Recently I was at Barnes and Nobel and decided to pick up Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It. Kris Carr, the author of this book, was diagnosed with an extremely rare, incurable cancer called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, and turned to a plant-based lifestyle as a last chance. I found this concept interesting, as I am a plant science major, and eat a mainly plant-based diet myself. I was curious to see how Carr managed to tame her cancer using the power of plants.
The Crazy Sexy Diet in a nutshell is a vegan, low-fat, high-carb diet that focuses on a high intake of low-glycemic fruits, raw vegetables, and green drinks. Carr suggests either aiming for a 60/40 or 80/20 alkaline to acidic ratio, depending on the dieter’s current health. Kris Carr uses witty language and colorful illustrations, along with her facts, in order to make the book a quick and enjoyable read. She also collaborates with established medical doctors, animal rights activists, and nutritionists in order to back her claims.
To get a full understanding of the Crazy Sexy Diet, you really need to read the whole book. Each chapter is split up by concepts. The first chapter, “This is Your Wake-Up Call- Pick Up Gorgeous!”, focuses on her reasoning for switching to a plant-based diet and tries to persuade the reader on why it is the best thing for them too. Each subsiding chapter then splits up the basis of the diet into the concepts of how plant foods work with your body, and how the Standard American Diet (also referred to as SAD) “wrecks havoc” to your insides. Besides nutritional reasoning, Kris Carr also includes chapters on how a vegan diet is better for the animals and the planet. Kris Carr ends the book with her 21-day cleanse, that not only includes an eating plan with recipes, but also daily mantras and prayers.
Despite how the colorful pages and fun language made the book enjoyable, I found that these same selling techniques also had me questioning Kris Carr’s credibility. It is hard to take someone seriously who uses curse words on every other page. That being said, I think Crazy Sexy Diet had a lot of interesting concepts. Some seem to be commonly accepted, while others still lack a lot of research.
The main nutritional change Crazy Sexy Diet makes from the SAD diet has to do with focusing on raw fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed and high acidity food like animal products. Kris Carr claims that the pH balance of your blood makes all the difference in your health, and that this can be regulated by your diet. With an optimum blood pH of around 7.365, Carr says that anything above this can create distress signals causing many symptoms such as runny noses, arthritis, and poor circulation (Carr, 23). She also points out that it creates a breeding ground for bacteria and aids in the creation of free radicals (Carr, 32). A college-level nutrition textbook, Understanding Nutrition, notes “antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, thus ending the chain reaction” (Whitney and Rolfes, 365). The increased consumption of raw fruits and vegetables Kris Carr suggests would also increase a dieter’s antioxidant intake, and hopefully help in fighting against DNA damage from free radicals.
Carr states that the SAD diet, full of too much glucose, creates excess insulin from the pancreas and develops insulin resistance. She also criminalizes simple sugars in regards to her cancer as she states that “cancer cells need much more energy and are anaerobic, meaning that they have around 19 times the glucose receptors compared to healthy cells, and thrive off refined sugars and high-glycemic fruits” (Carr, 45). Understanding Nutrition, also agrees, “lowering the glycemic index of the diet may improve blood lipids, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of heart disease”, but warns of the lack of significant evidence and limited practicality of the information (Whitney and Rolfes, 113). One point that I found interesting was her observation that PET scans work by patients being injected with radioactive glucose in order for cancer cells to light up (Carr, 45). In order to tame her cancer, Carr eliminated almost all of these foods from her diet and suggests other cancer patients do the same. She says that healthy individuals should significantly cut back.
Although Kris Carr claims that she is not trying to force any of her followers to become full-blown vegan/vegetarians, she is strongly against farm raised animal products. She believes that physiologically, humans are better equipped to thrive off of plants stating, “Humans have molars and masticating jaws, perfect for grinding and chewing high-fiber goodies. Our stomachs contain hydrochloric acid in smaller amounts better designed to digest plant proteins” (Carr, 67). She debunks myths that vegetarian diets do not get enough protein by pointing out that the average American focuses too much on protein and consumes almost 5 times the USDA’s daily recommended allowance of 0.36 gram per pound of the body (Carr, 68). She lists many plant foods that are high in protein and other essential nutrients that many people associate with animal products, such as iron and calcium. According to Understanding Nutrition, it is true that many studies have linked high red and processed meat consumption to certain types of cancer, but there is a major lack in evidence that animal products cannot be consumed in moderation with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to create a healthy diet (Whitney and Rolfes, 608).
Attempting to go vegan for a year in the past has given me some personal insight on sticking to a mostly raw, plant-based diet. Throughout the year that I eliminated meat products and stayed away from processed snacks, I experienced benefits like weight loss, clear skin, and cheaper grocery bills. These benefits were most likely due to my increased consumption of fruits and vegetables that I decided to snack on instead of my normal pretzels, and not just because I eliminated meat and dairy. The reason that I started incorporating animal products back into my diet every so often was because, through blood tests, I found that my iron and vitamin b12 levels were low. By adding back the occasional animal product and keeping the rest of my dietary choices the same, I have managed to maintain the same improved health and have increased my iron and b12 levels to a normal level. I believe that an all plant-based like Crazy Sexy Diet suggests is feasible, but requires much more planning than I was able to do as a college student with limited time. This is one caution that I have with the diet and it is something readers must be careful to understand.
Although her plan may seem a little extreme, I found it to be pretty nutritionally sound. Crazy Sexy Diet is not focused on quick weight loss and does not make the absurd claims of fad diets. It does not cut out any macronutrients, and Carr makes sure to explain the importance of healthy fats, carbs, and protein in her book. The only thing that I could think of that might be missing is some nutrients primarily found in meat products such as vitamin B12. Many of her claims may lack sufficient scientific proof, but I can definitely see how health improvements could be found on this diet. Having a diet focused on fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein, is optimal and eliminates almost all negative aspects of the Standard American Diet.
Carr, Kris. Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It. Guilford: Globe Pequot Press, 2011. Print.
Whitney, Ellie, & Rolfes, Sharon R., Understanding Nutrition: Fourteenth Edition. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2016. Print.