Better Nutrition

Diet revolution

How “Fat Flush” creator Ann Louise Gittleman changed the way we look at fat

- By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS NS

n 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 ultralow- 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.

IRevolutio­nary Idea

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 fi rst to buck ck the low- fat establishm­ent. She was one e of the fi rst to address parasites ( in her bestsellin­g book, Guess What Came to Dinner?: Parasites and Your Health) and d 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 detoxifi cation as one of the elements of a healthy diet.

Get with the Plan

Though Fat Flush fi rst 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 purifi ed 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 eff ect 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, fl axseeds, or fl axseed oil rounds out the basic plan, together with specifi c 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- infl ammatory eff ect; and it’s known as a hormonal stabilizer.” The program is also heavy on fresh, anti- infl ammatory 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 fi nally realizing that their health is in their own hands and that the convention­al wisdom is not always right,” she says. “I’m just gratifi ed that people are fi nally hearing my message.”

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