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Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and don’t order supersized anything. At home, visual cues can help with portion sizes. Your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards and half a cup of mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of a traditional light bulb. By serving your meals on smaller plates or in bowls, you can trick your brain into thinking it’s a larger portion. If you don’t feel satisfied at the end of a meal, add more leafy greens or round off the meal with fruit.

Where success can be measured with increasing accuracy, so, too, can failure. On the other side of self-improvement, Cederström and Spicer have discovered, is a sense not simply of inadequacy but of fraudulence. In December, with the end of their project approaching, Spicer reflects that he has spent the year focussing on himself to the exclusion of everything, and everyone, else in his life. His wife is due to give birth to their second child in a few days; their relationship is not at its best. And yet, he writes, “I could not think of another year I spent more of my time doing things that were not me at all.” He doesn’t feel like a better version of himself. He doesn’t even feel like himself. He has been like a man possessed: “If it wasn’t me, who was it then?”

Purchasing organic local produce is better for both the environment and your health, but when the nearest farm is hours away, don't default to a package of Oreos. "Frozen, canned and fresh fruit all have comparable amounts of nutrients," says Christine M. Bruhm, Ph.D., director of the Center for Consumer Research at the University of California at Davis.

In addition, laboratory and animal studies have shown how supplementation may aid the detoxification process, such as with NAC and glutathione.13-15 “The former is the precursor to glutathione, and glutathione is the master detoxifier in the body,” Foroutan says. “Since it’s thought that glutathione doesn’t ‘survive’ digestion, NAC is recommended to increase glutathione stores.” She also says research has shown that milk thistle may support glutathione production and, as such, research has looked into its potential application in ameliorating long-term hepatic and cardiovascular effects of cancer treatment.16-18

Nutritionists are always saying to eat more vegetables, so cook them in a way that takes them from ho-hum to yum. "I even think that steamed veggies can be very boring!" says Ilyse Schapiro, a greater New York City-area registered dietitian. Always incorporate high-flavor add-ons to jazz up veggies, like sautéing with olive oil and garlic, or spraying them with olive oil before throwing them in an oven with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. That way, you don't equate "healthy" with "tasteless," a mindset that will knock you off the veggie bandwagon fast. Another tip: buy a spiralizer and make zucchini noodles. Topped off with a rich tomato sauce, you'll feel like you're eating pasta.

And Brinkmann does offer some advice that seems immediately worth taking. Go for a walk in the woods, he says, and think about the vastness of the cosmos. Go to a museum and look at art, secure in the knowledge that it will not improve you in any measurable way. Things don’t need to be of concrete use in order to have value. Put away your self-help guides, and read a novel instead. Don’t mind if I do. ♦
Yet, as Brinkmann’s title makes clear, standing still is precisely what he proposes that we do. Enough of our mania to be the best and the most, he says. It’s time to content ourselves with being average. With pride, he tells us that, when he and his colleagues at Aalborg University were asked to propose institutional development goals, he suggested “that we should strive to become a mediocre institute.” (“I thought it was a realistic goal worth pursuing for a small university,” he explains. His colleagues did not agree.) And enough of self-acceptance, too—in fact, enough of the self! “Being yourself has no intrinsic value whatsoever,” Brinkmann tells us. Maybe the Norwegian nationalist Anders Breivik felt that he was being “true to himself” when he went on his murderous rampage; maybe Mother Teresa did not. What difference does it make? If you must engage in soul-searching or self-analysis, Brinkmann advises limiting it to once a year, preferably during summer vacation.

While debate may linger among dietitians as a whole, there are many RDs within the integrative and functional medicine community who believe today’s highly toxic environment necessitates a form of detox diet as medical nutrition therapy (MNT) that could benefit many individuals based on their exposure level, diet and lifestyle habits, and genetics. Dietitians refer to previous and emerging research that suggests specific nutrients play an integral role in the detoxification process, noting that many tenets of a clinical detox diet contain guidance quite similar to what most dietitians already provide each day.
Even though nutrition’s role in detoxification is an emerging science and the specifics of what foods aid detoxification most (and how) still is under way, Genuis urges nutrition professionals, including RDs, to stay abreast of the research on this subject and use their nutrition expertise in a clinical health care team approach to address the complete picture of patients’ health, which he says includes assessing toxin exposure and aiding efficient detoxification processes.
And, yes, this might sound simplistic but the secret to fat loss is cleaning the backseat of that car. Stick with me here. The mind will struggle to focus on something as difficult as fat loss if everything is a mess. Significant fat loss is one of the MOST difficult things you can do without surgery, and a chaotic environment will make it even harder.
See, your body has a complex detox system built right in, and all of your organs work together to keep you feeling healthy. Your skin pushes out bacteria through the sweat, your kidneys filter through liters of blood and produce urine, your lungs expel carbon dioxide, your intestines extract nutrients from food to excrete waste products, and your liver clears out toxins from the body.
For people who might have tested high for a particular metal, for example, she says a formal, short-term detoxification plan could be an intervention to systematically help the body release and excrete toxins. “For healthy people with moderate exposure to toxins, I typically recommend a targeted detoxification protocol once to twice a year during seasonal shifts—spring and fall,” Forouton says. “For someone who's tested for bioaccumulation of specific toxins, like mercury, lead, parabens, plastics, or other kinds of industrial products, or when there's evidence of hormonal disruption, the intervention may last for a longer period of time and would involve retesting.”
Sarah Knight has advice of a more specific kind to offer. Her latest book, “You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want” (Little, Brown), is the third she has published in two years, after “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do” and “Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do.” Knight’s books belong to what Storr sniffily calls the “this is me, being real, deal with it” school of self-help guides, which tend to share a skepticism toward the usual self-improvement bromides and a taste for cheerful profanity. Other recent titles include “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” by Mark Manson, and “F*ck Feelings,” by Michael I. Bennett, a practicing psychiatrist, and Sarah Bennett, his daughter.
Foroutan says that integrative and functional medicine RDs, and even the integrative and functional medicine community as a whole, largely agree about the benefits of assisting the detoxification process through diet, supplements, and lifestyle protocols. She even sees the beginnings of a paradigm shift in the general dietetics community. Whereas five years ago educational sessions at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) were devoted to debunking the myth of detoxification, now sessions on the topic address the specifics of “what is it, why is it important, and who needs it,” she says.

Finally, there’s the economy. Survival in the hypercompetitive, globalized economy, where workers have fewer protections and are more disposable than ever, requires that we try to become faster, smarter, and more creative. (To this list of marketable qualities I’d add one with a softer edge: niceness, which the gig economy and its five-star rating system have made indispensable to everyone from cabdrivers to plumbers.) Anything less than our best won’t cut it.
Exercising at least 20 minutes each day can have enormous health benefits. Most people don’t make exercise a habit, and in turn, suffer from a lack of vitality. The body needs to move and you need to break a sweat, for it to be considered exercise. And, while walking 10,000 steps each day increases your overall health, it’s not the same as exercising.
In general, B vitamins, glutathione (the body’s main detoxifying antioxidant), and flavonoids have been shown to assist phase 1 detoxification, whereas all major conjugation reactions in phase 2 require micronutrient coenzymes, including glycine, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), and B vitamins.6,7 “Phase 2 detox is dependent on nutritional status and genetic variability,” Foroutan says.
In research that’s still under way, Foroutan says a third step of detoxification has been suggested “in which an energy-dependent ‘antiporter’ pumps xenobiotics out of the enterocytes, which would decrease the intracellular concentration of that toxin.”2 She says this is thought to provide additional opportunities for phase 1 detoxification to occur before a toxin reenters circulation via the portal vein.1
For a 2,000-calorie daily diet, aim for 2½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit a day. If you consume more calories, aim for more produce; if you consume fewer calories, you can eat less. Include green, orange, red, blue/purple, and yellow vegetables and fruits. In addition to the fiber, the nutrients and phytochemicals in these foods may help protect against certain types of cancer and other diseases. Legumes, rich in fiber, can count as vegetables (though they have more calories than most vegetables). For more fiber, choose whole fruits over juice.
Where success can be measured with increasing accuracy, so, too, can failure. On the other side of self-improvement, Cederström and Spicer have discovered, is a sense not simply of inadequacy but of fraudulence. In December, with the end of their project approaching, Spicer reflects that he has spent the year focussing on himself to the exclusion of everything, and everyone, else in his life. His wife is due to give birth to their second child in a few days; their relationship is not at its best. And yet, he writes, “I could not think of another year I spent more of my time doing things that were not me at all.” He doesn’t feel like a better version of himself. He doesn’t even feel like himself. He has been like a man possessed: “If it wasn’t me, who was it then?”
Even more important than shopping for healthy foods: actually eating them. When you get home from the store or farmer's market, bounty of fruits and veggies in tow, wash and chop them right away and store in a pretty glass container in your fridge. "Studies show that spending more time on food prep is linked to better eating habits," says Dr. Lipman. It's all about convenience—if they're ready for you, you'll grab them in a pinch. If not? It's chips and dip time. You can also do this with other foods, like making a batch of quinoa for the week or roasting a bunch of veggies to throw together for quick lunches.
In general, healthy eating ingredients are found around the outer edges of most grocery stores, while the center aisles are filled with processed and packaged foods that aren’t good for you. Shop the perimeter of the store for most of your groceries (fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, whole grain breads and dairy products), add a few things from the freezer section (frozen fruits and vegetables), and visit the aisles for spices, oils, and whole grains (like rolled oats, brown rice, whole wheat pasta).
Carbohydrates are one of your body’s main sources of energy. But most should come from complex, unrefined carbs (vegetables, whole grains, fruit) rather than sugars and refined carbs. Cutting back on white bread, pastries, starches, and sugar can prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar, fluctuations in mood and energy, and a build-up of fat, especially around your waistline. Learn more »
“Sadly, medical graduates are not adequately trained to address the nutritional needs of patients, including those biochemical nutrients required for detoxification,” he says. “Accordingly, the role of nutrition professionals as part of the contemporary health care team to assess and advise with various matters, including detoxification, is paramount.”
Journal regularly. Journaling is a way to express your thoughts in writing. It will bring you clarity in a deep way. A side effect of journaling is documenting life events, too. I am obsessed with the Five Minute Journal and The Productivity Planner – I use both every day. Find what works for you. Here’s a look at a review of 8 journals and planners to get started.
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