It seems like everywhere you turn, someone talking about a cleanse or a detox program. I have no doubt you have heard about juice cleanses, raw food diets, gluten free and the new craze is the Paleo diet. But, the questions on everyone’s minds are, “why should I do it, is it sustainable and can I eat real foods?” These important questions should be clearly answered by an expert leading a specific detox. Personally, I always aim to guide my clients in a safe, effective manner by offering detox programs that are based on real foods and education-based. But this article is really not about what I offer, but more so about helping people to better understand the many facets of a detox. The most interesting question that I enjoy tackling when working with clients is – what is the real issue that is holding you back from trying a detox? You might be surprised or you might not be, depending on if you have considered a detox or perhaps you tried one for more than three days and you failed the first time around, like I did!
When the initial fear-based questions about detox safety can be answered, I find that the sticking point for people is actually their own relationship with food (or drinks), rather than the detox itself. Please don’t think that I am perfect in this sense because I am here to tell you that I am not! I avoided going gluten and dairy-free in nutrition school for an entire year in 2007 because I did not want to give up these foods, even though all the research showed that my skin issues, digestive issues and joint pain were related to how these foods effected my body through inflammation.
After I finally went gluten and dairy-free, it took me another three years to try a detox to clean out the toxins because I did not want to give up wine for 30 days. I committed myself to a 30-day detox the first time out of the gate! As a nutrition & health coach, I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person when I try something. If it doesn’t work for me, I’m not going to suggest it to clients or create a program that I don’t believe in 150%. I also wanted to see if I could go to social events for 30 days and not have, “a drink in my hand” that was based on alcohol. This was foreign territory and I was really nervous, but after my first happy hour with just soda water and lime, I knew that I could do it for a month. It’s that first step in to the unknown, away from the habits that our society has set up as, “socially acceptable,” that are the biggest hurdles of all.
When people get anxious about social events and adapting meals for a detox, I encourage clients to be okay with, “fitting out,” not just on the detox, but in today’s society overall. Don’t be afraid to ask for considerations with foods/ drinks as you work through food and drink triggers. Anyone who acts like a food or drink doesn’t trigger something for them, is lying. We all have these triggers. Even if someone’s triggers are not always inflammation-based issues, they do exist because we all have some sort of relationship with food. Sometimes the triggers are brain-based and this is where fitting out may have previously created stress. You can sort through what sets off habits and just know that you are not alone in these struggles. Relationships with food are real-life struggles due to manufactured substances that cause addiction and they are not uncommon by any means. I see it every day and the food industry is more than happy to have you addicted so that they can sell more goodies to make the population sick and health insurers can make more money off the sick, the cycle continues…but, this is another topic. Just know that big business is behind the marketing of our food supply and you don’t have to fit in to their mold. You can be okay with “fitting out,” as you consider what doesn’t serve your body and how it is different from someone else.
In essence, our own relationship with coffee, wine, bread, cheese, chocolate, sugar and so on holds us back from being 100% healthy. In a world where we have processed foods laden with fillers and sugars, super-size options, comfort foods and desserts to ease our depression, drinks to forget our sadness, coffee or energy drinks to ignore our insomnia, is it really surprising that more people are afraid of detoxing than interested? Not at all. I’m always ready for more, “no’s” than, “yes’s” when I start to promote another group detox program. And isn’t it eye-opening to see that we are not willing to commit to doing something 100% positive for our bodies? And let’s think on that for a moment.
In today’s society, we’re in such a rush (traffic, deadlines, obligations) and pulled in so many directions (socially, career-wise, relationships, fitting in exercise) that we don’t think we are, “strong enough” to detox, mentally and physically. People think they can’t break away from addictions or change habitual patterns even for 3, 7, 10 or even 14 days. What will it take to get to your own point of readiness to change? Will it take a health scare? For some, unfortunately it does take a health scare because again, our society and most doctors don’t worry about us unless we are already sick. But, what happened to disease prevention? It is now in our hands to figure this out – how can we stay healthy or bring our bodies back to health? We are the future of health insurance and you are strong enough to do what it takes to make your way to a healthier you!
The most amazing gift we can gives ourselves is some time to breathe and come to a point of readiness to change. If we give ourselves time to change our behaviors, mentally, by doing a detox program, we can make lifestyle changes to feed our bodies with the foods that is was created to take in. We were made to eat what our grandparents ate – foods from the ground, foods from the trees and water from the ocean rather than some amped up version of water with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and caffeine while ingesting foods that are laden with so many fillers that the food has more calories than vitamins or minerals.
I want to dispel any myths you might have about a whole food-based detox (a.k.a.: clean eating or foods found in nature) and take the “fear” out of the word detox for extendYoga’s readers. If you come away with a better understanding of how the body works and why a detox can be beneficial a few times per year, then I have done my job! J
Detoxifying during seasonal changes is common in other cultures throughout the world, especially in the spring & fall. Ayurveda is one example of a 5,000 year old way of eating that includes a cleanse (means the same thing) with the change of seasons. Let me dispel one notion about detoxing – a detox is not a diet, though you may lose weight as a by-product of releasing toxins. The real purpose of the detox is to remove the items that fog the mind and clog our systems. On a detox, you replace those items with whole foods & activities that enhance well-being. The items I’m speaking of are not just food related.
I will never forget thinking I was super healthy – consuming green juices, smoothies and eating all the healthy foods I could get my hands on – but I had not given up the toxic shower products, lotions or toxic household cleansers. Everything we touch, ingest and breathe forces our liver to get to work.
Your liver is what detoxifies your body to protect you. It filters out the bad stuff so it can keep you healthy. Too often we have too many toxins in our environment and our organs get exhausted simply trying to do their jobs to “clean our internal house.”
Your liver is like superman because has at least 500 know jobs to handle. The biggest job of all is to filter all the toxicity from your body and excrete it. Your liver is always working hard to filter toxins from your bloodstream and make sure they leave your body. A few jobs that the liver takes on include:
- Endocrine function, releasing substances in o the blood such as globulins, liver glycogen and T3.
- Metabolic regulation and taking care of 13% of your blood supply.
- All toxins (internal & external) must be filtered by the liver.
- Thyroid regulation.
Imagine giving your liver and all of your organs a break: supporting them just for once instead of asking them to continue to do all of the work while we arm the body with toxins if doesn’t deserve to deal with. What is we were nourishing our organs and telling them, “No worries, my friends; I am here to help.” Let me share some more interesting facts with you.
5 tips to reduce your toxic load:
- Use herbs that support the “detox organs” – your liver, kidney and colon. I suggest drinking herbs in their natural state such as milk thistle tea, nettle tea and dandelion tea.
- I encourage dry skin brushing. You can use a towel or a loofa to brush the dead skin off your body. Your skin is your largest organ and by doing this daily you are supporting the excretion of toxicity and lessening the burden for your liver.
- Eat organic whenever possible. There is a list called “the dirty dozen” and I have included the link below for your knowledge. Remember, pesticides lead to liver overload. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/
- Reduce processed and packaged foods. These are all loaded with toxins and chemicals.
- Replace household and personal products with products that are 100% natural and chemical-free.
Your organs deserve some love. Just like you love to be loved, so does you liver. What else can you do to release toxins? A LOT, read along for more tips.
Aim to move for 20-30 minutes each day of a detox by doing gentle exercises including: walking, yoga, tai chi, light aerobic exercise. Be present and use it as a form of moving meditation. Focus on your breath, the smells, sights, sounds and feeling within your own body. Let go of thoughts on what to do next and become mindful of offering your body this gift of movement and freedom. This exercise will awaken your mind, body & spirit.
Daily Breath Work & Mindfulness
In order to release stuck toxins & clear the mind, daily breath works key. Create a mantra for your detox. Examples include:
No where to go Nothing to do
I am Love
Daily Affirmations & Journaling
Journaling and positive affirmations are an excellent way to let go of old habits of thought and speech. Find 5 minutes a day to write down something “new & good” that happened or what you look forward to today. Also, add one thing that you are grateful for each day. Gratitude is an easy, but amazing way to shift you away from negative thought patterns. This is a very rewarding and detoxing exercise when it is practiced on a daily basis. Try it out and you will see!
A massage is also an excellent way to move lymph through the system and rid the body of toxins. Choose the type of massage that is right for you. Deep tissue and lymphatic drainage massages are best for detoxing.
Detox your Closets or Office
This is a great time to take a look at areas in your home or office that need a little bit of clearing out. This activity will make you feel lighter, happier and deepen the overall detox process.
Be Kind to Yourself.
Most of all, be kind of yourself on a detox program because holding on to negative thought patterns are counter-productive to the detox process. A detox is all about letting go of your former beliefs about yourself, your looks, your diet, your career, your relationships, your home life and so on. A detox is a chance to re-set the system, from head-to-toe, with support from others. Begin to love yourself more and let to “fitting in.” The only person judging you on how you “do” on a detox is yourself. Be kind, un-wind, breathe, try new foods, get more rest, read more, criticize less, and you may even have an epiphany or two along the way.
Copyright 2014 Trifecta Wellness, LLC