A Case For and Against Detox

As you might know, Brandon and I planned to detox throughout the month of January after happily indulging in all things sweet and fermented for the month of December.  It only seemed right to respond with the same or more fervor about diet as we had given toward gorging ourselves with holiday treats.

We started off well.  I think a solid week went by in which we adhered to our own strict guidelines (based primarily off of the Whole 30 plan). Then, a new wine bar opened in Ashland.  
Maybe you missed this news because you are so fascinated by yet another post by me about eating. 
THERE’S A WINE BAR IN ASHLAND.  In Ashland, Ohio.  I’m not kidding.  It’s called The Happy Grape, and it’s so lovely.  You must go.  
Which is what I did, two days in a row, the first day because it was opening day and when something as wonderful and unusual appears in Ashland, Ohio, you have to be there for opening day, and the second day because Brandon and I required a detox-free date night.  That particular day came with a whole host of heaviness, and we needed to unload.  We went to our favorite restaurant, The Cabin, and then ventured to the Happy Grape for dessert.
After date night, there were nights I got home at 5:30, and Brandon knew he was leaving for work the next day, and there weren’t any leftovers left, and ooooh wellllll, order a pizza.  And then there were football games and friends, birthday parties and potato salad and cupcakes, and we partook of all that is good and sweet and fatty and alcoholic.
Here at the end of detox January, I am declaring our detox a brilliant success.
Because not once did I say to myself, What do you think you’re doing?  You can’t eat that! nor did I whisper to the little troll that controls my appetite, Okay, little troll, since you’ve failed today and permitted yourself these two slices of pizza, you are free to give up, you failure. Go sit in the corner and be quiet. It’s no use.

Neither of these thoughts occurred to me because it’s just food.  
We are a culture of extremes.  Starve yourself!  Stuff yourself!  Be the Biggest Loser!  Food is King!  Worship food!
But I say, stop idolizing food.  It is fuel to keep your body running.  In order to operate with the most functionality and wellness, to run with the fewest belches and rattles under the hood, the body needs to eat good food.  
You know crunching through an entire bag of chips and eating all of that cream and drinking all of that alcohol and indulging in all of those desserts isn’t good for you.  It might taste good, initially.  It might feel okay, at first.  But then there’s the gurgles, and the rumblings, and the gas, and the indigestion, and the heartburn, and the headaches, and the hangovers, and the 2 p.m. slump.  This is your body saying, I hate this!  Stop doing this to me!  
The body appreciates when we don’t make it work extra hard to digest stuff that isn’t natural; it runs best on certain types of food.  And when the body is running best, it stops being an uncomfortable distraction, allowing you to focus on other areas of health and wellness.
The body isn’t just a piece of machinery that needs a particular combination of oil and transmission fluid and gas in order to work.  The body is also emotional.  The body is also thoughtful.  The body is also spiritual.  The body is also relational.  The types of food that you consume should not dictate or trump the rest of your body’s needs.  Celebrate with those who celebrate!  Enjoy the company of friends and their delicious chocolate chip cookies without beating yourself up over it, but remember that your little troll can still say okay, that’s enough now, two cookies is probably plenty. Go drink a glass of water, you sugar addict, you. 

Health is about more than just diet, and trying to extreme diet 100% of the time is the same sort of dysfunctional behavior that drives the appetite to eat whatever it wants.  Health is about exercise, and social interactions, and worship/prayer/meditation, and recreation, and sleep.
But health is also about diet.  In spite of the many pierogies and cookies consumed by me in December, in general our daily diets are clean.  I’m not tempted by soda anymore.  We have raw honey and maple syrup handy for sweeteners but otherwise we don’t add sugar to much.  There’s no dairy except sharp cheddar and greek yogurt in the fridge, and it’s been so long since we’ve had pasta or bread in the house that it doesn’t even cross my mind to buy it.  When we go to the store, we mostly perimeter shop, spending most of our time in the produce section and lingering for a few minutes in the meat section, mostly waiting for Henry to stop staring at the lobster tank.  
So when we determined to “detox” in January, the intent was not a radical modification of our existing lifestyle.  It was simply a good opportunity to reset after a season of much celebration, of much sweetness and thick pierogies and desserts and drinks.
Now, we’re back to eating mostly meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, and seeds, eating until we’re full and satisfied.  We’re back to bi-weekly date night and the occasional glass of American Honey or wine to relax and enjoy each other’s company.  We’re back to Friday night pizza night.  If there are 21 meals in a week, two to three of those meals might fall out of the healthy category.  When those meals occur, the little troll doesn’t get the night off.  He simply sits back for a couple slices of pizza until the ticker tape runs that says, I’m full now but I just love the way this tastes, and then he flashes his warning signal.  Time to stop now.  It was good, but don’t make yourself sick, silly indulgent person.
So as the good King Solomon said once, Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved of what you do.  

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

3 thoughts on “A Case For and Against Detox

  1. I love what King Solomon said!

    Admittedly, I tend to get a little obsessive about eating clean. So much so that I think the rest of my family is starving. My hint was when Chris came home from work and sat down to order a pizza. “Don't worry about dinner, Holly. I've got it taken care of.”
    But but but…and then I ate it and rejoiced in its cheesy goodness. You make an excellent point about there being 21 meals in a week. I need to relax a little. Thanks for this!


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