If you’re reading this article I can almost guarantee that one of your top 2017 resolutions was ‘do a detox.’ And I get it. You may have overindulged in the holidays, eaten or drunk things you shouldn’t have, lazed about and may even have gained a few kgs. So what better way to get back on track than a good ole detox, right?
And when I say detox, I’m taking about juicing, cleansing, fasting or whatever else is trending. The theory goes that if you cut the junk and drastically reduce calories you’ll ‘kick-start’ [shock] your body back into action, get rid of toxins and drop the excess weight quickly. Sounds great right?! Well… in reality, it doesn’t quite work like that.
Unfortunately, what often happens is you get really hungry, tired, nauseous and dizzy, have crazy headaches, as well as feel deprived, moody and downright miserable… Then either you fall off the band wagon and binge, or you have amazing willpower, complete the cleanse, feel great but then find yourself right back at square one when you start eating normally again.
So why does this happen?
Well, for some reason most cleanses have you avoid protein. Which is crazy, because without amino acids your liver and other detox organs can’t do their job properly. No wonder you feel awful! Secondly, the drastic cut in calories tricks your body into thinking that it’s starving which slows down your metabolism. So yes, you lose weight but it’s mainly water loss, muscle loss and a drop in glycogen, your body’s carbohydrate store. Then when you start to eat normally again, any so-called weight loss that you’ve experienced, is going to come right back with possibly a bit extra!
So how do I detox properly then?
You’re not going to like this, but there is no such thing as a quick fix! For a detox to be effective, it should be holistic. The seven steps to follow are: Eat clean, supplement wisely, hydrate, exercise, sleep, relax and deal with your emotional health. There’s just no getting around it! In order for you to have optimal health, you need to have a healthy lifestyle.
So to expand on these 7 steps:
- Eat clean. Your body detoxes all the time and is able to do so effectively when it receives the right nutrients from your diet. Food is for nourishment. So instead of begrudging healthy food, focus on how to make it delicious and exciting! Make it work for you and your family by trying new healthy recipes, plan and prepare meals, sign up for an organic box scheme, get the kids involved with choosing fruit & veg they like then have them cook with you, watch healthy cooking shows or how-to YouTube clips. Or if you don’t have time, order your meals pre-made from a healthy food delivery company that does all the hard work for you! Another must is clean out your fridge, freezer and pantry. Make your home a no-junk zone. Rather fill your cupboards with fresh fruit & vegetables, coconut oil, avocado & olives, nuts and seeds, biltong, superfoods, raw food bars or banting-friendly snacks, organic full fat dairy (yoghurt, cheese etc) coconut & almond milk, hormone-free animal products & wild caught fish, organic eggs, fermented foods like sauerkraut, sprouts & fresh herbs and if you love bread then have either sourdough bread (if you can tolerate some gluten) or banting bread, seed biscuits or baked goods made with almond or coconut flour.
- Supplement wisely. Take liver cleansing and regenerating herbs such as milkthistle and dandelion, colon cleansing and toxin binding agents such as zeolite and psyllium husk and general health supportive nutrients such as magnesium, probiotics, alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C, omega 3 and targeted amino acids. Get some advise from your trusted natural care provider on which supplements are right for you!
- Hydrate. Drink the purest water you can find. Other beneficial beverages include coconut water, kombucha, kefir, herbal teas, green juices, bone broth & aloe juice. Coffee is best avoided on a detox however, it is a perfectly healthy beverage when incorporated into a clean diet. Just make sure it is either organic or very high quality and drunk without sugar!
- Exercise. Move your body in a way that you love and can sustain. You should not hate exercise, it should be fun and enjoyable and most importantly it should work for you! Think out the box (window shopping, surfing, pole dancing, swimming in the sea, running with your dog, rock climbing, aerial yoga, hiking, dancing in the living room, playing outside with your kids, trampolining, gardening etc etc all count!) otherwise seek professional advice from a movement specialist if you aren’t sure what to do!
- Sleep. It is not a waste of time. It is the key to optimal health so make it a priority. Firstly your bed should be the most comfortable place in your house. Spend money on it and love it! Secondly have a sleep ritual or ‘winding-down’ period to prepare your body for rest eg drink a cup of chamomile tea, run a warm lavender bath, read a book, journal, practice yoga or do some gentle stretching. Thirdly (and only if necessary) supplement with calming nutrients and herbs such as magnesium, valerian, cherry extract, glycine, l-theanine, melatonin, Californian poppy etc
- Relax. It’s unfortunate that life is now fast-paced, busy & stressful and we’re expected to just keep up without burning out. The secret then is to find pockets of rest throughout your day where you stop, breathe and calm your nervous system. Yoga & pilates are also excellent de-stressors if you have the time, however, simply meditating or breathing deep for 5-15mins is all it takes to restore calm in your body. If you find you still are not coping then supplementing with adaptogens is highly recommended e.g. Rhodiola, ashwaghanda, medicinal mushrooms etc.
- Emotional/mental health. We often neglect what’s going on in our hearts or minds, choosing to bury bad thoughts or feelings instead of dealing with them. However, negative emotions can be just as toxic to the body as artificial chemicals. Therefore, as painful as it is, find ways to deal with this area of your life to experience true health and freedom. Seek therapy, go to counseling, pray, journal or join a support group.
Just to clarify, I am actually big fan of juice cleansing and fasting however, I believe these should only be done for short periods of time and only if;
A) you know what you’re doing or are under professional supervision
B) you live a healthy lifestyle already & have your hormones and stress levels under control
C) you are able to properly rest & relax while cleansing
Detoxing should be gentle, holistic and work with your body rather than against it! That way, the benefits will be deep seated, long lasting and achieve the results you want.