To Juice Or Not To Juice?

We have all seen it. That before picture on Facebook or a glossy magazine of a glum faced woman standing in her underwear with muffin tops a baker would be proud of. She’ll most likely be bare faced, with her hair scraped back and the shot will have been taken in dodgy lighting to top things off.

Then the after picture …. evidence that miracles do in fact happen. This once miserable, dumpy lady has been transformed into a goddess, a radiant beauty. Her skin is glowing and her muffin tops are no more. She’s trim, toned and hot, and her smile says she knows it. As if this transformation is not gobsmacking enough, it occurred in only 4 weeks and was so easy anyone could do. You could do it too for only £130. Just drink this juice for a month!

OK, calm down. Step away from the bank card. Let us put on our sceptical hats and think this through before we part with our dosh. From a logical point of view, if fighting the obesity pandemic that has the government and the health care system chewing their nails with worry, was as easy as giving people juice for a month, some bright spark would have suggested this as a public health intervention already.

From a conspiracist point of view, maybe it is the answer to all our problems but those nasty junk food industry giants are working behind the scenes to supress the juice miracle.

For a neutral view point let’s look at the science concerning juice diets, that’s what qualified nutritionists do after all (I just happen to ramble a fair bit before I get down to business). Extreme diets have been shown to be bad for you both physical and mentally. Yo-yo weight patterns, as in losing then regaining weight repeatedly is damaging to health. The body can begin to strip itself of muscle as a way to nourish itself, including heart muscle.

Calcium can be pulled from the bones to make up for the lack of it in the diet. Vitamin and mineral stores can be sucked dry. The body’s metabolic system can be negatively changed, with hormone imbalances causing significant increases in hunger leading to you being constantly pre-occupied with thoughts of food, over glorifying the forbidden chocolate bar like it is the forbidden fruit of Eden. The end result of all these factors? A crabby, tired, weak, lazy and unhealthy individual but hey! At least you’ll be 10lb lighter.

The mental consequences of dieting are often over looked but are often much more severe than the physical effects. Bulimia, anorexia and other eating disorders have all been linked with a history of dieting. One American study questioned a large group of adolescents to find out how many had been or were currently dieting.

Five years down the line, the group was revisited. The results are alarming. Those who had reported dieting at the beginning of the study had higher BMIs, 3 times more risk of being overweight and also had significantly higher occurrences of laxative abuse and forcing vomiting by the end of the study. So in clear terms they were fatter and had more chance of having an eating disorder than their non-dieting friends.

Any ‘scientific’ claims you see backing juice diets should be taken lightly. The ‘study’ is usually either made-up, funded by the company making the juice or very poorly conducted. Apart from studies I have read for liquid diets that are used at the start of treatment programs for severe obesity, I have never found any actual scientific basis to any claims made by the commercial companies we all see on our newsfeeds.

From my personal point of view, it’s just another ineffective fad diet. Just another way of taking advantage of people’s desperation, lack of self-esteem and health issues by offering a quick easy fix to a complex problem. The social pressure and the pressure we put on ourselves to be the best and to look the best is what keeps us hooked on these fad diets.

In my crazy years of dieting before I studied to be a nutritionist I admit I fell for them too, whatever was going to make me ‘skinny in no-time’. Well it did not work, I saw my weight initially drop then when the diet ended it all came back with vengeance. After a month of juice and constant thoughts of food, all I wanted to do was eat!

What does work? Getting to the root of why you over-eat in the first place and making sustainable little changes that allow you to still lead and enjoy the life you want to. Most importantly, have faith in your ability to change.


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