“Flatter by Friday! One Week to Shrink Your Stomach!”…… and Dr. Oz will tell you how. That was the quick blip I heard when I turned on the television while loading the dishwasher yesterday.
I had to watch. I imagine a million other women watched too. What magical solution to our obsession with our bellies is Dr. Oz sharing that I need to be aware of, and ready to answer questions about to the many people in my life both personally and professionally who have body image concerns? When it comes to throwing out the right hook to grab an audience, Dr. Oz is the best there is (although Donald Trump is right up there with him, no politics on this blog, but you catch the drift).
So I watched the show, and to my amazement he talked about the flat belly topic first (I figured it would be at the end, that is usually how shows get you to watch the whole thing). The segment was shared with Chris Powell, a “core expert”. Anyway, he likes to use visuals, and that makes it more fun for the live audience. So as he spelled out each reason our tummies get bloated, he demonstrated it. It was actually pretty funny. We were told to imagine that our bodies are a “house” and explained that we get visitors. The first visitor to walk in the door is “water”, then “Bloat” and finally “Fat”. This animated cartoon demonstration was followed by the recommendation to eliminate alcohol, processed foods and sugar (just for a week, you know, to get that flat tummy).
They never really discussed bloat (except to say it was from gas produced in the digestive tract) but did talk about water retention and how to help your body avoid it. They demonstrated how eating a donut causes your body to hold onto a cup of water. They had a bunch of water soaked sponges on a table, each representing different high carbohydrate foods and how much water they cause you to retain (demonstrated by squeezing the water out of the sponges to produce the visual). They went over a specific diet plan and the reasons for every food (for example, the asparagus you are supposed to eat at dinner is supposedly a natural diuretic). It was pretty much a low calorie and low carbohydrate diet plan. The funniest part was when they had different women from the audience come up and try the special smoothies that are supposed to substitute for the foods you really are craving in between meals (such as chocolate, chips, coffee drinks). The first woman who tried a shake made from blended greens and fruit made the funniest face that made you know it was disgusting. It was too funny! Nothing against smoothies, I know lots of people who love them and they can be healthy. Personally, if it takes pulling out a blender to make a snack, it won’t happen. I only go to that trouble if I am cooking something special (like a pumpkin soup I made once three years ago).
So was there any new information that can transform your tummy and make it flat in just 7 days? While it is true that a low carb diet will tend to cause your body to lose water, and yes, losing water weight might make your tummy feel smaller, just as with any quick weight loss restrictive diet, your body will re-hydrate once you start eating normally again. Decreasing processed foods is good advice, but it is the context of the recommendation that bothers me. Why does it always have to be focused on the stomach as a reason to make a healthy change? Why bother to try to get rid of some water weight just to fit into some dress for just one occasion? Especially because the person going through this type of fast weight loss plan for this reason is likely obsessing about something that just is not there. We are talking about a tiny change in a body part that I can guarantee you, nobody is looking at except the person dieting. Who can say they really care about another person’s belly fat or bloat or water retention, or that you would even notice any change? Why put your body (and even worse, your mind) through the stress of following such a restrictive diet for even one week, for something that will not last? Why can’t we focus on helping each other become healthier? I enjoyed part of the show where experts answered some random questions about health (for instance, did you know you don’t have to wash your face with soap? a dermatologist on the show explained why, now that was interesting…). Learning new healthy recipes, how to break bad habits, how to build fitness, now that might be helpful.
Oh, and as for reducing bloat (gas) I think it is a good idea to avoid foods that cause you gas. Not because it makes your tummy look less flat, but because it makes you feel better. Broccoli is not my friend and I avoid it like the plague.
So the next time you get drawn in by some advertisement or commercial or anything else that throws out the “hook” of resolving your concerns about your tummy, remember, there is no fast solution, and never will be for any quick fix for any of our body image issues. That is why caring about health and feeling good is a wiser focus for your precious energy. When you want a quick fix for looking better, do what I do. Go see your hairdresser!