of the Dr. John McDougall Starch Solution program, and Mickey said he would like to try it to help reach his weight loss goals. Since I am the cook in our house, you know what that means, right? And so, I decided to do it with him.

What IS a Mary’s Mini Diet?

Here is the basic idea behind the original Mary McDougall’s Mini Diet:

The The principles are the same as with those of regular McDougall diet:  it is starch-based with the addition of fruits and vegetables.  The difference is the goal is to lose weight quickly with as little effort as possible.  You know, a “diet”—not really a lifestyle change. 

This is a temporary “quick fix” to be used as a tool for people overwhelmed by the initial challenges of starting on the McDougall program and/or to boost their progress when they feel that changes are coming too slowly.  Yet, this is a nutritionally sound program that you, too, may want to follow for a long time, if not a lifetime.–Dr. John McDougall

With the regular Mary’s Mini, a person chooses ONE starch–potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, rice, bulgur, oats, etc.–and eats that one starch 3 meals a day for 10 days. The chosen starch can not be mixed with other starches or changed during the 10 days. It can be prepared differently every meal and every day, such as hash browns for breakfast, baked potato for lunch, and mashed potatoes for dinner.

Other non-starchy vegetables can and should be added to each meal. Mustard, ketchup, salsa, seasonings, and spices are okay, but not gravies or sauces. Since beans are starches, they can not be eaten during a Mini and should not be chosen as a daily starch.

Two servings of fruit a day are also allowed (at least in the original version. It appears that has been changed to zero fruit recently, but we stuck with the older version). More information on Mary’s Mini and here is a little more detail. This is a 1-hour web seminar on the original Mary’s Mini with Mary McDougall.

A little hard to stick to

Admittedly, this is a very boring repertoire (which is the whole point, so you won’t overeat) that I was certain neither one of us would enjoy, but the McDougalls report that many people lose as much as 10 lbs during the 10-day diet.

Well, I figure I can do nearly anything for a few days.  Since I was only going along for the support and didn’t really feel I had much weight to lose, I wanted it to be as painless as possible.

That is why I decided we should try a Mixed Mary’s Mini. For our version, we committed to 7-days, instead of the usual 10 days, and we mixed up the starches a bit. Rather than doing say… potatoes for 7 days, we decided on 2 potato days, 2 rice days, 1 corn day, 1 sweet potato day, and ended with another potato day. This added enough mixture for us to stick with the program for the duration without falling out with boredom after only a few days.

The food was very simple but kept us feeling full until the next meal. Snacking was a big issue at the beginning for my husband, but he learned that he could snack, just on healthier food like cut veggies, so he didn’t have to go hungry. If he didn’t want veggies, then it wasn’t hunger, but rather a habit.

Our Plant-Based Diet Weight Loss Meal Plan

Potato Days (aka Potato Island):

Mixed mary's mini potato island

Potato Waffles made by boiling or microwaving a potato with skin, then smashing it with onions and spices in a waffle maker. The spices I used were smoked paprika, garlic powder, dry steak seasoning, and sea salt. Served with cooked cabbage and orange slices. Good breakfast option.

Hash Browns in tortilla maker or waffle iron. I used frozen shredded potatoes, added sliced onions, and spices as above. Served with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and fresh spinach with a side of fresh strawberries. Another great breakfast option.

Roasted Potatoes made by dicing potatoes, sprinkling with spices, and baking on parchment paper at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. I also added sliced onions. Served with cantaloupe and roasted Brussels sprouts.

Baked Potatoes topped with spices and lemon juice. Served with steamed broccoli and cherry tomatoes could be another breakfast option.

Potato Balls made by boiling red-skinned potatoes with skin. When they are soft, drain the water then use a potato masher on them and add diced onions, smoked paprika, dry steak seasoning, garlic powder, sea salt, nutritional yeast, and a little Braggs Aminos. Roll into balls and bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Very easy and tasty!

Baked Potato and mixed salad.

Potato Chips with roasted Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe. Here is a link for how to make the homemade potato chips– Low-Fat Oil-Free Chips Recipe.


Rice Days (aka Rice Island):

Mixed mary's mini rice island

Veggie Sushi is definitely my favorite rice option. I could eat it for any meal! It is also an easy option for dining out.

Steamed Broccoli over rice, drizzled with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a few spices like garlic powder or nutritional yeast. We ate this for breakfast, and it was pretty tasty.

Grilled Veggie Kabobs over a plate of steamed rice is an excellent rice day option. For a veggie marinade, I used a mixture of soy sauce, water, lemon juice, and minced garlic (from a jar). After marinating, skewer veggies, grill until done, and serve over rice.

Thai Spring Rolls can be made with any veggies you like. I used fresh spinach leaves, shredded broccoli slaw, fresh mint sprigs, and slices of cantaloupe. They were wrapped in rice paper and served over a plate of rice.

Garden Salad with rice is always an option.

Hearty Vegetable and Rice Soup is a variation of another recipe. I just left out the potatoes and added rice instead of barley.

Rice and Stir-Fried or Steamed Vegetables can be done with ease for any meal.


Corn Day (aka Corn Island):

Mixed mary's mini corn island

Country Grits seasoned with nutritional yeast, dry steak seasoning, and sea salt. Serve with steamed broccoli sprinkled with lemon juice and spices. This was breakfast for us.

Corn on Cob, Bok Choy /mushroom stir fry, and sliced tomatoes

Nibblet Corn with asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and steamed broccoli

Corn on the cob with grilled veggie kabobs

Popcorn is a terrific snack! I make mine in the microwave then spritz with water and sprinkle with sea salt, nutritional yeast, and chili powder.

Admittedly, Corn Island day was a tougher day for me. Not enough options.


Sweet Potato Day (aka Sweet Potato Island):

Mixed mary's mini sweet potato island

Sweet Potato Waffles made by boiling or microwaving a potato then peeling. Smash it in a waffle maker, sprinkle with cinnamon,  and cook until crispy. This was delicious and will now be a regular breakfast for us.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Steamed Artichokes and garden salad

Baked Sweet Potatoes with steamed broccoli and sliced cucumbers.

Red Curry Sweet Potato Soup can be made compliant by simply leaving out the chickpeas since beans are not the starch of choice this day.

We are happy with the results we got from our Mixed Mary’s Mini Diet and have decided to continue on a little longer, though we will likely mix our starches up a little bit more each day. Once goals have been reached, I have a feeling we will be doing an MMM again occasionally to break bad habits we get into like sweet cravings and too much snacking. It has been a great experience for plant-based diet weight loss.

I originally did this Mixed Mary’s Mini for someone else but ended up learning a few things myself.

Take-home lessons for me were:

  • Breakfasts can (and should) actually include veggies sometimes. It’s a great healthy way to start the day.
  • I eat more bread than I realized. Bread is fine, but I usually eat it nearly every meal. A new and better habit will be to eat more whole grains and less bread because the whole grains process in the body slower and keep us full for longer.
  • Meals can be simple and healthy, without a lot of fuss in the kitchen.
  • I can lose weight anytime I want by simply adjusting my diet a little bit.

Mickey still deals with his ‘sweet tooth’ but knows how to keep control of it now.

One of the things I love about plant-based nutrition (and MMM) is that, though we all need to get some regular exercise, being an Exercise-Warrior is not required to maintain a healthy weight. I used to believe the crazy, “No pain, no gain!” and “Just do it!”  mentality but got very tired of feeling like I was running myself ragged just to keep the weight off.

I began hating exercise. You can read about my Exercise-Warrior days in this article where I shared how exercise affected my weight. Now I know that fitness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise with stress management. I am free to do yoga, go for a walk/hike with my dog, or mountain bike on the weekends with my family, and know that’s enough. I look forward to it, and not chained to the feeling of “Gotta do it or get fat!” These days I am much smarter–I enjoy my recreation (usually outdoors) and my plant-based diet for weight loss. It really is as simple as that.

It was helpful to have a Weekly Menu Planner to keep track. I also recorded our weight loss in the margins of the form. I made this one to help anyone else wanting to give it a try. Just print, plan, and track your progress  HERE.

There is a Mary’s Mini for McDougall Followers Facebook group that was very supportive and encouraging, even though I modified their regular plan. The online support along the way was another great resource.

To learn more about Dr. John McDougall and The Starch Solution, visit his website.

Dr. John McDougall’s book, The Starch Solution. View on Amazon by clicking here. Affiliate link.
plant based weight loss
Me and Mickey mountain biking in NC.

About Terri Edwards

Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy.  I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…

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  1. I don’t normally do social media but so enjoyed and learned from this post. Do you send out a newsletter? If so, please add me to your mailing list.
    Thank you

  2. Thank you so much for introducing me to the idea of “islands”, its brilliant.
    I am WFPBSOSfree and have plateaued with just 7lb to go – can NOT shift them.
    My husband likes the idea of WFPB but cheats (bless him).
    I told him I was going island hopping for 10 days and after I had explained and shown him this post he said “sign me up too”
    Yesterday was our first day visiting Potato Island and he didnt cheat once.
    Today we will be experimenting with our new waffle maker so that should be fun too.
    thanks again x

  3. Thank you for your post. I tried the sweet potato waffle and it stuck terribly to the waffle maker. Any suggestions on how to prevent that? It tasted great though!

    1. Hi Suzanne- It’s very important to season your waffle maker fairly often to help with sticking. The sweet potatoes definitely stick more than white potatoes due to the sugar content, so they might still stick a bit even after seasoning. I’m glad to hear that it still tasted good. 🙂

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