Students and teachers try out non-traditional diets

Adeline Yu

Dieting used to be simple: “just eat less.” But as nutritional science improves, many people are trying more non-traditional approaches to dieting.

For instance, senior Anya Hsu went on a juice cleanse. For five days, Hsu replaced all solid foods with juices made from fruits and vegetables. “Not eating anything was ridiculously hard,” says Hsu. While the concept may seem extreme, juice cleanses is gaining popularity as their purported benefits propagate. The idea behind juices cleanse is simple: through eating, drinking, and even breathing, toxins continually build up in the body. Cutting out all solid foods for three to seven days and replacing them with juices containing all vital nutrients can purportedly help the body purify and detoxify its system, as well as shed excess weight; Hsu was happy with her diets results. “No carbs, no dairy, no animal products, no processed things, no sugar, it’s good stuff … I lost about 12 pounds,” she says.

However, according to Real Simple, a popular health and living magazine, the supposed benefits of these juice cleanses can often be deceptive. According to the magazine, the weight loss promised is mostly water weight. When the body digests solid food, it needs to store water to help the process. By removing all solid food, the body rids itself of the unneeded water, shedding some weight. However, once put back on its usual diet, the body will soon store the water back up again.

Hsu says she has not had this experience. “Some may argue that it’s just water and stuff, but I’ve miraculously managed to keep most of it off,” says Hsu.

While Hsu’s diet was effective, juice cleanses aren’t the only type of unconventional diet that is gaining popularity. Besides cutting out solid foods, many people forgo products sometimes considered unhealthy, such as animal products, protein or gluten.

Math teacher Nathan Kundin has been vegetarian for 20 years. He experienced frequent migraines and searched for a way to prevent them. “When I was a vegetarian, I drank a lot of milk for protein. I think it was the source of my migraines. By cutting out milk and introducing green smoothies, my migraines essentially went away.” For him, changing his diet had significant and valuable benefits.

Senior Kristin Shaw started a vegan diet nine months ago, and found her diet to have some benefits. As part of her vegan diet, she eats no meat, dairy or other animal products. “I’ve lost a lot of weight. I got sick less often. I had more energy. I was more active, and I didn’t feel as weighed down,” says Shaw. Even though she originally started the diet for animal rights, going vegan had unexpected perks. “Its … a great way for people to get active, eat healthy and eat more vegetables and fruits,” she says.

Similar reasons prompted freshman Madison Moeckli to go pescetarian. A pescetarian diet is when fish is the only meat consumed. She is on the fourth year of her diet and has loved its favorable results “You definitely lose more weight … I felt like I had more energy,” Moeckli says.

As with traditional diets, there are obstacles to overcome in these more unorthodox diets. Shaw has to plan and cook her own meals since no one in her family is vegan or vegetarian. Moeckli found it hard to resist her favorite meats while eating out. Hsu says, “It’s been rough. I crave a lot of noodles, rice, donuts, nutella.” But all three have stayed faithful to their diets and experienced how effective these new age diets can be.

From hearing about juice cleanses from peers and how more people are electing to forgo meat and animal products, it may seem to some that many new-age diets are catching on.

“I think that dieting is a fad. For a long time it was about no-carb. Now it’s about no processed foods. I think [diets] are becoming more popular,” says Hsu. According to Shaw, right now is a great time to change one’s eating habits. “Almost every restaurant has vegan or vegetarian options now because it’s growing more popular and more and more people are doing it,” she says.

Posted by Catherine Stoehr

This is Catherine's second year on the Aragon Outlook as a Features writer. Among her many passions are ballet, very extremely spicy food and cultivating her love for British television shows. She's very excited for a new year with the Outlook.

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