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Guided detox diary: Part 4

My guided detox with Dr. D’Brant: Part 4

fruits and veggies

My 30-day detox with Dr. Garry D’Brant is complete, and I’m psyched! I’ve lost nine pounds, and both my BMI and my abdominal fat have dropped into healthier levels. Also, since the end of the detox, I’ve been maintaining my nutritional goals.

Earlier this week I checked in with Dr. D’Brant to mark my progress and get some guidance for the future.

I started this detox because I wanted to get off dairy, sugar, and unhealthy carbs, and it’s certainly helped reduce cravings. In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I talked about the food replacement shakes I drank for breakfast and lunch and described what else I ate during the detox. I was hardly ever hungry.

In Part 3, I talked about the addictive nature of food and how it’s one of the hardest addictions to beat because you can’t just stop eating.

We are a nation of food addicts and it’s because the food we eat has been proven to be biologically addictive,” he writes. “No amount of willpower can overcome the addiction if we continue to eat addictive foods.”

Recognizing emotional eating

It was not any revelation to me that when I’m stressed or thinking negatively about myself I want to eat. I’ve recognized this pattern in myself for years, and I’m sure many of Dr. D’Brant’s patients can identify. But I also tended to miss the emotional triggers at the moment I was reaching for an unhealthy snack. I saw them later, and then I chastised myself: “Why did I eat all that ice cream? Did it change anything in my life? Did it make me feel better?”

In truth, it did make me feel better, temporarily: Sugar is one of the biggest culprits as an addictive substance—it’s been shown in studies to produce a drug-like high, Dr. D’Brant reports. That reveals to me why I want to eat when I’m feeling down.

Dr. D’Brant explained that when my brain says I need something sweet, or tells me I’m hungry when I shouldn’t be, there is probably something else that I need. Maybe it’s some positive feedback at work. Maybe it’s sleep.

It’s plain to me that once I had been off the processed sugar and wheat products for a few days, I no longer craved them. I may still crave them emotionally, however.

Dr. D’Brant advises me to be kind and accepting of myself as I keep working on positive changes. Perfection shouldn’t be the goal. Emotions will still sometimes try to dictate my food choices, and I should just do the best I can and keep going. [Note: Dr. D’Brant is also a psychotherapist specializing in body-centered therapy.]

What is there to eat?

The other day I was at a private get-together at a restaurant, where others were eating pasta and burgers, with a big tray of cookies and cupcakes up at a front table. The restaurant’s menu had a salad of baby greens with grilled salmon on top. I felt okay about ordering that even though it was probably not organic. There wasn’t much else to eat. (Dr. D’Brant had told me in the past to just try to buy organic as often as possible.) It was a tasty salad, but I’ll admit I found myself staring a friend’s “healthy” pizza with grilled shrimp and greens on top. It looked really good, and I found myself feeling like some kind of “goodie two-shoes,” eating my salad and refusing the slice he offered me.

At my follow-up visit, I talked to Dr. D’Brant about feeling frustrated about what to eat. I find I’m scrambling to figure out the day’s meals without eating the same things over and over. For instance, I have a big pack of organic carrots in my fridge, and I love raw carrots as a snack, but I have been eating them almost every day.

Organic foods cost more than non-organic. I would love to eat salmon a lot more often, but I can’t eat it every day because it’s rather expensive, especially the wild-caught or farm-raised organic salmon that Dr. D’Brant recommends.

He said a nutritional alternative to salmon is sardines (fresh or canned), halibut, and mackerel. Mackerel has a strong flavor and it’s not to everyone’s taste. I actually like it—I like almost all fish—but I wouldn’t eat it at work!

He suggested I try to have protein at every meal and look at some of the non-meat sources of protein like:

  • Hemp seeds or hemp hearts
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut meat
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pignoli nuts

I haven’t tried the hemp or chia yet, but the other four on the list are all things I like. It’s moments like this where I think, OK, here are some things that taste as good as the things I’m avoiding.

Dealing with setbacks and getting creative

Dr. D’Brant said some patients reach a certain point and then want to go back to what they were doing before. In the detox support groups that he runs a few times a year, all of the participants are encouraged to keep in touch with each other for support and encouragement.

With me, last week in his office, my frustration was mostly with food selection, not so much with cravings, so I felt I was ahead of the game. I will watch for moments when cravings come up.

There are three things I plan to do to keep on track:

  1. Record all my food, exercise and water intake. I like using MyFitnessPal, but there are many free nutrition tracking and exercise apps out there to help you.
  2. Exercise—burst exercises like you get with the X-iser Wellness Machine are the best kind, Dr. D’Brant says.
  3. Don’t worry about what others may be thinking about what I’m eating, or their “helpful advice” about what I should be eating. Plenty of people have plenty of opinions.

Keep reading, researching, and learning, Dr. D’Brant says. “I read voraciously about food. I encourage people to find recipes and be creative.” He described a delicious-sounding white bean–sage soup, loaded with garlic, onions, carrots, and celery, he’d recently concocted. On, there are tons of recipes, such as these he recommends to patients during and after detox. Try them, and then add new ingredients to see what else you can come up with so you don’t get bored, Dr. D’Brant says.

“There’s a world of really interesting foods out there,” he says. “Invest the time; plug into the creative forces around you.”

Detox is only the first step, Dr. D’Brant says. He’s here to help me—and all his patients—make the transition into non-addictive, natural, healthier foods.

–By Zoey Pengana*

View Part I, Part II and Part III


*Zoey Pengana is the pseudonym of a local writer who has agreed to blog about her experiences in exchange for the 30-day detox program and necessary supplements.