There’s a difference between diet (the food that one eats) and dieting (restricted intake of food). I haven’t tried the latter since I was 16 years old (lasting about 2 weeks), and I don’t pay much attention to other societal dictates around female beauty (fashion, cosmetics, hair, pedicures, the spa). But I am very interested in diet in terms of what I’m consuming, and how it affects me and my environment. I am not at all casual about food.
So it bothers me when I do not follow my better intentions around eating. I eat quite healthfully, but often to the point of being stuffed, and I’ve often wondered if I’m just plain addicted to sugar. I sometimes don’t even enjoy or really taste the big bowl of chocolate almonds or ice cream that I’ve been reaching for on a regular basis: I’m just downing them. I know why I do it: misplaced gratification, pacification, fatigue. And habit, especially habit. I’ve been on a bit of a downward spiral that’s been hard to stop.
I decided to do something about it. Take ownership, if you will. There are many roads to Rome, but for me, a general desire to eat sensibly most of the time, and consciously enjoy occasional treats, just wasn’t taking hold. I needed a jumpstart, more structure, something with a little flair. I needed a tool. So I’m doing (currently on!) my very first detox.
I’m in the first week (of four), and have been eliminating alcohol, caffeine, gluten, dairy and sugar. I was most worried about giving up my sugar, but actually it’s the gluten I’m missing the most – I really love a good bread and it’s wonderful filling feeling. But when I feel limited, I think about what I can eat: rice, corn, potatoes, eggs, seafood, meat (although I don’t), nuts, legumes, quinoa, soy, all fruits and vegetables (and I am eating plenty of all of this – no calorie reduction here), and at this point the concept of deprivation becomes a bit absurd. (I just read The Little House Cookbook after Nathalie recently mentioned it on our blog, and the book is an eye-opener on what a restricted diet actually means.)
In addition to creating a sharp break in the habit of crappy eating, I wanted to see if the detox could reveal anything about how my body responds to certain foods, so I really like the idea of eliminating certain foods for a short period (2-3 weeks) and re-introducing them one by one.
I am in good health overall, but I no longer have the bravado of my 20s (when I was really quite fit and eating well) nor the nonchalance of my 30s (when I was riding the coattails of my 20s). Why is it that my knees hurt as much as they do? Is mental alertness a thing of the past? More basically: why don’t I feel that good most of the time?
I actually suspect that sleep and lack of exercise have more to do with the way I feel than the five foods I’m eliminating for three weeks. In a nasty flashback to baby/toddler days, my 7 year old woke up every hour or so last night for no better reason than a common cold. But this I don’t have much control over, unlike the foods I put in my mouth, many of which haven’t been helping matters.
I used to feel really good. I remember the vitality of that. I’m not a believer in turning back time, but I want some of that energy again and know with some work that I can have it. I also really, really want to avoid finding myself in a medical office of the future, beseeching some doctor to take care of my body when I haven’t done so myself.
Focusing energy into one’s diet and well-being can be a liberating thing. Liberating from old habits, a slump, and if you really do have an intolerance, from a lifetime of discomfort or worse. I see the detox as an invitation to help me live closer to my intentions – there’s a bigger picture to the smoothies. I’m not talking about manipulating myself toward some skinny idyll in the media (which I hardly tune into). I’m talking about feeling great in my own body. Diet is a necessary part of this goal, and I’m in.