(Day 1 of the cleanse chronicles can be found here.)
Okay, who decided coffee was off-limits while detoxing? Whoever it was should be smacked upside the head with a wet collard green. Or a bunch of beets.
Normally I have one cup of coffee each morning, no more — and 1/3rd of that is coconut milk. Even though I’m a nutritionist, I’m not part of the “coffee is evil” crowd. My coffee of choice is a nice mellow, organic breakfast blend. It’s light and bursting with aroma and high mountain zing. Aaahhh.
As much as I like my morning cup, I think it’s important to skip it right now. But I miss it and thoroughly enjoy having that warm, creamy drink each morning. I’ll do a whole post on coffee and why I don’t think it’s a bad thing if you keep it to one cup a day. And I don’t mean those Starbucks mega-grande-ginormous versions.
More on that later. For now I’ll share with you some of my basic principles of detoxing. I like my spring cleanse to be pleasant, and for the most part it is. Nothing extreme, nothing weird, no reason to take time out from life to camp out on the bathroom floor and be totally miserable. I don’t want to weaken myself — I want to lose a couple of winter pounds, look and feel better, strengthen my immune system, boost my energy levels, lighten my toxic load, sleep better, and recommit myself to choosing clean, nourishing foods.
Again, make sure you consult your health care provider before starting any detox program. I do this quite often, so other than some minor things, it’s not terribly unpleasant for me. But depending on your current lifestyle and over-all health, even what might be considered a mild cleanse can be unsafe if not monitored carefully.
Vibrant health maintenance doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Avoid things that cause harm and give your body what it needs to thrive. Let it do the complicated stuff, all you have to do is safely and effectively support the process. Here are a few of my tips (a loose guideline) on how to safely cleanse, lessen your toxic burden and regain strength and vitality.
1. Organic (check here for a prior post I did on organic food)
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 to me, especially while cleansing. The point in detoxing 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 in one way or another, around 120 pounds of additives per year. So, choose organic foods whenever possible.
Eliminate all gluten grains (whether you need to in normal life or not), dairy (with a few exceptions), most soy foods, sugar (with a couple of exceptions), caffeine, soda, alcohol, meat, all processed and packaged foods, fast food, and some vegetables. I’m cutting way back, or eliminating, starches (most grains, potatoes, yams, peas and beans) and most nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant). I do have a few minor exceptions to these rules, but for the most part, I avoid everything on this list. Don’t panic, there are lots of wonderful foods on the “choose” list.
Eat any combination of fresh organic vegetables, a good portion of them raw. Goitrogen foods (cruciferous vegetables) should be lightly cooked. I’ll do a separate post on cruciferous vegetables and thyroid function later. 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, raw agave (use sparingly), or stevia can be used for occasional sweetening, but go easy on it. Pastured organic eggs are fine 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. For a detailed post I did on the benefits of fiber, check here. Fiber is high on my list of important substances, with all kinds of valuable health benefits, 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
I’m in the process of creating a separate post on water, so I’ll keep this brief (famous last words). Drink lots of water while cleansing, especially since you’ll be increasing your fiber intake. Water, water, water! Divide your weight in half — that is 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 detoxing as it’s bendy and twisty and stimulates fluid movement in the body and helps wring things out. This deserves a separate post as well — yoga for detox and digestion.
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?! Oh my gosh, 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
Now? While the economy sinks to new depths? Yeah, right. Well, at least do the best you can as stress can undermine all your good intentions.
These are my basic cleansing guidelines. Tomorrow I’ll start posting detox recipes, and good ones, at that. Remember, I said I wasn’t into starving myself or feeling totally deprived. Except for the coffee thing. Grrrr!
Go forth and get rid of icky things.
P.S. Darn it, I “talked” too much again. I need a word-count cut-off program.