2020: New Year, New You?
A friend of mine recently reached out to me about joining a group specifically for healthy living in 2020. I love this person dearly, she is one of my very favorite people, so I decided to hop aboard and see what she was so excited about.
Although she mentioned the name of a popular make-up/supplement pyramid scheme, I wondered how bad their message could possibly be? Everyone can live a healthier life with a few changes, right? At the very worst, I figured that I would buy some makeup products from her and call it a day.
It turned out to be a “cleanse” program that claims that their supplements will fix/help anything from intense brain fog, persistent fatigue after a full night’s sleep, skin issues, persistent rashes, weight issues, diabetic blood glucose levels, IBS and bloating, gout and ankle swelling… and that’s just to name the few I can remember from the sales pitch.
You may also notice that many of these symptoms may be early signs of, I don’t know, cancer, autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s, heart problems, or even Lyme disease.
The overall message from this detox program? If you need to lose weight, you will! If you need to gain weight, you will! Whatever ails you, YOU WILL BE FIXED! Enjoy the snake oil, folks, it will cure every little ache, pain, and issue!
Look: I want to live more healthfully in 2020 and am really excited to do that, but I found some of the messages shared by this aforementioned “Wellness Detox” deeply problematic and dangerous.
“Detox your gut sludge!”
Real, Honest Talk: If you are not feeling well, if it’s a consistent problem, if you’ve suffered for months, if you are eating generally decently and are at least going for daily walks, if it’s impacting your daily life to the point you’re actually considering a cleanse, that isn’t normal. See a doctor.
For context, I have Hashimoto’s, an auto-immune disease. My husband almost died of a form of Lyme disease a few years back. He also had his gall bladder removed earlier this year (turns out, it wasn’t IBS, the cleanse would have done nothing for him, and he’s so much better now). The symptoms this program described “fixing” are often your body’s early (or not so early) signs of very real health issues.
So what should you do if you’re feeling like shit? The first step to feeling better when you have recurrent issues that impact your life in a very real way should never, EVER be a cleanse. Your first step should be repeated stops at the doctor. Sometimes multiple doctors.
Could your issues be diet/exercise related? Sure. Talk to your doctor.
Could they be a treatable, under-diagnosed condition like hypothyroidism? Yes. Talk to your doctor. Then talk to your doctor again if symptoms persist.
Could they also be cancer/something that could kill you? Um, yes. Talk to your doctor.
If your doctor will not treat your symptoms or take your health concerns seriously, find one who will. Don’t give up!
Here’s the thing: the company brand itself my friend was hopping aboard is relatively reputable, and they are definitely trying to help people feel better (as well as majorly sell their products, because, again, hello, supplement/makeup pyramid scheme.) For that specific line, it’s not the actual diet and program itself that’s problematic–though less reputable ones can sell you supplements that can permanently shut down your internal organs. I had a friend go into liver failure because of the “natural” supplements she was taking–she rarely avoided needing a transplant, and still deals with the damage of her “natural supplement” to this day.
The bigger problem I had with the program was the message: The promise of “the fix cure-all” for people who may be really sick.
Why? A delay in getting help can be the difference in living or dying. Just ask my husband how delays went with his Lyme disease.
Unpopular opinion: Cleanses/detoxes are bullshit. Your liver does everything you need for you; your body is good at taking care of itself unless there is something seriously wrong that diet alone can’t fix (unless you have Celiac’s–that’s one where diet alone will help, but AGAIN TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR AND NOT A SALESPERSON).
Do I think you need to take all kinds of supplements in the name of clearing your brain fog and energy and “cleansing your gut”? Absolutely not.
What about supplements/diets for Hashimoto’s? Should you follow those popular diet protocols to “reverse” your thyroid disease? According to my Endocrinologist (and also me): Absolutely. Not. My endo claims that these popular books are just trying to sell you shit. The same as the pyramid makeup scheme folks.
So what SHOULD you do to live your best life?
Do I believe in eating whole foods, making sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercising a little bit more than you want to, cutting out or back on alcohol, and limiting things in your diet that make you feel less than awesome? YES. But that’s common sense.
Sarah’s (common sense) steps for true healthy living:
- Take a generic, all-purpose multi-vitamin. The kind you get at the supermarket, not the kind Facebook ads try to sell you. Really. Those gummy ones are glorious. Take just your standard over-the-counter multivitamin to keep healthy levels of the most important nutrients in your body.
- Eat a raw, steamed, or gently sautéed vegetable at every meal. No, not french fries. Not tempura-fried. Really, just don’t fry anything. But a baked potato? Yes! Steamed green beans? YES! Tomatoes sautéed in balsamic vinegar? SO GOOD!
- Get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. You don’t have to be a surly asshole and you can stop bragging about how little sleep you get by on. Get some rest. Being fully awake is a super power.
- Exercise. Go for a thirty minute walk a day, or invest in a treadmill and use it during your favorite show (Treadmills don’t have to cost a fortune — we found a decent one on Amazon for $300 and it was well worth it.)
- Take a pro-biotic for tummy issues. If you have tummy/bloating issues, take a pro-biotic such as Align. This has been a game-changer for Jason, who had his gallbladder taken out and uses the probiotics to keep everything in order.