This is one of the best tools I know for taking your health into your own hands, and getting a good gauge on how you’re doing. These inexpensive glucometers aren’t the most precise but they work well enough to offer some sense of the range you’re falling into.
The first time I did this I fell into the pre-diabetic range and it scared the pants off me. That wasn’t fun but it motivated me to make some lifestyle changes. I’m very grateful that I was proactive about it. I got a lot of information for a very minimal investment.
“Disordered eating and negative body image are a huge problem within the yoga community. It’s crucial that yoga teachers like us recognize the ways in which we might be contributing to this problem.”
The writer of the email also said she was disappointed by me.
The “D” word. Ouch. Disappointing people is one of my least favorite things to do.
Receiving that response prompted me to quote it in a post on Facebook, and write:
“I actually take no issue with the statement, and believe it to be true.
On a different but similar subject, one of the things I’ve heard over the years–or even written myself–is that yoga teachers aren’t doctors or registered dietitians. True dat! I think it’s an excellent idea to seek out the advice of a registered dietician. Doctors, however, actually receive very little nutrition education, so have a great doctor–but don’t necessarily rely on her for nutrition advice!
We also see huge conflicts of interest in dietitian culture, in which companies like McDonald’s Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, The Sugar Association and others are sponsors for the ASN (American Society of Nutrition)–which incidentally publishes two important nutrition journals. Even the USDA, the organization that brought us the food pyramid–and exponentially escalating obesity and diabetes–represents a fundamental conflict of interest in that one of its purposes is to support agricultural COMMERCE.
One of the reasons I’ve done a TON of nutrition research, and have attended IIN to become a health coach, is that I looked out at the various conflicting ways that all of us are told to eat, and not eat, and found it deeply confusing. I was unsure whom and what to believe.
Here’s what I have come to believe. Each and every one of us is responsible for educating ourselves, and making our own healthcare choices. No one is coming to do it for us. If we swallow down the Standard American Guidelines then we will suffer the standard American Ailments. Personal responsibility entails wading through a lot of conflicting points of views, and deciding who to trust. I believe some things are bad for just about everyone, but that there’s also a great deal of bio-individuality to figure into our own equations.
On the one hand, there really IS a lot of body dysmorphia and disordered eating in the yoga world. Teachers need to be careful what we say, and students need to be careful whose points of view they take to heart. It irritates me to no end when I see yoga teachers posting Instagrams of their beautiful organic meal that consist of about a half a leaf of lettuce. On the other hand, if we want to avoid both collectively BANKRUPTING OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM and personal health crises then we MUST take the nutritional conversation out of some mythological doctor’s office–and even out of being purely within the jurisdiction of registered dietitians.
I think we’re at a pivotal moment in time in which we take back our own health and the health of the planet…or else. I ALSO think we need to strike a balance between more people talking about nutrition a lack of rigor.
What do YOU think–should yoga teachers be talking about nutrition?”
Right now there’s interesting conversation happening on that thread. (Feel free to friend me and join in.) I’m so glad to have the opportunity to talk more about the subject. I think–hope–that if the writer had ever taken my class she might have a different context about to the way I try to treat the complex relationship with bodies–but that said when I put stuff on the internet it should stand in its own right. I don’t think it’s fair play to write something online and then complain, “You wouldn’t say that if you really knew me!”
The onus is on me to be clear not on you to understand.
This feedback really drives home for me how complex a subject food really is, and how much each of us brings to it. It matters a lot to me to be sensitive, and not to participate in body shaming. It also matters a lot to me to be able to talk about the facts.
When I talk about retaining weight around the abdomen, I do that because it can provide information about the health of our organs, and about what’s happening metabolically. Regardless of how we look on the outside. I don’t encourage people to have 6-pack abs. I don’t have 6-pack abs. I never have. I have, like…a 1-pack.
6-pack abs may seem like a health ideal to some folks but not only do they they NOTreflect the state of our health, they can actually be counterproductive to it. Physically and emotionally.
Personally I tend to put weight onto my tummy–especially when my body is inflamed. As someone who has an autoimmune disease of the thyroid, I tend to have a lot of inflammation in my body. If my belly bloats up, it’s a pretty good indication that I’ve eaten something I’m sensitive to. That information is actually helpful to me. It’s not fun but it’s helpful.
However, I’m not impervious to the unrealistic messages that all of us receive all the time about how we should look. I have to work on that stuff like pretty much everyone else. Do I feel the pressure to be thin? Of course I do. I imagine there are very few people in our society who don’t, and some suffer a great deal more than others. I’m not exempt and I’m not a waify yoga teacher. I try to recognize my own insecurities of this nature, own them, and make the choices that are both physically and emotionally healthy for myself anyway. As best I can. God knows some days are better than others. My doctors tell me that I’m a very healthy weight.
I get that restrictive diets cause backlashes and binges–in direct proportion to the degree of deprivation we’ve felt.I’m a big fan of Geneen Roth. If you haven’t read it, check out Women, Food and God for a thoughtful treatment of the subject. Run, don’t walk.
I actively endeavor to eat in a way that makes me feel indulged rather than deprived–even though I have Celiac Disease and can’t eat gluten, and have a whole host of food sensitivities. It’s a dance. Too much “No” and I feel deprived. Too much “Yes” is an act of self-violence that makes me unwell in every way.
ALL of that said, we need to make changes in the way we eat as a society. Many of us need to do it personally. The sugar detox I’m offering is about being healthy. It’s not a diet program. Some people may lose weight. That’s just true. That tends to happen when we reduce our level of inflammation, but it’s a result rather than a goal. Inability to take off weight is a symptom.
I feel a strong personal conviction about helping people who want to try eating a different way. As someone with an autoimmune disease, I feel the stakes are pretty high. I’ve paid a high personal price. My food choices in the past have made me ill, depressed and infertile. That’s the context in which I’m offering my nutritional point of view.
(Can I prove that my food choices made me ill, depressed and infertile? No. Do I believe it to be true and does my research support it? Absolutely. Anyway, that’s just my context. You’ll have your own context. Some people have contexts of histories of disordered eating. )
I don’t think my personal context entitles me to say anything at all, and I don’t think it excuses insensitivity, or lack of awareness around contexts that are not my own through which people might be interpreting what I put out there. I want to share tools that have been life-changingly beneficial for me. I offer them in the spirit of being helpful. I never want to participate in body shaming, or holding out unrealistic, physically and emotionally unhealthy flawed paradigms.
But I could unwittingly do it all too easily.
So I’m exceedingly appreciative of the conversation. It helps me realize exactly how enormous of a topic this really is, and how much sensitivity is required. I’m learning every day, and that’s what I want to do.
What do YOU think? Talk to me!
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Does the thought of doing a Sugar Detox scare the pants off you? It sure scared me!
In fact, I dragged my feet for an entire year before I bit the bullet and did it. I just…felt like I wasn’t ready. As a person with Celiac Disease it seemed, well–unfair. Hadn’t I given up enough already?
Look, I’m a lot like that person often described on mugs–the one who never gave up anything that wasn’t left with deep claw marks gauged into it.
I was a sugar addict. I didn’t want to make changes.
Then I started to learn more about nutrition, and I started to think about things from a different perspective. I realized that I could focus on the unfairness of it all, and bemoan giving up sugar. Or, I could focus on deciding to feel physically and emotionally spectacular. Instead of asking myself whether I was ready to give up sugar–and truly I am a stellar bemoaner and genuinely wasn’t sure–I decided to ask myself whether I was ready to give up feeling crummy.
Even with that key change of perspective I still wasn’t 100% sure. It turns out that I was readier than I’d thought, though.
I used Diane Sanfilippo’s program. You should get her book, by the way. It’s awesome. It’s a great resource for people who want more information.
But you want to know what really made the difference for me?
Having someone to do the program with was the key. I didn’t feel like a freak or a failure for being addicted to sugar. I didn’t feel alone because I wasn’t alone. I didn’t feel like I was somehow living on the fringes of society all by myself. I felt supported, and cheered on, and encouraged. Emma and I shared pointers, recipes and snack ideas. It was pretty awesome, actually.
The first 2-3 days were the toughest. I had a lot of cravings, and was–well, detoxing. I was headachy and a little bit nauseous. My skin was kind of clammy. Then it passed. My blood sugar started to level out, and I started to feel amazing.
The thing I kept saying over and over was, “This is such a non-event compared to how tough I thought it would be. It’s so much easier than I thought it would be. I wish I hadn’t waited so long.” #TrueStory
I wound up sailing right past the finish line, and just kept going. I just…wasn’t tempted by sugar. I wan’t even interested in it. As someone with a life long indulgent sweet tooth that was pretty unfathomable and weird, but I didn’t want to go back to my old way of eating. I didn’t want to go back to feeling crummy, irritable and exhausted. So I stayed with it.
For a good long while.
Then…I sort of let down my guard. Sugar was like fog. It crept back in on little cat feet. Oh, just a bit at first. A shared dessert. A taste here. A nibble there.
Over a year later, I indulge less often than I used to. When I do indulge it’s almost always on less crappy stuff. Still, right now my blood sugar isn’t as level as it could be, and I feel the difference. See–now I know what it’s like to really feel good. Whereas before I didn’t even have a clue.
Listen–I don’t believe in perfection models. Maybe some day I’ll quit eating sugar once and for all, and never indulge in another bite again. But I doubt it. Sugar addiction is something I have historically struggled with, and sometimes I still struggle. I’ll probably do a sugar detox every single year for the rest of my life, because I’m not perfect, and I’m not an automaton. I have to work at the stuff that makes a difference in my life. It’s worth it.
So this October I’m offering a group sugar detox program. The protocol simply consists of nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory real food. The program isn’t fancy and it isn’t a secret. You can email me at through the contact form on this website and I’ll send you the whole darned enchilada for free. (Not this week though. This week I have somewhere to be and am taking myself offline. So,when I get back online.)
What makes this program special–and what sets you up for success–is doing it with support. Doing it in a group. I’m on a mission, and one of the things I’m really good at is coaching people. I think that’s probably because I’ve struggled with plenty of stuff in my own life, and am not some kind of b.s. holier than though role model. I get it. I’ve been there. I will continue to be there and I’ll continue to work at it. My strategy is usually to take tiny doable steps bc that’s the only way I know how to roll that doesn’t send me right back to bed with the covers over my head.
So you’ll find me doing the program right along with you. Because I need to do it. It’s time.
Sugar is more addictive than heroin and cocaine, and it does really terrible stuff to us both physically and emotionally. It creates inflammation, which we are starting to understand is the root cause of almost all ailments.
I’m offering the program as a tele-course because I want it to be easy. As easy as it can be, at least. So, you can do this program from wherever you call home. The hardest part is just deciding to do it.
I hope you’ll learn from my mistake, and drag your feet for less time than I did.
Most of the time, I try really hard to fight my inclinations to tell people what to do, but in this case I’m making an exception.
Do it. Do it now. Don’t wait.
Because it will probably be easier than you think.