The Heller Diet: the solution for carbohydrate addiction

The Heller Diet focuses on carbohydrate intake. A serious disturbance in the insulin ratio due to a carbohydrate addiction causes binge eating, which increases the risk of obesity. The Heller Diet offers the solution for carbohydrate addiction. When following this diet, insulin fluctuations are tackled, which also results in weight loss. How does this diet work and do you actually lose weight?

The Heller Diet

The main goal of the Heller Diet is not to lose weight itself, but to put a stop to carbohydrate addiction. The hallmark of a carbohydrate addiction is that a feeling of hunger quickly returns after eating, resulting in binge eating. The diet was developed for Americans by Dr. Rachel Heller and Prof. Dr. Richard Heller and is intended for people who are overweight (obese). It is seen more as a lifestyle than a diet. Obesity is tackled by setting a limit on how long it takes you to eat a meal. The shorter the eating period, the less insulin is produced and therefore the fewer calories the body will store in the form of fat.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates consist of sugars and starch. We distinguish between simple sugars and compound sugars. Simple sugars are found in cane sugar, fruit, cookies, ice cream, honey and granulated sugar. These are quickly absorbed into the body. Compound sugars (starch) are found in bread, grains, vegetables, beans and rice. These ensure slow digestion. During digestion, carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars (glucose). This allows it to be absorbed through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream to then serve as fuel or be stored in the body as fuel.

Carb addiction

If the body is functioning normally, the insulin released after eating a meal will be just enough to break down the sugars. A carbohydrate addiction is caused by a problem in the insulin balance. In a carbohydrate addict, much more insulin is released than necessary after eating carbohydrates. Because the amount of insulin in the blood fluctuates, there are times when an extreme need for carbohydrates arises. The result of this is an extreme feeling of hunger, which leads to a lot of eating and a fat accumulation as a result. By tackling carbohydrate addiction, insulin production will decrease, causing long-term satiety. It is a natural way to break the addiction cycle.

Causes of carbohydrate addiction

The causes of a carbohydrate addiction can be different. It can arise from an emotional state. Depression is a major trigger for binge eating, which often involves eating carbohydrate-rich foods. This also applies to stress or feelings of guilt. Addictions can also be made worse by changes at home or work, quitting smoking or menopause. People who have followed a strict diet and lost a lot of weight in a short time are more susceptible to a food addiction because they tend to eat a lot once they have reached their target weight.

Consequences of carbohydrate addiction

A carbohydrate addict is more likely to feel hungry again after a meal and quickly crave sweets again. Some people feel hungry again almost immediately after eating. There is no satiety, so there remains an urge to eat. It’s hard to ignore these food cravings. Every time carbohydrates are eaten, the urge to eat will increase. The surplus of carbohydrates is converted into fat in the body. This vicious circle leads to obesity.

In practice

Not only the amount of carbohydrates is important, but also how often they are eaten. Eating several small meals containing carbohydrates in one day is not recommended because this stimulates the insulin response in the body and provides an incentive to start eating again. It is recommended to eat two high-fiber, lean, low-carbohydrate meals per day and one high-carbohydrate meal per day (reward meal of your choice). For the latter, dinner is recommended and should not take more than one hour. In this way, the basic mechanism in the body will be corrected because the overproduction of insulin will decrease which will reduce repeated feelings of hunger and ultimately cause you to lose weight.
The guidelines of the Heller Diet are listed below:

  • Eat a low-carb meal twice a day.
  • Eat a reward meal once a day where you can eat whatever you like.
  • The reward meal must be eaten within one hour.
  • Alcohol is only allowed during the reward time and within the allowed time
  • Snacks are prohibited. Fruit increases insulin release
  • Drink plenty of water (6-8 glasses per day)
  • Don’t eat too many wrong fats
  • Don’t use too much salt



According to the Hellers, eating just one carbohydrate-rich meal per day will limit feelings of hunger and thus overeating, resulting in significant weight loss. Insulin production and/or insulin release returns to normal. People feel fitter and have more energy.


Because you are only allowed to eat one carbohydrate-rich meal a day, you become aware of what healthy eating entails, which means you will eat less unhealthy food such as cookies, candy and cake. Because you take a reward meal every day and can therefore continue to eat your favorite food, you experience less of the feeling of being on a diet, making it easier to stick to it. You don’t have to worry about counting calories or eating measured portions.


Losing weight will not happen that quickly, which can be demotivating. It is a way of life that does not end and lasts for life, so you will always be involved with it. The book describing the Heller Diet contains weekly schedules that are complicated to follow exactly. The portions of the two low-carb meals will have to be followed according to a certain pattern, which will maintain a feeling of being on a diet. my view on

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