When I first came up with the idea of comparing these two books, I was a little worried they’d be so similiar as to be interchangeable. Boy, was I wrong. I also kind of assumed that Alex Jamieson would be a little bit whacky, being hooked up with the Super-Size Me guy. But if either of the books is more ‘out there’ it’d have to be Natalia Rose’s.
The basics of the diets offered in these books is fairly similar: more fresh foods, no processed foods, no or very little meat. That’s probably not rocket science, I guess. The biggest places the two differ seems to be the topic of soy. Rose is strongly against soy products and Jamieson features it frequently in her recipies. So why does Rose hate soy?
Because its mucusy. The main emphasis of Rose’s book is eating foods that leave your stomach quickly. “Sticky” foods like soy, she says, gum up your insides and slow things down, allowing food to ferment or harden inside of you. A big part of her plan is also figuring out what you can eat with what. You can have as much fruit as you want, as long as you eat it alone, and stop at least half an hour before eating something else. Why? Because, she tells us, fruit takes about half an hour to leave the stomach and enter the small intestine. Veggies go with almost everything and…hell, I can’t even remember the other combinations. I found trying to figure out what I could eat with what was too complicated and too annoying to go with.
Also some of her science seems pretty suspect. You don’t want to eat acid and alkaline food together because the stomach releases acidic digestive juices to digest the alkaline food and alkaline juices to digest the acid food, and if it has to release both at once they’ll neutralize each other. Huh? Who ever heard of stomach alkaline? Also she warns us not to drink too much water with food because it’ll dilute the digestive juices and make your system less efficient. And if you eat just one big meal in a day, make it dinner, which goes against all common folklore I’ve ever heard. Why? Because when you go to sleep your whole body can focus on digesting the meal.
The plan is, first, to eat lots of raw foods (no big surprise, given the title) because of their natural enzymes (which break down in cooking). That much makes sense to me. Second, we should attempt to keep as light a load as possible on the digestive system, so your body can get digestion done quickly. The theory is that it’ll take all the energy it was spending on digestion and use it for taking care of self-repair in other parts of the body. That, to me, sounds a bit far fetched.
Jamieson, on the other hand, is a lot more straight forward. Drink more water, and cut out all the things we already know are bad for us. Sugar, fat, caffeine, and so on. Cut out processed foods completely. No white flour. Lots of whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruit, and so on. She includes no meat in any of her recipies but suggests that organic meat now and then is ok.
Her 8 week system has you going cold turkey on a new thing every week, except for week 1. Week 1 is all about drinking a lot more water (but not from plastic bottles because they’re toxic, she says. Ummm, ok….). Week 2 is getting rid of refined sugar, and she’s kind enough to realize it’s going to be hard for a lot of people. Week 3 is caffeine, and so on.
Contrast this ‘item by item’ system with Rose’s 5 step plan. She has you adjusting your eating across the board. At the first step (step 5, we’re counting down), for instance, she tells you not to worry about a morning cup of coffee because you’ve got so much self-repair to get through that a cup of coffee isn’t going to make much difference at this phase. And though the title is about “Raw” she acknowledges that many people will never get to the 100% raw stage. But by step 2 and 1, life is getting pretty weird for the person following this diet. Rose strongly urges monthly visits to a colonic therapist to flush out the toxins that are loosening up from the sides of your colon. Fun stuff. And basically fasting every day until mid-afternoon, or at most having some ‘green lemonade.’
So which plan am I following? Mostly Jamieson’s. It just makes more sense to me, and its much more manageable, really. I’m taking bits of Rose when I can fit it in, or sometimes as a way of ‘cheating’ on the Jamieson food plan. For instance Rose has us indulging ourselves with a bit of 74% chocolate now and then. I’m all for that! And I’m eating a lot more things raw. Like corn on the cob. I just shuck it and eat it, and actually its pretty good, but once I bit into it I remembered that from playing hide and seek in cornfields as a kid (stealing an ear now and then for snacks). I’m buying raw nuts instead of roasted. Avoiding peanut butter (another of her no-nos) and replacing it with almond butter. Cutting way down on dairy. Yogurt and a bit of cheese, although Rose would frown upon either of those.
But mostly I’m on the Jamieson plan. More water, a lot less refined sugar (I can’t in all honest say none yet; I haven’t been able to give up crystalized ginger, for instance) and in particular no high fructose corn syrup and or other heavily chemicalized sweeteners. No caffeine, no soda. No processed foods, very little animal fat. I haven’t cut out alcohol when going out, and in general if I go out for dinner I eat pretty freely. I give a bit of thought about which choice is more healthy (or least unhealthy, as it more often turns out), but I’m not going to sit at a Mexican restaurant drinking water and eating a salad when my friends are into burritos and margaritas. Life is too short.
So what have I found out? First, eating healthy is freaking expensive. My food bills have gone through the roof. I finally had to admit I couldn’t afford to eat all organic fruits and vegetables; they’re just too expensive. I also have to shop at least every other day, as opposed to the every other week that I used to.
Second, my body is in some kind of a shock state. Do I feel better? Honestly, no. I feel worse. I have a lot of stomach/GI issues that I’ll spare you the gory details of. I’m hoping that this is just an acclimation phase. Rose in particular warns us that we might feel like shit for a little while as our body adjusts. In my case, at least, she’s right.
Third is that I have lost some weight, while not exercising much at all (been too damned hot). Not a lot, but a bit. That’s a good thing.
Four, juicers are noisy, messy, and churn through a LOT of produce. They feel very wasteful to me. A huge colander of washed fresh vegetables gets reduced to a couple of glasses of juice.
But the most interesting thing that I’ve found out is how much impact some foods have on us. After about 2 weeks of no caffeine and eating better, Saturday morning I binged and had a large iced coffee with an extra shot of espresso, and a couple (OK, OK, three!!) donuts from Dunkin Donuts. And my god, was I wired for the rest of the day. I honestly felt very much like I was on speed (don’t ask me how I know how that feels) and really didn’t start feeling ‘normal’ until Sunday. Once the speediness wore off, I just felt… gross. Greasy or something. Donuts of course are loaded with trans-fat, and I felt like I’d been dunked in it.
So anyway, back to the Detox Battle. Who wins? I have to give it to Alex Jamieson. The Great America Detox Diet: 8 Weeks to Weight Loss and Well-Being makes sense, is easy (technically easy…willpower is something else) to follow and an interesting read. Rose’s The Raw Food Detox Diet : The Five-Step Plan for Vibrant Health and Maximum Weight Loss is also an interesting, sometimes fascinating book but I still doubt some (ok, lots) of the science behind it. And its hard to follow the plans. You end up obsessing over food. “Let’s see, it’s 11:20. I can eat this peach as long as I eat it in the next 10 minutes…I’m not really hungry yet, but if I don’t eat it, I might get hungry at 11:40 and then I’ll have to delay lunch… hmmm.”
By the way, despite the titles, neither book really concentrates on losing weight, and neither is a “diet” in the most common sense of the word. They’re more books about changing your lifestyle and life-long eating habits. Its a big committment. I’m interested to see how long I can keep this up.