I was in Montreal this past weekend for my sister-in-law’s stagette. We had a blast, but you can imagine that the weekend was not filled with salads, legumes & lemon water. We enjoyed champagne, delicious pasta & red wine and some late night cocktails. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to getting back to my regular eating schedule this week, and avoid alcohol for a few days (I didn’t mean to make that Cosmo look so appetizing, but they’re a pretty cocktail…I couldn’t help it!)
On the train back to Toronto I read a really great (& timely) article in the April issue of Flare called “The Truth about Detoxing” by Rachel Giese. Basically the article explained that the extreme fasts & detox diets that are gaining popularity are not necessary, and can actually do more harm than good. One of them in particular is called the Master Cleanse. It “requires its adherents to consume nothing but a brew of water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup for 10 days or more.” Sounds like fun doesn’t it? This cleanse became popular when Beyonce did it in order to slim down for her role in Dreamgirls. I actually learned about this in one of the books I’m reading for my nutrition course, and it struck me as an extreme measure to take.
While these fasts & detoxes may help you lose weight quickly; they can put a lot of stress on your internal organs especially if you have a pre-existing health concern like diabetes, heart disease, low blood sugar or kidney disease. And, because they are not sustainable over a long period of time they resemble fad diets, which offer “quick weight-loss schemes…followed by quick weight gains.” Patricia Chuey a Registered Dietian in B.C. says that “going on & off fasts” (or diets) “can encourage an unhealthy obsession with food. ‘Sometimes when you eliminate so many foods from your diet, and if you’re controlling your food, it may be a symptom of an eating disorder.’”
So what’s the alternative? It’s actually quite simple – create a healthy eating plan that works for you all the time that includes a majority of fresh organic produce, whole grains & healthy protein options (mercury-free fish, free-from poultry, legumes, etc.). And allow yourself to have treats (dairy, dessert, caffeine & alcohol) in moderation. If you eat small, healthy meals when you’re hungry throughout the day you will be left feeling satisfied, and less likely to overdo it; feeling the need to do an extreme fast or detox.
That being said, life happens; there are going to be special occasions in life (ahem…stagettes, birthdays, the holidays) when you may overindulge. This is still no excuse for a crazy cleanse. If you are a generally healthy person your body will naturally eliminate toxins – “the liver, which processes everything we eat, breathe, drink or absorb through our skin is ‘one of the best detoxifiers we have.’” That being said, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few days off of sugar or alcohol or other toxic chemicals (see my Detox posting) if you’ve overdone it, and want to feel better. Like I always say – avoid extremes; everything in moderation.
My plan this week is to get right back into my routine of healthy eating & exercise, and I’m confident that my body will take care of the rest.