Dear Rena: My detox makes me angry

Dear Rena,

I’ve been thinking of joining a “30 Day Detox Program”. I realized that I have a really bad attitude about it and the rules are just making me angry. Can you help me sort through my feelings about it?


Dear Aviva,

Thank you for your question.

I completely understand you about having a bad attitude about the detox program.

For those of you who’ve been following me for a while, you probably already know that I discourage any sort of detox program. I do so for the above reasons “Aviva” mentioned: they just bring out a bad attitude in us and the rules are hard to follow. (They also often lead to binging.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. Life isn’t a walk in the park, and parts of it are hard.

We know all this. Keeping Torah and Mitzvos can be challenging at times, too.

But here’s the thing.

We are put in this world to be able to do Hashem’s will — NOT to have our lives be ever so difficult that we can’t do what He asks from us.

Sometimes people get into the mode of thinking that they have to perfect everything about themselves, and right now.

Think about it: we’re in the month of Elul right now. We are starting to introspect. We are thinking about what didn’t go so well this past year. We are making plans for what to do moving forward.

We all KNOW that we want to be better.

We want to work on ourselves and we truly come to Yom Kippur with a plan to be white as snow.

But we also know that those big plan promises of how good we’re going to be just don’t work.

Promising that we’re never going to speak Lashon Hara ever again.

Promising that we’ll stop yelling at our kids for good.

Promising that we’ll always put our husbands first no matter what.

They don’t work because they’re not REALISTIC.

We are not Malachim.

We won’t do anything “perfectly”.

And more than that…

Malachim don’t need anything from this world.

But we do.

We human mortals most definitely do need things from this world.

Things like pleasurable food, for example. Things like downtime. And quiet.

So when we try to do things that are totally in conflict with who we are, like going on a 30 day sugar detox, they usually flop.

You know what does work, though?

Taking one small, itty bitty, teeny tiny step forward.

Trying not to speak Lashon Hara for a specific time each day.

Trying to be calm with our kids at breakfast, OR when they come home from school, OR when they’re in the bath and out of the way. 🙂

Trying to put our husbands first for the 10 minutes after they come home, OR right before going to sleep, OR first thing in the morning.

NOT by trying to do everything at once.

**I want to make it VERY clear that I am not comparing eating sugar to keeping mitzvos. Sugar is NOT a bad thing and could very much be a part of a healthy person’s life.**

Instead of a 30 day sugar detox, try paying attention to when you’re hungry.

Or when you’re full.

Or if eating something sweet right now will make you feel good.

Or if eating something sweet right now will make you feel unwell.

Or if you really need something else right now, and food is your knee-jerk reaction, but not really the answer to what you need.

Or if you really need something else right now, and you’re going to mindfully eat that piece of cake anyway.

Whatever it is you choose, remember that you don’t need to do everything at once.

You don’t, because doing everything at once won’t work.

And besides, it’s usually not pleasurable.

Taking it one step at a time, though, is pleasurable. And as long as you can take one little step, and another little step, and another little step, eventually you’ll look back and be amazed at all the progress you’ve made. And you’ll have done it consistently, and most importantly, with a smile.

Do you have a question you’d like me to answer? Post it in the comments below and I’ll answer it on the blog.

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