For me, a detox (or cleanse) is not necessarily about dieting, although I may lose a couple of pounds. I use the time to rejuvenate myself (body, mind, and spirit), reset my eating patterns, find new, healthy foods, cut cravings and get back on track! If all or any of those things sound good to you, why don't you give it a try. Ideally, you cleanse for 21 days (to really ensure that you change your habits, develop your tastebuds for whole unprocessed foods, etc.), but go ahead and give it a shot even if you only have a few days.
I. Consciousness. . .
Surrounding Food- This is two-fold. When most people think of eating consciously, they think of mindfulness, paying attention to what they eat, not just scarfing down food in front of the tv, without paying attention. This is important, of course, however there is another aspect: really understanding the impact of the food that you eat. . . to your health (and to the environment around you). You can always decide to keep eating something, but wouldn’t it be nice to understand if it really is detrimental in some way? This sort of analysis helped me to give up certain foods and led me to think more about others without just absent-mindedly consuming them. There are still some things that I eat and drink on occasion that may not be good for me, but informed decisions are always better in my opinion.
In Life- It’s quite easy to go on autopilot, going through the day without appreciating the moment and passively reacting instead of consciously deciding what we want to accomplish. This is a good time to set intentions on what you want to accomplish in any given day, interaction, relationship, etc.
II. To Simplify. . .
Food- Over time, people get out of touch with what simple, real, whole food is. There are brilliant minds and billions of dollars spent on falsely manipulating food so that it tastes good and we want more of it. How else could a combination of a ton of chemicals taste good to us? If you free yourself from the artificial and processed food for awhile you might come to find simple whole plant-based foods make your heart melt. (FYI, I do think organic tastes better!)
Life- Everyone is so incredibly busy, but is all the busyness necessary or does it keep you from focusing on what’s more important? Too much stuff going on or too much stuff surrounding you can actually weigh you down more than it lifts you up. This is a good time to see what things you can do without for awhile to see if you feel better.
With these goals in mind, you can cut out the foods that are harmful and those that you are too reliant on. Add in the foods that are healing, detoxifying and rejuvenating. What areas of life need to be simplified and de-cluttered? Set some goals for how you can be more conscious. Oh, and set some exercise goals, of course. Sweat is one way that our bodies detoxify. Exercise also serves as a pump for your lymphatic system which is driven by movement. Unlike the heart, it does not have it’s own pump. The lymphatic system aids in your immune system and also helps to filter toxins from your body.
Here’s an overview of the foods to add in. This is not an all-inclusive list. Organic if possible.
Yeah Baby Yummies
- Warm lemon water- lots
- Veggies- particularly leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, garlic, onions, artichokes, cabbage, seaweed, beets, ginger, celery...
- Fruit- particularly oranges, lemons, limes, apples, pears, berries, avocado (think it’s officially a fruit)...
- Seeds and Nuts- particularly walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds...
- Unprocessed Whole grains- particularly brown rice and quinoa (not whole grain bread or whole grain flour- that's technically processed)
And the things to take out or limit.
Not for Now No-No’s
- Processed Food/ Fast Food
- Sodas/ Sweetened beverages
- Artificial Flavorings/ Additives/ Sweeteners
- Dairy Products*
- Meat/ Fish*
*If I had to recommend that you only abstain from only one animal-based product, I would suggest dairy, but you decide for yourself. If you aren’t ready to go meat-free, try to limit it as much as possible with NO sandwich or processed meats and choose organic. If you are curious about the dangers or the implications of certain animal-based foods, please ask me. For the purposes of the detox, animal products are acidic and carry with them a host of toxic substances that will hamper your detox efforts rather than help.
So, think about these things and see what seems reasonable to you. The plan is for you to carry some of these things forward after the detox. It would be a shame for you to miss certain foods so much that you OD on them once the detox is over. What works for you?
If you are trying plant-based eating for the first time, you might not want to try to cut out everything. Maybe now isn’t a great time to cut the gluten or your morning coffee. Heck, you might still want to enjoy a nice glass of wine with your newly designed dinner menu of whole plant-based foods. Your plan should be a challenge, but not so challenging that you fail after one day.
Try focusing more on what you are putting into your diet than what you are taking out. If you try to eat as much as possible from the “Yeah Baby Yummies” list, you’ll be full and satisfied before you can consume too much or any of the “No-No’s.” I defy you to try to eat a donut after you’ve just had a big green smoothie.
Here’s an example of what you might eat on any given day:
- Green Smoothie- Greens, berries, seeds
- Fresh Fruit or Fresh squeezed Juice
- Steel Cut Oatmeal with fresh or frozen fruit as a natural sweetener (I love dark cherries), cinnamon, nuts or seeds
- Big Ol' Salad- Greens, oranges, nuts, tons of other colorful veggies. (Shredded beets and carrots are detoxifying, crunchy and delicious!)
- Vegetable Soup or Stew
- Steamed Veggies and Brown Rice or Quinoa
Basking in Your Glory
Take it Slow- DO NOT immediately jump back into your old habits (I speak from experience on this one!) You will feel like crap. . . particularly if your diet pre-detox was vastly different from your diet during the detox. You have given your body a nice break and it’s not used to the stress of digesting some of those “No-No’s.” If you are going to go back to some of your old habits, do it slowly. Choose one thing to add and only in a small quantity. See how your body reacts before adding in another. If you feed bad, do a bit of research and soul searching to see if it really should be a part of your life long term.
Keep some healthy habits- Did you add in some meditation, more exercise? If you’ve done it for 21 days, keep the momentum going and stick with it!
Decide what you can do without long term- Did you feel better without some of those “No-No’s”? And why are you going to add them back in?
Summarize your experience- Maybe you’ll want to do another detox in a few months. Did you tackle your sugar cravings in this detox and next time you want to aim for cutting the caffeine? A debrief will help you to get some clarity and it will help you to be able to go a bit deeper next time. It will also help you to celebrate how well you did. Focus on the positive! Maybe you didn’t manage to cut dairy out completely, but maybe you had many dairy-free days where you typically had none.
Please give yourself a pat on the back for what you accomplished: large or small. Cheers to you!!