Like most people, I have a weak spot for certain foods. For some, it’s sugar or specifically chocolate; others crave salt and spice, and still others greasy food, alcohol, complex carbs…and on and on. Some believe the addiction is physical while others argue an emotional coping mechanism is to blame. Whatever the case, I often read about or see on tv detox diets or cleanses claiming to reset your metabolism, clean-out your body and free you from cravings, not to mention help you lose weight, boost your energy and give you three wishes. Typically they involve drinking mass amounts of some incredibly vile beverage and eating no solid food. Supposedly, the juice/tea/creepy lemon-water is supposed to provide you with all the calories you need to feel more energetic than ever. Then, once you are magically cured of your cravings, you can incorporate real food back into your daily diet.
This makes no sense to me. The human body needs more than just calories to function – it needs nutrients. That (not addiction) is why we eat – in order to function. Why would I deprive myself of nutrients in order to function better? That would just make my cravings even more intense and make me one cranky girl. Not to mention, detoxing won’t take away any of the junk food that I’ve consumed before; whatever has been converted to fat is still going to be there and I am going to need energy to burn it off…which means I’ll need nutrients…and we’re back to square one.
Instead, slowly increasing the amount of nutritious food we consume while systematically reducing the foods we feel work to sabotage our desire to be fit and energetic makes more sense. If you like sweets (like I do) consider where you feed your need. Are you snacking on jelly beans at 8 a.m. or would blueberries in your oatmeal suffice? If you have to have fast food fries every time you have a beer or two, either you need to lay off the beer or consider what alternative might work – sweet potato fries, air-popped popcorn? Unless you are a nutritionist or dietitian, most of what you have to go on is common sense (although anyone can do some good old-fashioned research – but be careful what you believe). Common sense can take you far if you follow it. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know that a cup of green tea is better for you than a venti-caramel-machiatto with whip.
Then, once common sense has prevailed, you have to maintain (my issue!) Having a treat here and there works for some people, while other completely cut them out and others find it to be too slippery a slope. I have ranged from living on caffeine and sugar to craving healthy foods and back. It’s about maintenance and realizing that your body (though an awesome machine) can only compensate for your behavior for so long before you pay the price. Why not set it up for success?