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5 Myths of Life on a Detox, Busted!

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When you’re feeling pretty amazing on a detox or cleanse, it’s hard not to be that annoying person who shares the news with all her friends, neighbors, and strangers at the market. You take to Instagram and other places online to share the good news, especially after coming off a pretty rough year, health-wise. I just completed my second week of being on a pretty intense detox diet, which involves eliminating a number of things including caffeine, alcohol, sugar, wheat, and gluten. And while not all my cares and troubles in the world have been cured, I sure feel a heck of a lot better. I’m sleeping better, and as a result, feeling more well-rested and less stressed. I also have energy that continues throughout the day, and the best part of all? I’m no longer experiencing that dreaded mid-day slump where all I wanted to do was close my eyes and sleep.

Friends have asked, or assumed rather, that I must be miserable and on the verge of ripping someone’s head off from the cravings, but really, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, an ice cold beer would be pretty fantastic during this intense heatwave we’re experiencing, but for the most part, I’m too excited about how good I’m feeling to be tempted (that much) to stray from the course. With one week more to go, I’m feeling so positive about my results that I’m seriously considering giving up a few things and never going back. I’m shocked at how smooth this has all gone, as I was envisioning a much different scenario, especially after my detox experience last year. After living positively through two weeks of saying no to my favorite things, here are 5 detox myths I’m happy to say, have been busted.

1. You Will Be Starving ALL. THE. TIME.

This is where the right detox for you comes in. There are strictly juice cleanses that can be followed for up to 3 to 7 days, some even 30(!), but I knew I needed a detox that would allow me to eat actual food as part of the program. I’m a working mother of three, after all, and I knew a juice-only cleanse would leave me feeling weak, tired, and most likely very bitchy, not to mention there’s some serious questions about how it may mess with your metabolism. Instead, I’m following a plan that involves a juice in the morning, a whole food snack mid-morning, a hearty lunch, another juice or smoothie for an afternoon drink, and a healthy full meal for dinner. A detox is not about cutting down on calories or limiting portions; it’s about ridding our bodies of foods that may be taxing our systems, causing us to feel tired and uncomfortable. That’s why, as long as I’m following the plan and eating the “approved” foods, I eat as much as I want for lunch and dinner, eating until I’m well full but not stuffed. This leaves me feeling nothing more than my usual, normal hunger cues right before my morning snack, lunch time, and dinner time. I’m often still full from lunch that I don’t even want my afternoon drink, but I make myself drink it to keep my body and metabolism running on course.

2. You Will Crave Everything You’re Not Supposed to Have

Once you push past the first couple of days where your cravings may be pretty intense, you’ll start to notice your usual cravings changing, especially after the first week and with things like sugar and salt. I’m not promising they go away completely; they just lose their intensity. This is likely because eating sugar usually makes people just crave more sugar instead of really satisfying the sweet tooth. And chances are, if you give into those cravings after several days of sticking with the plan and really cleaning your body out, you’ll likely have a negative reaction. Case in point, this past Saturday I went out to dinner with some family members and decided to treat myself to some wine since I hadn’t yet strayed once. Well, that idea was met with a subsequent night of vomiting, as my tolerance for alcohol (especially a sugar-filled drink like wine) had quickly diminished. Won’t be making that same mistake again.

3. You Will Feel Terrible the Whole Time

I’m not going to lie, the first three days or so are tough as your body goes through sugar and caffeine withdrawals, with symptoms usually including intense headaches, fogginess, and moodiness. But, once you ride out those tough first few days, you’ll start to notice a remarkable difference in how you feel, especially if you were a caffeine addict like me. You will start to have a bit more energy, as your body’s digestive system doesn’t have to work so hard to process some foods that may have been causing you upset, and you’ll be able to ride through the afternoon without that intense need for caffeine. If you had some digestive problems like I did or some chronic infection zapping your strength, you may even feel remarkably different. The key is to stick out those first couple of days and then things should get easier.

4. You Will Lose a Substantial Amount of Weight

While this may be the case for some, not everyone (myself included) will notice a substantial drop in weight after being on a cleanse or detox for a few days. Remember, because you aren’t limiting calories or portion sizes, you may be ingesting the same amount of food, and although it may be a lot healthier than the foods you were eating, it may take some time for your body to adjust after the cleanse. But since the point of a cleanse is really to just ease up on your digestive system and help clear out toxins, not to lose weight, you may be disappointed. Don’t be. Instead, look at it this way: if weight loss is your goal, now you can use the increased energy you’re likely to have to be more active. For the record, out of curiosity I weighed myself this morning and I’ve lost two pounds in 14 days. Really, it’s such a small amount that I can’t even be sure it’s a result of the cleanse or the intense sweating sessions during this past week’s heat wave.

5. You Will Want to Strangle Everyone Around You

Again, those first few days may not be pretty and you may not want to schedule any friendly lunches with girlfriends or client business meetings, but once you ride out those first 2 to 3 days, things will start to vastly improve and you’ll feel your old self again, perhaps an even better version of yourself. You’ll feel so good and be so energized and productive, you may even encourage your partner to join you (or at least make them irritated at your unnaturally positive disposition).

I don’t suggest going on a cleanse or detox cold-turkey if you aren’t eating a regularly healthy diet to begin with. Going from fast food on a weekly basis to cooking nothing but simple, whole food meals will likely leave you feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. And if you don’t have a plan for post-detox, you may just go right back to your old habits. Try easing into healthy eating before trying a detox, and when you’re ready, you can read some of my detox tips to help you achieve the utmost success on your plan.

Happy cleansing!

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