I didn’t set out to write about pooping today. But apparently the time has come to do just that. So I’ll talk a little about pooping – and other things that make our bodies feel good.
Why am I talking about poop, aside from the word being fun to say? Because yesterday as I chatted with a friend about the growing popularity of detox drinks, diets, and pills, two thoughts popped into my mind.
Marketers are selling you a whole bunch of “detox” products that you don’t need. That’s a shady ploy, as my coach just recently pointed out in an excellent video. You’re being told on a daily basis that your body is full of toxins. And that if you just follow their plan, take their pill, or drink their shake, you’ll get rid of them. And then feel like a million bucks.
You don’t need this stuff. Your liver is fully capable of getting rid of toxic substances in your body. And sometimes these products may make your health even worse.
What’s more important: there’s a reason that marketers are selling detoxes, cleanses, and other nonsense. They make you believe that you need something special. They know that the idea appeals to us. They’re just giving us what we want.But what do we want? And why?
When clients, friends, and family come to me asking about detoxes, what they’re really sharing is something deeper. Here are the big issues. And along with that, my thoughts on how to tackle them. Without an overpriced product.
“I just came back from vacation, so I’m detoxing.”
My client Becky told me this last month. She is an excellent example of someone who exercises reasonably and regularly. And she normally eats well. After a long weekend of being whisked around to restaurant dinners, she came home feeling bloated and yuck. I asked her what her detox entailed.
“Oh, I’m eating some salads.”
That put a big smile on my face. She wasn’t doing anything bonkers.
When we get out of our routine and eat more calories, junkier food, and maybe throw back a lot more adult beverages than on average, you know what feels really, really good?
Eating a damn salad.
It feels good physically, because we get more nutrients and water. It also feels good psychologically: probably because in our heads, it’s a clear line in the sand that we’re getting back to normal. And this is a perfectly good thing.
So sometimes what we think of as a detox isn’t actually silly. It’s just a word that people use to say “stop behaving like I’m still on that beach vacation where the waiter brought me food and drink every time I gave him a sideways glance.”
“I feel bloated and gross.”
A party weekend may do this. Drinking dairy does this to me, because I’m lactose intolerant. There are a lot of reasons that we may feel bloated.
Overdo the food and drink? You most likely don’t need to do anything other than let your body get back to normal after a few days.
Certain foods may lead to extra gassiness, even if you don’t have a food intolerance. We all know about beans, but veggies like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and other foods that contain particular starches and sugars can make your stomach feel bloated. If bloating is a regular issue, see a doctor. There are all sorts of conditions that cause chronic symptoms.
Fizzy drinks may temporarily make you feel full and uncomfortable. That’s an easy one to replace with water or another drink like hot tea on a day when you feel blah.
And after a day of eating foods high in sodium, you may retain water that makes you look and feel puffier than normal. If you don’t normally eat a ton of processed food, most likely your daily sodium intake is just fine. But by eating mostly whole foods for a few days may help you feel less like an inflated balloon.
Finally, some experts recommend chewing more slowly so that you don’t draw so much air into your body as you eat. Eating more slowly is a good practice for developing mindfulness around hunger. So hey, why not give that a go too?
“I just want to poop, okay?”
Sweet. We’re in the pooping portion of the program today. So you know that most likely, you’ll never need a colonic cleanse to poop better. Thank God, because that sounds terrifying.
First of all, if you get plenty of water and fiber in your diet on a daily basis, things should be moving along well.
If you’re not currently eating plenty of fruits, veggies, and other sources of fiber like whole grains, but you want to begin, don’t do it by diving in hard with a detox diet you saw on Pinterest. Ease into eating more fiber. That’s because fiber just helps forms better stool. And if you suddenly go from eating no fiber to eating tons of fiber, you may feel worse. So gradually increase your intake.
Instead, begin by increasing your water intake. Fiber absorbs water, so drinking extra will help the process move along more smoothly. Avoid harsh laxatives and if you’re really backed up, try a gentler stool softener. My doctor recommends Miralax, but ask your own M.D. here.
If despite eating plenty of healthy fiber from fruits and veggies you find that you’re still having wonky issues with your digestion, see a doc. Soluble and insoluble fiber both play a role in helping food get broken down and pass through our bodies. Foods with soluble fiber attract water and firm up stool, while foods with insoluble fiber can make it easier to relieve constipation. People who have gastrointestional issues such as IBS may be particularly sensitive to what kinds of fiber they ingest. So get that checked out if you suspect you have an issue.
Finally – try the squatty potty. Aside from having an adorable name, those stools help your stool. See what I just did there? Hahaha. Okay. Moving on.
“I need a detox to lose this belly fat.”
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. No. You don’t need that. But sometimes going out and buying the special foods and drinks sends a message that we’re doing something. That we’re kick starting a change. Unfortunately, after the excitement wears off, people are left with some crappy drink and a burning desire to inhale an entire pizza. Screw that diet.
It’s fine to gain momentum with a more aggressive fat loss plan, but it should be one that is safe, not absolute misery, and can transition into a more moderate nutrition approach.
I’m not opposed to a “rapid fat loss” diet. When you give yourself more structure and see big results initially, it may help you believe that you are capable of change.
But when I use these with my online coaching clients, I carefully monitor them to take note of how their bodies are functioning as they lose fat. Don’t go in blind when it comes to nutrition – partner with someone who will help you create a safe, sane plan. And remember, the more radical the approach, the more likely it will fail you. Especially if there’s nothing about it that you can take with you for long term healthy eating.
So the bottom line – you don’t need anything special. But it’s completely normal to want to reset, recharge, and make your insides feel better. Make sleep a priority for a few days. Drink water, put veggies (but not all the veggies) into your body, and go get a workout. You’ll be glowier than the chicks hawking detoxes on the Internet and keep more money in your bank account.