Have you ever had a feeling that you have consumed way more food than what your body can really use? During the winter months is when we tend to hibernate and eat more rich and savory foods in larger quantities. If this sounds familiar, then maybe it is time for a short detox.
A detox is different things to different people. It can range from abstaining from all food and drink, which is commonly called fasting, to allowing juices and some solid foods, which is what I like to call a cleanse.
The practice of detoxing is nothing new. There is early evidence of Hippocrates (400 BC), the mythical Greek “Father of Medicine,” prescribing fasting for patients with an oncoming disease, and a spare diet on other occasions. Buddha fasted while he was on his path to enlightenment, and to this day, most religions practice some sort of fasting usually in order to observe a holiday and to celebrate their spirituality.
Whether you are religious or not, detoxing has amazing health benefits for the body and for your head. I recently went away on a weeklong-guided detox, and not only did my body look and feel better, but I also gained mental clarity on some nagging issues that were in my life before the detox.
I am not suggesting that everyone abstain from eating for a week, especially if you are busy working and living a stressful life like most of us do. However, even just limiting your food intake to fresh fruits and vegetables and their juices for only two days could work miracles for an overstressed body and soul.
If you are wondering what the payoff is for temporarily giving up your lattes and your french fries, then listen up.
First, digesting food takes up to 10% of your energy expenditure on a given day. Wouldn’t it be nice to utilize this extra energy for other things?
Second, over the years your body has stored up a lot of extra junk, for lack of a better term. This junk can weigh us down energetically as well as on the scale. The junk is stored up in our intestinal tract, often in the form of mucus, and is also stored in our lungs and sinuses as well.
By giving the body a rest from digesting foods that do not serve us, we are letting our detoxifying organs—mainly the liver, kidneys, and lungs—to function more efficiently. We also give the lower intestine, or colon, a chance to empty out some of the previously mentioned junk.
The length of time one does a detox or cleanse depends on the lifestyle of the individual. Part of the reason my week long detox was so successful was because of the peaceful environment I was in and the fact that I was participating in a program with tons of support from other participants. But for most people, the easiest and safest length of time to cleanse would be two to three days.
The type of detox one chooses is also dependent on one’s lifestyle and dietary habits. For a “detox virgin,” the best way to start is to keep it simple. Choose two or three days where you have some free time to dedicate to preparing your foods and for relaxing and reflecting. Next, stock your fridge with fresh vegetables and fruits. Choose ones you enjoy eating, but try to eat more vegetables than fruits to avoid spiking your blood sugar. You can eat the fruit or vegetables raw, or can juice them in a juicer or blender. Enjoy raw vegetables like carrots, broccoli, kale, cucumbers, celery, etc., as well as fruits that are low in sugar like bananas, apples and oranges.
So, for the time that you are on your detox, avoid all other foods including refined carbohydrates like breads, pastas and noodles and all baked goods. You are also abstaining from dairy, sugar, caffeine, meat, and anything outside the realm of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you feel like you may need some additional sustenance, then consider adding some healthy fats to your detox like avocados and nuts and seeds like, almonds, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
One may experience some discomfort during the cleanse such as headaches, nausea or even slight skin irritations. This is most likely the body’s way of getting the junk out. Certain emotional discomforts may surface as well and they could stem from addictions to certain foods or other issues where food has been used as a coping mechanism.
Once you have finished your cleanse, you will most likely have more energy than when you started. You may even shed a pound or two, but what you will definitely feel is a sense of accomplishment knowing that you did something healthy for yourself. Enjoy your new found vitality!
If you have any medical issues, always seek the advice of a professional before starting a detox.
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