The ONE cleanse I recommend to everyone!
Is it just me, or does cleansing seem to be all the rage today. I mean, if you google “cleanse program”, you’ll get over 2 million results! A cursory scroll through the first few pages will reveal a variety of 3, 14, 21, and 30 day programs. But what you won’t find (at least in the first couple pages) is the one cleanse program that this Eating Psychology Coach recommends for everyone:
The Diet Cleanse
Why undergo a diet cleanse?
Well, not only do diets have over a 95% failure rate (personally, I don’t like those odds), but a growing body of research shows that diets can do more harm than good. Among the many adverse effects of dieting are: reduced metabolism, impaired hunger and satiety hormones, loss of lean tissue, increased risk of developing binge eating and other eating disorders, increased body dissatisfaction, increased preoccupation and anxiety around food and body, and reduced self-esteem.
Yet here we are in a fat-phobic diet-hopping culture, always looking for that next program that, if we just work hard enough and sacrifice enough, will ultimately lead us to rainbows and leprechauns and unicorns.
Reality check: it never will.
So if you’re tired of wasting time, energy, and money on an empty promise, if you’re ready to finally take control of your health and live your life as you are meant to, and you want to avoid all the nasty diet side effects, it’s time for a diet cleanse.
Here are my 5 simple steps to a successful diet cleanse.
1. Ditch the Scale
Are you one of those people who weighs yourself every morning first thing when you wake up? Do you weigh yourself at other times during the day too? What are the thoughts that go through your head before and after you step on the scale?
Ask yourself – is weighing yourself an empowering experience? Or a disempowering experience? Are you letting your mood for the day be determined by the number on the scale? And how might that mood affect your choices throughout the day?
Whenever I work with a client, I ask them to not weigh themselves. In fact, I ask them to hide their scale (or have their spouse hide it, or even throw it out!). When I make this suggestion, I typically hear: “But if I don’t weigh myself, how will I know what’s working and what isn’t?”
Notice the belief embedded in that question: I need the scale to tell me what’s working and what isn’t because I can’t figure that out by myself.
Just imagine for a moment a universe where the scale had never been invented. (Sounds heavenly, right?) In such a universe, how might we measure progress towards our health goals? Well, we could check in on how we feel – do we feel more energetic and vibrant and alive? Are we moving better, or differently? Do we notice less pain in our joints? Perhaps we are sleeping better? How do our clothes fit? What do we see when we look in the mirror? (That can be a tricky one, because we see ourselves with biased eyes.)
In fact, these are all more important measures than a silly number. And why do we elevate that number in importance? Why is that number so much more important than our blood sugar measure, our blood pressure, or some other measure?
The scale just tells you a number – don’t let an inanimate object determine your mood and affect your self worth.
Take back your power. Ditch the scale.
2. Ditch the Diet Foods
Get rid of the foods that have been altered to slash calories and fat. You know, those look alike so-called “health” foods: fat-free yogurts, fat free salad dressings, hyper-fiber cookies and bars, cereals with added low quality proteins, squirt butter, the miracle noodles with the funny smell. Just go through your pantry and clean those out.
Focus instead on eating whole foods that you can savor and enjoy.
3. Ditch the diet plans
Whatever diet plan you may be following, let it go. This includes not only traditional diet programs, but also diets-in-disguise like Paleo, Whole30, and “clean” eating. These diets all promote restrictive eating. They limit you by asking you to eat certain diet foods or food quantities (based on calorie or point or macronutrient counts). Or they classify foods into good/permitted vs. bad/prohibited and tell you to only pick from the good list.
And all those food tracking apps? Delete them! People survived for a very long time without logging their food – and you can do. How much time and energy have you spent on weighing and measuring your food and entering it in your tracker? What else could you do with that time?
4. Ditch the Diet Media
Unsubscribe, unfollow, leave all those email lists, Facebook groups, Instagram accounts, etc. that promote dieting and restricting and counting. Recycle the diet books and cookbooks, especially the “recipes under 200 calories” kind. Cancel diet magazine subscriptions and recycle past issues.
5. Ditch the Diet Talk
Dieting is such an insidious part of our culture. We talk about dieting all the time with friends and family. Even our own self-talk often revolves around dieting. Ditching the diet talk can be quite a challenge. How do you react when your friend talks about her latest diet attempt? As someone on a diet cleanse, you want to respect your friend’s choice, but also feel comfortable asserting that you are pursuing a different path.
Increasing your awareness of the diet talk around you is an important first step in being able to detach from it. But to really cleanse yourself of diet talk, you may need to enlist other non-dieters who can help you recognize, respond, and ultimately transform diet talk (especially the diet talk that takes place in your own head.)
After the cleanse
One of the funny things about cleanses – people generally go back to what they were doing before the cleanse within a short period of time.
In the case of the diet cleanse, of course you can go back to doing what you were doing: weighing yourself all the time and having your mood and decisions influenced by that result, weighing and measuring every morsel so you can log your food (even the butter sprays!), following the rules and beating yourself up when you slip. All those things are always available to you.
But you may find you enjoy the sense of freedom the diet cleanse creates, as you take back your power and begin to step into who you are meant to be. The diet cleanse is a first important step on that journey.
If you are an action-taker who would like to take this further, if you would like to learn how to transform your diet talk, if you would like to learn how to tap into your body’s wisdom and create an intuitive eating style that supports your best health, let’s schedule a Virtual Latte!