In the early days of the Internet, I wrote a weekly health and nutrition column for iVillage. At the time, high-carb, low-fat diets were all the rage, and to suggest that there could be any other healthy way to eat was considered dietary heresy.
But New York nutritionist Oz Garcia turned me on to a little paperback called Beyond Pritikin. It was written by a former nutrition director of the ultra-low-fat Pritikin Center, and the book essentially explained why the author had come to reject low-fat dogma. The book also happened to contain-with little fanfare-a brilliant two-week program for healthy fat loss.
That chapter was called "The Fat Flush," and the author was Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS. I had never heard of her before, but I felt I'd found a kindred spirit. At the time, no one other than Robert Atkins (and later Barry Sears) was talking about fat in positive terms.
I began writing about the Fat Flush chapter in my column, and included it in my Shape Up program. All of a sudden, Fat Flush became one of the most downloaded programs on the Internet. Shortly thereafter, Gittleman's people got in touch to thank me for the publicity and suggested that the two of us meet. And we've been friends ever since.
Fat Flushers start every day with lemon and water-"for liver and kidney toning," says Gittleman, pictured above.
In 2002, Gittleman expanded her ideas and published The Fat Flush Plan. The book was an instant bestseller that sprouted an entire movement. There were Fat Flush cruises, Fat Flush spa retreats, Fat Flush bulletin boards, and
a series of Fat Flush books.
It's easy to see how Gittleman got the nickname "The First Lady of Nutrition." She was certainly one of the first to buck the low-fat establishment. She was one of the first to address parasites (in her bestselling book, Guess What Came to Dinner?: Parasites and Your Health) and she did a lot to bring the issue of gut health to the public's attention. In fact, The Fat Flush Plan was one of the earliest popular diet books to incorporate the concept of detoxification as one of the elements of a healthy diet.
Get with the Plan
Though Fat Flush first came out as a fully developed program in 2002, the principles continue to make sense. Fat Flushers start every day with lemon and water-"for liver and kidney toning and for healthy peristalsis," says Gittleman. Throughout the day they drink the
signature Fat Flush beverage "cran-water," a combination of unsweetened cranberry juice and purified water. "Cran-water has the ability to detoxify the lymphatic system because of the organic acids in the cranberry," she says.
Fat Flushers load up on green leafy vegetables, salads, and steamed veggies. They're allowed two fruits a day plus organic protein that includes eggs and whey protein powder.
"Weight loss is the side effect of a healthy metabolism," she says. "A lot of the fantastic results we get with Fat Flush are probably due to removing many of the foods that people are sensitive to."
Flax, flaxseeds, or flaxseed oil rounds out the basic plan, together with specific supplements such as GLA (the active ingredient in evening primrose and borage oils). "GLA's an example of a ‘good' omega-6 fat," says Gittleman.
"It's good for moisturizing skin; it has an anti-inflammatory effect; and it's known as a hormonal stabilizer." The program is also heavy on fresh, anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, including turmeric, ginger, and cayenne.
Sounds pretty sensible, right? So much so that's it's hard to believe that just a few short decades ago, many of Gittleman's ideas were considered "fringe" to say the least. "It's thrilling to see that people are finally realizing that their health is in their own hands and that the conven-tional wisdom is not always right," she says. "I'm just gratified that people are finally hearing my message."