Deeper than food: how a gentle and nourishing detox program can improve our lives
When we talk about detox, we are referring to the practices and actions we take to reduce or eliminate anything that keeps us from living our optimal, healthful and happiest lives.
When addressing food during a detox, I guide my clients in an elimination diet, so that we can reduce noise and be able to fully listen to our bodies. We do this by removing the main food triggers (these are common allergens and inflammatory foods) and replacing them with anti-inflammatory, nourishing foods so we can supercharge the liver’s ability to detoxify, along with supplements that will boost this process further. There is no starvation and no deprivation. It is all about what we say YES to when we say NO to what isn’t serving us.
A properly guided cleanse encourages your body to release toxic burden via the powerful combination of fresh whole foods, nutrient-dense shakes and high-quality, whole-food supplements. With years of guiding hundreds of people through this process, the main results include weight loss, reduction in headaches and gut aches, improved digestion, better libido, clear skin, better sleep, and more balanced mood. How about saying YES to these?
Food is a major component of a detox, but not the only one. To fully detox we need to address both lifestyle and diet, including our social connections and work situation. Here are some tips that we have learned along the way:
- Identify what is inflammatory to you and remove it from your daily life:
- Turn the radio and/or tv off, especially when the news is upsetting. This doesn’t mean you will become out of touch with reality, it just means that you will give yourself the gift of controlling what information you let in, and when. You can set a time of day to look at your favorite publications online. This is especially important when sharing space with others (say during a car ride), when you have the option of choosing soothing or joyful music, silence, or conversation.
- Being late/in a hurry can be very inflammatory. The stress I put myself through when I am late starts a very unhealthy cascade in my body. This is one of the places I am constantly working on in order to more fully show up for others, as well as a way to show up for myself. My mantra now is “leave early and go slow” rather than my usual pattern of “do as much as possible as fast as possible.”
- Be mindful of how you communicate: once you say or express a thought/feeling/opinion, you can’t take it back. Reducing inflammation means making sure you are not inflammatory to others as well. We can all do better at speaking with authenticity and communicating from the heart, while inspiring collaboration rather than disagreement.
- Pay attention to limiting thoughts. Sending your cells toxic messages can take a toll: they will believe you! The first step is to be aware of when you do this, and then find a way to reverse the trend. A simple out-loud “cancel, cancel” can help, and then refocus the thought to something positive that you want to materialize in your life. Example: “I’m so weak, I gave into (craving) again” – cancel, cancel – affirm: “I make choices that support my best health.”
- The outside reflects the inside: take some time each day, or even each week, to take stock of your surroundings. Is every surface in your home taken up with stuff? Are your closets so packed that you can’t see what is in them? Does your fridge have biological experiments in leftover jars? Cleaning up, making your bed, and putting away things that are out of place have an immense impact on our wellbeing and clarity of thought. Clutter makes chaos, both in our environment and in our bodies.
- To let go of clutter in the body, try time-restricted eating. Since we are not getting into the details of a detox diet in this post, we simply recommend eating your normal diet within a 10-12 hour window. If you have your first meal at 8am, have your last meal by 8pm, and slowly bring that down to 6pm. Water and tea is ok (no sugar of any kind or milk with your tea, though). Giving the body at least 12 hours of fasting will allow it to do its own clean up (autophagy), slowing down the aging process, reducing inflammation, and improving energy use and output.
- Take a break from people that bring you down. Distance from difficult relationships can allow for healing and for a different perspective.
- Sleep: yet another way to allow the body to do its own clean up. Certain maintenance processes can only happen when we are completely relaxed and not getting outside stimulus, so make going to bed by no later than 11pm a priority. At our house we’ve had to put the wi-fi on a timer to help us along. This achieves 2 benefits: the first is we get to sleep earlier, the second is that there is no wi-fi going around when we don’t need it.
- Take inventory of all the chemicals that touch (and therefore enter) your body: soaps, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, sunblock, makeup, etc. If they contain the top 11 toxins, let them go and source a green, clean, natural product. The top 11 are: formaldehyde, synthetic fragrance/parfum, phtalates, parabens
- Spend time outside: sun rays offer benefits beyond vitamin D synthesis… we actually release happy chemicals when exposed to sunlight. Spend time in nature for a double benefit as our stress hormones decrease when we are in the presence of multiple species (think plants, birds, bugs, microorganisms).
- Identify what gives you joy and do more of it: detoxing is both about what we let go of and what in put in place.
- Find something you love about yourself every day. We don’t tend to take care of something we don’t love! In other words, we take care of what we care about. You can either journal about it or just tell yourself out loud while laying in bed or looking in the mirror. Every meaningful change starts with love.
Honoring your image of health,
Thais Harris, BCHN