To many Harlem residents, Lyn-Genet Recitas is best known as the woman who runs Neighborhood Holistic, a nonprofit center that offers yoga, massage and alternative-health services on a sliding scale, making them accessible to people of all income levels. She is also the author of the new book, The Plan (buy it here).To her private nutrition clients, however—a list that includes a disproportionate number of high-profile chefs, restaurateurs and media executives (among them More’s editor-in-chief, Lesley Jane Seymour)—Recitas is a guru whose radical rethinking of healthy eating can produce life-changing results. “I lost 20 pounds in a few weeks and no longer have acid reflux. I sleep better and am more energetic. And people say I look 10 years younger!” raves Scott Conant, a New York City–based restaurant owner and guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef.
His enthusiasm is typical of followers of The Plan, an eating protocol that Recitas cobbled together from diverse sources, such as yoga, Chinese food theory, herbology, homeopathy and naturopathic nutrition (she has a master’s degree in the latter from Clayton College of Natural Health), as well as 25 years in the restaurant business. The result is a quirky eating program that conflicts with standard dietary guidelines—but may actually be effective.
Recitas, a 46-year-old with 11 percent body fat, reveals to More the thinking behind the buzz.
JJ: How did you become so interested in nutrition?
LGR: I was a very sickly child and a chronic migraine sufferer. Doctors put me on all sorts of medications. Then, when I was 14, I had a migraine that basically lasted all summer, and I said, This is ridiculous. That’s when I started studying nutrition seriously, just to make myself better.
JJ: Your views are unorthodox. What made you think outside the box?
LGR: After I got my undergraduate degree in holistic nutrition, people would come to me with their weight issues, and I would suggest healthy foods for them. But they were also bringing me their health concerns. I began to notice that whenever there was a bump up in a client’s weight, there was a corresponding increase in the symptoms of whatever her malady was. I started to collect data, do research and create a list of the foods that have caused the biggest reactions in my patients. What’s new about The Plan is the realization that certain perfectly ordinary foods are not only making you fat; they’re causing you to age prematurely and are probably triggering health problems you’re predisposed to, such as constipation, acid reflux, migraines, joint pain or eczema.
JJ: In your view, what causes these negative reactions to foods?
LGR: It’s a kind of allergic response, and it’s related to the idea that chronic low-grade inflammation contributes to many conditions, like heart disease and diabetes. This concept has been on the medical front burner for maybe 10 years. I believe that when an allergen is introduced into your system, your body tries to keep the bad guy away from the heart, liver and brain by flooding the tissues with water. This reactive response can last up to 72 hours and not only will cause weight to stay on but may also kick-start some ailments that are latent in your system. [Editor’s note: According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, there is no evidence that food allergies contribute to chronic low-grade inflammation in your body.]