Forget January 1st – Spring is the perfect time to begin something new! To let go of things that weigh us down and embrace new ideas and practices that serve to improve our lives. The word “detox” usually brings to mind a stringent abstinence from all things yummy and fun – but it really doesn’t have to be. Some of you reading this might be familiar with the Hollywood-popularized lemonade detox or ‘Master Cleanse’ – I personally do not recommend such a harsh detox unless specifically prescribed and monitored by your Naturopathic or Holistic Doctor.
Our bodies are designed to detoxify themselves through the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, lymph and skin. Unfortunately, stress, pollution, processed foods, excess consumption of sugar and alcohol, medications, and a number of other factors can impede the effectiveness of our bodies natural detoxification processes. This sluggishness can manifest as fatigue, depression, constipation or loose stool, acne, digestion issues, weight gain, sinus congestion and even sugar cravings.
Of course, since stress plays a major roll in our hormonal balance and consequently our health, a Body-Mind approach to a detox is most beneficial. In hopes of demystifying the detox I welcome you to make the following simple health-loving adjustments for only 7 days and see how much better you feel!
Cut out sugar, alcohol and processed foods – The first 3 days are the hardest, especially if you’ve been consuming a diet high in simple carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, sugar, chocolate). You can manage these cravings with some caffeine-free tea or fresh fruit such as apple and pear. It’s also best to avoid fruits that are naturally high in sugar such as bananas, pineapple and oranges. As far as processed foods go – a good rule of thumb is to avoid anything in box or packaging. Unless, of course, you’re skilled at reading and understanding food labels.
Increase hydration – Water is an important component in elimination, and also in the absorption and transport vitamins and minerals to your living cells. To make the most of your detox, it is essential that you take in a lot of pure water. If cost is not an issue, reverse osmosis is ideal, but filtered tap water can be just as effective. The average person should aim for about 2 litres per day during a detox. You can work your way up to this amount slowly. Learn more about hydration in this post.
Reduce or cut out caffeine – The caveat here is to be careful with quitting caffeine cold turkey as doing so could induce major headaches from the withdrawal (I speak from experience!). If you consume 2-3 cups of coffee per day, try to have just 1 cup of coffee in the morning followed by organic green tea in the afternoon if you feel you need it. The caffeine in green tea is not only lower per cup than coffee but it a lot gentler on the adrenal glands than coffee.
Cut out dairy – This includes cheese, yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese. It is surprising how many of us are sensitive to dairy. Even if you’re not sensitive to dairy, it is linked to inflammation in the gut, mucus production and acne. Organic milk products are great but they still are pasteurized, meaning the beneficial bacteria have been removed (currently the sale raw milk is illegal in Canada). In Canada hormones in milk-producing cows is illegal, but unfortunately the same is not true for our cousins south of the boarder. There are many reasons to reduce or avoid dairy intake year-round but for the purposes of a detox – there is no question.
Go gluten and flour-free – Avoid wheat or flour of any kind during this 7 day detox, even if it’s organic, or brown-rice based. I know this can be tough but it’s only 7 days – I know you can do it! To satisfy your craving for carbs, wonderful options are brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat or millet. Instead of toast in the morning try rice cakes with almond butter. The stuff that makes bread and pasta “gummy” slows down digestion and keeps food in the colon longer.
Unplug the TV – Yes, I’m completely serious. We sit in our cars, we sit at our desks, then we come home after a long day of sitting and sit down for hours in front of the television! All this sitting slows down our bodies natural elimination and detoxification processes. Being so sedentary also creates stiffness and muscle imbalances that can be pre-cursors to injury, osteoporosis, or arthritis. Most importantly, turning away from TV will free up time for all those things you intended to do – read a book, visit a friend, paint the hallway. The sense of well-being and accomplishment these activities bring are far more enhancing than channel surfing any day!
Be active – With some time freed up, why not begin an after-dinner walk with your spouse or friends. Join the walking-group at your workplace, or sign up for that yoga class you’ve been so curious about. You might think being active is all about the body, but weather you are active in a group or solo, the feel-good brain chemicals that are released will definitely increase your mood and mental clarity.
Be mindful – This can mean different things to different people. A good place to start is to acknowledge the good things in your life. Even when things seem low, we can find something to be grateful for. It could be something as simple as clean water, or a roof over our heads. We can be so busy chasing our wants and keeping up with the Jones’ (or Kardashians – another example of why you should unplug that TV!) that we miss out on the blessings we already have. Another way to practice mindfulness is through meditation. Many yoga studios incorporate some quite time at the end of the practice, but you can do this on your own by sitting quietly for 5-10 minutes and focusing on the breath. The benefits of quite contemplation, mindfulness and gratitude have been widely studied, with way too much information for this post!
Are you ready to take the first step to a healthier, happier You? Contact Leila today and begin your journey!