Today is the official kick-off for Dr. Fuhrman’s 2012 Holiday Challenge! Hopefully you’ve already committed to the challenge and have prepared your kitchen and schedule to begin.
Here are a few expectations while you go through the next six weeks:
You may experience what we call, “detox” or “toxic hunger”.
Depending on how dramatic of a shift you are making from what you were eating prior to this challenge and how many addictive foods you may have been eating, or if you had been drinking caffeinated drinks or using tobacco, you may experience symptoms that are unpleasant; related mostly to the withdrawal effect of discontinuing them. You may even think the best way to take away these symptoms is to go back to what you had eaten before to feel better, but don’t let yourself! That will only prolong the detoxification phase. Don’t let these unpleasant symptoms stop you from pushing through! Some of these symptoms are listed below and may last up to 2 weeks for some, but most will only feel them for 3-5 days.
- Mental confusion
- Stomach and/or intestinal fluttering or cramping
You will feel much better once this initial phase is over, and most likely much better than how you felt prior to the challenge.
[Important Note: These dietary changes may quickly drop your blood sugar and/or your blood pressure lower than is safe if taking medications that lower blood sugar or blood pressure, so be aware. If you are taking any medications that would be affected by a dramatic shift in your diet (diabetes medications, blood pressure medications, Coumadin, and others), then use careful daily monitoring and stay in close contact with your doctor so that adjustments can be made to match your body’s response to the dietary changes.]
The taste of food will change over time.
Your taste buds may be used to a high sodium (high salt) diet and so dropping this excess sodium out of the equation can create a feeling that this new eating routine is a little bland. This also will improve over a few weeks, but you should learn as quickly as possible how to flavor your food without using salt, oils, sweeteners, or cheeses. Use lemon or lime juice, flavored vinegars, herbs and spices, whole-food based dressings and sauces made from avocado, nuts or seeds, etc.) so that from day #1 you will have flavorful, healthy food each day.
Also, if after the challenge you find yourself trying some of your old unhealthy food choices again, they may actually taste very different, even unpleasant, and possibly cause discomfort. But with delicious healthy foods in your routine, you’ll be fine without the need for those foods anyway. You’ll see. Just give it some time.
People may say that you are losing too much weight or getting too thin.
First of all, as long as you are following the challenge the way we describe it, losing weight quickly and reaching your ideal weight will be a good thing as well as safe. This comment may come from those who are used to seeing an overweight population (perhaps even themselves included) and this contrast of being thinner and fit may be misjudged as being unhealthy, but it is just the opposite, so don’t be swayed by this mentality (plus, they may be just jealous anyway). But just to know if you are in the healthy range for weight, you can measure your body mass index (BMI) which is a rough estimate of a healthy weight. A healthy BMI for most people is between 19 and 22, from my experience, so if your BMI is greater than 22, you likely have more weight to lose.
BMI = (weight in pounds X 703) ÷ (height in inches X height in inches)
Expect to improve your health!
I want you to know that this time of year, around the holidays, is a particularly risky time for many. There are medical studies that document the fact that every year there is a surge in the number of heart attack deaths that occur in the winter after the holidays when people eat poorly and stop exercising. Here is one of those studies where researchers saw this trend.
But, with each day you practice healthy eating, especially during the holidays, you are reducing your overall risk of future disease instead of increasing it, and you’ll be forming habits that will continue to help you for years to come, so expect to be proud of yourself each day you are successful with this challenge.
Please let us know how you did after the challenge so we can congratulate you on your success!
Ok, are you ready?
Dr. Benson sees the majority of patients at Dr. Fuhrman’s office in Flemington, and is well versed in modern high-tech medicine and the nutritional and natural methods utilized by Dr. Fuhrman. He also works side-by-side with Dr. Fuhrman on nutritional research, gives lectures, and answers questions on Dr. Fuhrman’s Ask the Doctor forums.
image credit: flickr by terren in Virginia