Are you “Fed Up?”

I couldn’t believe my shopping cart, but I didn’t want to embarrass my son.   In it were two 12 packs of Coke and Sprite, potato chips, goldfish, oreos, cupcakes and the like.  It was a SAD grocery cart–that is the acronym for Standard American Diet–and it was mine.  I had offered to host dinner for the lacrosse team and my son was quite specific about what we could serve.  And so, I complied.

I felt sick about serving less than nutritious food to the kids.  In fact, one teammate’s dad, a good friend, stopped in beforehand to bust my chops; he had told his son I was most likely serving gluten-free pasta and fruit to the kids.  I toured him around the kitchen filled with artificial ingredients to assure him the boys would be delighted.  But still, I didn’t feel good about it.

The evening before the lacrosse dinner, on Saturday night, my husband and I went to the Kendall Square Cinema’s showing of “Fed Up,” a documentary-style movie that will forever change how you view sugar (I highly recommend it!).  Comparing sugar to cocaine in the way it lights up the brain, and implicating it in various chronic and widespread diseases, the movie gave me hope that awareness levels might be raised, and people might change the way they make food choices.  The selfie movies made by teens struggling with obesity was simply heartbreaking.

On the way out the door to the movies, we said good-bye to our two teenagers.  The 17-year-old was eying the case of Coke and asked if he could have one.  Sure, we said, and drove off to see the movie.  When we got home, my husband went to the cabinets and measured out eleven teaspoons of sugar in a bowl and put a Coke can right next to it.  When we reconnoitered with the boys, they quizzically looked at the can and sugar (eleven teaspoons is a lot of sugar).  He informed them that each can had that sugar equivalent.  There was dead silence.  It got through.

I noticed teammates going for Coke the night of the party, but our son came in and poured himself a glass of water.  Coincidence?

It takes a lot of hard work and, yes, even courage to go against the grain when it comes to making healthy choices.  Choosing foods that are going to nourish our families shouldn’t conflict with the culture, but most of the time it does (especially if you have children).  Certainly making healthy food means doing more cooking, but in the end, isn’t it worth it?

Spring Detox

The human body is detoxing all the time.  So why would we need to detox this spring?

It seems like everyone is trying to detox right now.  My childhood friend called me from Pittsburgh, sharing that she was on a juice cleanse, sucking down a fruit and vegetable juice every two hours or so.  She said they tasted great but she was constantly hungry.  I’m sure she is going to loose a few pounds, but will it be sustainable?  And is it worth the cost of feeling so deprived?

I have never been a fan of a structured detox that include things like hot water/lemon juice/cayenne (“the master cleanse”) or just fruit and vegetable juices.  People generally rave about how great they are feeling when they are doing them.  If you were eating sugary and processed foods and gave them up, wouldn’t you feel better?

Spring is nature’s detox season.  The early harvest is greens and it is natural for our bodies to start craving them, especially more bitter greens (think arugula, dandelion greens) to let the liver naturally detoxify from the winter.  As I mentioned, these greens are readily available in the spring, which is nature’s way to bring us into balance.  But the digestive system is only one way the body detoxifies.

Our breath helps detoxify.  Oftentimes people don’t breath deeply enough to detox through their respiratory system, and living in the “fight or flight” pattern of shallow breathing can put stress on the body.  When I remember to slow it down and take deep breaths, I can sense the calm filling me.  A centered breathing exercise is a must to begin a yoga practice, where we marry our breath and movement so the mind can be at rest–a meditation in motion.  But deep breathing isn’t relegated only to a yoga practice.  We need to be aware of our breath and make sure we are slowing it down.

Detoxification happens as we sweat as well.  The body sends its waste out through our pores when we sweat.  It’s yet another reason folks flock to hot yoga, saunas, and heavy duty exercise.  They feel great afterwards because their body has released toxins.

So our skin, our breath and our digestive systems are constantly detoxing.  Why not focus on fully supporting your digestion naturally, making sure you are deeply breathing, and getting some good exercise?  Minimize your toxic load by ridding yourself of the paranoia associated with worrying about a structured detox program, and allow yourself to detoxify naturally, supporting the systems that are already in place.

Balance is the key to feeling well, not depravity.

Spring Detox Salad
grapefruit arugula salad
On a bed of arugula add:
1/2 an avocado, chopped1/2 pink grapefruit, peeled, taken out if its sections, and chopped
Toss with really good olive oil and a touch light vinegar (brown rice or champagne vinegar)
Sprinkle with a touch of sea salt or Himalayan salt