During the month of July, I was on Mark Hyman’s UltraSimple Detox Diet, which you can find in the July/August issue of Experience Life magazine. Even though this program is only seven days, I say month because there are some crucial steps involved in order to have success. According to Hyman’s plan, I needed to:
- Cut back on caffeine, eliminating my still-occasional soda consumption and daily coffee habit
- Remove sugar from my diet, especially my weekly stop at our local bakery for cupcakes which I’d bring to events and BBQs, just so I had an excuse to eat cupcakes
- No more wine or cocktails, which is challenging when several emails in my inbox inquire about get-togethers with the subject line “drinks soon?”
- Dump processed foods I keep in the freezer for convenient dinners after a long workday
- Delete all takeout and delivery phone numbers from my cell phone, and stop referring to the hostess at our Chinese delivery place as my friend Sarah
Of course, these are very specific references to Hyman’s list of “foods” to eliminate, but you get the point. He notes to cut these out one week prior to the UltraSimple detox in ALL CAPS in his book for a reason: eating poorly for months (years in my case), then dramatically making all these changes at once is the quick path to failure. I’ve found this to the be case before, and talked about it in my last entry on July 1, before I began the detox diet.
With the right planning and controlled environment, following the detox diet was easy. I cut back and eventually eliminated sugar, alcohol, processed and fast foods, and caffeine (it took me almost two full weeks). By July 11, I was eating clean, organic, non-allergenic and non-inflammatory foods as Hyman outlines in his plan. I brought food with me to work and kept a cooler with snacks in my car when we went to parties. I even Tweeted about my success and challenges @ComingCleanBlog. (Note: I’ll still be Tweeting here on a regular basis, post-detox diet. If you’re on Twitter, it’s a great way to do a quick check-in with each other to stay motivated. See who I’m following, too, for more inspiration and health information.) And eating before events helped a lot: When I found myself at a salad-less party, I could drink water and grab from the veggie tray, but wasn’t so hungry that I felt I was missing out.
The biggest challenges, of course, are social gatherings or going out to eat with friends. I confess, I’m still struggling to master these circumstances, and will no doubt examine them again as I continue to learn new strategies. It’s really near impossible to eat the UltraSimple detox way if you have an event to attend, unless you bring your own food or only hang out with similarly particular eaters (how frequently can you get a group of people who all want a diet that is dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free, not to mention chemical-, antibiotic- and hormone-free?), but you can sometimes get close. I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite tips this week, so make sure to check back.
Even though I found post-detox dieting life challenging, I’m still glad I stuck to the program for seven days and followed Hyman’s suggestions for transitioning out of detox. After four weeks, I lost 6.5 pounds, plus an inch off my waist and bust — more than I did after three months following a popular points-counting system. Within a few days on the detox, I felt less “puffy,” and noticed that my frequent upset stomach or headaches I previously quelled with food (thinking I was still hungry for the former or low on sugar for the latter) had vanished. My energy undulated throughout the month (my acupuncturist credits all the toxins leaving my system as a reason for my exhaustion), but I became more aware of how I felt and how food affected me. I now scrutinize labels before I buy or eat, and I study menus before I go to restaurants — something I once did religiously but have been neglecting as of late.
With this thoughtful assessment of food, however, my friends have declared me that girl — the one who has very specific requests to her order in restaurants, who suggests alternative locations if the menu lacks healthy options; who always asks what’s on the menu at parties and if there’s anything I can bring, that item always being a salad or veggie and bean dish; who won’t accept a prepackaged foodstuff without reading the label first.
But why shouldn’t I be that girl? Why shouldn’t we all? These eaters are sometimes referred to as fussy or picky, but we are simply discerning. With all of the information available on the food industry, and all that I’ve learned and read and watched in documentaries, I can’t just gobble down a plate of food without wondering about how it was cooked and from where it was sourced. I may get a little obsessed at times, but it works better for me on my path to wellness. (If anything, taking a moment to think about all this stalls the entire eating process, thus making me question my choice of creamy pasta dish or deep-dish pizza or “Buffalo kickers” in the first place). I’m finding it to be one of the easiest first steps in cleaning up my diet: Always choose the highest quality food you can. Real, organic food is delicious and packed with nutrients. Sitting with a plate of organic greens and hormone-free, free-range chicken with olive oil and lemon makes me feel fuller and more satisfied than, say, greasy fried chicken, which I could’ve easily devoured in the past and still felt hungry. So if I can do only one thing when it comes to eating, I will choose real, wholesome food.
Although I still miss cupcakes, I feel like I can have them occasionally in the future without getting back on the wrong track. For me, the UltraSimple way of eating, for the most part, is sustainable, and when a wedding or birthday party or reunion comes up with an unpredictable menu, I’ll feel like I can eat the healthier options but still have a (small) piece of cake if I want it. There are a lot of diets and suggestions for ways to eat out there, but I’ve gleaned some good tips from Dr. Hyman’s plan.
What have you learned from the UltraSimple Detox Diet? Share your triumphs and challenges with me here, or follow me @ComingCleanBlog on Twitter.