There are so many myths out there about detoxes!!! Don’t believe the hype!! Check out this quick list of dos and don’ts for an effective and not-too-painful cleanse.
Back in the day humans used to fast periodically, simply because we’d run out of food. Later, we had fast days designated as part of religious traditions. Our systems could probably handle fasting better then – what we were eating was way cleaner and more nutrient-dense, so our bodies were hardier. Today, abstaining from food is not a good idea. It’s not an effective way to detox, and it’s really not an effective way to lose weight, if that’s what you’re after. Instead, it will slow your metabolism, cause your blood sugar to plummet, and your cortisol (stress hormone) to skyrocket. You’ll feel jittery and irritable. Also, with no food to digest, your body will start eating itself by leaching amino acids from your muscles. Just don’t do it!
Store-bought juice is pretty devoid of nutrients. Freshly-made juice is full of vitamins and minerals, yes, but it’s also very sugary. Eating a diet of only sugary juice – even for a day – will wreak havoc with your blood sugar. You’ll get shaky, grouchy, and HUNGRY. And no, a detox should not make you hungry! Also, without protein and fat, your body is missing crucial nutrients that are needed to complete the detox process. Same goes for fiber.
3. CUT OUT FAT AND ANIMAL PROTEIN
I repeat: fat and animal protein are not the devil! They are a necessary part of the human diet, and they should be part of a food-based detox, too!
1. FOCUS ON QUALITY
Eat high-quality, nutrient-dense, healing foods. Your body will thank you for consuming bone broths, organic or pastured meats and dairy, and fresh, local/organic fruits, veggies, legumes and grains. Probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut (not the kind made with vinegar!) have a healing effect on the digestion.
2. CUT OUT THE BAD STUFF
Any detox should involve avoiding, at the minimum, the following:
high fructose corn syrup
refined grains, such as white flour and white rice
tomatoes and potatoes, which can cause inflammation
most packaged foods, unless you can understand EVERY ingredient listed (and approve of them)
3. MAKE IT MANAGEABLE
If you’ve never done a detox before, it’s great to either start with a short, simple one, or join a detox program led by a qualified practitioner. You might decide to do five days of eating super clean – planning ahead with meals and grocery shopping is key in succeeding with this! If you’re looking for an inexpensive and fantastic (i.e. co-designed by me) detox that’s starting soon and can be done from anywhere, check out my husband’s detox. He’s a naturopathic doctor so he knows his stuff.
We’re officially in the thick of the holiday season. Have you woken up with a “food hangover” yet? That gross feeling of nausea, a cloudy mind, and a bloated belly? Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza and Solstice parties are major trigger zones for those of us who stress-eat.
Did you find yourself binge eating last night? Here are three things you MUST do this morning:
1. Eat breakfast.
You’ll be tempted to skip breakfast for two reasons: one, you’re likely still full from the night before, and two, you feel guilty for the rampage you just went on. Well, don’t. Prepare yourself a small-to-medium morning meal rich in protein and fat. Protein has the effect of stabilizing your blood sugar, which will help you feel better, and fat will keep you fuller for longer. Depriving yourself of a couple of eggs or a bowl of yogurt will throw your eating (and blood sugar) schedule off once again, and it will also create a “punishment” mentality (“I ate too much, so I don’t deserve to eat again”). Neither of these things will help heal your emotional eating habit. In fact, they’ll make it worse. Choose to be kind to yourself.
2. Track the trigger.
What, exactly, set you off into binge-land last night? Was is the fact that the table was loaded with brownies, which happen to be your kryptonite? Was is the argument you had with your significant other on the way over? Was it the fact that you haven’t taken a deep breath in lord-knows-how-long? Did you skip eating all day so that you could indulge at night? Binge eating always has a trigger. If you think back you’ll be able to identify yours. Once you do that, you can use this information to…
3. Trouble-shoot future food events in advance.
Got another food-fest coming up this weekend? If you’ve figured out what caused your binge last time, that can help you avoid one at the next party. For instance, you may have been feeling uncomfortable about how you look, trying on multiple outfits and makeup only to end up sighing in despair at that extra weight / crazy hair / weird-shaped thighs / (fill in your own). Then you stepped into a party where it seemed as though everyone just jumped out of the pages of the Sundance catalog (or insert your own – I’m in Boulder so that “look” works ). As a result, you turned to the gingerbread cookies for solace. If you know that appearance – yours and others – is going to be a trigger for you, plan some time before the next event to acknowledge how you feel. You may need to have a cry, or to whack a pillow in frustration. Your feelings aren’t going to change overnight, but you’d be amazed at how helpful it is to acknowledge them.
John Mayer is well known for his creepy song, “Your Body is a Wonderland”.
At first glance, this tune sounds like an affirming (albeit cringey) anthem to the female form. But the fact that in the video he is serenading his girlfriend, who looks like she was built with specs from the Hot Woman Factory, undermines the body-positive message.
I like John Mayer the cyst’s message better.
Who is John Mayer the cyst, you ask?
Well, I’ve had a cyst on my scalp for years. It was tiny and innocuous until a month ago, when I cut all of my hair off, and it suddenly inflated to the size of a puffy quarter.
I named it John Mayer, because I felt the same way about it as I do about John Mayer. I tried a few things to get rid of John Mayer the cyst, but they simply made him change size and shape daily.
Because of the inflammation, all of the hair on John Mayer fell out. And I’m short, so anyone my height or taller could see him clearly.
I went to a networking meeting and I was self conscious about John Mayer. I went to dinner with new friends and warned them in advance about John Mayer, because I didn’t want them to see him as they were eating and get grossed out. I went about my life with John Mayer for several weeks, imagining that most people saw him and were repelled. He was pretty hard to miss!
I finally got John Mayer treated. I will spare you the details, and I will only share that the dermatologist and her assistant wore goggles and full-length gowns. They stuffed the empty John Mayer with iodine gauze to prevent infection, and I couldn’t wash my hair for a day and a half. As a result, I had to wear a puffy wool hat on a 90 degree afternoon during which I had to interact with several colleagues. Most of them asked me about my fashion choice.
“I had surgery on my scalp,” I explained. “You know that big cyst I’ve had on my head for weeks?”
EVERY SINGLE ONE said, “uhhhh….no?”
How was it possible that they had not noticed John Mayer???
But they hadn’t.
In fact, not ONE PERSON with whom I had interacted during John Mayer’s reign acknowledged that they had seen him (aside from my husband).
I learned two very important things from my rendezvous with John Mayer.
1. No one’s looking.
All kinds of prejudice exists against all kinds of bodies in our culture. That’s undeniable. Don’t believe me? Spend five minutes glancing at a celebrity gossip magazine, or simply listening to your own thoughts in a crowded room. (And by the way, you can deduce exactly how critical someone is of her own body by how critical she is of others’ bodies.) But at the end of the day, people are also way less observant than we give them credit for. We’re at the beach and we think everyone is looking at our cellulite and fat rolls. And yes, some are, but the majority are watching their kids, bemoaning their own lack of bodily perfection, or – hopefully – enjoying the sun, sand, and surf.
2. Bodies are cool, and can be beautiful, but they’re also gross (and when I say “gross”, please know that I mean that in a loving way).
Our bodies are not meant to be hairless, perfumed, fat-free paragons of perfection, like mall mannequins. There’s a whole room in your house dedicated to hiding your body’s natural processes…which are actually kind of gross. You have a toilet to flush away your poop and pee, and toilet paper to clean that stuff out of your crevices. You have a shower with soap to wash away smells. You have a medicine cabinet with deodorant and perfume and tweezers and razors. This room has a door that you can close, and maybe even a scented candle or air freshener. And this whole tiled temple of hygiene is, historically speaking, a relatively recent development. If you travel in a developing country, or go camping, you will observe fewer barriers to the grossness of being human. How about we start acknowledging and accepting our natural grossness?
In Western culture, women are in a bind. We receive two contradictory messages:
1. We have to look as hot at possible as much as possible.
2. We must accept ourselves and love ourselves as we are.
I hope my adventures with John Mayer have opened up some exploration around new messages. Why not try on “no one’s looking” and “bodies are gross” for a while, and see how it changes your experience of your and others’ bodies?
Ughhh…how many times have you spent the month of December unbuttoning the top button of your pants, bemoaning your lack of self-control, and feeling nauseous from too much wheat and sugar?
Good news – it doesn’t have to be that way! Knowing why we tend to eat so much during the holidays can keep us from overindulging.
Here are three little-known reasons we overeat during the holiday season, and my personal troubleshooting tips for each one. Let me know which ones you find helpful in the comments below.
1. Not enough “me” time.
Most of us have little enough “me” time day-to-day as it is! Between work, family, sleep, and social life, there’s just not a lot left over for RnR. During the holidays, with increased social and family obligations, it becomes even harder to steal ten minutes for a relaxing bath, or even five minutes for some deep breathing. When we ignore our need to relax, our insides start to mutter, then complain, and then, to yell. And some of us have the tendency to turn to food (or alcohol) to medicate that noise, instead of giving ourselves what we really need. My suggestion: take a look at your schedule in advance and schedule time to decompress. Knowing beforehand that you’ve blocked out 30 minutes here and there for a walk or meditation can help soothe that part of you that needs to chill.
2. Too much stress.
Take a stroll around any major shopping center between Black Friday and Xmas eve and you’ll feel it. Xmas carols blasting! Little children screeching! Parents exasperated cause they can’t find the toys their screechers want! You may feel overwhelmed by your schedule, or by the amount of money you’re spending on gifts. Once again, cookies and alcohol are there to quell the stress – but we all know that’s a temporary measure. My suggestion: don’t overcommit, and try not to go places that you know are going to have you tearing your hair out. Do malls make you nuts? Do your shopping online, or visit mom-and-pop stores that feel more manageable. Got too many parties on the calendar? You popular lady, you – now, choose the three that you actually want to go to.
The holidays are also stressful ’cause of all of the expectations that go along with this time of year. There’s this image of a perfect, blissful family gathered around a crackling fire, feasting and laughing. And while that’s the case for some fortunate folk, for many of us, the holidays bring up feelings of loneliness, sadness, and even anger. If we’ve internalized this idea that we’re supposed to be having some Norman Rockwell Christmas, that can make our already negative emotions even worse. Once again – latkes and Yule logs to the rescue. My suggestion: take a clear look at any disappointments and frustrations you may have about the holiday season. Acknowledge them and feel them. Cry and yell if you have to (you’ll feel better afterward). And then identify some things that you’re actually looking forward to. There’s always something good to connect to. Pretty decorations…being cozy inside…walking in the snow…cheesy holiday music…identify what you enjoy about the season and incorporate these things to the fullest. Remember that your life’s your own, so you can create a holiday season that supports what you need.
When I started holistic nutrition school, I was working in a psych unit.
Yeah. I used to work in psych units. When I mention that, most people get images of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.
It was pretty stressful, as you can imagine. Most of the clients were actually fairly chill (some benzodiazepine-induced), but there was always that handful you had to watch out for. The lovely girl with blond braids who brandished scissors and chased you around a desk, for instance. Or the guy who looked like he was straight out of medieval England – for some reason I always had an image of him tearing through the town square, splashing through mud, scaring chickens and fair ladies. He liked to raise his arms in the air, widen his eyes, roar, and come after you. Somehow his doughy form and wispy hair were quite menacing. The only thing that stopped him was a cigarette. So, in a frightening form of conditioning, he learned that a great way to get a cigarette thrown in his direction was to terrorize the staff.
Being in holistic nutrition school, I was learning all kinds of amazing things about food. I’d go home at night after work and create the tastiest and healthiest concoctions I could dream up. I wanted to stuff my body with vitamins and minerals. I wanted to make up for a lifetime of alternately binging on sugar, then subsisting on these nasty carb-free bars that tasted like a car’s tailpipe.
Each day I’d bring my creations to work for lunch. Everything was organic, of course. Beans, wilted greens, free-range meats. For snacks, carrots and almond butter. Hunks of sprouted bread.
And I’d eat them in a TOTAL STATE OF PANIC.
On good days, I was just mildly anxious.
You see, perhaps I’d just come from the unit, where the scary Mexican client had tried to get me to drink his urine, telling me it was “yooos” (juice). Or maybe my psyche was experiencing wear and tear from the stink, the dark hallways, and bodily fluids. Whatever it was, as I ate, I was barely breathing.
What that meant was all that tasty nutrient-dense goodness? The local biodynamic fiddlehead ferns fertilized with a virgin’s toejam and harvested by workers paid a fair wage? That stuff wasn’t getting digested.
When you breathe, slowly, in through your nose and out through your nose, you send signals to your nervous system to suppress stress hormones and activate a relaxation response.
In that state, you can digest.
If you are in fight-or-flight mode, your body reacts accordingly. Every bodily system that’s not crucial to either fight or flight shuts down. That includes your digestive system. Even much of the blood leaves your GI tract, so that it can flood your limbs and prepare you for an emergency response.
That means that even if you’re eating the Big Mama of healthy lunches, if you’re stressed, you’re not getting any of the benefits. (Conversely, if you eat a chocolate croissant while you’re relaxed, it will digest well and your body will extract every last nutrient possible from it.)
When I learned that (later in holistic nutrition school) I was like “@#%! I’ve wasted so many amazing lunches!”
And I began to start my lunches with deep breathing, and maybe a mental word of thanks.
And then I left that job. But that’s another story.
RULE #1 – When you eat, remember to breathe.