This time of year I get so many questions about detox programs and cleansing. I suppose that after the holidays everyone is dying for a quick fix that will help shed their holiday weight gain and give them an excuse to abstain from drinking alcohol for a week. However, detoxifying the body is a serious undertaking and not something to rush into, especially if your diet has been…ahem…less than perfect lately.
Firstly, going to extremes is not the answer. Fasting, or giving up food entirely, is an inappropriate path to take this time of year, since our bodies need food to keep us warm and nourished for the cold winter months ahead. (The spring and summer months are more suitable for fasting since the weather is warmer and we don’t need as many calories to regulate our body temperature. Makes sense, doesn’t it?) And I bet it’s good news for you, since that water fast you were planning can now be put off until June. Whoopee.
Yes, now is the time to be gentle and make small changes to your diet for a week or so. You will certainly notice a difference and maybe even feel compelled to continue your clean nutritional regime, bringing your body back into balance, improving your concentration, sleep, digestion and energy! Big Whoopee.
We can also support the process of detoxification through other routines such as yoga, using saunas, and massage. All of these physical practices help to move toxins through the lymphatic system by sweating, or specific movements that twist and “ring out” internal organs.
Here are some general cleansing tips that almost everyone can follow after the holidays.
1. Start everyday with a cup of warm water and fresh lemon juice. This serves to flush the digestive system, stimulate the liver and kidneys and alkalinize the whole body. (This is one of the best things you can do for yourself! Especially if you can squeeze it in before your morning coffee or tea. Start now and do it everyday for the rest of your life…watch miracles happen.)
2. For one week, meals should consist mainly of brown rice, steamed vegetables, miso broth and seaweed (all organically grown!). Ginger and cayenne may be added to flavour soups to stimulate circulation.
3. Drink plenty of water! At least 2 litres of purified or filtered water a day to stimulate your kidneys, liver and digestive system’s (primary detox organs) functions. It will also boost your metabolism, which in turn accelerates toxin and fat elimination.
Things to avoid: drugs, sugar, fried foods, meats, dairy, anything in a box, bag or bottle!
1. Head to a yoga class, book a massage, or find a sauna to hop in!
2. Practice dry skin brushing. See instructions here.
3. If you want to exercise, keep the intensity low…your body is resting.
4. Be gentle with yourself. Choose a week where you have time to relax and reflect, get some extra sleep (8 or more hours a night), and the mental space for the challenge of change.
What? Disappointed that I didn’t tell you to starve yourself? You wanted some drastic deprivation and torture? The truth is, most of us struggle giving up booze for a week, so if you can handle the suggestions above, you have my blessing to move on to more convoluted procedures. Good luck with that.
When you come out of a gentle cleanse such as this one, try to continue eating a balanced, whole foods diet, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. As we treat our bodies with the physical and emotional respect they deserve, our need to detoxify becomes less and less and the better we will feel everyday.
I wish everyone the best for 2009. Thanks for continuing to discover the beauty of becoming the healthiest, most vibrant self through My New Roots!
source: Haas, Elson M. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkley, CA: Wiley, 2006.