In 2014, I was introduced to the Lyn-Genet Plan, which is based on the premise that each individual is unique and there is no single “healthy” food that works for every being. The Plan: Eliminate the Surprising “Healthy” Foods that are Making you Fat—And Lose Weight Fast was on the New York Times Bestseller list. With a catchy title and plenty of hype, I wondered if The Plan was just another diet fad or a real-life program that could teach us which foods are “right” for our bodies. Here I am, more than three years later, and I can say that The Plan was life-changing. I was truly ASTONISHED by the results and have become vigilant in paying attention to how particular foods affect the way I feel.
Quite honestly, I didn’t think The Plan would work. My weight had always rollercoastered, but I finally had some success with the low-carb lifestyle, especially The South Beach Diet. Yet I had packed on some extra pounds and thanks to some medical issues, I could no longer stick with my high level of physical activity. It was time to give The Plan a try.
The theory behind The Plan seemed preposterous. Calories mean nothing and there is no such thing as “healthy” food: all that matters is how YOUR body digests food. When you eat a food that doesn’t work for your body an inflammatory response is triggered and this response affects your weight, your health and hastens the aging process. So in other words, I could eat donuts and drink beer – not together, of course – and if my body had a positive reaction, I could actually lose weight. Now that’s some wishful thinking, and as you can probably guess, that’s hardly what happened!
The goal of The Plan is pretty simple: To identify those foods that cause an inflammatory response and weight gain for YOU. The Plan consists of three phases: the three-day cleanse, the testing phase (17 days), and testing on your own.
The cleanse is not easy, especially if you aren’t used to eating a lot of vegetables. You’ll be introduced to flax granola for breakfast, which will soon become your best friend. A mainstay for the first two days is carrot ginger soup. I wasn’t crazy about it. The best part of the cleanse – it’s only three days!
In Phase 2, you’ll alternate between a non-test day and a test day, in which a new food is introduced. But be cautious: sometimes a new food is introduced on a non-test day (low-inflammatory foods such as brown rice, unsalted potato chips, and cereal). It’s entirely possible to react to those new introductions on a non-test day. How do you know when you react? You may experience stomach troubles, bloating, headaches, tiredness, and skin reactions. The number on the scale is likely to go up the next day. Your weight is nothing more than a data point. During the testing phase, you should lose about half a pound per day until you reach your set point. A moderate inflammatory response is defined as a weight gain up to half a pound with no accompanying physiological response. An extreme reactive response is a weight gain above half a pound and/or physical symptoms.
The third phase is self-testing. And the duration of this phase is at your discretion. By now you’ve learned how to tell if a food causes inflammation and you know that a return to “friendly” foods will bring your weight back to its previous lower number. Lyn-Genet recommends compiling a list of forty to fifty “friendly” foods that can be rotated throughout meals. Different combinations of foods and changes in portion size count as tests.
Yes, it’s three-plus years later and I am still astonished by the results. I used a spreadsheet to document day-by-day weight and reactions to food. And I still return to The Plan and throw in a three-day cleanse when I feel the need to get back “on track.” Here are my results:
My biggest challenge was finding the ingredients for the recipes. At one point, I had to visit four different grocery stores to collect my items. The most challenging items to find: raw flaxseed, raw pumpkin seeds, and Manchego cheese. In fact, I had to look up Manchego to learn that it is a cheese made in a particular region of Spain from the milk of Manchego sheep. And it’s not cheap! But the cheese is amazing, and that’s coming from the daughter of a dairy farmer who grew up with cheese factories as neighbors.
If you don’t have access to a good variety of grocery stores (especially Trader Joe’s), my advice is to order the key items from an online store. If you stick with me through the Healthy 7 Menus, you’ll especially need to find raw flaxseed – I order mine from Amazon (Red Mill’s Raw Whole Golden Flaxseed). Don’t let the shopping list deter you. Over time, I found that I can adapt the plan according to my likes and dislikes, without any negative impacts. For instance, I dropped avocados from my menu (I just have a “thing” about avocados).
If you are too tired to prepare your meals after a long day at the office, spend some weekend time, chopping, preparing and freezing bags of vegetables. It will help you stay on track during the work week.
I was skeptical of The Plan. I believed that there were “healthy” foods and “unhealthy” foods. Yet here I was, losing weight by eating potatoes and gaining weight when eating rice. I gained weight when I ate the wrong foods for ME! And that doughnut I mentioned at the beginning of this story? Well, one doughnut resulted in a 1.2 pound weight gain! Shucks!!! And beer wasn’t much better!
Today, I pay attention to my physical reactions to food. Recently, I tried Whole30, which left me feeling fantastic at the end of the 30 days. I then reintroduced cheese, and much to my dismay, concluded that cheese was a huge energy zapper for me. Without The Plan, I might not have paid so much attention to the connections between food, weight, digestive troubles, energy levels, and mood. The Plan is not for wimps! But it is well worth the effort and could change your perspective of dieting and healthy eating forever. IT WORKS!
Postscript: In 2017, Lyn-Genet Recitas introduced The Metabolism Plan. It combines testing of food and exercise, and the result is a very complex program that is difficult to follow. My advice: follow The Plan.
Here are my Whole30-adapted recipes for Coconut Nutty Flax Granola and Blueberry Pear Compote.