As I made my way to the shower last sunday afternoon, I paused and took note of my surroundings. The sweet scent of homemade banana bread lingered in the air. My husband was artfully preparing the chicken we had bought the day before at the farmers market. Julia Child was on TV.
No, we weren’t entertaining. Nor was the afternoon set aside for cooking and feasting. In fact, the opposite was planned.
It was day 3 of a 3-day juice fast that my husband and I were doing per his request in an effort to clear up some sinus issues and identify trigger foods.
So on this third day of fasting, as I noticed the food porn on TV and the banana bread baking, I laughed to myself. The preparation for feasting had begun.
It is no surprise that restricting food can cause an increased focus on food.
This happens for a couple reasons:
#1.) Physiological needs surpass willpower
This occurs when the body is underfed (calorically) or nutritionally (high-quality foods). Physiological starvation can trump all other nutritional efforts, leading to overeating (often sweet, salty, and fatty foods). This deprivation can lead to increased thoughts and focus on food.
#2.) Mental starvation, as in “I want it but I can’t have it”
FEELINGS of deprivation, even if a person seems to be eating enough, can cause an increased focus on food. Many, many people fall into this camp.
In my husband’s case, he was fasting AND feeling like there was food he wanted and couldn’t have. This really didn’t kick in until the last day, though.
Can you relate to a version of this story? Many people trying to lose weight can relate to the feelings of restriction (physical and/or mental) followed by overeating.
It honestly took me about 4 years to get to a point where I could “comfortably” – emotionally and physically – handle something like this, without the intense post-fast overeating. As my intentions became more and more aligned, the process although challenging, became simpler.
Here are some reminders that may be helpful:
If you are doing a detox
Work with a health counselor to determine what level of detoxification would suit you best given your eating preferences, the season, and your body’s imbalances. Also have a transition protocol firmly in place and know it is possible you will feel very hungry as you begin to eat. Plan hearty, nutrient-dense foods, that won’t over-tax the digestive system. Also remember, trying a detox protocol that is followed by binge eating asks us to re-evaluate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
If you are not doing a detox
Make sure you are not skipping meals or chronically trying to undereat. Also be sure to work on deconstructing “food rules” that may be causing dietary rebellion. This can be the bread and butter of a healthy relationship with food and plays a key role in my counseling practice with many clients.
Eating is one big science experiment. When explored in the spirit of curiosity, you will always win.
Now I want to hear from you. What sorts of challenges have you experienced during or after a cleanse or detox? If you are drawn to the practice, what sorts of systems can you arrange to ensure a gentle transition?