Several months ago I was asked by one of my daughters to support her doing a Detox program. Having never heard of a “Detox” program, I was skeptical and demurred, but after she educated me about the program I decided to join her. There are many different detox diets out there, but the one we chose to follow was called “21 Pounds in 21 Days: The Martha’s Vineyard Diet.” Essentially, the program consisted of “no chewing” for twenty one days. This meant that all nutrients came from vegetable and fruit powders plus two very thin soups. Calories would be decreased, but nutrition would double the value of the recommended diet of five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, so they promised I would not be hungry. A small consolation for such a sacrifice, but challenging!
In return for this dietary ordeal, the program promised the loss of one pound each day plus more physical energy and an increased sense of well being emotionally and spiritually. The authors were so confident of their program that they specified the exact day I would experience a change in body energy, increased emotional calm and spiritual connection. This outcome would be the “detoxing” effect of not chewing. Giving my digestive system a rest would enable my body to throw off wads of “free radicals” that were clogging my systems. Since I was about 20 pounds overweight and had been trying without success to shed my pouch for several years, this seemed like a great payoff. One thing I dislike is old men with “pots” and I had become one! I discounted the emotional and spiritual benefits as hype, but was intrigued nevertheless. I signed on for the whole program—colon, liver and kidney flushes, colonics, Epson salt baths and daily exercise—the whole nine yards.
The short version of a long and intriguing story is that the program worked beyond my expectations. I lost the weight I wanted to. I felt increased physical energy and an overall increase in emotional and spiritual well being on the schedule they said it would happen. But the most important outcome, not promised in the program, is a change in my taste buds. I no longer like most of the foods I used to eat. So, instead of pushing away them away, they no longer compete with a healthy diet, mainly of raw fruits, vegetables and nuts. In my research these are referred to as “living food” and “real food” as distinct from “processed” food (anything that has a list of ingredients on the label. This includes 90% of the contents of most grocery stores). The latter may be the source of obesity and many other health problems, while the former may be an ever present source of optimal health.
So why am I writing about this. Because I have become a fan of healthy eating, with almost as much energy as I had 30 years ago when I started my research on couples. In fact, about 30 years ago I read a book on food and mood but was unimpressed and discounted it. I have never been much interested in food, except whether or not it tasted good. My experience of the Detox process, however, has suggested that diet contributes to mood and behavior, and perhaps to disease prevention and cure.
The implication of this for our work with couples, while obvious, has been overlooked. Is it possible that some of the conflict between partners could be diet related? From my research so far, it seems so. Could a change in diet reduce irritability and contribute to a couple’s sense of well being. I am beginning to think so, so much in fact that in my initial interview with couples I have started asking them what they eat. While I am uninterested in becoming their nutrition coach, I do believe I have a responsibility to the total welfare of my clients. I am proposing to the faculty that we have a dialogue about how we might expand Imago to become a wholistic therapy that focuses on the total well being of couples. This would include what I am calling the “three toxicities” that must be eliminated: negativity from the relationship, free radicals from the body and CO2 from the atmosphere. Not only would be have healthy couples raising healthy children in a healthy society; they would all have healthy bodies and live on a healthy planet. Not a bad vision and achieving it is a challenging and exciting vocation.
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