Monday, January 13, 2014

Smoothie Reset Diet? We're Trying It!

Neon green smoothie dinner. Tasty.
I can't get behind cleanses and fad diets. They are too restricting and do nothing for you in the long-term. Plus, Nick and I are horrible people when we're hungry and can't deal with starvation in any form. Not like that works anyhow...

However, my pal Jenny told me about an easy and flexible five day "cleanse" or body reset diet that wasn't insane. It's from Harley Pasternak, who is a celebrity trainer but offers a reasonable way to get a kick start to your healthy eating habits over 15 days. It's simple to follow and does not seem to have the crazy fad diet effect like yo-yo diets and cabbage soup diets can create where you swing from being incredibly famished and binge once your diet has concluded. Juicing can be delicious but it takes away a lot of the most nutritious parts of fruit or veggies and leaves water and sugar. With smoothies, you get the whole part of fruits and vegetables including all of the fiber.

We're not going to follow it exactly but instead break it down in five-day increments with a couple of loose days due to family being in town and wedding cake tasting which is an evil, delicious necessity.

How it works

You start off your first five days replacing your three meals a day with smoothies. You also eat two small snacks during the day. Each smoothie meal and snack needs to encompass a combination of fiber, protein and healthy fat. You get to eat throughout the day and you can drink plenty of zero or low calorie drinks like tea, black coffee, water, Vitamin Water Zero, etc. After that, over the next five days, you'll replace one of your smoothie meals with a healthy non-smoothie meal and then incorporate traditional healthy meals so you're down to one smoothie a day by the end.

This reset diet does require some prepping like making breakfast smoothies the night before if you don't have time in the morning, packing lunch smoothies and snacks but you don't really have to spend time cooking or preparing complex meals the first week. The book contains simple recipes for healthy meals later which can be prepped or prepared in advance; however you can create your own healthy meals once you understand the strategy he provides for creating healthy smoothie or food recipes.

So what did Nick and I have the first day?
  • We started out the day with a white smoothie - basically a smoothie of white-colored fruit. Our first meal was a riff of the "Apple Pie Smoothie": a smoothie made of soy milk, nonfat Greek yogurt, apple, banana, a little almond butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  • For a midday snack, I packed us some smoked salmon, a dab of Greek yogurt spinach dip and cucumber sticks.
  • I packed us thermoses of "Peanut Butter and Jelly" smoothies which is one of our favorites. It has banana, frozen strawberries, peanut butter, soy milk and some Greek yogurt - although you can use some protein powder instead of the yogurt. This encompasses a red smoothie which has red fruit like berries which are packed with fiber and antioxidants.
  • In the afternoon, I noshed on red bean chips while I had made for Nick a savory snack of nitrite-free pastrami slices and lots of pickles.
  • We enjoyed a tropical green smoothie for dinner: tons of spinach blended with a banana, mango, coconut water, nonfat Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of chia seeds.
You can find out specifics of the diet in this article. You can also get the book, which I downloaded to my Kindle to easily refer to recipes.

Week 1: How did it go so far?
  • First of all, we feel lighter. We are definitely eating more fruits and vegetables than we typically do since we're having healthy things at each meal. I usually don't eat very much fruit at all but my mother would be thrilled to know I'm having apples, pears, and tons of berries instead of just bananas.
  • Nick and I don't get hungry during the day. The smoothies and snacks kept us satisfied. It was a little difficult varying the smoothies and snacks although I got pretty creative with different snack options and there are some good, packaged, healthy snack options like some of the Kind Bars or Cruncha-Mame crunchy peas.
  • You have to measure our your portions. Nick wants to eat bigger snacks but snacks need to be around 200 calories for him and around 150 calories for me. This means he gets generous portions of crudité with hummus but only a small bit of high fiber, whole grain Kashi cereal and milk for another snack. Boys usually do not follow the appropriate portion of cereal; they tend to want to eat giant, hungry-man bowls.
  • We are ravenous in the late evening. Nighttime seems to be a struggle with us as we get hungry for something a little more substantial around 8-9pm. Most of the time we drink some tea or maybe have a few carrot sticks or nuts if we're ravenous but we've resigned to mostly heading to bed a little on the hungry side.
  • I ran out of energy towards the end of the week. I was struggling to stay awake in the early evening on Thursday even with a decent amount of sleep and took a long nap Friday evening at 6:30pm! I wasn't necessarily hungry but I was exhausted. My fatigue was greater than the usual tiredness I would have from a long week at work or one poor night's sleep and I'm not sure I can attribute it to anything other than the diet.
  • Our taste buds were reset! We had a couple of cake tasting appointments after a week of healthy eating and everything tasted too sweet. Each bite of cake or dessert was almost overly sweet for our adjusted taste buds and we didn't feel our best after consuming so much sugar.
At this point, we are thrilled to be able to incorporate solid meals along with our smoothies. We're going to try to stick to this reset diet as best as we can and see where it takes us.

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