Sugar and Spice Advice on dieting and detoxing

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We are bombarded almost daily with ideas on how to be in better health. What to eat, what not to eat. What exercise is best. Which kind are carbs are good and which ones aren’t good for you. And on and on. There are diet plans galore, some of which are not really good for you.

Take detox plans for example. When I worked at the outpatient cancer center nurses always seemed to be going on detox plans. And as many nurses were on detox plans there were just as many different plans. I couldn’t keep up with them all. It is true that sometimes we eat so much junk or fatty and greasy foods that we just feel icky in our own skins. I am also not saying all detox plans are unhealthy. There are some good, safe ones that have you feeling better after a few days. However, since not all detox plans are safe, here is some advice should you decide you need to shed some toxins, weight, and clear up your skin.

What does detox actually mean? In my hospital it means seeing patients through as they come down off illegal drugs or too much alcohol. That isn’t what I am referring to.

Detox plans vary, but the concept is the same. A person tries for a day or so or even for sometimes up to a week, consuming only the items on the detox plan list. The idea is that a detox diet will rid your body of unwanted substances and help you drop pounds quickly. The safety concern is that these plans are very limited in what they will allow the person to have.

You’ve probably heard of strategies that only allow juices, or juicing fresh fruits and veggies. Some plans feature odd concoctions that are designed to clean your system. Other plans use lemon, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. Pardon me if I like those items separately and not thrown together.

Here are some things to think about before you start detoxing:
1) The diet could very well work, but you are starving your body of the nutrients it needs. Most of the weight you will lose will be water. And a sudden drastic change is not a healthy or lasting way to lose weight.

2) Watch for the health risks. Long term fasts or fasts repeated often can cause muscle breakdown.

3) Did you know that your body can actually detox itself? It’s true. Your body has several means of ridding you of unwanted gunk. The liver takes part in the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbs. It also produces urea which along with the kidneys filter harmful substances from the blood.

If you still feel a need for a detox plan, think it out, don’t do it for extended periods, and make sure plenty of water is part of the plan. Really, a better way to improve your health or lose weight is to use healthy eating habits and develop good exercise habits.

There are some hidden weight triggers you might not have considered.
1) Certain medications, including antidepressants, steroids (like prednisone for asthma and the anabolic steroids abused by athletes), and some other prescription drugs, can cause weight gain. Please don’t stop the medications on your own. Bad consequences can occur. Rather, talk with your doctor about changing the medication or lowering the dose.

2) Sleep deprivation, not only can make a person cranky, but it also disrupts your hormone balance and hunger patterns. Cortisol levels change with lack of sleep or interrupted sleep cycles and this can impact body weight negatively.

3) Stress. Need I say more? How many of us dive into a tub of ice cream or put the feed bag on because we are stressed out? Maybe we are angry at someone, but instead of expressing our concerns in an appropriate manner, we hunker down with a bag of chocolate to try and ease our feelings. Or traffic is bad, you have a presentation, your boss is in a bad mood, etc. Who has time to take care of themselves? Unhealthy food choices take over.

If you think your weight problems are related to decreased sleep and too much of everything else, all is not lost. Simple remedies can bring great solutions.
Is sleep, or lack thereof, a problem, try regular exercise, you don’t even have to lift 300 pounds weights to get the good effect. Regular exercise can make your nights more restful and your days a lot less stressful.

Simply stop caffeinated beverages. If you can’t give them up completely, stop 3 hours before bed time. And many caffeinated beverages have many calories which may not help your waistline.

Relax. Easier said than done, right? And who has the time? It doesn’t take a lot of time to get a benefit from relaxing. Find out what works best for you. Try meditation, prayer, writing in a journal. A hot bath or a massage can help you unwind. Do you enjoy relaxing music? Listen and calm down that way. Take the dog for a leisurely walk. Use breathing exercises. The list is varied, but I really believe you will find something that works. Give these ideas a try and let me know if you are feeling better.

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