I have been reading a lot about cleanses since we entered 2013. I know lots of you are feeling the payback for celebratory indulgences and the pull of comfort food in the presence of dark – and cold! – winter days.
I am not in favor of typical juice cleanses that do not provide enough calories to live a normal life. I fear for those who try to go about their usual routine – working, exercising, and God forbid driving – while poorly fueled. I also do not see the point. It will never be anything but a quick departure from normal eating before returning to a previous weight and health status.
However, I have read about several other “cleanses” recently that are really just aggressive jump starts to re-focus on healthy habits. This type provides enough calories, and in most cases allows unlimited amounts of foods that are more satisfying than mere vegetables and fruits. I even thought about trying one myself, just as an experience, to see what is involved and if it would make me feel any different.
On further consideration, I realized that this is really not a good time for me to be that disciplined. If I ever try one, I think it will have to be during a period of time when I can devote more time to food preparation. But, as I said, I thought about it.
Then, while waiting under a heat lamp at the hair salon, I picked up a Bon Appetit magazine that was wedged between multiple accounts of Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy and Katie Holmes’ divorce. Inside was the most interesting “cleanse” that can only be described as forgiving and moderate. Hmmm, I thought.
No coffee. . . but if you must . . . a little won’t hurt. Ditto for wine and added sugar. All of a sudden, a cleanse sounded more doable, and more like what I am always encouraging others to do – IMPROVE! That’s all, keep moving in a positive direction, and keep at it.
I have been having a little less coffee, a smaller glass of wine (Peter teases me about my 2-3 ounce shot glass of wine), and slightly less added sugar (usually in the form of a tiny dessert). I also added my own cleansing drink, hot lemon water, in the morning. I am beginning to really enjoy it.
Again, I want to say that I understand and support more of an abstinence approach for some people – with certain foods, at certain times. If nothing else, even if it is short-term, if you know that from the start and it re-sets your motivation and commitment, I’m all for it! I’m just saying that the moderators among us may do better by looking at their eating with more of an attitude of “I wonder what would happen if . . . I had just a little less coffee (alcohol, sugar, . . . ) every day.” If you are like me, you just might find that it really isn’t so hard, and you will feel so good about those sustainable changes.
The abstainer/moderator distinction is something Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project has talked about at length. She apparently is more of an abstainer, while I am sure I am more of a moderator myself. I think we all exhibit a little of each. Like so many character traits, it is probably a continuum, and we almost certainly feel different levels of control with different foods, in different settings, and in different moods.
Abstaining from foods we like can become a problem if it doesn’t feel like a choice, as in “I know this food is hard for me to control, so I choose not to eat it,” or “I feel terrible when I eat this, so I choose not to.” In the absence of this type of buy-in, abstinence is often offset by binges. It comes back to knowing yourself and your tendencies at any particular time. I also believe that what you face today may not be what you face in the future. It’s always a good idea to leave the door open to change your approach as your attitudes change. You can change the way you think!