A while ago, we had a chance to visit with my cousin and his wife in New Jersey and take them to dinner at a lovely Kosher Italian restaurant. Imagine my surprise, when my cousin Leo, normally a healthy eater with a robust appetite, had only a few leaves of lettuce (no dressing), and a few spoonfuls of vegetable soup. My immediate concern, of course, was for his health, but he explained that “she” (pointing at his wife) “put me on this crazy Russian diet so I can fit into my suit.” “She” confirmed that indeed, they had to attend a wedding in a couple of days, so it was either losing a few pounds or popping buttons and zippers.
Cousin Leo, a retired military officer a few months shy of 70, has always been lean and trim; however, a suit, bought last year for another official occasion, has become a bit tight, rather than elegantly slender, so extreme measures were required. What kind of a diet is it? “Oh, a crazy Russian diet, but it works, – I was assured,- we have done it before. A few pounds guaranteed!”
Now I was hooked. I have always been physically active, a workout enthusiast, a gym monkey, and a yoga fanatic. Suddenly, three years ago I was told that I had to give up all that, unless I want to risk spinal surgery with about 60% success rate. Since I didn’t want to be among the 40%, I politely refused and opted for pain management through meds. So far I have been doing fine, thank you very much, but I am not supposed to even get on my exercise bike and ride to nowhere. I draw the line at “walking in water” instead of swimming, and I have to double pain killers for a few days after each swim, but it’s worth it to me. As a consequence of physical inactivity, I started gaining weight. This coincided with being diagnosed with yet another condition that promotes weight gain. By the time all of this was detected and I was put on appropriate medication, I was 30 lbs heavier and couldn’t fit into any of my pencil skirts!
No-no-no, Beautiful People, that’s not me – by now you know what I look like, and it’s definitely not half-dressed! These are the mandatory “before and after” photos of the inventor of this “crazy Russian diet, ” AKA the Kefir Diet, a prominent Russian singer and movie star Larisa Dolina. The diet is sometimes called “the Dolina diet.” She is quite famous, but all her life she has been struggling to keep weight off, until eventually she stumbled upon this miracle product – kefir. She is not a nutritionist or a dietologist and has no medical training whatsoever, but, as you can see, it worked for her. In vain have I searched for any academic articles or reliable scientific sources of information about this diet. To the best of my knowledge, none exist. There are plenty of infomercials online, though, outlining several variations, or regimens of it. There is also a warning: kefir, youghurt, and prostokvasha are all fermented milk products, thus potentially harmful to people suffering from high acidity. I love prostokvasha, so I decided to give it a try.
While completely anti-mathematical, it’s nonetheless true in this case. Five days of kefir (for me it was my homemade non-dairy prostokvasha, or clabbered milk – please see here) plus a salad of green leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, or kale) flavored by a few blueberries and dressed with the same prostokvasha equaled a steady loss of one lb per day. In five days I was minus 5 lbs and quite optimistic. A few more weeks of that, I thought, and I am back to my normal self. Then the weekend happened, with two Sabbath meals, reasonably healthy, but still normal meals, and a Sunday dinner with my husband. By Monday, I was back where I had started from, and resumed the diet.
For three weeks I have been playing weight yoyo. I felt fine; in fact, I felt a bit lighter and better by Friday of every week. I felt no discomfort caused by severe food restriction of a mono-diet. Eventually, I had no sustainable weight loss or gain, coming back to the same 30 lbs extra and facing the necessity of an extra expenditure on clothes that fit. So, dear Carol, my lovely and free-spirited blogo-friend and culinary genius, this is one for your collection of Wacky Diets!
As a new, slender Dolina sings Gerswin’s I got Rhythm, I have come to a forgone conclusion: if you, Beautiful People, need, like Cousin Leo, to get into a formal suit worn only a few times a year, or to squeeze yourself into that opera gown that did fit like a glove at the end of last season, kefir diet will chisel a few extra pounds off. But if you want to maintain that loss, it could only be done through stable healthy diet and exercise. I am not a nutritionist (my field is brain, rather than body), so I invite all of you nutritionists and dietologists out there to weigh in on this, but in my opinion, a healthy diet for gradual weight loss consists of white protein (chicken breast, fish other than salmon or tuna, or tofu), no carbs, no sugar, plenty of vitamins and plenty of exercise. To maintain healthy weight, you could eat some protein other than white, some carbs, preferably not too hypoglycemic, plenty of vitamins and plenty of exercise.
Be well, Beautiful People, eat healthy and stay healthy!