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That brief, beautiful stint of hot vax summer gave us so much. Namely, the ability to decadently and urgently consume whatever we could imagine prepared by talented strangers in settings calibrated for our pleasure. There were beach burgers, complex cocktails, unbridled desserts, and an extra bottle of wine to linger just a little longer at the table. No longer bound by the square footage of our kitchens or the contents of our grocery stores, our daily diets have boomeranged dramatically to the salty-sweet, butter-glistening shores of indulgence. While necessary, it has not been without its repercussions. For those of us enjoying the company of friends we haven’t seen in a year while fighting through brain fog, blaming the humidity for our lingering fatigue, or wearing our newly earned sun-kissed skin with our bloat, a recalibration might be in order. “No matter what diet you have, your system may tend to become dysfunctional,” says Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute, who has been studying the link between diet and long-term health for 30 years. Even for the cleanest eaters, a reset, his research has found, is a necessary rebooting agent, like an oil change for a car.
Reset is the new word of choice in what was once the diet market, carving out value propositions quite different from those once-popular extreme and rigorous cleanses that promised to make us thinner overnight. The new leaders in this space are focused on the long game, applying decades of scientific research to form methodologies with clinically proven impacts on rates of disease, mental clarity, happiness, and, yes, BMIs—programs that teach us how to eat not only for that week but every day thereafter and why. “A lot of the things that have been sold in those [old] programs are short-term effects,” says Uma Naidoo, director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and pioneer of the gut-brain connection. “People fall into these programs that are very rigid, cutting out things like alcohol and carbohydrates completely. I don’t demonize them, but people are not able to sustain eating that way. That is the opposite of the goal.”
Now, six new approaches are helping us redefine not only the cleanse but our own daily nutritional habits with the energizing, mind-clearing, and cheekbone-carving benefits to prove it. Better yet, they just might actually feel good while you’re trying them.
The Most Delicious Nonperishable Reset on the Market: Kroma
The new reset backed and approved by Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Seinfeld, and Amy Schumer is designed for everywhere you go—whether you’re a jet-setting CEO or a rural stay-at-home parent unable to order Moon Juice and Souen to your door. If the methodology feels triggering—packets of dehydrated powder meant to be blended with water or nondairy milk—rest assured nothing in the Kroma lineup will result in a gag reflex. The five-day meal plan’s 10 daily dehydrated packets open with a caffeinated green tea latte and move into a truly delicious menu of porridge, smoothies, soups, and teas. The range is designed as much for subtracting common inflammatory agents (alcohol, refined carbohydrates and sugars) as for adding a supercharged nutritional spectrum to your diet. Each packet is brimming with the kind of supernutrients (MCT oil, ashwaganda, turmeric, and L-theanine) that you might otherwise have trouble fitting into your culinary repertoire, along with a daily intake of food-based vitamins and minerals in meals that will never leave you hungry. With the invitation to add whole foods, fish, and chicken at your discretion, Kroma serves between 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day. Once you’ve completed the energy- and mood-boosting, mind-clearing, and ab-carving week, you also walk away with an easy, replicable routine (golden milk lattes for your four o’clock sugar craving, bone-broth-based soups for deeply satisfying and digestive-soothing dinners). And if you just can’t live without Kroma’s versions—despite being married to a chef, Schumer regularly texts Kroma founder Lisa Odenweller for more orders of porridge—the brand sells jars and packets of your favorite blends to stock in your pantry and slip into your purse to take with you wherever life leads.
$475.00, KROMA WELLNESS
$25.00, KROMA WELLNESS
$30.00, KROMA WELLNESS
$50.00, KROMA WELLNESS
The Next-Level CSA: Local Roots Harvest Club
Get more out of fruits and vegetables, quite literally, with a regenerative agriculture CSA. For the uninitiated, regenerative farms prioritize the health of their soil over their yield, which in turn cultivates produce that boasts increased vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (think: antioxidants, beta-carotene, flavonoids) per bite. A 2019 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that vitamins and minerals with clinically proven longevity and disease-prevention benefits only provided those benefits when they were delivered via food, not supplements.
For New York City residents, AAPI-owned Local Roots Harvest Club features three levels of CSA boxes based on diet and number of people in the household, offering seasonal fruits, veggies, legumes, mushrooms, eggs, and meat grown on regenerative farms within a 500-mile radius of the city. If the still-life-worthy harvest weren’t inspiring enough, weekly online recipes encourage culinary creativity. And for the days when you just can’t bring yourself to so much as press an Instant Pot button, this summer Local Roots opened a veggie-focused cafe in Boerum Hill featuring a rainbow of deeply nutritious and exciting grab-and-go meal options.
$58.00, HARVEST CLUB
$39.00, HARVEST CLUB
The Almost Fast Everyone’s Raving About: ProLon
Valter Longo has been studying the anti-aging and regenerative effects of fasting since the early ’90s at UCLA. Three decades of research has led to ProLon, the fasting-mimicking cleanse cofounded by Longo that has been clinically proven to trigger the self-regulating process of autophagy (when the body removes worn-out cells to create smoother, more optimal functionality), to target visceral fat (the fat most closely linked to serious health problems like Alzheimer’s, stroke, and type 2 diabetes), and to kick-start weight loss. The five-day vegan meal kit favored by Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson is designed to resemble a fast in your body while providing essential nutrients—and much appreciated snacks. Though ProLon will significantly decrease your daily intake, a slim menu of almond-butter bars, olives, kale crackers, and nourishing soups offers some relief with proven benefits.
Longo suggests his healthiest vegan or pescatarian patients between the ages of 20 and 45 follow the ProLon protocol only once a year for five days, while those between the ages of 45 and 70 practice the weeklong cleanse a few times a year, along with anyone who subscribes to a more traditional Western diet—all at the approved discretion of their dietician. With 30 trials in the works in his Italian clinics and plans to publish findings by next year, Longo is seeing ProLon promise improvements in cognitive function and the immune system, lower blood pressure, and reduced incidents of disease.
The Vegan, Gluten-Free, Veggie-Forward Meal Kit That Does the Work for You: Splendid Spoon
With heading back to school and returning to offices reintroducing a different kind of rigidity to our post-quarantine lives, anticipate the need for quick-fix meals with food that supports easy digestion, sustained energy, and complex nutrients. Originally launched as a savory alternative to the juice-cleanse craze, Splendid Spoon has moved beyond soups to a full-spectrum menu of vegan, gluten-free, produce-driven smoothies, soups, grain bowls, and noodles. On any given week, choose from a range of 50 customizable rotating meals—including blueberry-açai-coconut smoothies, kimchi with fried quinoa and edamame, and vegan meatballs with rice noodles and marinara sauce—shipped right to your door.
$65.00, SPLENDID SPOON
$185.00, SPLENDID SPOON
A Straightforward Way to Spice Up Your Meals: Evermill
Some spices are clinically proven to improve your digestion (cinnamon) and heart health (garlic) and decrease long-term inflammation (turmeric). Studies suggest some spices also make you feel fuller faster, but merely having tastebuds will prove they make everything—even the saintliest of foods—more delicious. The spice industry has seen a refreshing renaissance, with a new guard of traders including Diaspora, Noble House Spice, and Zameen questioning not only how and where our spices are grown but also how they’re meant to taste. Launched mid pandemic, Evermill’s organic fair-trade-sourced spice kits met our home-cooked-meal boredom (and kitchen-renovation boom) with a minimalist’s dream of 18 of the finest spice varieties. Housed in walnut-colored glass jars that keep out light and heat, the Evermill spices brilliantly self-align for always-forward-facing organization on an ultrasleek rack. A package-reducing reorder system only replenishes what you need when you need it in biodegradable brown bags. “People were spending so much time in their kitchens and putting so much emphasis on where their greens or protein came from, but spices were kind of an afterthought,” says founder Mark Gudaitis of his desire to demystify the deeply unregulated space with trustworthy products that looked as good as they tasted. It went beyond sourcing: where conventional spice brands clean spices via radiation, Evermill opts to steam clean its Vietnamese cinnamon, Indonesian nutmeg, Turkish sumac, and Albanian oregano for the utmost ingredient integrity. By October, eight more spice options will be added to the menu, including lemon pepper by popular demand.
A Bespoke Approach to a Better Mood: Consult a Nutritional Psychiatrist
If the gut-brain connection has been a central conversation in the wellness world for the past decade, the pandemic brought it to the masses. With drastically shifted routines and COVID-19’s own threat to long-term mental health, “people are wanting more [mental-health] tools in their toolkit aside from medications and therapies,” nutritional psychiatrist Uma Naidoo explains. Naidoo has been studying the way food can fight depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, OCD, and more since the beginning of her career, before it was even considered a field of study, and is perhaps best known for publishing the book This Is Your Brain on Food just last year. Now she helps patients all over the world dissect their mental health through their dietary intake, finding personal paths toward harnessing the power of nutrition and the microbiome to improve their moods and mental clarity for the long term.
“How I reverse engineer this is to really try from the get-go to help people understand that what they’re eating is affecting their brain, mental state, and physical well-being. If they are learning new and daily habits, physical changes can be much more sustainable,” says Naidoo. Simple changes that work toward forming daily habits will have the biggest impact, she suggests, like “switching out a lunch you ordered on DoorDash and making a whole-food salad at home with the right kind of protein and grain,” because, she reasons, “you know what’s in the food and you’ve made a habit. Later, you might indulge over Thanksgiving or the holidays, but you have a method to reset yourself.” Small, universally suggested changes like avoiding sugar, artificial sweeteners, dyes, preservatives, and even processed vegetable oils can have outsize effects on your levels of anxiety and brain function. Meanwhile, increasing antioxidants, polyphenols, and leafy greens (rich in folate) will stabilize your gut and therefore your brain. If more shifts are required, further dietary guidelines are extremely personal, Naidoo notes, and would benefit from the care of a certified nutritional psychiatrist. “Each of our guts is as individual as a thumbprint. I’ve had people who are related respond differently to the same food.”
$15.00, UMA NAIDOO
Originally Appeared on Vogue