Friday, January 6, 2012
DETOXIFICATION: IT'S NOT AS BAD AS IT SOUNDS
Of course, some of those feelings are valid and based on personal experience with a stricter regime. In some cases juice fasting, water fasting, and other minimalist fast programs are important and vital to health but these require professional assistance and monitoring. They also may not be easy if you are a busy parent trying to hold down a career and a family, a mom or dad who stays at home and needs all the fuel you can get to keep up with the kiddos, a student who needs nutrients to focus and stay alert, or someone who does significant manual labor. These especially don't work [and aren't safe] if you are pregnant or nursing, elderly, a growing teen, or have trouble keeping on weight.
Evenso, just like each of us, our bodies still need a moment to cleanse themselves, take a break and catch up. We call it vacation. In the health world it's called detoxification.
To be honest, ever since I had my daughter my body has been crying out for a break. Like a parent getting to know her baby's cries, the body acts in a similar fashion. The more I listen and pay attention, the more aware I am of the meaning of each cry and can meet that need. Unfortunately, it's taken me until just recently to find a program that I feel is safe to do while I'm nursing. It uses whole foods rather than water or juice [although these are a part of the program as well], lasts twenty-one days, and really focuses on eliminating additives, sweeteners, processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine* [please read note below if you are nursing / pregnant and considering this plan].
Now you might be thinking [especially if you know me well], "do you eat any of those anyway?" Well, no. But I do use sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and brown rice syrup and, although they are better choices and host health benefits, it is still good to give the body a break. I also eat baked goods and however good they may be, these foods still tend to be more clogging to the system rather than eliminatory. no matter what my or your diet looks likes, there is always room for improvement, a time of change, and a little digestive vacation. It's actually the variety of foods found in this 21-day plan that really drew me in. I love that it focuses on specific foods to work on particular areas of the body.
So what is the plan? It's Whole Living Magazine's 2012 Clean Eating Action Plan. You can find it in their February 2012 edition or, hooray!, the entire plan can be found online - go here.
I'll be starting this plan on Monday and I encourage you to find twenty-one days [in a row] and do the same. The key to success is to plan well and know your motivation. Write down why you desire to detoxify your body and keep those reasons visible to motivate you to begin and complete the plan. Find a family member or friend to journey with and let your immediate family in on your plan so they can support you in this effort. Keep a journal of how you feel - it's easy to forget the benefits when your back into normal, every day life. It will also act as encouragement throughout the twenty-one days. Remember that if you feel crummy at first [headaches, nausea, irritability] it just means it's working. You had a lot of stuff to get rid of and your body is doing a good job.
*Special Note for Pregnant or Nursing Women: This is the only detox that I believe safe enough to do while pregnant or nursing as long as you take a few extra measures to ensure it's safety. These are really important! First, begin to remove processed foods, caffeine and alcohol [no-nos anyway], sugar, and food additives [like preservatives, food colorings, etc.] PRIOR to beginning the detox. You'll want to gently ease your body into this and reducing the toxic load upon beginning the detox is important. The reason many health professionals don't recommend detoxing while nursing or breastfeeding is that the eliminated toxins may go directly to the fetus or into the breastmilk and on to your child. PLEASE be diligent about this. If you eat any processed foods [boxed, canned, and/or bagged], baked goods, consume alcohol / caffeine on a regular basis, eat non-organic meats / cheeses / milks, eat farmed or non-sustainably raised fish and seafood, eat foods with food coloring or preservatives, and/or have a high sugar intake you should forgo the detox and work to eliminate these foods from your diet. Don't risk it. Once these foods have been eliminated for a good period of time you can then, and only then, try the detox. Secondly, upon beginning the detox, make sure you do not get hungry or stay in the "hunger-zone" for long. Eat as much as it takes to stay full. Add ground seeds [like flax, hemp, chia, and pumpkin seeds] to smoothies, salads, and soups to ensure you are getting enough good fats [omega-3s]. You can also add ground nuts in a similar fashion to increase the fat and protein content. Drizzle olive oil on salads and in soups [if it is not already listed in the recipe] and add coconut oil and avocados to smoothies. Thirdly, make sure you are taking the appropriate supplements [prenatals, etc.]. Lastly, talk to your doctor and review your plan with him / her and talk with a holistic health professional to review the recipes and your current situation / toxic load BEFORE beginning.
During the detox play you can also look at other areas of your life, outside of your diet, that may need some cleaning up. For example:
1. Turn off the TV, radio, news programs, and put down the paper. Take a break from media and enjoy the outdoors, reading for enjoyment or self fulfillment, or spend time with your family.
2. Find areas in your house that need organizational support, donate things you aren't wearing or using, and simplify your surroundings.
3. Get outside and breathe the fresh air.
4. Bring in live plants to help clean your air and crack windows [even if it's cold outside and if only for 5 minutes] to get some natural air inside.
5. Meditate, pray, find a spiritual practice that works for you and try to fit it in daily - even if it's a simple five minutes of focused, intentional time.
6. Exercise. Get your blood moving! Sweat is a great way to speed up the detoxification process. The skin in the most accessible and largest eliminatory organ - use it!
7. Skin brush. Say what? Yes, that's right, brush your skin. Prior to your showers, brushing your skin can stimulate blood flow, remove dead skin cells, and prepare the body for elimination. Go here for more details.
8. Make a list of goals for 2012. Pin them up so you see them on a regular basis and make a plan to achieve those goals.
9. Spend time laughing. Find ways to increase your enjoyment of life and the people in it.
10. Organize your work space. De-clutter your office, take 15 minute breaks and get outside, bring in a plant, and try to make the space a place you enjoy being.
On a special note, recently a recipe of mine was published on My New Roots website in Sarah's Holiday Reader Recipe Challenge Online Cookbook. Check it out!
I hope you the encouragement to get started, the discipline to stick with whatever you choose, and the joy that comes when greater health is achieved. May your body reward you and may you be blessed through this journey.
Cheers to a happy and healthy 2012!