Finally, summertime is here. After months of gray skies, it's time to leave the house and enjoy the sunshine; time to grab your swim suit and jump into the pool, right? Much easier said than done if you're one of the millions of Americans who haven't been hitting the gym and practicing food portion control.
Putting on the swimsuit is a daunting task for those who aren't happy with their physiques. Many of them believe that drastic times call for drastic measures, so they opt for the detox and cleanse fasts that are easily available. Such liquid diets last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Promises range from ridding the body of dangerous toxins to losing weight to improving energy levels. But do these claims really add up?
Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, who founded the company Envision Beauty, says such claims are unsubstantiated. She says that while you may enjoy dropping a few pounds quickly, the weight loss is only temporary.
"I believe there is very little in the way of long-term benefits or really deep cleansing or actual weight loss," she said. "More fundamentally, I don't believe that trendy juice fasts do much to teach the real-life skills of detoxification -- learning how to eat healing foods each and every day. Unfortunately, many people who go from unhealthy diets to short-term fasts end up going right back to old habits when they finish."
Snyder encourages her clients, who range from celebrities in the spotlight to people paying attention to their bodies and diet for the first time, to make healthy changes on a daily basis rather than reach for a quick fix. One of the changes she encourages is to start the day with her signature "Green Smoothie."
"The Green Smoothie is a way to cleanse and detoxify the body on an ongoing basis," Snyder said. "Remember: the goal shouldn't be a three-day or two-week drastic cleanse, and then go back to our old eating habits. Rather, it is about a lifetime of improvement.
"The Green Smoothie will help improve overall health in one powerful, easy step and it will help improve our food choices. If you focus on adding one Green Smoothie a day to replace a meal, you will see an improvement in your health and, naturally, you will start to shed away less optimal food choices," Snyder said.
Snyder does not advocate using the Green Smoothie as a way to fast. Rather, use the recipe to replace a meal.
1 1/2 cup of water
1 head of organic romaine lettuce, chopped
3-4 stalks of organic celery
1 organic apple, cored and chopped
1 organic pear, cored and chopped
1/3 bunch of organic cilantro
1/3 bunch of organic parsley
Juice of ½ fresh organic lemon
Combine the water and chopped head of romaine into your blender. Starting the blender on a low speed, mix until smooth. Gradually moving to higher speeds, add the herbs, celery, apple and pear. Add lemon juice last. Serve chilled or at room temperature. This recipe makes about four servings.
Snyder also provides tips on five natural foods that can easily be added to anyone's diet.
1. Use Raw Agave Nectar and/or Stevia as Sweetener: Artificial sweeteners are unnatural to the liver and body, and can stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings and stimulate fat storage and weight gain because they are high on the glycemic index.