High Times Greats: ‘The Decadent Diet’ by Terri Nunn

Diet tips from an ’80s rock star who is no stranger to the fast lane.
High Times Greats: 'The Decadent Diet' by Terri Nunn
Terri Nunn by Bruce Kennedy

In this July, 1985 High Times article, Terri Nunn of the band Berlin offers nutritional tips for staying healthy while living the high life. In conjunction with Nunn’s birthday on June 26, we’re republishing it below.

I first became interested in nutrition when a doctor whom I met at my first (and last) visit to a Southern California nudist colony gave me a nutritional remedy for a 15-year foot rash. Sounded simple, yet I had been seeing doctors and specialists and using pills and ointments since I was eight years old—with no results. This worked… PERMANENTLY.

My first experience with vitamins came at 19; my boyfriend asked me to care for myself. He begged me to take one multi-vitamin pill a day. I’d forget or wiggle out of it. One day I noticed how I looked, how many points I’d overlooked to keep from scaring myself.

One vitamin turned into three. I read that progress could be accelerated by changing my diet of Twinkies and milk. My motto was and still is, “Never believe blindly in anything.”

The clinching test came two weeks before Berlin’s first tour. I woke up one morning with mononucleosis. My doctor diagnosed it and told me to stay in bed for a month. I was at my rope’s end. That night, I dragged out the nutrition books. Raw food… raw juice… the cure-all, they said. I had no other hope; I embarked on the diet, eating only fruits, vegetables and nuts. Two days later, the mononucleosis disappeared.

My mother, a noted American astrologer for 28 years, says the universe simply has laws which are working for us. The more we know, the more we can utilize them. Believing or disbelieving that the moon affects us daily makes no difference; it will still regulate the water in our bodies, as it does all the water on this planet. Mother Nature also has laws, and she’s no dumb blonde. The human body is the most intricate piece of machinery we have yet seen. Believing or disbelieving in vitamin C makes no difference; the body cannot heal without it.

My mother and I have decided nutrition is like astrology. Everybody knows just enough about it to say, “Yeah, there’s something to that.” But unlike astrology, nutrition is mandatory for human survival. Mere knowledge of the “Four Basic Food Groups” doesn’t cut it anymore. We’re still in the top three of the sickest nations in the world per capita, and health is the fastest-growing failing business.

People who take drugs and live a fast-lane lifestyle further endanger their health. I don’t want to make judgments about anyone’s lifestyle. I would just like to offer some tips on how you can compensate for a life lived in the fast lane by watching your nutrition and taking vitamin and mineral supplements. First, I’ll list the most commonly used recreational drugs and offer specific guidelines on how to fight the damage they do to the body. Then I’ll give some basic tips on how you can be a healthier, happier person.

Drugs and Nutrition

Recreational drugs have pleasurable effects, or millions of people wouldn’t be taking them. They also have decidedly dangerous consequences, both physically and psychologically. I have never known of a healthy addict. I have also never studied the psychological aspects of drugs and alcohol, so I will deal strictly with known facts and nutritional remedies for their physical effects. My recommendations in all instances are not meant to be prescriptive. They are offered only as suggestions, which should be discussed with your doctor.


One point on which doctors agree is that alcoholics tend to eat badly. The implication is that one eats badly because one is alcoholic. There is evidence that it might just be the other way around.

A group of nutritionists studying the nutrition-related causes of alcoholism came up with some interesting findings. They took a group of rats and put them in a cage with a pail of water and a pail of whiskey, so that the rats could drink the water or the whiskey at will. When they gave the rats donuts and coffee for breakfast and a ham sandwich and a Coke for lunch, the rats invariably drank whiskey and would not touch the water. If supplied with this diet for enough days, depending on the size of the individual rat, the nutritionists found that they could produce a colony of drunken rats. And this applied above and beyond any other causal factors such as whether the rat’s mother was an alcoholic, whether the rat’s father lived with the mother, or how the rat was toilet-trained.

The nutritionists then took the research one step further. They fed the rats differently—giving them a high-unrefined/low-refined carbohydrate diet, with moderate protein and high vitamin/mineral intake—and the rats lost interest in whiskey and started drinking water. Through proper nutrition, the researchers produced a colony of ex-alcoholics.

Alcohol steals B-15, folic acid, A, B-1, B-2, biotin, choline, niacin and magnesium.

TAKE: B-complex, 100 mg., 1-3 times daily, and lecithin, 19-grain (4 to 6 capsules), twice daily, along with your basic multi-vitamin, multi-mineral and vitamin C supplementation. All supplements listed in this section will be in addition to these basic vitamins and minerals.

FOODS: Whole brown rice, whole grain cereals, nutritional yeast, pumpkin and sesame seeds, wheat germ.


This drug, some people believe, acts as a buffer in the brain against unpleasant external stimuli: loud noises, arguments, overstimulation of any kind. Smokers need all the help they can get, especially from antioxidants that neutralize destructive radical oxygen molecules in ozone, carbon monoxide, etc. These antioxidants are Vitamins A, C, and E, the mineral selenium and the amino acid, cysteine. Smokers also lose 25 to 100 mg. vitamin C with each cigarette.

TAKE: Vitamin C, 3,000 mg., 2 to 3 times daily; vitamin E, 400-1,000 IU daily; selenium, 50-200 mg. daily; cysteine, 1,000-1,500 mg. daily; extra vitamin A, 10,000 IU daily.

FOODS: Fresh fruits and vegetables and calcium-rich foods: whole grains, nuts, green veggies, bran, meat, kidney, liver, heart, chicken.

Nothing is better than quitting. To ease withdrawal symptoms: 1 tablet tryptophan (667 mg.), 3 times daily; B-complex, 100 mg. (time release) daily; and C, 1,000 mg., 3 times daily.

If you live with a smoker or spend a lot of time in smoke-filled bars, clubs or parties, fortify yourself with antioxidants and get a good home air filter.


The British medical journal, Lancet, reported that people who drink five or more cups of coffee daily have a 50 percent greater chance of a heart attack than noncoffee-drinkers. Caffeine can be toxic. Ten grams can be lethal. What most studies consider a safe dosage is 250 mg. (two cups or less) daily—and even at this rate, caffeine is addictive, and anyone who tries to go for a whole day caffeine-free will suffer withdrawal headaches.

Coffee steals B-1, inositol, biotin, potassium and zinc. It inhibits calcium and iron assimilation.

TAKE: B-complex, 50 mg. (time release), 1 to 3 times daily; calcium, 500 mg. daily; and lecithin, 19-grain, 4-8 times daily.

FOODS: whole wheat breads, nutritional yeast, blackstrap molasses, rice polish, bran, wheat germ.


You’ve probably gotten the “munchies” if you’re a pot smoker. Your desire to move goes down and you grab the nearest “ready-made” refined carbohydrate. This steals B-complex from your system.

TAKE: B-complex (time release), 100 mg., morning and evening; vitamin C, 1,000 mg. (time release) daily; vitamin E, 100-400 IU, 1 to 3 times daily; and vitamin A, 10,000 IU daily. The last two protect your lungs.


This drug can turn out to be even more expensive to a body than to a bank account. Being a stimulant, vasoconstrictor and appetite suppressant, cocaine can make you skip meals, much like an alcoholic. It also attacks mucous membranes in the lungs (when smoked as freebase) and nasal passages. Immoderate snorting can cause chronic “coke nose syndrome,” in which the nasal membranes become so decrepit that a permanent hole forms in the nasal septum.

The biggest problem—and reason to avoid this drug—is what it might be “cut” with. Some cuts, like lactose, dextrose, inositol (a B vitamin) and mannitol are relatively harmless. Other, nondrug cuts such as cornstarch, talcum powder and flour are dangerous because they are insoluble in blood and can clot it, causing strokes, heart attack and death. Drug cuts such as procaine, lidocaine and benzocaine can also cause blood clots and serious heart irregularities when injected.

TAKE: B-complex, 100 mg., 1 to 3 times daily; vitamin C, 1,000 mg. (time release) daily; vitamin E, 200-400 IU daily; and vitamin A, 10,000 IU daily.


The greatest danger with abuse of barbiturates is tolerance; while you need more to get the same high, the lethal dose remains the same. All are physically addictive and withdrawal symptoms are worse than heroin’s, possibly causing seizures and death. Many rehabilitative institutions that help heroin addicts won’t take barbiturate users.

Whether you’re taking downers or breaking the habit, TAKE: B-complex, 100 mg., 3 times daily; tryptophan, 250-667 mg., 2 to 3 times daily; niacinimide, 100-500 mg., 1 to 3 times daily; vitamin C, 3,000 mg. daily; and lecithin, 19-grain, 3 to 6 capsules daily.

FOODS: High in calcium—meat, nuts, kidney, green vegetables, liver, milk and its products, bran, chicken. High in niacin—fresh fruits, whole wheat, fish, eggs, roasted peanuts, avocados, dates, figs. High in choline—egg yolk, green leafy vegetables, whole wheat, wheat germ.

NEVER combine alcohol with barbiturates.


Most heavy users of speed develop malnutrition and an increased susceptibility to infections and disease. It can cause nervousness, paranoia, fatigue, headaches and high blood pressure, and it’s addictive. A dieter who uses amphetamines usually winds up overweight and hooked on amphetamines, instead of just overweight.

TAKE: Niacin and vitamin C, 1,000 mg. of each after every meal to restore energy.

FOODS: High in calcium (see FOODS, Barbiturates).


Different from barbiturates, these are sedative-hypnotics working on a different central nervous system site. Quaaludes are no longer legally manufactured in the U.S., but imports and bootleg ‘ludes continue to be available.

Some believe Quaaludes heighten sexual arousal. Large doses have the reverse effect. I was given half-a-tab by a man on our first date; he said it would make me “sexy.” Twenty minutes later, “sexy” was asleep. I never saw him again.

Move on to Heroin section for foods and supplements that can help.


Along with mescaline, psilocybin and psilocin, this hallucinogen has stimulant effects on the sympathetic nervous system and produces some effects on the body similar to amphetamines. See that section for foods and supplements.


A combination of a sleeping pill (Doriden) and a pain-killer (codeine), the effect is stronger and more addictive than heroin. Going into a coma is not uncommon—nor is not coming out of it. Withdrawal is also similar to heroin’s. See the next section for help.


This is the main narcotic of addiction in America (although, under the recently revised definition of addiction, cocaine is now probably number one). Included in this section are morphine, methadone and meperidine (Demerol). One can get hooked on heroin fairly quickly, soon doing it simply to ward off the withdrawal effects, as it takes more and more to get high, to feel “normal.” I urge you to read H by Christiane F. (Corgi Books) or see the movie if you have any ideas about getting involved with this drug. Christiane’s nightmarish heroin story should quickly dispel any such notions.

The potential physical effects of “mainlining” from the needles alone include gangrene, lockjaw, blood poisoning, serum hepatitis, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, cardiovascular and lung abnormalities. And now mainlining addicts who share their needles with others must worry about an even scarier side-effect: AIDS. Physical effects of the substances used to “cut” heroin can cause respiratory failure, shock, pulmonary edema and even death.

Narcotic addicts generally suffer from malnutrition and chronic constipation. Get help.

In the meantime, TAKE:

  • Vitamin C, up to 10,000 mg. daily
  • Vitamin E, 200-400 IU, 3 times daily
  • Vitamin B-complex, 100 mg., 3 daily
  • Unprocessed bran flakes, 2 tbsp. daily
  • Bran tablets, 3 to 9 daily
  • Acidophilus liquid, 1 tbsp., 3 times daily
  • Hydrochloric acid tablets, 1 with each meal

Again, this is along with a basic multivitamin and multi-mineral.

FOODS: High in B-complex, C, E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc—Green and yellow vegetables, eggs, meat, milk, kidney, all dairy products, liver, whole wheat, heart, oatmeal, peanuts, chicken, yeast, fish, blackstrap molasses, yogurt, whole brown rice, grains, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, fruits, berries, potatoes, soybeans, dates, vegetable oils, whole-grain cereals, raisins, figs, beans, all juices.

The aforementioned nutritional remedies are for the occasional drinker or drug abuser. Once one has jumped the line into addiction, complications arise that these alone cannot help. Scientists have concluded that obsessions are out-of-control power forces; they are stronger than the sex drive, stronger even than life itself. It’s up to you.

Nutrient “Drugs”

Nutritional drugs invoke many of the same responses as recreational drugs without harming the body. They react slower but usually last longer. Try:

  • Pantothenic acid, calcium and lecithin for sleeping
  • Tryptophan and magnesium as tranquilizers and sleeping aids
  • B-12, choline, calcium, manganese for nervousness, irritability
  • Magnesium for depression
  • Zinc for virility in men
  • Phenylalanine as a stimulant
  • B-6 for nausea
  • Niacin and vitamin C for energy
  • Rock ‘n’ roll for anything!

Healthful Hints

These are a few ”health preservatives.” If you’re like me—constantly on the go—the last thing you want to do is become ill. I want to feel more than okay; I want to feel vibrant. Using even one of these seven points will promote your health. Using all of them can promote miracles. These have helped me do that.

1. Eat as much raw food as possible.

I’ve learned to be more discriminating. Now my use of the term “junk food” applies to more of what we’re told are edible “items.” Convenience foods— prepackaged, preheated, predigested, preshit for you—turned out to be one of my biggest problems. There is more science in merchandising than in either the medical or dental fields. They can sell anything, and do. We are killing ourselves for convenience.

Raw foods impart life-giving enzymes that keep your digestive system, bowels, blood, immune system, heart and mind in perfect working order. Cooked food requires your body’s own store of energy to digest. This leads to lowered resistance, fatigue and eventually disease.

Start with one raw food at every meal. Working up to 50 percent raw food will improve health dramatically. Seventy-five percent is optimal.

2. Get more fresh air than you need.

Tour buses are part of my lifestyle. They have everything from Sony Trinitrons to microwave ovens. The one we got on our ’84 U.S. tour had everything too—except windows. It had “climate control.”

We would spend the better part of the day sitting in this bus, throwing each other around in the back, reading in the front, sleeping (and other activities) in the bunks, etc. Nine out of 12 of us woke up with sinus problems or coughing spells the first week. Our former synth player, David Diamond, was the first to break into a cold. I came next. Our bass player/songwriter, John Crawford, had only a mild cough until we spent two consecutive days on the bus; it then turned into bronchitis. He had to be taken to an emergency room.

Studies have now shown that germs breed in still air, like they do in still water. Many people with morning puffy eyes, headaches, stiffness, coughing or sinus problems can eliminate them by sleeping in fresh air. One point for women: It makes you look a lot better.

3. Move your body.

The Funniest-Study-Ever-Performed Award goes to one in 1935 where a group of Olympic-trained athletes were asked to mimic a group of babies for one day. If the baby plopped on the ground, the athlete was supposed to plop on the ground; if the baby threw his arm up in the air, the athlete was to do so also—for 24 hours. They started at 8 a.m. By noon, the athletes had all given up in exhaustion.

Immobility is part of our lifestyle. If a secretary does her job this year the same way as last year with but one change—an electric typewriter replacing a manual—she will gain four to six pounds in that year. Not very much, but if you add an electric toothbrush, electric hair dryer, electric windows on her car, escalators and elevators… That’s why 50 percent of Americans are fighting fat.

I’m lucky in that I get one-and-a-half hours of rigorous exercise onstage every night when we’re on the road. Walking is great, sex is great, dancing is great. (An added plus is that exercise releases hormones in the brain that precipitate euphoric response.)

4. Drink clean water.

The water in my town, L.A., has been declared hazardous for humans, as has 60 percent of the water supply in the U.S. Thousands of gallons of water are circulated through your system every day to keep it clean. Replacing it is the best help you can give. Four to six glasses of clean or bottled water a day will make a difference in every function of your body.

5. Avoid sugar.

I know, you’ve heard enough about all the havoc this causes. So let’s put it to the test. This one is about a little organism that loves you called the White Cell. It dances around in your blood, meets up with a germ, wraps its little cudapodia around the germ, brings it into its Waring Blenders and Osterizers, and smashes up the germ. This is your defense system. Without it, disease lays siege. The White Cell is your fighter and it dies for you… every day. An average of 13 germs die with it when it’s working efficiently. When it’s not, we’re in deep trouble.

Now let’s look at an average diet. How about six teaspoons of sugar—an ice cream cone, a small piece of pie, a donut and coffee. Forty-five minutes later, each white cell would pick up only ten germs—our defense system is thus destroyed by 25 percent. How about 12 1/2 teaspoons of sugar—pie à la mode. Forty-five minutes later, the white cell would pick up five and a half germs—our defense system is cut in half. After one has a cocktail, eats spaghetti and meatballs, French bread, French pastry, drinks a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, maybe a liqueur—the white cell’s capacity to defend us would be destroyed 90 percent in 45 minutes.

Dr. Albert Sanchez, writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, says that it takes five hours for your white cells to recover from a meal like this. So if you do yourself in at breakfast, you’ll recover by 1 p.m. But if you do it again at lunch, you won’t rebound until 6 p.m. Then there’s dinner. One usually has pretty healthy white cells from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m., unless you went out on a bash, in which case the white cells are never any good.

Does this mean cut out all sugar? No. Sugar as we know it in cookies, cakes, candy, ice cream, etc., is a refined carbohydrate. Most people get too many refined and not enough unrefined carbohydrates such as fruits, whole grains, raw milk, raw honey and vegetables. A common result of this is diabetes. The best thing is to cut down on sugar as much as possible.

6. Avoid salt.

It seems like everybody’s got a bitch. I live in the city and simple things like driving downtown run me into at least 40 people screaming and yelling for their place on the road. Peace in mind, on the job and, especially, with other people is hard to find. High blood pressure is a major reason for this, and salt is a major cause of high blood pressure. That’s why I avoid it.

This disease is one of the most dangerous you can get. An estimated eight hundred and fifty thousand people a year die from it. Eating a lot of salt upsets the balance you need to stay healthy: the balance maintained between potassium and salt in your cells. Too much potassium? Your blood pressure plummets and you can die. Too much sodium? Blood pressure skyrockets and you can die.

It’s almost impossible to get too little salt in a diet of natural foods. If you’ve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, lean toward potassium-rich foods such as citrus fruits, all green leafy vegetables, unsalted sunflower seeds, bananas, potatoes, onions and garlic. Stay away from coffee, a potassium depleter.

7. Take supplements.

American soil is not noted for its nutritional value. In addition, shipping and handling have taken their toll on the food grown in that soil by the time it gets to you. Compound that with meals eaten out and stress from working, it spells D-E-F-I-C-I-E-N-C-Y.

I take:

  • 1 multi-vitamin (with at least 25,000 IU vitamin A)
  • 1 multi-mineral (with at least 1,000 mg. calcium and trace elements)
  • 4 to 10 grams Vitamin C (time release)
  • 600 IU Vitamin E
  • 100 mg. Vitamin B-complex (time release)
  • 200 mcg. selenium
  • 4 to 6 tablets kelp
  • 1,000 mg. cysteine
  • 4 to 6 19-grain lecithin
  • 10 to 12 capsules cod liver oil

You can substantially improve your health with the first three alone. I advise the extra vitamin C because it is manufactured in most species except human beings, and we need a daily supply for health. Some scientists consider this phenomenon to be a major genetic defect in our evolution. Vitamin C is not toxic; any excess is safely eliminated.

Vitamins cannot save you from hot dogs, rancid potato chips, a life of junk food. If you’re on that path daily, you can kiss your happiness goodbye (yes, food can change your behavior), not to mention your looks and your health. I cannot provide miracle cures. You can—for you. I can tell you what has worked for me, but it won’t do a bit of good unless you’re willing to give it time. After all, it takes years of bad habits to become diseased; a couple of months of healthy habits is not a lot to do for your body. Expect permanent yet slow results. It’s a small price to pay and you’re worth it!

1 comment
  1. Hi high times magazine!

    Im using some of your content translated to Spanish for a Spanish website dedicated to achieve legalización in our country i have just 400 views un muy blog, i was asking myself If you guys would mind, i link all sources , It would be nice to collab or work for you i have experience growing and english and spanish fluence and some computing and social media skills If you want to collab in something send me an email heres my site libertadverde.com
    cheers! Take care! And as we say un Spain Buenos humos!

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