Originally published as my Holistic Outlook column in The Times Herald Record
“If they can’t have a beer and a hot dog once in a while, you haven’t fixed ’em.” — Dr. George Goodheart
I once attended a seminar given by a prominent and well-published M.D. He began by telling a story about a woman who had gone on a 30-day fast and then came back to see him. “It didn’t work at all,” she complained. “All my symptoms came back the first time I had fries.”
At this, the class and the doctor rolled their eyes and snickered self-righteously, laughing as if this woman were an idiot. Me, I sat there thinking the woman was absolutely right. Fasting didn’t work, or her hold on health wouldn’t be so precarious.
The choice is yours
Surely, if we are healthy, our systems should be able to tolerate an occasional indulgence. No, I don’t recommend a regimen of beer and hot dogs, and I strongly believe fasts are not beneficial for our culture and lifestyle. We each hold the responsibility to make choices that are predominantly healthy, in every aspect of life, including what we choose to eat, who we associate with, and what we choose to read, watch and hear. But my definition of health also includes the ability to deal successfully with a certain amount of stress without experiencing symptoms, whether that stress comes in the form of exposure to a virus, an upsetting argument or an occasional serving of greasy delicious french fries.
You have innumerable opportunities every day: You can choose what will enhance your health and well-being, or you can “go unconscious” and make choices that weaken you. The more educated we become about our health, the more responsibility we have to make our choices good ones. I guess that’s why they say ignorance is bliss.
Fad diets weaken your body
Short-term drastic approaches such as fasting and radical diets break the body down, rather than giving it the support it needs to recover, repair and sustain us through aging. We want to give our body the best quality fuel we can, most of the time. That takes consistent effort and perseverance. Nope, it’s not an instant gratification approach, not the quick fix, but it works.
However, I would also say that health as a process includes our weaknesses, our slips and all the uncontrollable factors of life, as well. While there is integrity in doing the best we can, there is guaranteed failure in targeting only perfection. Anyone who’s ever dieted knows what I mean! We must avail ourselves of the grace to stumble at times, and still persevere.
The good news is that as our health improves: 1) We naturally and more consistently make more choices that support it, and 2) we are better able to withstand the stresses we are exposed to, whether voluntary or involuntary.
Do your best to make as many choices as possible each day that support your optimal health, and you will begin to see and feel the changes.
Health Tip #1: On Fasting
Fasting concerns me because it releases toxins very quickly and can make us sicker. Fasting during normal energy-demanding routines and not eating, our bodies break down dramatically, worsening our health.
If you are still drawn to fasting, consider a medically supervised retreat using fresh juices and controlled nutritional support.
Health Tip #2: I recommend this to my clients for 21 days, several times a year.
For a brief, limited time period, eliminate processed foods, gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, and replace one or two meals a day with a nutritionally sound cleansing “detox” shake. (pssst! You will probably feel so much better you won’t want to go back)
Most people feel great on this regimen.
Health Tip #3: Not ready to eliminate anything? Then start by adding, instead.
Consider these superfood favorites: nuts; sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds; pomegranate; chlorella and green powders (I finally found one to use in my practice that I love!); coconut milk, coconut oil pastured butter and ghee, and avocados for their healthy, nourishing fats.
And don’t forget to drink lots of water!