Four pounds and seven days ago, I finally decided to take the leap, and try out a drastic change in my diet. I had just finished watching the documentaries Hungry for Change and In Search of The Perfect Human Diet, and although I was skeptical and scared, I had been trying to drop the ‘last ten’ since my son was born in June, with no success, so I figured what the heck. To my sheer delight, only one short week later, I found myself four pounds lighter, more energetic than I’ve been in years, and convinced I made the right move.
In Hungry for Change, I was surprised to hear the suggestion that there are really only two key reasons for why people today, on average, carry more fat: 1) we’re not getting enough of the nutrients our bodies require, and 2) we are taking in too many toxins.
At first, I thought I was clear on the first reason, as I’d heard it many times before: our body goes into ‘starvation mode’ if we don’t get enough calories, lowers metabolism, and begins to store as much fat as it can to get us through the ‘winter’. But the film makes a point to say there’s a difference between calories and nutrients. Based on the assumption that fat makes us fat (which Hungry for Change filmmakers claim is completely false), we’ve cut our protein and fat intake to such low levels, that we’re not giving our bodies the critical nutrients we need.
Instead, we’re substituting in foods low in fat but also nutrition, such as many carbohydrates. They even go to the length of suggesting that this is why the so-sacred food pyramid (or now plate) has grains as the largest food group; because they can fill up your calorie count without adding any fat. They go into a lot more reasons why these empty carbohydrates are bad, but I won’t go into that, as I’ve already discussed it in a previous post. In addition to lack of animal protein and fat, both films suggest the average American still isn’t taking in enough vegetables, which are another key source of nutrients, and these are the problems that are putting us into ‘starvation mode.’
As for the second reason, I guess I’d always figured it might not be great to eat all these man-made chemicals we have in processed foods today, but I didn’t realize the correlation that had to the amount of fat our bodies carried. In Hungry for Change, they explain that in an effort to protect us from the harmful chemicals, our bodies barricade them off within fat cells. The less toxins we have in our bodies, the less barricades we need on hand.
To reduce the amount of toxins in our bodies, we need to do two things: 1) take in less toxins, and 2) clear out those that are already there. Taking in less is pretty simple: don’t eat the processed and non-organically grown foods that have them. Clearing out the ones that are already there, however, is a bit more tricky. To do this, you need to detoxify. But guess what? Many vegetables, as well as a few citrus fruits and teas, are great for naturally detoxifying your body.
Both films suggest a large increase in vegetable intake for nutrition and detox reasons, but Hungry for Change gives busy people like me, who find it difficult to eat, let alone get a diet high in vegetables and other detoxifying foods, a way to make it work: juicing.
Again, I wasn’t sure of the validity of the claims in either of these movies, but I was hungry for change too. My husband and I had been on a fairly strict diet of healthy foods for over two years, and I had lost some weight, but I was constantly fighting off the fat and the cravings for sweets, I felt like I had a decrease in my energy, and I had this deep feeling in my gut that it shouldn’t be this hard. Juicing seemed to make sense; it could be a relatively fast way to get a high amount of nutrients. We could continue to eat our healthy choices for lunch and dinner (minus some of the grains), but have a daily juice to help us detox and ensure we meet our nutritional needs.
The next day, my husband and I went to Costco, spent $80 on a juicer, and at least another $100 or so on organic vegetables. I looked up detox juice recipes online, mainly the three sites below, and we got started.
We prepared seven juices for the week, and froze all except the first two. We did some research on this, as we figured the juices would lose some of their nutrition when stored, and found out that they’d lose 1% a day in the freezer, and 10% a day in the fridge. But this was the only way we felt we could make it work with our busy lives, so we accepted that loss.
I also prepared the Cleansing Veggie Broth from Live Lighter, and decided to have this for my lunches, at least for a few weeks, to get a more productive detox.
Most of the juice recipes didn’t taste so great, in my opinion. But a few were actually good, and many were tolerable. My favorites were the Yummy Green Drink, and the Parsley Energy Explosion. But beyond taste, the benefits of the juices became clear within an hour of drinking the first one. I got an energy rush that out rivaled that of any coffee or espresso drink. But instead of it crashing down an hour or so later, it carried through my entire day, to the point that I had trouble going to sleep many nights.
The Veggie Broth was pretty hard to eat at first. It was just vegetables and water; no salt, no pepper, no fat, no flavorings… just veggies. But I ate it anyway, committed to the idea of getting the toxins out, if only for a short period of time. The interesting thing with the broth, though, was that it began to taste better each day I ate it. By the end of the week, I actually looked forward to eating my lunch. This goes back to something they said in Hungry for Change about our taste sensors being so overwhelmed by foods super-charged with salt and sugar on a daily basis, that they have forgotten what real food tastes like. I felt like this broth was my daily slice of ginger; a true palate cleanser. It really did reset me on the amount and types of flavor I preferred.
By the end of the week, my energy level was amazing, I was down four pounds, I looked better, and I felt great. My cravings for sugar and crappy carbohydrates had gone way down (not to zero, but noticeably improved). I hadn’t cut fat from my evening meal or my daytime snacks–actually I had increased it–and I still had lost weight. In fact, the only day that I didn’t lose weight, was one where I slipped-up and had a sandwich and potato salad for lunch.
Now I’m starting my second week on the same plan, after which I’m going to wrap up the formal detox and look at integrating a wider variety of healthy (and hopefully a bit more yummy) juice recipes into my diet. Overall, the experience has made me a believer in the ideas shared in these documentaries. I will continue to work on increasing my vegetable intake with juices, increasing my protein and fat intake, and trying to skip the sugar and carbs. My hope is that I am able to eventually attain the truly healthy body I’ve yearned for in the last five to ten years.
If you’ve followed a similar path, please comment with your experiences. I’m interested to learn about the results for those who have been doing this for an extended period of time.