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International drug pricing transparency resolution diluted

International drug pricing transparency resolution diluted

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) member states recently adopted a watered down resolution on improving drug price transparency that leading medical charity Doctors Without Borders (also known by its French acronym MSF) criticised as insufficient.

An initial draft of the resolution first introduced by Italy at WHO’s main annual meeting on May 20-28, 2019, called for near absolute transparency in the pharmaceutical sector, including requirements that companies make all data from clinical trials publicly available.

The Italian text presented to the World Health Assembly also demanded full disclosure from pharmaceutical firms on net revenue, once research and development, tax breaks and other subsidies are factored in.

Several countries – notably those that host large pharmaceutical industries like the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland – expressed reservations about the Italian draft.

The final version includes several modifications.

For example, an earlier draft called on governments to “require the dissemination of results and costs from human subject clinical trials regardless of outcome”.

But the approved text urged states to “take the necessary steps, as appropriate” to make data from clinical trials public “regardless of outcomes or whether the results will support an application for marketing approval, while ensuring patient confidentiality”.

The language was similarly softened with respect to the production costs incurred by drugmakers and patent notification.

Campaigners say some drugs are highly overpriced although they are often developed with public funding and that governments at times negotiate prices without any idea of how much the drugs cost.

MSF in a statement called the resolution “a welcome first step”, but said it did not go far enough.

“While earlier drafts of the resolution included clear language to bring more transparency to this opaque area, unfortunately a small group of countries … obstructed more concrete advances,” it added.

It singled out the UK, Germany, Japan and the US as countries that “chose to place the interests of a handful of corporations above the interests of people”.

“We need to know the mark-ups corporations charge, production costs, the cost of clinical trials, how much investment is really covered by companies, and how much is underwritten by taxpayers and non-profit groups,” MSF said.

The only way to guarantee fair drug pricing is to have fair negotiations, which “are impossible without transparency”, it added.

WHO has for years supported calls for drug pricing transparency, arguing that a more open, balanced market would improve access to life-saving drugs, notably in lower income countries. – AFP Relaxnews

Duck Cosmetics releases ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ makeup collection

Duck Cosmetics releases ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ makeup collection

Malaysian makeup brand Duck Cosmetics has recently launched a very special collection to mark the release of Marvel Comics’ new X-Men: Dark Phoenix film (releasing in cinemas June 6). It comprises two eyeshadow palettes and four lipsticks.

Named Rise Of The Duck, this collection comes in an amazing packaging with gold glitter. When the palettes are put together, the visuals on the packaging form an “X” – a nod to the film itself.

“We worked feverishly with formulators to create the shades for the palettes and lip colours, bringing to life the look and personality of the two sides to the main characters Jean Grey and the Dark Phoenix,” read the brand statement.

Each palette offers a mix of matte, shimmer and crystallised duo-chromatic colours. While “Ember” features intense shades of the unbridled Dark Phoenix, “Ashes” features subtle shades to create looks of the poised Jean Grey.

According to the brand, the lipsticks are power-packed with intense pigmentation that glides on in a velvet matte finish. They are formulated with a soft blurring technology that reduces the visibility of the lips lines.

Available shades range from deep fuchsia to rich maroon and warm brown. There is even a nude tone that can be worn from day to night for all occasions. Simply classy, elegant and feminine.

How a superbug evades our immune system

How a superbug evades our immune system

New research led by the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom has discovered how a hospital superbug evades the immune system to cause infection, paving the way for new treatments.

The study, led by the university’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, investigated how Enterococcus faecalis, a bacteria commonly found in the digestive tracts of humans, cause life-threatening infections.

While E. faecalis is harmless in healthy carriers, it is also an opportunistic pathogen that frequently causes hospital-acquired infections such as heart valve infections, urinary tract infections and bacteraemia (the presence of bacteria in the blood).

Scientists currently do not fully understand how this happens. Treatment of E. faecalis infection is difficult as it is highly resistant to several key components of the immune system and resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Research led by senior lecturer in molecular biology and biotechnology Dr Stéphane Mesnage has now discovered a mechanism used by E. faecalis to hide from the immune system of the host.

The study revealed that the bacteria changes a component of its cell surface in order to evade the immune system, enabling the spread of infection. The findings could pave the way for novel treatments for infections caused by E. faecalis.

Said Dr Mesnage: “E. faecalis is an opportunistic pathogen. It is naturally resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, including synthetic penicillin derivatives, and is acquiring resistance to the last resort antibiotic vancomycin.

“Following an antibiotic treatment, E. faecalis can out-compete other microorganisms to cause an infection. Our study shows that this organism modifies its polysaccharide surface, which is essential for causing an infection.

“Bacteria whose polysaccharides are unmodified are quickly recognised and engulfed by the cells of our immune system, whereas by modifying the polysaccharide, E. faecalis can evade the host immune cells and spread infection.”

He added: “Hospital-acquired infections caused by bacteria resistant to last resort antibiotics are on the rise. Our work suggests that targeting the mechanism that modifies the surface polysaccharides could be a novel strategy for developing new treatments to fight E. faecalis infections.”

The research is published in the journal PLoS Pathogens on May 2, 2019.

I got my teeth straightened through an online service called Candid for under $2,000 — here’s how it works

I got my teeth straightened through an online service called Candid for under $2,000 — here’s how it works

Insider Picks writes about products and services to help you navigate when shopping online. Insider, Inc. receives a commission from our affiliate partners when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

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Candid
  • I tried straightening my teeth with Candid, an online company that sends you a personalized treatment plan and sets of plastic aligners for a flat price of $1,900.
  • The process consists of a few main steps and mostly ran smoothly for me. And even when it wasn’t, Candid’s helpful support team got me back on track.
  • You either order its $95 starter kit (now $47.50 through a site promotion) or visit a Candid Studio to create a teeth scan, then you receive an individualized plan from an orthodontist in Candid’s network, wear the aligners for the recommended period of time, and then finish the treatment off with a set of free retainers.
  • You’ll like Candid’s services if you want to straighten your teeth with subtle, non-obtrusive aligners and without spending an exorbitant amount of money or time.

Traditional braces are too expensive. You wore braces as a kid but can’t find your retainers anymore so your teeth have shifted again. Taking the time to find and regularly visit an orthodontist just doesn’t fit into your already packed schedule.

Many people want to improve their smiles, but thanks to reasons like those above, they haven’t been able to.

Founded in 2017, Candid is an online company that’s offering a convenient, affordable, and effective solution, making teeth-straightening aligners at a fraction of the cost of traditional braces and aligners.

Candid and similar companies like earlier entrant to the scene SmileDirectClub are challenging the notion that you have to step into an orthodontist’s office in order to get straighter teeth. With photos and impressions of your teeth on hand, Candid creates orthodontist-approved, 3D-printed, and BPA-free plastic aligners to correct mild to moderate imperfections in your bite.

Most remarkable of all, the whole treatment costs less than $2,000 and it’s a surprisingly easy process. Though Candid does give the option to visit one of its nationwide physical locations, you can also get started right at home by requesting its starter kit. I tried out the Candid aligner treatment last year to straighten my teeth, and it was truly a unique experience.

Read on to learn about how Candid is different from competitors such as SmileDirectClub, what to expect from the treatment from beginning to end, the cost of Candid’s aligners, and more.

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Candid

How Candid is different

A few key features sets Candid apart from other online “teledentistry” services:

  • It only works with orthodontists – doctors who specialize in straightening teeth – not just general dentists. The orthodontists in its network have an average of 20 years of experience.
  • It sends you all the aligners in your treatment plan at once, instead of only once you need a new set.
  • It gives back. For every aligner kit sold, Candid donates $25 to Smile Train, a charity that provides safe and free cleft palate treatments to children around the world.

Who should get aligners through Candid?

Before doing anything, you should see if you’re an eligible candidate for the Candid process. You can take its short survey, which asks about concerns you want to correct (e.g. gaps, crowding), any previous history with braces and retainers, and more.

The company is upfront about whether Candid is the best treatment for you.

There are three main reasons why you may not be eligible for Candid: your case falls outside of mild to moderate imperfections and would be better served by in-office orthodontic treatment; you have not been to the dentist recently to treat your teeth and gums for cavities and decay; or you currently use a permanent retainer. This last point differs from SmileDirectClub, as their 3D imaging technology lets them to create aligners based on what your teeth would look like without retainers. That means you can get your aligners before getting your permanent retainer removed.

How Candid works: modeling, treatment, and post-treatment

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Candid

If you’re a fit, congrats – you’re ready to get started through one of two options. You will take photos and impressions of your teeth either at home, or at a physical Candid Studio location near you. The at-home option is a $95 starter kit (now $47.50 through a site promotion), while the free Candid Studio experience has a specialist that will scan your teeth for you.

Either way, the process should take 30 minutes and will yield the info needed to create your treatment plan. If the orthodontist ultimately determines Candid isn’t right for you after receiving the results of your starter kit, you’ll receive a full refund.

I used the starter kit to send in photos and impressions at the beginning of my treatment and visited a Candid Studio in New York to get a final teeth scan at the end, so I can speak to both experiences. The at-home kit has you mix putty, stick it in five trays, and take your own impressions of your teeth. If you have a sensitive gag reflex, this part can be tricky to manage on your own, and it might be useful to have a friend nearby to assist.

You’ll also take photos (you’ll definitely need a friend for this one) of various angles of your bite, with the help of a cheek stretcher to get a clear shot.

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Candid

While I didn’t have difficulty making impressions, I did have to go back and forth with the Candid support team for good photos. It was a little frustrating that I couldn’t get the photos right the first time, but the support team was very patient and helpful in moving the process forward, and even hopped on a call with me to clarify confusion about what they were looking for in the photos.

Overall, the at-home option is best for those who want to take photos and impressions on their own time and in the comfort of their own home, who can’t make it to a Candid Studio during regular business hours, or don’t live near a Candid Studio.

Meanwhile, if you make an appointment at or walk in to a Candid Studio, you’ll enter a nicely designed facility that feels more spa-like than dentist-like and work with an experienced specialist. They use an optical laser scan to sweep over all areas inside your mouth and create a digital model of your teeth. Since you’re in the hands of an expert here, the studio option could be faster and less frustrating, but only if you do happen to live near a Candid Studio.

One of the rooms at the Candid Studio in Chelsea, NYC.

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One of the rooms at the Candid Studio in Chelsea, NYC.
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Connie Chen/Business Insider

The results are sent to an orthodontist in Candid’s network, who then creates an individualized treatment plan for you. It typically takes three to four weeks to receive your treatment plan, which includes an interactive 3D preview of the step-by-step results you can expect.

All treatments cost $1,900, which you can pay upfront or through a monthly payment plan. That’s significantly cheaper than traditional braces, which on average cost $3,000 to $6,000, and Invisalign, which on average costs $3,000 to $7,000. SmileDirectClub is a tiny bit cheaper than Candid: its treatment costs $1,895.

Candid accepts FSA and HSA, but doesn’t work in-network with any insurers. Still, you can submit your insurance information to the company, which will file a claim on your behalf. If you are eligible for orthodontic benefits, your insurance company will reimburse you directly.

The treatment plan consists of a series of aligners that gradually move your teeth. The length of the plan depends on your specific needs, and Candid says most of its customers complete treatment in an average of six months.

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Connie Chen/Business Insider

Before Candid, I wore braces about 10 years ago, for one year. They fixed the small gaps in my teeth and my slight overbite, and I moved onto a retainer thereafter. Like many irresponsible teens, I stopped wearing my retainer (I couldn’t even tell you where it is right now) and my teeth have shifted again as a result. I remember my brace face days well – getting food stuck in my braces, going in to the orthodontist for painful tightenings – and hated them, so I was excited to try Candid’s affordable and convenient approach.

My personal plan lasted four months, and consisted of seven sets of aligners. I wore each set of aligners for two weeks before moving onto the next. Candid sends you all the aligners at once, organized by step, along with a carrying case and a whitening foam that both keeps your aligners clean and brightens your teeth.

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Connie Chen/Business Insider

The aligners look like plastic molds of your teeth and fit tightly over them. Each new aligner hurts initially, but they become more comfortable to wear over time, and for the most part, wearing the aligners didn’t affect my day-to-day life significantly. I had a slight lisp with them on, which never completely disappeared throughout my treatment, but no one ever pointed it out, and I was probably more self-conscious than necessary about it. I only took them off to eat and brush my teeth, and otherwise wore them all day and night long.

Candid sent me text and email reminders whenever it was time to move on to my next aligner, so I never had to keep track of the timing myself, and before long, my four months of treatment had flown by.

Here was the final result following completion of the Candid treatment. I have small teeth and my teeth were mostly straight pre-treatment, so it might be difficult to see a distinct difference with photos of my face. The digital model scans below make the transformation more evident.

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Candid

After you complete the aligners portion of the treatment, Candid sends you a free retainer and case. For the first two weeks, you need to wear the retainer 22 hours a day, after which you only need to wear it at night. The retainers look and feel very similar to the aligners, but they’re just a little thicker. Candid recommends changing retainers every six months, and each new set costs $99 each.

Other than the initial hiccup with the starter kit photos, my experience with Candid aligners was smooth and surprisingly easy to manage.

Every person I encountered, from the support team to the Candid Studio specialist, was friendly and professional, making me feel like I was in good hands during what can be a nerve-wracking process (these are your one and only set of teeth, after all).

Since Candid only works with orthodontists, not just dentists like some other aligner companies do, I could trust the recommendations and treatment design fully. The results clearly reflected their expertise and the quality of Candid’s aligner fabrication – the treatment actually worked and my teeth were re-straightened after my reckless abandonment of my old retainers.

See if you’re a candidate for Candid and get started with your teeth-straightening treatment here.

I ate only ‘flat stomach’ foods for a week — and I felt tired and sluggish.

I ate only ‘flat stomach’ foods for a week — and I felt tired and sluggish.

These foods claim to give you a

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These foods claim to give you a “flat stomach.”
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structuresxx/Shutterstock
  • For one week, I tried eating only foods that are known to target extra fat and bloating around your midsection and boost your metabolism.
  • I cut out bread and pasta, foods with high sodium content, artificial sweeteners, processed foods and snacks, sodas, dairy, and fatty meats.
  • Personally, I felt tired and sluggish without my normal intake of carbs.
  • While I noticed that my stomach was slightly more defined, it wasn’t as much of a difference as I expected.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

As someone who would happily spend her days gorging on pizza, pasta, and any other carb you can think of, I was a little apprehensive when I learned that I would be eating only so-called “flat stomach” foods for a week.

While the category of “flat stomach” foods can be a little vague, I took it to mean foods that any claim will work to target extra fat and bloating around your midsection. I also consulted some lists of these so-called “flat belly foods.” For seven days, I decided to do the daunting task of ridding my diet of all foods that won’t help me achieve this. I cut out all bread and pasta, foods with high sodium content, artificial sweeteners, processed foods and snacks, sodas, dairy, and fatty meats.

So, did eating only flat stomach foods during the course of a week help me lean out my midsection? Here’s what I found out when I attempted seven days of eating only belly fat-fighting foods.

Day 1: I started off my first day with a coffee, two hard-boiled eggs, and a banana. I was surprised that I didn’t feel as hungry as usual by the time lunch came around

My confidence about making it through the week without touching a breakfast burrito soared, and I felt like I definitely had this.

It was nice outside, and I ended up going out to lunch with two of my friends for my friend’s birthday. I was going to get a tuna and avocado bowl, which has brown rice, quinoa, avocado, cucumbers, and comes with an umami sauce and pineapple salsa, but the restaurant was out.

While I never order salads, it was a little easier to make that choice when both of my friends joined me in ordering the same thing.

I ended up getting a salad with poached shrimp, shredded crab meat, tomatoes, avocado, egg, a mix of olives and capers, and cilantro. I got the cilantro lime dressing on the side and tried to use as little as possible.

Avocados made my list.

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Avocados made my list.
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Lara Walsh

The salad was actually pretty refreshing and it seemed filling in the moment, but I didn’t realize how hungry I was until dinnertime.

For my last meal, I made myself a big plate of rotisserie chicken, one-fourth of an avocado, half of a baked sweet potato, three spoonfuls of black beans (I made sure to get the no salt added type, because that can really add up), and a few sprinkles of lime juice for flavor.

I ate a lot of beans.

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I ate a lot of beans.
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Lara Walsh

Day 2: I started my morning off making oatmeal with blueberries and bananas (which are all foods that fight bloat), drizzling a little bit of honey on it for some sweetness

I was surprised that it actually made me feel a lot fuller than the eggs did the day before, so I decided I was going to start having that more regularly.

For lunch, I decided to try a flat stomach-approved spin on a sandwich by trying out a brown rice tortilla from Trader Joe’s. It only has six ingredients and is gluten and wheat-free, and I immediately noticed that the texture is quite a bit harder than the traditional flour tortilla that I’m used to. However, when I warmed it up with roasted chicken, black beans, avocado, and lime juice, it was actually pretty good and I didn’t find myself missing the wheat (or the lack of cheese).

The wrap was wheat-free.

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The wrap was wheat-free.
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Lara Walsh

I felt quite a bit fuller than the night before, so I tried a simple recipe that I saw on Bon Appetit’s website. Basically, you roast broccoli and canned cannelloni beans (salt-free, of course) with a mixture of garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. It actually ended up being really good, and I felt really full and satisfied after dinner, probably due to the combination of cruciferous vegetables and beans.

Day 3: For breakfast, I had hard-boiled eggs with avocado, and instantly found myself missing the fullness I got from the oatmeal the day before

Even though eggs and avocado are full of Omega 3s and healthy fats, I just didn’t feel like they were as filling as I wanted. I decided to have a banana as a snack with a tablespoon of almond butter, and that helped hold me over until lunchtime.

For lunch, I ate one of the chicken wraps with black beans and avocado that I meal-prepped from yesterday. I warmed it up, but it was soggy and definitely not as good as the day before.

The biggest challenge comes at dinner, when my group of friends decided to go to one of my favorite pizza restaurants. Unlike with many other restaurants, I struggled to find something that fits with my restrictions. All of the salads came with heavy dressings, processed meats like bacon or salami, croutons, and at least a few different types of cheese. Instead of the pepperoni pizza with truffle oil that I normally get from this place, I settled on grilled calamari with peppers and tomatoes and scarfed it down in a few minutes. It took all my self-control not to have a bite of the pizza that my friends offered.

I had grilled calamari.

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I had grilled calamari.
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Lara Walsh

Day 4: It was hard saying no to brunch with my friends, but I knew it was going to be almost impossible to find something that fit with my diet

Oatmeal helped keep me full.

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Oatmeal helped keep me full.
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Lara Walsh

I was starting to realize that it was a lot easier to stick with my diet when I didn’t see everyone else eating what I’d normally get, and I was not trying to torture myself watching my friends dig into an egg Benedict or pancakes. Instead, I stayed at home and make my new favorite breakfast of oatmeal with blueberries, which I supplemented with a tablespoon of almond butter. Surprisingly, I really like the texture and savory and sweet combination.

Since it was a holiday weekend, I went out with my friend’s family for a late lunch. It’s a French restaurant, and I resisted the tempting warm pieces of baguette and slices of cheese in favor of grilled salmon served with trumpet mushrooms and homemade potato chips (which I leave behind). It was actually delicious and filling, and I didn’t feel as sad as I’d expect not getting to dig into dessert.

This was delicious.

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This was delicious.
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Lara Walsh

For dinner, my friends and I took advantage of the warm weather by grilling chicken kabobs with peppers. For the side, we made a salad, and although I didn’t eat the feta cheese, I didn’t feel restricted. Plus, the ingredients – tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, and lettuce with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing – were all flat stomach-approved.

I didn't feel restricted with these.

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I didn’t feel restricted with these.
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Lara Walsh

Day 5: I woke up craving carbs and dreaming of pasta, bacon, cheese … basically everything I couldn’t eat

My confidence from earlier in the week about breezing through the seven days of flat belly foods was gone. It was a struggle to eat my oatmeal with blueberries and not choose something that’s more satisfying.

It’s a holiday, so I found myself wanting to snack to distract myself while I was at home. I let myself have two bananas with almond butter while I looked through Instagram at pictures of food that I couldn’t have. Yes, I’m a masochist.

Lunch was the baked broccoli and cannelloni beans casserole with chicken, which definitely wasn’t as satisfying the second time around. At least was comfortably filling and held me over until dinner.

By now I was craving carbs.

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By now I was craving carbs.
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Lara Walsh

For my last meal of the day, I pulled out a sheet pan for salmon, which I went a little overboard dressing with fresh dill to give it some flavor. I added sliced lemon on top, then put some asparagus, garlic, and olive oil on the pan too. I served it with kimchi, which is known for being good for your digestion. I liked the tangy sourness and the crunchy texture paired with the rest of my meal.

Day 6: I was already dreaming about what I could eat when I got off this diet

I was officially tired of oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs, so I scrambled two eggs and add 1/4 of an avocado with some sesame seeds. It’s no avocado toast, but it was actually pretty good and I didn’t find myself craving a snack until lunchtime.

For lunch, I had leftovers of the salmon with asparagus and kimchi, and I found myself leaping at the opportunity when my friends asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner at this Italian restaurant I love.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the squid ink pasta with creamy tomato sauce that I normally get, but the Branzino fish with fava beans and pickled tomatoes and onions was actually amazing and didn’t make me feel as heavy as the pasta normally would.

This was delicious too.

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This was delicious too.
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Lara Walsh

Day 7: I’ve made it to the finish line, and I decide to finish my last day off strong with lots of flat belly foods

I paired some plain Greek yogurt with blueberries and honey for breakfast, which surprisingly kept me full longer than I’d anticipated. It was a tough switch having plain Greek yogurt instead of the vanilla flavor that I’d normally get, but the honey definitely helped.

For lunch, I tried to be virtuous by attempting a recipe for a cucumber, tomato, avocado, and quinoa salad that I’d seen online. Sadly, it was not that good and nowhere as filling as I’d expected, so I ended up making multiple bowls.

By the time dinner came around, I was feeling pretty hungry and downright cranky about my food situation. I headed to a Japanese restaurant with friends and was pleased to find that the majority of the menu seemed to work pretty with my diet.

For starters, I had some edamame and finished off with a Chirashi Bowl (basically a bunch of sashimi pieces on a bed of rice). I resist getting a glass of Sapporo with my dinner but end the night feeling stuffed and happy.

I was able to order a ton off of the menu.

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I was able to order a ton off of the menu.
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Lara Walsh

Reflecting upon the week, I realized that maybe a diet solely of “flat stomach” foods isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

While there were definitely days that my stomach looked a little more defined and trimmer than usual, I noticed that I did feel bloated as often as not. Many carbohydrate-rich foods – which have been villainized by cultural stigmas and the rise in popularity of low-carb diets like the Atkins and Keto – are actually a good source of fiber, and I found it hard to swap them out for something that was flat stomach-approved.

Even though I found myself eating a lot more vegetables and even ordering salad, I also felt more tired and sluggish without my normal intake of carbs (or fatty meats) to get me through the day

Out of all the non-plant-based sources of protein, I noticed that the fatty fish were the most satisfying – but I still found myself feeling pretty hungry most of the time. Of course, everyone’s body is different and I might have started seeing real results after another week or two of following this diet, but I don’t think I would have the self-control to make it that long.

My takeaway from this whole experiment? Everything in moderation.

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