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Spring is the season of awakening, time to crawl out from under the weight of winter and transition into summer. It’s a perfect time to move away from heavy foods to lighter fare and commit to a mild cleanse to refresh, renew and revitalize. My form of detoxifying is simple and easy (except for that no wine, no coffee thing). Nothing extreme, nothing weird, nothing expensive – just a chance to focus on nourishing foods and get rid of the bad habits that periodically creep back in.

My dictionary describes detoxification as, the metabolic process of removing toxic substances or neutralizing toxic properties from the body (normally a function of the liver); an application that is intended to relieve illness or injury.

Detoxifying cleanses are normally safe and very beneficial, but check with your health care professional first, especially if you’re pregnant, nursing or have a chronic disease.

Melissa’s spring cleanse/detox
guidelines

1. Organic
Organic food is free of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics and is generally easier for the body to break down, absorb and assimilate. Some studies show organic foods to be higher in nutritional value, but what they lack is almost more important, especially while cleansing. The point of detoxifying is to get rid of the nasty stuff from your system, not add to it. We’re living in a different world than our ancestors did and are exposed to 40,000 – 50,000 chemicals that didn’t exist decades ago. The average American (eating the Standard American Diet, also known as the SAD diet) ingests around 120 pounds of additives per year. Choose organic, whole foods whenever possible.

2. Avoid
Eliminate all gluten-containing grains (whether you need to in normal life or not), dairy (with a few exceptions); most soy foods; sugar; caffeine; soda; alcohol; meat; all processed, packaged, and fast food. Cut back on starches (potatoes, yams, peas and beans) and nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant).

3. The base
Eat a combination of fresh organic vegetables, a good portion of them raw. Eat more vegetables than fruit and choose fresh fruit over dried (although unsulphered, unsweetened dried fruit is fine in moderation). Use olive oil for salad dressings, coconut oil for cooking and ghee for other uses (if you like ghee, which is clarified butter). Unfiltered raw honey or stevia can be used for occasional sweetening. Pastured organic eggs, naturally sweetened goat yogurt or kefir, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa and teff are fine in moderation. So are raw cheese, nuts and seeds (again, in moderation).

4. Rough it up
Eat lots of whole, high-fiber foods. Fiber in the form of raw veggies and fruit is instrumental in helping to move toxins out of the body. Fiber is high on my list of important substances, but add it slowly or you’ll explode (and it won’t be pretty). At the least, you’ll be feeling icky until you get used to the sweeping effects on your digestive system.

5. Flush it out
Drink lots of water while cleansing, especially since you’ll be increasing your fiber intake. Water, water, water! Divide your weight in half — that’s the amount of water in ounces you should drink daily. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces of water per day, which is about nine or ten 8-ounce glasses.

6. Turn up the heat
Not in your house, but in your body. Exercise daily and sweat it out. I love yoga for detoxifying as it’s bendy and twisty and stimulates fluid movement in the body. It helps wring things out. Sweating and deep breathing helps eliminate toxins via the breath and skin. This is one of the most important components of detoxifying, healthy living and thriving – movement and developing a conscious mind/body connection. Skip the high-powered pounding on the stairmaster or the 80s-style aerobics classes and opt for yoga, walking, hiking, dancing or tai chi (choose less intense and more calming exercise). Most importantly, have fun and choose activities you enjoy and will do daily.

7. Eat less
According to my Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition book, if you live for 65 years or longer, you will have consumed more than 70,000 meals and disposed of 50 tons of food. FIFTY TONS OF FOOD?! Wow, that’s almost creepy. Actually, it is creepy. Okay, I will admit to eating more calories than I need a good part of the time, but spending a little less time at the trough makes us realize that we’ll not only survive, but we’ll be much healthier if we don’t super-size everything.

8. Just say no to stress
Stress can sabotage your good intentions, so emphasize rest, relaxation and positive emotions. Yoga, meditation and deep breathing help eliminate stress.

9. Sleep 7 to 9 hours per night
Uninterrupted, rejuvenating, high-quality sleep is essential for good health. Naps are also good, but try to get consistent and sound sleep at night. This is important on so many levels – from slowing the aging process to losing weight. For a detailed post on sleep, please check here. (This is a tough one for me as I don’t want to miss anything!)

Go forth and nourish your own personal garden (that would be your body, mind and spirit)!
Melissa

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11 Responses to “springtime renewal & detox guidelines”

  1. Miles says:

    Melissa,
    Great post-very inspiring but here’s a couple of questions..
    1.By some remarkable feat I’ve had one glass of wine in two months but I’ve read that teetotaller’s are more medically at risk than those who drink a glass a day. What’s your verdict.
    2. Seeds and nuts, I’ve been devouring them because I read that almonds and walnuts are good for men, now I read that they’re fattening.
    What’s a man to do?!

    Miles

  2. Fantastic post, Melissa! Right on time, too. I’ve been following a good part of these guidelines for the last week and feeling much better as a result, but need to get to the next level. I did my yoga this morning and instantly felt better. Of course, I thought of you and your yoga guidance! Tonight’s bedtime will be an early one. That’s something I struggle with because there’s just so much I want to do. I love the quiet of late nights for getting stuff done, but sure regret them when that alarm goes off. ;-) Thanks for all the reminders. I’m seriously printing this off for my daily reminder! Oh, BTW, did you see that celery is now at the top of the pesticide-laden foods list? Aaargh.

    Shirley

  3. Kristine says:

    great advice melissa! who doesn’t want to shed their winter coat, especially when bikini weather is right around the corner. time for some spring cleaning.

  4. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    I feel a burdock eating frenzy coming on since I discovered a friend of mine has lots in his garden. I must revise last years notes on the subject and see how to incorporate them into my diet. Stress has indeed played its part in keeping the pounds on in my case …. all too easy to grab a sugary snack and convince yourself you feel better. In the last few days I’ve felt increasingly tired at odd times in the day for no obvious reason….. looking at the clock though, I admit to having rather late nights which always takes its toll.

    Cid

  5. I’d say these are pretty great ‘all the time’ guidelines.

  6. Melissa says:

    Miles,

    Thanks for your questions/comments. Hmmm?

    1. Research does show that here are some substances in red wine that are beneficial in moderate doses, but I think having a glass of wine with friends while sharing a meal is a healthy way to reduce stress and enjoy life. Food and wine connect us and provide for delightful celebration. That’s well-being worth enjoying, but moderation is the key. In your case, if you’re having a meal with friends and enjoying a glass of wine, then you’re taking some time off, which it sounds like you could use more of!

    2. Nuts aren’t low calorie because they’re high in fat. But the fat is of the healthy variety, so that’s good. Add some pumpkin seeds to your arsenal of healthy “boy” snacks. They’re good for both sexes, but do have some nutrients that are specifically beneficially to you guys.

  7. Melissa says:

    Kristine,

    I think I’ll pass on the bikini as my itsy bitsty teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini days are over, but I do agree that it’s time for a spring cleaning!

    P.S. You’re too young to know the bikini song.
    :-)

  8. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    Stress can totally sabotage your good intentions when it comes to taking care of yourself. Lack of sleep is another one. Eating nutritious food is definitely high on the list of healthy living habits, but stress reduction, exercise, quality sleep play such an important part as well. The sleep thing is really hard for me. Seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep really helps! The “tired” times you mention often do correspond with what we’ve eaten earlier. When I fall victim to my periodic pancake or waffle binges, I feel like I’ve been drugged about 2 hours later. No energy at all! It’s that spike in blood sugar, followed by a “crash.” When I eat fresh, organic veggies and fruit as my base, I have balanced and steady energy.

    Wish we could meet for lunch and ramble on about all this!

  9. Melissa says:

    Meghan,

    Yes, I totally agree, it’s a list to live by! Unfortunately most people live “real” lives and fall off the healthy living bandwagon at times. I did yesterday by celebrating Mother’s Day with pecan waffles, glorious butter and pure maple syrup. Oh, and a mimosa. And an afternoon nap!

    :-)

  10. Melissa says:

    Shirley,

    So sorry I missed your comment! I always eventually check my “pending” folder, but I’ve been off enjoying the last of our ski season lately and am just now getting back to checking my blog comments.

    I’m so glad some of these guidelines can be of help to you. You know, it’s not easy being a food blogger!

  11. Hey Melissa,

    I so needed to “hear” this. Ever since our move, I have struggled to find some kind of rhythm between unpacking, & getting settled. It’s been such a crazy few weeks: I can actually feel the stress and toxins building up. This morning, I felt so cranky and tired. Could be the lack of sleep thing too – an infant will do that to you:D.

    I.need.my.yoga.back.
    I did read somewhere that yoga has an amazing effect on the body – where your body reaps the benefits of your practice for up to 48 hours.

    Thank you for setting me straight. Hope you had a great Mother’s Day!
    Stephanie

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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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