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Hitting reset on our eating

by Harley Pasternak, BA'97

We need to reset the way we think about food. We need to reset our metabolisms. We need to reset our bodies. And we need to do it now. Yes, ‘we’ means all of us, including me. That’s right: Despite having espoused a healthy, moderate lifestyle over the last 20 years, I have realized that moderation isn’t always enough, at least not as the first step toward real weight loss.

A recent study found that people who lose a significant amount of weight early on in a weight-loss plan are far likelier to stick with the plan over the long run.

I realized that I had to create a plan that brought immediate and dramatic results, without leading to that disastrous yo-yo effect (lose 10 pounds this week, regain 15 next week) associated with so many diets.

The plan I developed as a result is so simple yet so effective that even I was shocked by the results. I call it The Body Reset Diet, and it’s detailed in my new book: The Body Reset Diet: Power Your Metabolism, Blast Fat, and Shed Pounds in Just 15 Days (published March 2013 by Penguin Books Canada).

A couple years ago, I stumbled across an interesting study that found that blending your meals allowed your body to access more nutrients than any other form of food prep (raw or any cooking method).

Apparently, the blades of the blender slice up the food so efficiently, that the vitamins and minerals are more bioavailable to our bodies. Needless to say, I started to incorporate one smoothie to my diet each day.

Why Blend?

Blending is one of the quickest, most convenient ways to prepare food. Anyone can do it, on any schedule. You can create an entire meal in under 90 seconds. Just drop the ingredients into a blender and press the button. While I love smoothies, you can also use your blender to make delicious soups and dips.

Not only is blending quick and easy, it’s also a fast track to super nutrition. Blending makes the intimidating easy: With the help of a good blender, it’s zero effort to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet than you ever thought you could.

We all know that eating fruits and veggies benefits our health and can reduce our chance of getting heart disease and cancer, but did you know it helps improve our appearance as well? If you’re among the 85 per cent of people that suffer (or have suffered) from acne, you’ll be interested to know that a recent study suggested that consuming raw veggies might reduce breakouts by as much as 30 per cent.

Concerned with the signs of aging? Women who eat a lot of vitamin C-packed foods like oranges and strawberries have fewer wrinkles than women who don’t, according to another recent study.

As a child, I hated eating my greens. Well, now I’m an adult, and I still hate eating my greens. Luckily, blending meals allows you to ‘hide’ super-foods that you may have avoided in the past because of taste or texture. For example, I have never been a fan of spinach in any form, but I have always tried to choke it down because it’s one of the best foods for you on the planet. But if I stick a cup of spinach leaves in the blender with some frozen strawberries and kiwi, it’s like it disappears. I can now get spinach in my diet almost every single day ... without gagging.

Fruits and vegetables have the most fibre when they’re in their whole, natural form. When we peel them, juice them, and process them, they lose their most valuable nutrients. The fact is, we don’t eat nearly enough produce, and our diets are deficient in quality fibre. Health Canada recommends women consume a minimum of 26 grams of fibre a day and men consume at least 38 grams, but most adults get only about 10 grams a day – roughly one-third of the recommendation.

The simple truth is that more fibre can help us lose more weight. The vast majority of studies have concluded that more dietary fibre yields greater satiety and lower incidences of hunger: In fact, adding 14 grams of fibre a day has been shown to lead to a 10 percent decrease in caloric intake and an increased weight loss of about 4.2 pounds over a little under 4 months. Another study found that when people increased their intake of soluble fibre by 10 grams a day, their belly fat decreased by 3.7 percent in 5 years, while still another showed that soluble fibre can boost the immune system. So, when we blend whole ingredients in to a smoothie or soup, we’re helping ourselves in more ways than one.

Several studies have established blending as the most efficient way to get nutrients into our bodies. A 2008 study at the University of Toronto found that certain high-powered blenders are capable of disrupting the cell wall structure of plants and significantly reducing food particle size, which may enhance the bioavailability of essential nutrients in fruits and vegetables. Because blenders break down food into molecules that are efficiently digested, metabolized and readily bioavailable, i.e., absorbed into your body in a manner it can use. It’s like the blender is doing the chewing for you, but doing a much better job.

When you eat rapidly, don’t chew food thoroughly, or swallow big mouthfuls of food, you’re not breaking down your food enough before it enters your esophagus. Not only does this diminish your ability to absorb nutrients from our food, but it can also cause intestinal distress in the form of bloating, indigestion, heartburn, gas, cramping and constipation. When you use the blender, it breaks the solid ingredients down for you, so your digestive tract isn’t overwhelmed.

When you calculate the cost of ingredients, my Body Reset Diet smoothies cost as little as $2.20 each. That’s for a nutritionally complete meal (protein, fibre, healthy fat, etc.). You may pay a little more for organic ingredients if you like, but even then, you won’t break the bank. Choosing seasonal ingredients and buying frozen fruit and vegetables in bulk can save you even more.

Do you have a favorite smoothie? Tweet me the recipe @harleypasternak.

This article appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of Alumni Gazette
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