Detox Through Diet
By Elisa Domenick on January 23, 2014
Detoxing/Cleansing is on a lot of people's resolutions list at the start of the year, and while it's the perfect time to cleanse your body after all of the indulgences of the holidays, it's important to take care of your health all year round. On a daily basis we're exposed to harmful substances. They're in our diet (pesticides, microbes, and mercury, to name a few) and the air we breathe (disinfectants, deodorizers, and the gasses released by fresh paint). Fortunately, we have an excellent system in place to handle those toxins: Enzymes throughout the body are continuously breaking them down and helping to flush them out, but we can help the body out by lessening our exposure to these toxins. Part 1 of detoxing your life and removing toxins is about changing your diet, even if your diet is generally healthy, a good cleanse can revitalize your system and rid your body of harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Cleansing methods have been around since ancient Egypt and Greece, but they seem to have become extremely popular again over the past decade with celebrities. The most popular is juice cleansing, but there is a plethora of different detoxes and cleanses out there. I'm not a health expert, so I'm not here to tell you which cleanse is best, or that you even have to cleanse at all, but I have compiled a variety of options to help clean out your system. They are all a little different; some say no fruit to eliminate sugar, while the juice cleanses contain a lot of fruit. Others say no meat, while some say lean meat and fish is fine. Find what suits you best and give it a try; the most important thing is eating whole foods and giving up processed foods.
The first and biggest step I've taken in cleansing my system this month is cutting out alcohol. That's not to say I'm never going to drink again, but I'm giving my body time to recover, and my subconscious time to break the habit of drinking based on my emotions (when I'm stressed, sad, happy, etc.). Caffeine is also out of the picture during a cleanse. Luckily, my body and caffeine don't get along, so that's been permanently cut out of my diet. I don't think I could handle giving up two vices!
Cutting out sugar is another big step in cleansing, and it's where I keep slipping up. I've already had potatoes, black beans, lentils, and garbanzo beans off the "NO List"
We all know how important it is to drink water, especially on a cleanse, but it can be difficult and boring. My favorite type of cleansing water (it's an acquired taste) over the past 2 years has been:
Another option for your water is:
I managed to do a juice cleanse for one day last week, using BluePrint juices.
I didn't have the will power or the money to do longer than a day. I really enjoyed the taste of the juices though, and they did keep me somewhat full, so I do recommend them. Or you can try this juice cleanse from Dr. Oz.
Makes approx. 3 ½ cups
- 20 dandelion greens (about 2 loosely packed cups)
- 4.5 cups water
- 1 garlic clove, cut in half
- 1 lemon
Thoroughly wash greens and set aside to dry. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil.
Add greens and garlic, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly and strain into a pitcher.
Squeeze 1 Tbsp. lemon juice into a mug, then pour in the tea.
Almost as important as practicing eating healthy, whole foods, it is important to practice mindful eating. I first heard about mindful eating from a good friend of mine who had been learning about it in one of her college classes. We were eating dinner at the time, and she showed me how to stop and smell your food first, and to appreciate it, before taking small, carefully cut bites that should be chewed slowly and thoroughly. Here is a list of how to practice mindful eating from Zen Habits.
How to master the art of mindful eating:
1. Start small. Like all new habits, it’s best to set realistic expectations. Choose one meal or snack each day and commit to focusing on mindful eating at that time.
2. Stop multitasking at meal times. It’s really difficult to focus on eating if you’re doing other things. Set aside time for eating without other entertainment.
3. Only eat at the table. Another way to minimize mindless munching is to get into the habit of only eating when you are sitting down and able to give the food your full attention. No more snacking on the run.
4. Appreciate the appearance. While we’ve all drooled over gorgeous food porn in magazines or online, sometimes we forget about the beauty of the food we are about to eat. Taking the time to notice sets the scene for mindful eating.
5. Focus on each mouthful. Think about the flavour, texture and even the sound of the food in your mouth. Focus on how much you like, or dislike these sensations.
6. Chew. While it can be overkill to go to the monastic extreme of 100 bites per mouthful, make sure you chew your food enough so that it is well broken down before you swallow.
7.Use cutlery and put it down between mouthfuls. It’s much easier to take smaller portions when using a knife and fork. Of course if you feel like you’re having a ridiculous Seinfeld moment eating a chocolate bar with utensils, then skip this step but do put the bar down in between bites so you can focus.
8. Talk and share. One of the joys of eating is sharing a meal with loved ones. It can be challenging to incorporate mindfulness in a social situation but not impossible. Turn the focus of the conversation onto the meal while you are actually eating. Share what you are experiencing in terms of flavours and textures, likes and dislikes. At first this may seem a little weird but trust me, you’ll soon find yourself having fun with it.
9. Go for quality not quantity. By choosing smaller amounts of the best food you can afford, you will not only enjoy it more, you’re far more likely to be satisfied without having to over eat.
10. Make time to prepare your own meals, preferably from fresh ingredients. The cooking process can be as relaxing and enjoyable as eating if you let it. For me, the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what has gone into my food makes any hassle worthwhile.
A few extra tips:
Thin slices of apple and cinnamon sticks in water boost metabolism
Roman chamomile detoxifies the blood and liver...also helps stabilize emotions
Drink water 30 mins before meals, or an hour after, but never during meals. Water dilutes the digestive enzymes, preventing the body from assimilating nutrients
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