Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Dark Side of the Diet

While the Grige and I had great success with the Clean diet, and have incorporated a number of Dr. Junger’s suggestions into our routine, it has some enormous draw-backs. Keep in mind that I’m giving my harshest critique, and that none of these drawbacks mean you can’t adapt the diet to be a little less… how shall I say… crazy. One of my favorite things about the book was how Dr. Junger encouraged his readers to “do your best” and not guilt trip yourself if you slipped up. It was a great prevention method for the “well, I already had one Dorito, I may as well finish the bag....” dieting back-slide.

Oh look! A diet back-slide in action!
 In order to get the best results on any diet, you have to kiss the booze bye-bye, and that strategy is just not working for me. While we certainly noticed the negative impacts of essentially drinking poison, our social and personal frameworks just don’t allow for leaving it out. I would appreciate a clean diet (or any diet, really) that looked this problem in the face and started giving serious advice on “if you must drink, here is what you should have and why” paired with a mitigation strategy for helping your system reset after a few glasses of wine. The Grige and I were able to significantly cut back on our drinking, but it would have been really helpful to have some guidance on whether I should be choosing beer, wine, or vodka on the rocks.
Photo: Chad Fisk
That's right... It's wine in a box. And I carried it all the way up that mountain, I love it that much.
One of Clean’s central arguments is that Americans are sick, tired and fat because of all the pollution we are exposed to through our food and environment. Dr. Junger references having a “sick planet”, and I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more. If you do too, you should stop what you are doing and go read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver right this minute. The problem is that Dr. Junger turns around and tells you to make a bunch of recipes filled with foods that are grown in very small, specific areas.  Pineapples, avocados and mangos are just not found in most of this country for most of the year. So unless you live in Hawaii or California, you’re going to have to purchase those foods after they have traveled thousands of miles, have been picked before they are ripe leading to enzyme depletion and have probably been sprayed with any number of chemicals to keep them bug-free and ripe for your picking in a grocery store. If the point is to clear our bodies and our environment of these practices, than almost every recipe provided with Clean has completely missed the point.
Go read it now! It's amazing!
Another large issue with Clean that didn’t emerge for me until I visited the website is that Dr. Junger attempts to sell you his supplement package for a ridiculous amount of money. It just felt dirty to think of buying a plastic wrapped box full of supplements and powders that were produced and packaged who-knows-where using who-knows-what. It’s also such a clear “easy way out”. If the book is supposed to teach you how to eat and cook healthy foods more consciously, what good is eating “two scoops of ‘Nourish powder’” going to for you? Nothing. It’s completely thoughtless, and dieting should NEVER be thoughtless. If you really want powders to put some more UMPH in your two liquid meals, go to a body building website, learn what is in them, and pick the best combination for what you are trying to achieve. Also, it’s much cheaper. I purchased a green powder (vegetable supplements) and whey protein from a body building website and have used them to balance my daily intake when necessary.
Photo: Me
Food research in action, it's no fun if you don't know how bad it is for you!
So that’s the dark side. All diets have them, and on the whole I think that Clean is pretty good. I learned a lot and I lost some weight, which are two great things to walk away from a diet with. What do you think? Have you tried any particularly good or interesting diets?

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