Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez have recently completed a strict 10-day “no-sugar, no-carb cleanse,” according to an article on People. The power couple decided to end the stint with an insane feast of pizza, pastries, French fries, and more pizza — just to name a few. Lopez also reportedly shared that she felt amazing during the 10 days of restriction and is planning to do a second round.
As you can imagine, A-Rod and J.Lo are definitely not the first ones to do something like this. This sort of “challenge” is all the rage right now. It also makes sense, considering how folks are continuing to learn about the negative effects of added sugars and refined carbs. Yet, as someone with an educational and professional background in nutrition, I can’t help but notice a major caveat in this kind of approach.
That’s not to say limiting or omitting refined carbs isn’t a wise move. It’s a healthy lifestyle change for anyone! The problem, however, is the way our culture talks about these changes.
For starters, deprivation of an entire food group is a foolproof way of demonizing certain foods. In turn, you’ll be more likely to miss out on foods that have a place in a balanced, healthy lifestyle. The never-ending narrative around carbs is the perfect example.
Consider this: Carbs include refined grains like white pasta and white bread. Carbs also include nutrient-rich foods like quinoa and brown rice. All carbohydrates are not equal, and yet, they have an insanely poor reputation.
Second, the concept of a “challenge” creates more room for guilt. There are not only strict rules, but actual deadlines, too. So, instead of eating for overall health and enjoyment, every food choice is driven by the pressure to follow specific restrictions.
And then there’s the approach of feasting on the same exact foods you were avoiding in the first place. One might call it a treat for being “good,” but that’s precisely the problem. Again, this not only demonizes certain foods, but increases the chances of falling off a wagon you created in the first place.
Ultimately, truly balanced eating isn’t about “cleanses” and “challenges.”
It doesn’t even an official name or handbook.
Instead, it’s all about having a healthy relationship with all types of foods.
Try to avoid looking at foods as “good” or “bad.” Instead, categorize them as “sometimes” or “always” foods.
This way, you can minimize the guilt around eating certain food.
Eating, after all, is also a mental and emotional activity.
Before you decide to cut out major food groups, consider the hype around your decision.
If it’s a popular “challenge” or “cleanse,” you may subconsciously place pressure on yourself to follow someone else’s rules.
This is especially important if you look up to celebrities who post about their eating habits.
Think about it. It’s no surprise J.Lo and A-Rod felt relief after cutting out added sugars and refined carbs….
… but truly adopting balanced eating doesn’t involve a specific time frame.
Sure, a “challenge” might help you practice positive behaviors like limiting added sugars.
But ultimately, the life-long practice of truly healthy habits doesn’t have an end-date.