The Emotional Side to a Detox


the emotional side of detoxI recently completed a very simple and gentle detox. Although I had previously cleaned up my eating, I had badly fallen off the wagon and needed to reset my eating. This was also a great opportunity for me to do something with my sister. The detox was her idea. The military has kept us many miles away from each other, and this was a path to some sister bonding.

The detox cleanse spanned 14 days. We woke each day to an email containing a video guide from the founders of the program that guided us along our journey. The plan gently removed a group of trigger foods one day at a time (i.e., alcohol/caffeine, sugar, dairy/soy, gluten), and guided us on how to make healthy choices, including drinking a green smoothie daily.

Having done an elimination diet in the past, I had a certain level of anticipation as to how my body would react to removing certain foods from my diet. After the first week of the two-week detox, my sister pointed out to me that the second half of the detox would be a liquid only diet. WHAT?! I wasn't sure I had the willpower to do it, but I had already committed to the detox, so I decided I would take the challenge head on.

I honestly had no idea how I would respond to having a liquid-only diet for four days. I know of many people that have done more strict liquid diets for more than twice that amount of time, but I am NOT one of those people. From my previous elimination diet, I had discovered healthy choices for handling my cravings, but all of those healthy choices involved chewing. I am not a juice girl, generally, and tend to stick to mostly water when I'm thirsty, so this was going to be a big change for me.

What I didn't realize until I prepared for this liquid diet challenge was how much of my eating was emotional versus physical. The fearless leaders of our detox warned of how a liquid only detox often makes you face your emotions. I do not generally consider myself a very emotional person. I was ready to deal with cravings and feeling hungry, but was I ready to face my emotions head on?

Military life is certainly not devoid of stress. My family is in a particularly interesting transitory stage and my husband has been preparing for a much anticipated deployment. I am that person that strives to always be strong and to rarely give into emotional outbursts, but this detox completely filleted me open. I felt raw and exposed. During those liquid only days I was not able to turn to food to hide my insecurities and ignore my emotions. I cried. I never cry. But this time I cried, and I cried hard. I opened up about everything on my mind to my sister and my husband, and finally allowed myself to feel the reality of the stresses in our life (regardless of how minor they might be) and to accept the feelings I had about my husband's pending deployment. It was an exhausting few days, but I came away from it feeling stronger and more in touch with myself than I had felt in years.

I am not sure what I thought I would get out of this two week cleanse. I suppose I had hoped I would reestablish my healthy eating habits, enjoy a little less wine, and kick my daily coffee habit. I never knew that a detox would also scrub my soul and set me free.

Do you eat or drink to cope with the stresses of military life? Have you ever had an emotional response to a detox?