The 4Leaf for Life Story—from a simple idea in 2009

Simple concept–flexible execution–powerful results

4-Leaf For LifeThe 4Leaf concept originated in 2009, the logo was designed in 2010, it appeared in my blog in early 2011 and is featured in Chapter 10 of our book. So how did it begin?

When I first began studying all about the optimal diet for humans back in 2002, I discovered a great deal more confusion than clarity. From Atkins and Dukan on one end of the spectrum to Campbell, Esselstyn and the other plant-based medical doctors on the other end. I noticed that most “diet books” featured the name of the creator as the name of the diet—implying that his/her diet was the only “right way to eat.”

Looking for clarity over confusion, read the works of Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. --- Bill Clinton did and it probably saved his life.

Our 4Leaf “common ground” foundation begins with Dr. Campbell & Dr. Esselstyn—and includes doctors Barnard, Ornish, McDougall and Fuhrman.

Even among my plant-based heroes, there was quite a bit of disagreement. And as we know, disagreement among the experts breeds more confusion for the public. So, I wanted to create something simple, positive, and flexible—yet powerful. And I wanted it to be built on the foundation of the common ground principles shared by ALL of the plant-based experts. I discovered that common ground in November of 2009 over breakfast at Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s home.

As we discussed, a truly healthy diet is all about what you ARE eating — not what you’re avoiding. And while we don’t recommend the consumption of any animal products, 4Leaf for Life is not necessarily vegetarian or vegan. After all, you could eat nothing but potato chips and Diet Coke and call yourself a vegetarian — but that would definitely not be a healthy diet.

As for that common ground, I suddenly realized that all of the plant-based medical doctors agreed with this simple statement by Dr. Campbell:

“The closer we get to eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, the better off we will be.”

We know that the closest that we could possibly get would be 100% of our calories from those healthiest of foods. So, for our 4Leaf Program, we set the top bar at 80%—meaning that if you consume 80% or more of your calories from whole plants, you’ll be eating at the 4Leaf level. From 60 to 79%, the score is 3Leaf and so forth.

This poster did a great job of attracting people to our booth. Everyone seems to like taking surveys and it gives us a great opportunity to engage them in conversation. It was a lot of fun and left us feeling real good about our survey.

I use this poster at our booth at trade shows and speaking engagements.

But how do you measure it? At first, I used the old fashioned way—I counted my calories for a few days and tweaked my meals until I was consistently eating at the 4Leaf level. But most people are not going to count calories; nor did I want “calorie counting” to be associated with the 4Leaf for Life way of eating. Counting calories is associated with “weight-loss diets” and we wanted 4Leaf to be known as a healthy way of thinking about food for the rest of your life.

So for two years, I thought about how we could easily estimate the 4Leaf level of an individual—quickly, easily, and accurately. Then after several attempts, I settled on what we now know as The 4Leaf Survey, which is also available in a daily reporting version. The 4Leaf Survey was launched on this website earlier this year and has now been taken almost 4,000 times in over 100 countries.

4-LEAF_MASTERThe Algorithm (the points earned for each selection) on the current one-page printed version is visible while the individual is taking the survey. In other words, you can see what points you’re going to gain or lose while you’re taking the survey.

But in the future, the survey will be administered via an APP on a computer or a smartphone—and the points for each answer will not be revealed. Instead, after answering the 12 multiple choice questions, a report will be emailed immediately with a full set of helpful tips for improving your score. In the meantime, you can easily see where you gained or lost points and what you can do to improve the score.

A beautiful way to eat

4Leaf eating in the great outdoors—a beautiful and healthy way to eat—for the rest of your life.

Flexibility is key in the mainstream. As we begin taking our 4Leaf for Life concept to corporate America in our consulting work, we’re finding that our clients really appreciate its flexibility. We realized early-on that we wouldn’t get to first base with most clients if we were talking about trying to sell their workforce on becoming vegetarians or vegans.

Most people don’t like anything that implies “all or nothing” and it seems that the V words carry a certain stigma that most people simply don’t like. But everyone seems to love the simplicity and flexibility of 4Leaf for Life (now a registered trademark)

Consecutive daily blogs. My grandsons will like this picture.

Consecutive daily blogs. My grandsons will like this picture.

For your convenience, I have provided below a list of forms, blogs and other information regarding 4Leaf for Life:

The 4Leaf logo was designed by Thomas Mitchell of Lindberg Marketing & Media. We received the official registration certificate earlier this month.

Happy New Year!

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

International. We’re now reaching people in over 100 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get daily blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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