Cue the Rocky theme song! I’m in the home stretch of my month without alcohol, sugar, wheat, processed foods and dairy. This past week was arguably the easiest yet. My strict meal plan almost felt normal – except during a girls’ night when I jealously watched my friends take down several bars of chocolate. (To be fair, they tried to be discreet for my benefit).
Perhaps I was finally getting accustomed to my new routine. Research shows it takes from three weeks to two months to break a habit. It may have also helped that I promised myself a cheat day on the weekend so I had something to look forward to. (Sidenote: when my cheat day arrived, I didn’t go crazy eating everything in front of me. Turns out if a food is no longer off-limits, you don’t crave it as much.)
I’m now focusing on life post-Feb. 10 (my last day of the detox). Because let’s face it, eating like I have the past month just isn’t realistic for many reasons.
A lot of the experts I spoke to weren’t sure how good such restrictive living is for the psyche. Many detoxes – especially New Year’s ones – have a punitive tilt to them; that we’ve sinned by eating too much over the holidays and now must atone. “I’ve had patients come to be and say [their detox] is not about losing weight; that they just want to be clean,” says Evelyn Tribole, registered dietitian and author of Intuitive Eating. “It’s like, who said you were dirty?”
The label also conjures a short-term solution. “If what you’re doing is eating more fruits and vegetables and eating fewer processed foods and choosing whole grains, then that’s okay because that’s healthy,” says registered dietitian Andrea Miller. “But if we’re calling it detox or diet; my concern is it’s temporary, it’s not sustainable and what happens when it’s done? I have yet to have a client walk through my door saying I want to eat healthy temporarily.”
To be fair, there’s plenty I’ve learned from my detox. And I hope to incorporate components on the daily. For example:
1. A piece of spelt toast with avocado and egg will leave me as satiated (and less bloated) than my previous brekkie: two pieces of rye bread, cheese and butter.
2. Spaghetti squash takes like real spaghetti! #win
3. An Americano is equally as delicious if you don’t drown it in cream and sugar.
4. I don’t need a piece of chocolate after every meal. Or a glass of wine every night. In fact, I enjoy them more if I treat them like the treats they are.
The final lesson: “We live in a world where people don’t realize that making a small change – like not putting cream or sugar in your coffee or even just putting less cream or sugar in your coffee – can be done without having to turn everything else in your diet upside down,” says Miller.
In other words, eating healthy can really be a piece of cake.