America’s Newest Diet Guru?

…or America’s latest “health” sanctioned eating disorder in the guise of a fad diet?

Some weeks ago, my friend Ellen sent me a link to this story in More magazine, which bills itself as a publication “for women of style and substance.” Ellen and I were both shocked and distressed by the “substance” of this one:

The article sings the praises of Lyn-Genet Recitas, the owner of Neighborhood Holistic in New York City. Lyn-Genet is “certified” in Chinese food theory and holistic nutrition. Tellingly, neither the article nor Lyn-Genet’s website says who issued these certifications, except to note that Lyn-Genet has a master’s degree from Clayton College of Natural Health (a now-defunct non-accredited distance-learning institution.) The basis of her diet program (“The Plan”) is the theory that different foods can cause chronic low-grade inflammation which contributes both to weight gain and to various ailments.

(According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, there is no evidence that food allergies contribute to chronic low-grade inflammation.)

Nevertheless, Lyn-Genet has had “thousands” of clients lose weight and feel that their health has improved as a result of “The Plan.” Some of the foods that she believes cause problems for a lot of people include:

shellfish (with the exception of scallops), turkey, pork, eggs, Greek yogurt, roasted nuts, asparagus, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, oatmeal, salmonthe list goes on.

Each person is “chemically unique,” says Recitas. Therefore, according to her, scientific research can’t tell you what foods are healthy for you or not–but her cobbled-together anecdotal evidence can:

“I’d estimate that 95 percent of the people I work with can’t eat oatmeal without gaining a substantial amount of weight. It can cause two days’ worth of constipation and particularly affects my migraine sufferers.

So people going on the plan go through a three-day “cleanse,” and then through an elimination diet rotation, weighing themselves daily and taking detailed notes on how they’re feeling. Lyn-Genet claims that participants should be losing a half pound daily.

There are so many things that are distressing about this article and this “Plan.” For the sake of clarity, I’m going to tackle them bullet-point style:

1. Focus on Weight Loss/Thinness

The article notes that Lyn-Genet, who is 46 years old, has 11% body fat. That is shockingly underfat. 11% body fat would be considered “underfat” for a man of her age–let alone a woman. Being that underfat is associated with its own risks, not least osteoporosis.

Any diet that involves daily weigh-ins encourages obsession with the scale–which is not where the focus need be. Responsible nutritionists recommend weekly weigh-ins and emphasize that results cannot be judged by the scale alone.

2. Tons of Introspection: e.g. “How am I feeling after this meal?”

I think we can all benefit from paying attention to what’s going into our mouths. But this? This is a recipe for an eating disorder. Remember my gluten-free confession? Based on the same kind of thing. This is not to say that if, you know, jalapenos make you sick every time you eat them, that you shouldn’t avoid them. Of course you should. But eliminating whole swaths of foods because of perceived “intolerance” within your body? Bad idea.

3. (related to point #2) Hyper-individualistic

Lyn-Genet seems to think that the most “revolutionary” part of her diet plan is the fact that it encourages YOU YOU YOU to figure out what’s good for you based on your own reactions to everything that goes in your mouth. But really, this is just Burger King philosophy (“have it your way”) with a health-and-weight conscious twist. This is an eating plan that cuts people off from one another and makes communal eating a real pain in the, well, you know. To my mind, that’s never a good thing.

4. (in case it wasn’t clear from above) JUNK “science”

Piecing together anecdotal evidence from clients in a neighborhood practice is NOT research, and calling it “research” is irresponsible.

Shame on More magazine for giving these quack theories a voice and using a specter of extreme, unhealthy thinness to help advertise yet another fad diet masquerading as an approach to health!

10 thoughts on “America’s Newest Diet Guru?

  1. I’m on my 21st day of this plan – and feel horrible. I’m tired, have headaches and am woozy. My skin is pale and breaking out – and I’m hangry!!! Oh, as futher insult, have lost only a few lbs. I could go on – but the bottom line – totally not worth the $$ or effort – at least for me. I trusted MORE magazine to be more thorough journalist’s – shame on me!

  2. I did the 5 day cleanse and lost 8 pounds. I felt really good and actually think that what she wrote about made sense to me. As someone who gained weight the first week of weight watchers I appreciated someone offering some answers about why eating the ” healthy” foods don’t always get the desired results for everyone.

  3. I have been a personal client of hers for the last 10 months and have never been healthier or leaner. I have thyroid disease and have yet to have to take medication because she helped me regulate my hormones through diet. I also cured my eczema – medication free – through eliminating my trigger foods that were causing it. Not sure your blog post (opinion) is accurate. Don’t believe me, check out her FB page (The Lyn-Genet Plan) and read through the 000’s of posts about people improving their health by The Plan.

  4. I think you shouldn’t be so quick to judge. I’ve had chronic exzema, and when I say chronic I mean periods of time when I couldn’t even work because the wounds were so bad. After 2 months on Lyn’s plan I have no exzema, not even one tiny spot and i have lost more than 20 lbs safely and effectively. Not one dermatologist or doctor has provided any relief in over 15 years. I am a true believer that many illness we suffer from are based on food sensitivities. Who would have known that I couldn’t eat oranges, strawberries or plain yogurt. They make my exzema break out within a matter of minutes.

  5. I have been on “The Plan” for two months, have lost 21 lbs, feel great and am only hungry when I’m due for my next meal. This has worked great for me.

  6. I’m not on The Plan….but you obviously have not read the book…She does not advocate completely eleminating foods that might be reactive. She clearly states that it is your choice what you want to do with the information you find out about the reactivity of certain foods or combinations of foods in your diet.

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