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Prof. Justin M. Joffe

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The Joffe Plan

The Joffe Plan

The Joffe Plan

"The Joffe Plan uses your fitness as well as your weight as an indication of progress. It's not necessary to strictly measure the quantities of food you eat."
Electron User


The Joffe Plan is your personal 'no-diet' weight control system

Designed specifically for use on home computers by Professor Justin Joffe of Vermont University, the Joffe Plan heralds a new era in the practical use of your home micro.

Justin Joffe's Plan is completely diet free - you eat what you normally like to eat - and it works by balancing your food intake with your activity levels, a compilcated series of equations worked out by your computer every time you use the program.

The program checks to see if you have a weight problem, advises you on a target weight and then produces a completely personal Joffe Plan to fit your lifestyle. Your progress is monitored by a system of regular checks, and you are given encouragement (or a telling-off) when you most need it by the Plan's unique credit and penalty system.

The Joffe Plan is designed for use by adults of 18 years and above. Weight can be controlled or reduced sensibly, simply, effectively and safely. You'll look better, feel fitter and improve the quality of your life - without dieting and without exhausting exercise.

The following instructions are taken from the book THE JOFFE PLAN, An Introduction

An Introduction To THE JOFFE PLAN

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know that most weight control methods don't work. The Joffe Plan is based on an analysis of the reasons diets fail and on a thorough and critical analysis of the scientific literature on weight regulation and control. The computer program will provide you with a Plan that is easy to follow and does not confront you with a confusing compendium of menus, recipes and exercise programmes. It is designed to fit your normal psychological and physiological tendencies, not fight them.

The Joffe Plan:-

  • focuses directly on you;
  • simultaneously influences all the factors that affect your weight;
  • provides a unique plan to suit your particular needs.

The program helps you diagnose your eating problems and uses your answers to create your own set of 'penalties' for being above your target weight. These can be avoided by earning ';credits' that the computer calculates for you. Thus, without dieting, losing weight becomes an enjoyable game with the prospect of becoming leaner, fitter, happier and more confident.

- By Professor Justin Joffe

The Trouble With Diets

An analysis of the two crucial problems with diets, helps lay the groundwork for creating a more effective weight control system. Stated briefly, these are:

  1. Most diets are impossible to stick to for long periods. They are inhuman, complicated, expensive, impractical and concentrate the mind on food. And those are some of their better points!
  2. Even if you stick to them, diets seldom work for long. Dieting in fact makes it harder to lose weight and, paradoxically, can help to make you fat.

Most dieters know all this, but it was not until both points were substantiated by psychological and physiological reseaarch that their complaints were taken seriously. It was discovered that the reason why people were unable to stick to a diet was not due entirely to lack of willpower.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons why dieting is unlikely to provide an acceptable and effective method of weight control.

Some Myths About Fat People

Many of the statements made about fat people are largely myths, and in general:

  • fat people don't eat more than thin ones;
  • fat people don't eat different food from this ones - they don't gorge on chocolates and cakes while thin ones eat celery and drink skimmed milk;
  • fat people don't eat faster or slower than thin people, or more or less often, or at different times, or have longer ort shorter meals.

But this is not the whole story, some fat people do some or all of the above and it is understanding this simple point, that different people are overweight for different reasons, that makes it possible to understand the paradox of the research findings: in general fat people eat about the same amounts of the same foods as thin people, and in general they eat it at similar times and at similar speeds, but some of them successfully lose weight by learning to eat differently.

If overweight is regarded as being due to people having learned bad eating habits then it follows that they could 'unlearn' them or replace them by learning new, good eating habits.

This understanding provides a key element in the creation of an effective weight control system. When a method is tailored to the individual, it is more likely to succeed. The Joffe Plan, by examining your eating habits and taking individual differences into account, provides you with suggestions that are appropriate for you.

Dieting - The Slippery Slope

Whereas diets require you to reduce your food intake substantially, behavioural methods teach you to do without, usually by training you to give yourself rewards for doing something other than eating. In general this principle of reward for 'good' behaviour is a sound one. However, it is not so clear that it works effectively with food rewards and eating behaviour - for some people, the only worthwhile reward for not eating ice cream, for example, is ice cream!

In short, dieting doesn't fit our psychological make-up very well and behavioural methods still pit themselves against our normal psychological functioning a lot of the time. The Joffe Plan avoids this by incorporating methods that are personalised and straightforward. It uses behavioural techniques by offering powerful rewards and reasonably easy ways of 'earning' a good you might otherwise have to forego.

Dieting Makes You Fat

This statement exaplins why I don't recommend a 'keep on trying' approach and there is good evidence to support it. We can best examine the truth of this statement by looking at the humabn body's energy regulation as we would at a car's fuel consumption. Like a car, your body needs fuel to maintain itself and to move around. Different bodies, like different cars, use different amounts of fuel for similar trsip. And bodies, like cars, are driven at dfifferent speeds and under different conditions. However, unlike a car, a body's tank can be refilled repeatedly even if it is hardly being used at all; the body simply builds itself auxilliary tanks - fat - to store the extra fuel. If you provide the body with less fuel than it needs, there's no excuse for it to store it as fat. If the intake is sufficiently low, the body will draw on its fat reserves, which will then decline in size.

However, The Joffe Plan doesn't put a lot of emphasis on reducing intake as this can be counterproductive; your body will simply be inclined to go in for some energy conservation, giving you better mileage per gallon, which is virtually the opposite of what you're aiming for, nice as it might be for your car.

What you really want is a less efficient engine where more fuel is burned when it is idling and gives you less mileage per gallon when you're moving. Extra fuel will get burned up, not stored as fat. Your body's equivalent of engine size and efficiency is its metabolic rate. Although there may be genetic limits to how much it can be altered, it can still be influenced.

Dieting makes you fat because your body adapts to reduction in intake by utilising less food, decreasing the rate of loss and then stopping. So it isn't necessarily that dieters cheat, it is just that their bodies consume less fuel when they eat less. Your body will also become less active.

If all this isn't enough, there's worse. Your body is smart. The first time you diet it will take it a while to get the message that the good times are over and it needs to start its energy conservation programme. When you next go on a diet to get rid of the weight you put back on, your body is more alter to scarcities and kicks in sooner with its economy programme.

In short, the less you eat the less you need to hold your weight constant - and the smaller the increase in eating it takes to put on weight. With decreased input your activity drops, partly due to depression and partly to the body's adaptive responses to scarcity. And the more often you diet, the faster these counterproductive processes kick in.

Dieting can indeed make you fat and The Joffe Plan offers you alternatives to help you increase your engine size and take more fuel burning trips, while modifying your filling up only marginally.

How And Why The Joffe Plan Works

Just as we can't accume that overeating or bad eating habits are the cause of your being overweight, neither can be assume that they are not. Happily, the Joffe Plan won't work on any such assumptions. The computer will investigate your eating habirts and, as a result of this it will suggest changes only if it finds them to be necessary. Unlike a diet plan, change does not necessarily mean reduction, but even if you are told to reduce quantities of some foods you will also be offered ways to avoid it. If you need them, the Plan will provide you with suggestions for changesd in where, when and how you eaty, as well as what you eat. The following section summarises some of the principles on which the suggestions are based.

Food - Aiming For Detente


You may be told to eat three proper meals every day, including breakfast. A proper breakfast will make you less inclined to snack or to overeat later in the day. It will also increase your energy, which in turn will help to burn up some fat. Eat regularly - at the same time each day - at a table, sitting down, and don't read, watch TV or work while you are eating. You will feel fuller if you concentrate on enjoying your food and eating regularly will make it easier to wait for a meal.


Much of the same applies. Sit down and eat your snacks at a table, without working, reading or watching TV and plan when you'll eat snacks and what you will have. Try not to reach for food absentmindedly, make every snack an enjoyable occasion - look at it, taste it, chew it.

How To Eat

Watch others. If you always finish before them, you are getting less time to enjoy your food and need to slow down. Try cutting your food into smaller pieces and don't reload your fork until you've swallowed the previous mouthful. This is easier to do if you put down your fork between mouthfuls and don't pick it up again until you've swallowed the previous mouthful. With food like sandwiches, put the ood down after you've taken a bit and don't pick it up again until you've swallowed the previous bite. These changes may need practice but they will make the same amount of food seem more satisfying, which makes it easier to eat a little less if you need to.

Other suggestions are designed to reduce temptation and might require some changes in your shopping habits or what you do when eating out.


Make a list. Leave those attractive extras on the shelves and it will save you money as well as making it easier to resist temptation. Never shop just befoore meal times as temptation increases when you are hungry. Select snack foods that are filling and provide good 'eating value'.

Eating Out

Decide in advance what you'll have and stick to your decision. Have something filling - like a glass of milk or a beer - before you leave home. In the restaurant (and at home), eat the food you like best first, so that it will be easier to leave some food uneaten on the plate. At parties, when you want to eat, take a plate and help yourself to what you want. Then leave the food table to eat, if it's a buffet meal, and stay away from the food locations for the rest of the evening.

Some of the suggestions you are given will be easier to manage than others. Don't worry too much if you can't do all the things you are asked to. Some are impractical for some people at particular times or in particular circumstances. The Plan is flexible enough not to need to frce you to try to do impractical things. But stick to those suggestions you can manage, because they will make it easier to reduce your food intake without feeling deprived. When you do most of the things on your personal list you should spend more time eating (not less), feel full after meals, and find it easier to wait for your next meal or planned snack.

So far, we have looked at possible modifications in how, what and where you eat. The Plan may also suggest alterations in what you eat. Its approach to food is to consider it as falling into three categories - allies, enemies and neutrals. This classification is not complicated or technical and is based on the idea of eating value, which is not so much a nutritional concept as a psychological one. Foods that take longer to eat, require more chewing and leave you feeling full for a reasonable time after eating are good eating value. Foods that are just as high in calories but are more quickly consumed and less bulky are of lower value. For example, a chocolate bar, gone in a few bites, has more calories than five average slices of bread or five appels, so it is regarded as being of much lower eating value. Since intake seems to be better regulated by volume than by calories, you're better off with the bread than the chocolate.

On this basis then, let's see how our groups look.


It is easy to construct an enemies list. Anything that is composed mainly of sugar or fat (or both) is an enemy, no matter how it is disguised. These foods are enemies because, much as you crave them, they give you little lasting satisfaction. They are just too low in eating value. These are easily recognisable and the computer will ask you quite a lot of questions about them to identify your particular enemies. The Plan won't necessarily deprive you of the ones you can't resist: it may suggest reductions or substitutes and will let you eat them in unlimited quantities, provided you earn the right to do so. We will discuss later how to earn these.


A list of these might surprise you, because conventional diets treat many of them as enemies. Neutrals are foods that are neither armed to the teeth with calories, as enemies are, nor are they allies that you can gorge without concern. The neutrals are the carbohydrates - bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, etc. These are ideal foods to eat instead of enemies. Diets that cut down on carbohydrates appear to lower metabolic rate and its seems likely that a good proportion of carbohydrates in the diet cause the body to burn fuel faster. They are also likely to leave fewer of their calories in your system, having what nurtitionists call 'a lower coefficient of digestibility'. The carbohydrates can thus be allies rather than mere neutrals, provided they are uncorrupted and eaten on their own without fat, for example, or additives such as mayonnaise.


Some of these are obvious. The predictable ones are indeed the dieter;s friends, the carrots, celery, raw fruits (eaten with kins if possible) and berries, raw vegetables, green vegetables, and so on. These may be dull but can be used to fight hunger by providing bulk and fight temptation by their sweet taste. Other valuable allies are artificial sweeteners, which are good at fooling the body. Finally, you can associate fairly confidently with lean mets, pultry and fish, which are good csources of protein and generally good eating value. Bear in mind, however, that even allies can be pushed just so far: if you fry them in oil or batter, smother them in syrup or butter, or bury them in sugar, they'll turn on you.

Where does all this leave you? Not, I hope, counting calories, but at least alert to dangers. You don't have to memorise any lists since thePlan will suggest the modifications you need to make in your eating habits. If it suggests reducing intake it will only be by an amount small enough to avoid lowering your metabolic rate. It is more likely to suggest some changes in how and what you eat. In other words, it will suggest ways of not fighting food, but of achieving detente.

Weight and Activity

You are probably aware of the general health benefits of exercise. The Joffe Plan recomends an increase in your activity level and suggests a variety of ways to achieve this - you will not be advised to do only exercises such as jogging and aerobis, although you may do them if you wish. Increased activity earns credits, which in turn allows you to avoid penalties you might otherwise incur. The point of this syste,m is that increasing activity is one of the key to increasing your metabolic rate and thus being able to lose weight without dieting. In combination with the individualised suggestions for dchanges in eating habits, increased activity can give you the larger engine that enables you to take in more fuel without storing the excess as fat.

Fuel is used to carry out any physical activity as well as for the general 'housekeeping' the body carries out weven while we are asleep - activities like breathing, digestion, the repair and renewal of tissue, and so on. To do this it draws on good in the stomach and intestines and, when these main tanks are depleted, it draws on the reserve tanks, the fat stores. So if your input is lower than your output, you lose weight - provided you don't alter the balance by decreasing input to the point where the body makes do with less fuel than before.

Increased activity will affect the system in a variety of ways, all of them beneficial as far as losing weight is concerned:

  1. You will burn up fuel that would otherwise be stored as fat;
  2. You will draw on reserve fuels and thus lose weight;
  3. The weight you lose will be mainly fat, not muscle, so your shape will improve more rapidly than with the same weight loss brought about by dieting alone;
  4. Your 'engine size' will increase so that you burn more fuel at rest in addition to the fuel you burn during activity;
  5. Your 'fuel gauge' is likely to be affected in a way that makes you feel less hungry, therefore you may well find it easier to eat less.

The benefits of increasing activity can be multifold, and the Joffe Plan will consequently encourage you to increase your activity over your current level in one or more of a variety of ways. In essence, the Plan is designed to establish a relationship between food intake and activity that is suited to the individual using it, in order to avoid counterproductive effects of dieting and to bring into play natural mechanisms of burning up more fuel.

Getting The Most Out Of The Program

As I have already discussed, there are a number of factors that contribute to gaining or losing weight. Your weight depends on how much you eat, how fast you burn fuel, and how active you are. The Joffe Plan works in a number of ways that take into account all of these factors. Firstly, it helps you to select a suitable target weight and by means of a set of questionnaires it diagnoses your specific eating problems. Secondly, it provides a variety of ways of reaching your goal using behavioural techniques, such as, powerful rewards for success and the issue of penalties to keep you on track. It also gives you a chance to avoid penalties by earning and spending credits. Finally, it records your progress and ensures techniques that work for you personally, whilst discarding those that are ineffective.

The Plan needs your full co-operation and will not be of any real value if you ignore its recommendations or if you fail to provide the information requested in the questionnaire.

Rules Of The Game

The computer program provides you with three main options:

  1. Begin a new weight control programme.
  2. Report In.
  3. Progress Report.

1. Begin a new weight control programme

"How much should you weigh?"

There is no precise answer to this question and published tables of 'ideal weights' vary in their recommendations. Whereas a six foot weightlifter in peak condition is not overweight at 18 stone (252 lbs.), an inactive man of the same height undoubtedly is. 'Normal' proportions of body fat are different for women and men and vary within each sex. Nevertheless, weight is something we can measure accurately and is the real indicator of progress. The program, as you will see, is concerned with weight ranges rather than exact numbers. Your body is unique so you should not aim to be some notional 'ideal' or 'average' weight.

If your weight is below a recommended minimum for your age, sex and height, the program will suggest that you put on some weight. It will not constrct a plan with a target weight below this minimum. If you're above the minimum, but in a low to medium range, the program will suggest that you do not concern yourself with losing weight.

The greatest judgement is needed if you fall into a medium to high range: you'll be asked if you really want to lose weight. If you are healthy and happy with what you see in the mirror, you can use the Plan to avoid weight gain and increase your activity level. It may be just as beneficial to improve your appearance by firming up your body. However, if you don't like what you see in the mirror, or you are somewhat unfit, or both, the program will advise you of an appropriate target weight.

If you are above the medium to high weight range, you will be advised that you probably do need to lose weight. (Only probably, because if you are heavy for your height, age and sex, but the weight is solid muscle, you shouldn't try to lose it). The program will ask you to select a target weight and give you advice on what this should be. It is a good idea to select the suggested target (or a higher one) rather than aiming for a lower one. For the best results, pickan initial target no more than 10 to 15 pounds (women) or 12 to 18 pounds (men) below your present weight. You can always set a new lower target once the first one is reached.

"How fast should you lose?"

Again, the program will advise you and set some limits, but it won't stop you trying to do it at a rate that you may find difficult to achieve. It's not easy, but do avoid the temptarion to lose weight very rapidly. Remember, it took a while to put on the extra weight and, although you might be able to lose ten pounds in two weeks, you'll only do it by making yourself miserable and the crash programme will cirtually guarantee that you put it straight back on again.

Large drops in food intake are counterproductive, so settle for gradual weight and you'll find it easier to keep the weight off. I recommend only half a pound a week as your initial rate. It won't give you the temporary thrill of the first stage of a crash diet, but it adds up to 26 pounds (nearly two stone) a year, and to long term maintenance of the loss. If you are impatient, or need to lose a very large amount of weight, select one or two pounds a week, but bear in mind that higher rates will require more changes in eating or greater increases in activity. Remember, you can always select a higher rate as your activity level increases.

Answering The Questions

In the course of setting up your Plan, you will be asked a series of questions to aid in diagnosing your eating problems (if any). After answering the questions you will be given a list of things to do to help you feel full on less fuel and to counteract inappropriate eating. The computer will also store a list of 'penalties' to impose if you haven't kept on course on your weight loss schedule when you report in (if you haven't earned enough credits to avoid the penalties).

Please answer the questions honestly. When, for example, you are asked if you eat a proper breakfast, don't say yes if you usually have toast and a cup of tea or coffee. A proper breakfast consists, for example, of cereal (or porridge) with filk, fruit and tea or coffee, or bacon and egg with tea and toast, or pancakes with fruit juice and coffee. When you are asked about 'portions', do not assume a portion means as much food as you can get on a plate. It means the kinds of amounts tou might be served in a restaurant, such as half a chicken breast, or a leg or thigh, or a portion (about 8 ounces) of steak or fisk. One potato is a serving, as is a single scoop of mash, rice or spaghetti. If in doubt on any question, be strict with yourself.

If at any point you are not doing well on the plan, try setting up a new programme and answer the questions again, this time as carefully and honestly as possible. The questionnaire is the only step in setting up your Plan that takes more than a few minutes to complete.

Part of the program covers questions about your current levels of activity and state of health, and you will be advised to increase activity. (See 'Life In The Fast Lane', below.)

At this point, the setting up of your Plan is completed and you can go ahead and carry out the straightforward suggestions you are given.

2. Report In

This part of the program is largely self-explanatory. When you report in, you will be asked the date, your weight and various questions about whether you have stuck to recommendations given the previous time, as well as how active you have been since your last report.

Weigh yourself every day at about the same time, preferably first thing in the morning and wear the same clothing each time. Try to report in at least every three days, and more often if possible. Daily reporting is ideal. Reporting too infrequently dilutes the effectiveness of the program. If you are away from home, keep a note of your weight and activity each day or two. On your return, you can report in for several dates, thus providing the program with the inofmration it needs to make the right recommendations and calculate your credits or penalties. If you fail to report in regularly (after more than 28 days) and you are above your target weight, you will be asked to start again, and set up a new Plan.

When you report in on time, you will be given information about your progress and the credits you have eaarned, and given a choice (if you are above target) of spending credits to avoid penalties. After making your choice, you will be given further recommendations.

You can choose to print the recommendations or the information in the resume, as well as the summary of your credit situation.

3. Progress Report

This, too, is straightforward. Selecting this option provides you with a pictorial and verbal summary of your progress. A set of traffic lights shows you which of three coloured zones you are currently in - red (way over target), and a bar graph plots your progress to date through each of these three zones. You have the option to print this information if you wish.

Earning And Spending Credits

Credits are based on the energy involved in carrying out an activity and the amount of time you spend carrying it out. To earn credits, the activity must be an increase overy what you were goind when you first set up your Plan. For example, if you already do about two hours of moderately heavy housework each day, or spend fifteen minutes walking to work each morning, you earn no credits for these activities. However, if you add a walk to your day, take over household chores you do not do now, take up disco dancing, rock climbing, skating, rugby or tennis or other additional activities, you earn credits.

Keep track of the kind of activity you have done and how long you spent doing it. The program will calculate the number of credits you have earned when you report in, and give you the option of spending some to reduce or avoid penalties or saving some for future use.

The credit system is designed to encourage you to be active frequently and for reasonable periods of time. Short bursts of activity, no matter how energetic, will earn only a limited number of credits. Also, a regular routione will be more beneficial than execising infrequently and for long periods of time. If you do not increase your activity, you won't have credits to spend in order to avoid eating restrictions, and if you are too far off target you may not be able to earn enough credits to avoid penalties.

Of course, you do not actually have to spend credits. It may suit you better to save them for use another day. If, for example, you are going to a party on Saturday, the Plan allows you to accept some restrictions on Thursday and Friday so that you have enough credits left to avoid restrictions on Saturday. However, the program discards credits earned more than four days previously, so if, for example, you earned a lot of credits at the weekend they would not help you the following Friday.

Ideally, you will earn enough credits and lose enough weight to avoid penalties altogether.

After a few weeks following the Plan, you will settle into a routine combining regular, increased activity with changes in your eating habits - a routine that is perfectly suited to your needs and lifestyle.

Life In The Fast Lane

It should be clear by now how increasing activity is one of the keys to successful weight loss. It should also be made clear that moderation is one of the guiding principles of the Joffe Plan. You are advised not to go to extremes: choosing a weight target and rate of loss should be based on concern for reliable and appropriate goals; any changes in eating habits are intended to be moderate and gradual; intake shoud be reduced slightly, if at all, and activity should be increased gradually and sensibly. It is not a good idea and can be dangerous to increase physical activity suddenly, particularly for those people who are overweight or unfit. If you have any doubts about your capacity to tolerate an increase in activity, consult your doctor first. When you start exercising, pay close attention to your body. If any any point you experience any distressing symptoms other than mild muscular stiffness (for instance, irregular heartbeat, pains in the chest, pains in your joints), consult your doctor. As a general rule then, set yourself realistic targets and increase your activity slowly and sensibly.

Selecting Activities

It does not really matter what sort of activity you choose to do, as long as it is reasonably energetic, you enjoy doing it and it fits conveniently into your daily routine.

However, it is worth remembering that the real benefits, in terms of health and weight loss, are obtained only from regular, energetic activity. A simple indication of whether you are undertaking the activity energetically enough, apart from breathing harder and taking your pulse rate, is whether it makes you perspire (though this can be difficult to judge with an activity like swimming).

How Much?

A general answer to that question is 'the more the better'. However, this ceases to be true when the activity becomes a chore rather than something you enjoy, or when you are still enjoying it but your body clearly is not. If your body is hurting (other than minor stiffness), then you are overdoing it.

A more precise answer to this question is as follows: You should aim to reach - not start with - a minium of 20-30 minutes at a time on at least three or four datys a week. If your activity is in the moderate to heavy range, those are the figures that will give you detectable improvements in your health and fitness and contribute noticeably to your losing weight.

Getting Started

There's a simple maximum you can use to guide you towards acbieving your target: "Today you should do a little more than yesterday and tomorrow you should do a little more than today."

Let's assume you have chosen to walk more than you do at present, because you enojy it and it could easily fit into your normal routine. You might do about it as follows:-

Week 1: On your way to work or to the shops, get off the bus one stop before your usual one and walk slowly the rest of the way. Aim for five minutes of walking. Take a ten minute wealk at the weekend if you are short of time on one or two days and get off at the usual stop.

Week 2: Get off two stops earlier. You may have more time to spare on the waty home, and if so, do your walking them. Aim for ten minutes of walking each time and for a ten or fifteen minute walk at the weekend.

Week 3: The same as for week 2, but increase your pace a little so taht you are breathing a bit harder by the end of the walk.

Week 4: Now aim for a fifteen minute walk four times during the week. Give yourself a day off when circumstances require it beut get in a 15-20 minute walk at the weekend.

Week 5: The same as for week 4, increasing the pace a little.

Week 6: Try to get in three twenty minute walks during the week and one slighty longer one at the weekend.

Weeks 7 & 8: Three 20 minutes walks plus one or two 20 minute walks during the week, with a 20-30 minute walk at the weekend.

Week 9 and on: Three or four 20-30 minute walks plus one or two 10-15 minute walks, with pace increasing as long as it feels comfortable.

Obviously, other activities will require you to plan the details a little differently. However, the general principle of starting with short, gentle sessions and gradually increasing the length and number of sessions as well as the effort you put in, can be applied to any activity. Always let your body guide you as to how fast you increase the time you spend in an activity and how energetically you do it.

Light, Moderate Or Strenuous?

When you report in you will be asked how long you spent doing the activities you have chosen and how energetic they were. The program helps you to define light, moderate or strenuous activities, but some additional comments and examples may be helpful.

Light activities are those involving mainly standing, with occasional changes in body position (such as sitting, kneeling or getting up) or those involving occasional movements in a limited area such as lifting or moving objects, or regular unstrenous movements. In general, if an activity does not produce faster breathing, consider it to be light.

Examples: carpentry, billiards, dusting, cooking, ironing, slow walking, recreational rowing and canoeing in calm water.

Moderate activities involve changing position frequently, moving about, or frequent lifting and moving of objects. In general, moderately energetic activities produce somewhat faster breathing, but only for short periods, not for most of the time that you are doing them.

Examples: caring for active young children, painting or papering the house, mopping, car washing, recreational swimming or skating, vacuuming, making beds, ballroom dancing (fairly fast), golf, sailing, cycling (moderate pace).

Strenuous activities involve fast, regular movements or regular lifting of heavy weights. In general, they cause you to breathe faster most of the time you are doing them and usually cause you to perspire.

Examples: Brisk walking, lawn mowing, running, energetic cycling, skipping, serious swimming, energetic exercise routines such as aerobics, digging, fast dancing, serious rowing or canoeing in rough water.

These examples should be viewed only as a guide, since most activities can be done with more or less effort. Remember, if you choose an activity that you are unfamiliar with, read whatever magazines or books you can find that give advice for beginners (and regard yourself as a beginner even if it is something you used to do quite a lot). Bear in mind that many sports are activities to undertake when you are already fit, so build up your fitness slowly and surely. Try not to exaggerate or underestimate your effort. The program will adjust your credits appropriately if you do exaggerate, but you get results sooner if you don't.

Keep It Up And Take It Off!

There is no magical way to lose weight. The Joffe Plan provides you with a combination of approaches designed to meet your particular needs, and a combination that maximises the beneficial effect of each component of the system and modifies the plan according to your progress.

The rest is up to you. Your rewards lie in seeing the numbers on your scale drop and in earning the food you want by your efforts in increasing activity. You will also be rewarded with a slimmer and healthier body. What more could you want? Go to it - keep it up and take it off.

Professor Justin Joffe - A Biography

Justin Joffe was appointed Professor of Psychology at the University of Vermont in the United States in 1969. He gained his Ph.D at London University and did his postdoctoral training at Stanford University Medical School.

Professor Joffe has a particular interest in the links between Psychology and Biology and spent a year in 1980 at the Biological Institute at the University of Zagreb in investigation and research. His research has been supported by several institutes and agencies including the U.S. Public Health service, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Fulbright Program and the Council of Academics of Yugoslavia.

Justin Joffe is the author of over forty articles and papers published in learned professional and scientific journals and has won much respect in his field for his thorough and factual approach. Indeed, this academic expertise combined with his lifelong interests of eating and running formed the basis of The Joffe Plan for weight control and fitness without "the misery of dieting".

The following instructions are taken from the book THE JOFFE PLAN, How To Use This Program

Loading And Running Instructions

Loading The Program

  1. Switch off your BBC/Electron to clear the memory completely. Switch on the computer, the television set, the printer (if you have one), and finally the disc drive.
  2. If you are using the program for the first time, or you are setting up a new Plan, you will need to use Program One. When you are reporting in, you will need Program Two.
    1. If you are loading from tape, place the cassette in the cassette deck, making sure the tape is rewound and that you have side 1 uppermost for Program 1, or Side 2 for Program 2.

      Note: If you have a disc drive and are loading from tape, type *TAPE and press RETURN before loading the program.

      Type CHAIN "" (no space between the quotation marks) and press RETURN. Press the PLAY button on the cassette deck. The screen will display 'Searching' and then 'Loading' and you will also see the Home Discovery Loader screen. Press SPACE as requested and the program will continue loading.

      Note: If the computer does not display 'Loading' after about thirty seconds, adjust the volume setting on the cassette recorder and carry out the loading procedure again.

    2. If you are loading from disc, place the disc in the disc dfrive and hold down the SHIFT key and press BREAK.

    The disc menu is then displayed and you select your option for either Program 1 or Program 2, making sure you press RETURN after each input. You will also see the Home Discovery loader screen. Press the SPACE bar as requested and the program will load.

    Note: If you experience any problems loading the program, type CH."PROG1" for Program 1, or CH."PROG2" for Program 2, and then press RETURN.

  3. When loading is complete, cassette users who do not have motor control must stop the tape. Press the SPACE bar and the program title and credits will be displayed.

    Press the SPACE bar again and follow the instructions in the program.

N.B. Both Program 1 and Program 2 are loaded in two parts.

Program 1: It is very important to leave the disc or cassette in place throughout the program. Cassette users with motor control should leave the PLAY button depressed on the cassette recorder, and those who do not must stop the tape as soon as the screen instructions appears. If not, the tape will continue to run and you will miss loading the second part of the program.

Program 2: After the first part of the program has loaded, cassette users who do not have motor control will have to stop the tape as soon as the instruction is given. Also, at various stages during the program you will be required to change from the program tape or disc to the data tape or disc (saved after Program 1), so watch very carefully the instructions for loading and saving in both the program itself and in 'Using The Program', Program Two.

Using The Program

Program One

This program is in two parts and is designed to set up your personal Weight Control Plan. You must answer all the questions honestly, because the whole Plan will be based on the information gained from these questions.

The first part requires you to enter personal details from which your target weight, date, and rate of weight loss will be calculated.

The weight tables used by the program cover men between 4'10" and 6'6", and women between 4'6" and 6'3". If you fall outside these ranges, ask your doctor what your ideal weight should be. You can then use the program choosing the closest height to your own, and alter the target weight.

Note: The program is intended for use by people of 18 years and over - if you are below this limit you really shouldn't be trying to lose weight.

The program will not allow you to enter any figures which may be dangerous to your health. If you choose figures which are likely to be difficult to achieve, the program will try to persuade you to accept a more realistic figure. Also, if your target date is calculated as being more than six months after the date on which you set up your Plan, then you will be required to begin a new Plan at the end of the six months.

The second part of the program contains four questionnaires which examine your eating habits. Press the SPACE bar to start loading, and remember, if you are loading from cassette and do not have motor control, you will have to press the PLAY key on your recorder.

The questionnaires consist mostly of multiple choice questions, where a number of possible answers are given. Select the answer closest to your own by typing the corresponding number and press RETURN. Other questions require you to type Y or N for yes or no, or a number if you are asked, for example, how many portions of cake you eat per week.

N.B. If you press the ESCAPE key by mistake; you will be returned to the beginning of the first questionnaire!

Various 'penalties' are drawn up according to your answers and you are asked to stick to them when, during your Plan, your weight is above the target for the day. The penalties are put into three groups. Those which you would find most difficult to comply with are put into the 'red' group, while the easier ones go into the 'amber' group. Some many be kept in a 'reserve' group to help you if you really fall behind your target.

When you have answered all the questions on food, there are some questions on your health.

Once your personal weight control programme has been calculated, you must SAVE this data. For this, you will need to se a new, formatted disc or a good quality blank cassette - a C12 will be quite sufficient.

Insert your data tape or disc and press the SPACE bar. If you are saving onto cassette, rewind the tape and move it forward off the leader tape. When you are instructed to 'RECORD then RETURN', press the PLAY and RECORD buttons together on the cassette recorder before pressing RETURN. The program ends automatically when saving is complete.

N.B. If there is more than one person using the program, each person must use a separate tape or disc, as all data files are saved under the filename 'details'.

Program Two

This is the program you will use on a regular basis and the options it provides are shown in the Menu below. Apart from 'Check Fitness', each option takes you out of the program as son as you have completed it. If you then wish to select another option, you will have to reload the program.

Whichever option you choose, you will first need to load your personal details. Ensure that you have inserted your data tape or disc and press the SPACE bar. Remember to rewind your data tape and press the PLAY key on your cassette recorder to start loading.

Once the data has loaded, and you have selected to continue, you will see the program's Menu:

Do you want to:
1. Report In
2, Check Progress
3. Check Fitness
4. End Program
Option - ?

Option 1

You will first be asked to enter today's date and your current weight. You will then be asked if you wish to take a fitness test. If you do, simply follow the instructions in the program. If you experience discomfort or pain at any time during the test, stop immediately and consult your doctor before attempting any increase in your activity level.

If you were given any penalties the last time you used the program, you are now asked if you have complied with them.

You are also asked if you have done any extra activities since your last report, and if so, how much. For a definition of what you should consider as light, moderate or strenous activity, see the appropriate section under 'Life In The Fast Lane' in the 'Introduction' booklet.

Having given your report, you are then instructed to load the second part of the program, which will give you an indication of your progress. Insert the program disc or tape (Side 2, do not rewind), and press the SPACE bar. Press the PLAY button on the cassette recorder to start loading.

A set of traffic lights show which of three zones you are in at present: red, amber or green. These zones are calculated from your present weight. If your weight falls int he green zone, you are on or below your target for that day. If you are in the amber zone, you are not losing weight at the required rate and you will therefore be given penaties to help you. If you are in the red zone, you are way above target and your penalties will be harder than those for the amber zone.

You can then seleect to see your position on a graph. This is composed of the three zones and shows you whish zone you have been in on each report.

Your credit situation is now displayed. Credits are calculated from the figures you entered concerning any extra activity you had done. If you have earned credits and you are above your target weight, you are now given the opportunity to buy your way into another zone in order to be given easier penalties - or even none at all if you buy into the green zone.

Once your zone has been calculated, you are shown a summary of your position so far. Your penalties (if any) are given as well as some further recommendations and you can then save your personal data. Follow very carefully the instructions for saving, making sure you insert the correct data disc or tape and that you rewind the tape and move it forward off the leader. Also, ensure that you press the PLAY and RECORD keys together on the cassette recorder to start saving. The program ends automatically, after saving, so if you wish to select another option you will have to rewind the program tape and reload Program 2.

If you have been away for a few days and have kept a note of your daily weight, you may wish to enter more than one report. If so, please ensure that you make each report in the correct order.

If you are 14 days late in making your report and you are above your target weight, you will be advised to being again with Program 1 but given the option to stay if you wish. If, however, you are 28 days late and above target, you will automatically be sent out of the program to begin a new Plan.

Option 2

Once you have loaded Program 2 and your personal details, you can select this option to check your progress. You will then need to load the second part of the program. Ensure that you have the program cassette (side 2, do not rewind) or disc installed, and press SPACE. Remember to press the PLAY button on your cassett recorder to start loading.

Once loaded, the traffic lights show which zone you were in after your last report, and before the use of any credits you may have had; the graph shows your overall progress to date. For a full explanation of both these items, see 'Option 1'.

Note: If you wish to select another option after completing this one, you will have to rewind the tape and reload Program 2.

Option 3

Having first loaded the program and your personal details, you may like to do the fitness test again. If you have increased your activity level you can then discover if your pulse rate is improving.

At the end of this option, you are retrned to the Menu.

General Notes

  1. When typing in answers, don't forget to press RETURN when your entry is complete.
  2. If you type any entry incorrectly, simply press the DELETE key and the last character you typed will be erased.
  3. When entering weight in stones and pounds, type in the number of stones when prompted, press RETURN, and then the number of pounds and press RETURN. Use the same method for entering height in feet and inches.
  4. When you are asked to choose more than one of a list of numbered recommendations, answers are accepted one at a time. Press RETURN after each individual entry.
  5. At various points in the program you have the option to record sections of your Plan. Press P and then RETURN, if you have a printer attached, and the information will be printed out. If you do not have a printer, you may find it helpful to make a note of the recommendations and any penalties you may have been given, to remind you of your Plan.

The Joffe Good Food Guide

Modern evidence on the relationship between diet and health strongly suggests that many of us in the industrialised world dig our graves with our teeth. The Joffe Plan will guide you away from many of the worst enemies of health since unhealthy foods, by and large, are the more fattening ones - those high in fats, sugars, or both. In addition to serving as a reminder of what foods to eat less frequently, the following table gives some examples of foods you can substitute for the less desirable ones. Moderation is the key to healthy eating. This means, firstly, that even healthy foods can make it harder to lose weight if you eat them in very large quantities, and secondly, that a little of what you like probably won't hurt you.

Use the table as a guide and add a little common sense: 'Better Yet' foods, like wholegrain bread or salad, don't remain better for you if you cover them in butter, mayonnaise or salad dressing. The table doe snot include items in regard to which the classification is almost entirely a question of the amount you eat - for example, sugars (including jam, marmalade, honey, syrup and so on) or alcoholic beverages which are not harmful in small quantities (a few teaspoons of sugar a day or a drink or two) but are both unhealthy and fattening in larger amounts.

  Bad Not So Bad Better Yet
Breakfast Bacon, ham, sausages.
Fried or scrambled eggs.
Butter, margarine.
French toast.
Whole milk.
Boiled or poached eggs.
Low calorie margarine.
Fruit juice.
Tea of coffee (little or no sugar).
Cereal or porridge (unsweetened types: read labels).
Low fat milk.
Wholegrain bread or toast.
Fresh fruit.
Unsweetened fruit juice.
Lunch and Dinner Cream soups.
Pork, ham, lamb
Kidney, liver, sausages, salami, meat pies.
Roasts, fried foods.
Fish cakes and fish with batter (including fish fingers).
Roast potatoes, potato salad, fried potatoes (including chips).
Avacado pears.
Baked beans.
Full fat cheeses.
French dressing, mayonnaise, salad cream.
Sauces, especially made with cream.
Thick non-cream soups.
Lean beef (steak or mince).
Herring, salmon.
White bread.
Peas, beans, lentils, parsnips, turnpis, marrows, artichokes, pumpkin.
Clear soups.
Chicken or turkey (without skin), veal. Most fish (if not fried).
Wholegrain bread.
Boiled or baked potatoes.
Spaghetti, macaroni, other pasta. Rice.
Beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, courgettes, cucumber, asparagus, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, other leafy green vegetables.
Cottage cheese.
Desserts Cakes, pies, pastries, puddings.
Ice-cream and ice-cream sundaes.
Canned fruit.
Waffles, pancakes, crepes.
Fresh cream.
Ice-milk, sorbet, jelly, fresh fruit salad. Melon, other fresh fruit.
Low fat yoghurt.
Beverages Milkshakes, malted milk, ice-cream drinks, chocolate milk, milk.
Naturally sweetened soft drinks.
Sweetened fruit juices.
Tea or coffee (minimal sugar, some milk).
Artificially sweetened soft drinks.
Low fat milk.
Unsweetened fruit juices.
Water (including soda water).
Tomato juice.
Fast foods Hamburgers, cheesburgers, hot dogs, French fries/chips.
Onion rings.
Fish and chips.
Fish fingers.
Fried chicken.
Meat pies/pastries.
Fried egg, egg salad.
Bacon, sausage, liver sausage, ham sandwiches.
Fish sandwich.
Cheese, roast beef, corned beef, luncheon meat, boiled egg, tuna salad sandwiches.
Chicken, turkey, tomato sandwiches.
Cottage cheese, salads (with low calorie dressings).
Snacks Nuts, potato chips/crisps.
Chocolates, sweets and biscuits.
Buns, cakes, pies, tarts, patries.
Peanut butter, jam.
Sesame seeds.
Cream crackers, water biscuits.
Bread, cheese, olives, dried fruits.
Pickled onions and cucumbers.
Fresh fruit and vegetables.
Cottage cheese.
Low fat yoghurt.
Clear soup.
Popcorn (minimal butter).


Cover Art Language(s): English
Compatibility: BBC Model B, BBC Model B+, BBC Master 128, Acorn Electron
Release: Professionally released On Cassette
Original Release Date: 1st Oct 1985
Links: Everygamegoing,

Cover Art

Front Inlay Images

Media Scan Images


The Joffe Plan (5.25" Disc)
The Joffe Plan (Book)