Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Best 'Cleanse' or 'Detox' is a Healthy Diet!

Picture Source:
You have probably heard the saying “Diets Don’t Work”, which is because most of them have you completely eliminate foods, and thus, nutrients that have a vital function in maintaining health and your happiness. There are diets that eliminate “carbs”, low-fat diets, gluten-free fad diets, and hundreds of others. The truth is that Americans are very good at following diets for a limited period of time and are champs when it comes to losing weight. The problem is that the majority of people are not able to follow that strict lifestyle for extended periods of time, and therefore, end up regaining the lost weight, and sometimes gaining even more. So, if food-based diet plans fail to show long-term success in weight loss, then why on earth would a short term liquid based diet, cleanse, or “detox” work?

Detox diets and cleanses have been around for many decades and the main idea behind them is to get people into a “healthy” frame of mind. If you can trick yourself into thinking that your body is being cleared of toxins, perhaps you will be more inclined to eat healthier when you do introduce real food and start an exercise regime. However, most often, people will do a detox for 5-7 days, lose weight, may feel better, and may “clear out” their system… and therefore, think the detox is working! The reality is you are losing weight because you are consuming very few calories and taking in much more fiber than your body is used to- which will get things “moving” and cause you to lose weight quickly due to lost water. Most people don’t eat anywhere near the recommendation for fiber (>30 grams/day), so, of course adding lots of fiber (as long as you are drinking liquids- which cleanses are!) will get things moving no matter how you do it. It’s not the magic of the cleanse diet; you experience more regularity because you are increasing your fiber and liquid intake.

Once you lose the initial amount of weight and try to transition back to a normal diet, you will mostly likely have a difficult time continuing to lose weight. The only way you will be successful at losing weight and maintaining your goal weight is if you have completely changed the way you think about food. In order to be successful, you need to break your old habits that led to weight gain in the first place. You must  have a good grasp on what healthy foods and food groups you need to include in your diet, exercise regularly, and be mentally strong (this is incredibly important for keeping up a healthy diet & exercise routine).

The Kelly Cleanse Diet: If you really have the urge to get into a healthy frame of mind, here is my cleansing plan for you: Pick a week where all you eat is fresh fruits, TONS of vegetables, plain whole grains (buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, oats, etc), and lean natural sources of protein (fish, eggs, soybeans, nuts, seeds, etc). Once you do this for a week you should feel like you have been “cleansed” of processed foods, and can slowly begin to add back sauces, non-fat and low-fat dairy or dairy-alternatives, and more processed foods like whole wheat bread, tofu, yogurt, kefir, etc.

My recommendation: The best cleanse is healthy eating. If you are eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, minimally processed dairy and dairy alternatives, and lean sources of protein, there is no reason why you would ever need to “cleanse.” If you are sticking to appropriate portions and including physical activity every day, there is also no need to “go on a diet.” You should think of healthy eating as what you do, not a limited time installment in your life. As far as “detox” diets go- your liver is the best “detoxifier” there is! Your liver can get rid of ethanol (alcohol), which is toxic to the human body. If it can get rid of that, it can pretty much rid the body of any minor toxins that you may come across in your mostly healthy diet. Here are a few of my healthy diet rules:

1.    Eat whole, natural foods as often as possible.
2.    Eat as many non-starchy veggies as possible.
3.    Don’t eliminate any food group, especially grains!
4.    Don’t restrict foods you love, just eat them rarely and in an appropriate portion.
5.    Stick to proper portion sizes (schedule an appointment with me to find out what your individual portion sizes should look like! ;-)
6.    Get Moving!!!!!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Don't Be Fooled by "Reduced, Low, or Free" Junk Foods!

Manufacturers have learned how to label junk food so that consumers think that they are "healthy" (or at least healthier) food items. However, reduced calories just means that a food has at least 25% fewer calories than the original. So, with "reduced fat" hot dogs, they can still have 12 grams of unhealthy fat (highly saturated, processed, etc.), but just be lower than the original that has 16 grams. Low-fat doesn't mean fewer calories, and oftentimes, low fat or fat free products contain close to the same amount of calories as the original because sugar has been added to replace the fat. With sugar-free products, they add fat and artificial ingredients to replace the sugar. Finally, "trans fat free" doesn't mean that the product is fat-free. Furthermore, it doesn't mean that the product has no trans fat. It simply means the product has <0.5 g/serving, so a 1 tbsp of flavored coffee creamer may have 0.4 g/tbsp (from the partially hydrogenated oils), but it can legally be labeled trans fat free. So, if you consume 5 tbsp of this stuff a day, you are above the recommended <2 gram limit for trans fat. 

My recommendation: Stick to foods that you know are naturally healthy (fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, nuts, etc.), and if you must indulge, take a little bite of a treat and don't overdo it. It’s all about portion size. It's better to taste a little of something really good, rather than eating a lot of something that tastes "okay" and is full of calories and artificial additives. You'll end up eating fewer calories in the end if you eat one fresh baked chocolate chip cookie as opposed to several sugar free or low fat cookies.