Monday, February 11, 2013

Are diet teas safe and do they work? (Part 1)

Before/After results
The impulsive side of me decided to buy a detox tea on a whim. It goes against a lot of the material I've read that is opposed to natural therapies and detoxing but I feel to keep me motivated on my weight loss journey I will need a bit of a 'quick fix'. I have purchased a 28-day "teatox" from skinnymetea which includes a supply of loose tea leaves of which you have one teaspoon of every morning and colon cleanse teabags to be used every second night before bed.

I was swayed into spending $60 for this tea after seeing all the 'before' & 'after' shots on skinnymetea's instagram page and all the good feedback from customers. Some of the results were less noticeable but most users reported at least 2 kg(4.4 pounds) weight loss.

What concerns me about the 'teatox' is the colon cleanse tea bags which have a "laxative effect". Laxatives are meant to be used to combat constipation so using them in this way is technically incorrect use so users need to be very careful. This product is marketed to the general public and for healthy weight loss it seems 'ok' but essentially this teatox promotes the use of laxatives for weight loss which is what some people with eating disorders use to maintain dangerously low weight levels. I doubt your doctor or nutritionist is going to recommend it.

After doing my research on diet teas I had come to the conclusion that young girls(under 18) shouldn't use the tea as they are not mature enough and may use the tea inappropriately to get even more drastic results. I also concluded that people with eating disorders shouldn't take the tea either as they are likely to abuse it and those with anorexia and bulimia may actually be underweight already. I seemed to have forgotten that I have a mild eating disorder myself- binge eating disorder(not officially diagnosed). In saying that I will still be taking the tea but I shall be very cautious about it, hence why I've done a bit of research on the laxative effects of the tea bags. I believe I am at the maturity and emotional stage where I will use the tea appropriately plus I'd be too scared too use it in excess! [the toilet situation would be a mess!]

The main ingredient in the colon cleanse teabags is the Senna leaf and root which is a natural herbal supplement used to treat constipation but also a common ingredient in diet teas. From what I have read the weight loss caused by the herb is temporary so you would need to use exercise and a healthy diet to maintain your new weight. The Senna leaf and root may cause side effects in some people even if used correctly such as vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. If I experience any of these symptoms for more than a few days I will stop using the colon cleanse teabags, regardless of how much weight I think they may be causing me to lose. Prolonged and excess use of senna leaf and root may increase your risk of developing colon cancer(reference) and there have been four reported cases of death from use of diet teas by young women in the US(reference). Hopefully that scares you into using these teatoxes wisely if you're considering them!

Does the laxative-effect actually lead to weight loss?

According to Paul Kurtzweil, a public affairs agent for the FDA(The American Food & Drug Administration agency): 
"laxative-induced diarrhea does not significantly reduce absorption of calories. This is because the laxatives do not work on the small intestine, where calories are absorbed, but rather on the colon, the lower end of the bowel."
Wow. Perhaps I just wasted my money? I'll be posting part 2 of this post tomorrow explaining why I will still be taking this tea and the proper precautions you should take when drinking it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lite n' Easy Week 1

So I've passed my first week of trying Lite n' Easy, the weight-loss oriented meal delivery service, and it has been such an interesting experience. I feel lighter, more alive and most importantly happier. I do feel my body is detoxing or perhaps even having withdrawal symptoms from not eating the large quantities of carb/fat-loaded food I was previously eating as I've been feeling pretty tired and weak. This is not because of a lack of food as I am eating 1500 calories a day which is perfectly healthy for my age, body and lifestyle. I can really relate to the song 'Feel Again' by One Republic as I am more conscious of things now. There's just an openness to my mind and I'm feeling extremely optimistic. Before trying this meal plan I would literally use food like some people do alcohol - to forget everything and feel numb to the rest of the world. I would purposely go into 'zombie-mode' and eat a whole pizza plus bowls of whatever I could put together from the kitchen and then fall asleep to Days of Our Lives on the couch. I actually noticed during my first week I spent a lot less time on the couch and watching tv.

Lunch: beetroot hamburger
I'm beyond impressed that I didn't stray off the eating plan, the only extra I really had was a bit of tomato sauce with one or two of the dinners. The small portion sizes were a little scary at first but as they were so small I HAD to slow down otherwise they'd be gone in a flash. I've found that within a week Lite n' Easy has helped train me to be satisfied with smaller portions.

I had literally gone from binging EVERY SINGLE DAY of the week prior to then eating a healthy portion-controlled meal plan the next. The main reasons I believe I was able to successfully stick with the food provided are:

- Having a big breakfast. I only ordered the lunch and dinner program(to reduce expenses)but I closely studied their breakfast menus and saw that the portions were really big relative to the amount of calories consumed in the day.So I replicated their items myself and increased the sizes of my breakfast; now I can have THREE weetbix, HALF a cup of oats(instead of a quarter) and TWO pieces of toast!

Breakfast: muesli with greek yoghurt, chia seeds & strawberry preserves

- Having food to look forward to.  The lunches provided were always quite small but knowing I had a sweet treat or two for afternoon tea made everything better(apple and cranberry muffin, date and walnut slice, mini muesli cookies, popcorn, raisin toast with butter, citrus and sultana oat biscuit, etc.).

Snack: mini muesli cookies

- Starting a new project. I've had way too much free time on my hands with the THREE MONTH(!) summer break from university and the supermarket where I work hasn't given me any extra hours so I've found a little side job. I'm helping develop an app, Lost on Campus, which is an interactive map for Australian university students of their campus. That sounds really fancy but basically I'm an editor for my campus and have to go round taking photos and writing descriptions and upload them to the database for the new students coming in this year who will be clueless as to where their first lecture is. Being busy with this has helped take my mind off of food. If you're stuck in a food rut I'd recommend trying a new hobby to draw the focus in your life away from food. Start a blog, learn how to do some fancy braiding/hairstyles, try a new type of exercise, volunteer, organise your paperwork/photos/filing systems or make a Youtube channel(something I'm considering myself for the near future).

Dinner: salmon, calamari & squid ring pasta

- PHOTOGRAPHING MY FOOD! If you've been following me on instagram(likely you are as that's probably how you've found my blog) you will know I've been photographing most of my Lite n' Easy meals, minus a couple of the dinners because they're frozen meals and hard to transfer from the cardboard container to a plate without it looking like an ugly mess. As a result of my food snapping I've started to plate up my meals much more nicely as well. This photography/presentation process takes a little time before I get to eat but that's helped me to relax before I eat instead of wolfing it down straight away. It's made me appreciate my food so much more and makes the eating experience so much more special. If you don't want to turn your instagram into a 'foodstagram' then get the free app, The Eatery to record your meals for your own pleasure.

Unfortunately I forgot to order in time for the next delivery of Lite n' Easy so I've had to fend for myself this week. At first I was so scared and thought all my hard work in week one would go down the gurgler when I was left to my own devices but so far so good. After this week I'll do an update on how it went.

Stay classy, stay healthy.

Instagram: @MissShivi

Snack: apple & cranberry muffin with green tea