Diet fads come and go, and it seems that "detoxing" or "cleansing" is all the rage these days. The term can be used mistakenly as a way of selling you new products and/or false promises, or even an eating disorder in disguise. However, that's not what a real cleanse/detox should be.
So let’s first clarify what a good program really is.
As you know, our precious bodies are marvelously designed with a built-in self cleaning system (mainly composed by our colon, kidneys, skin and, the superstar: the liver) that allows us to eliminate unwanted substances, such as toxins, byproducts, used up hormones, and other unneeded items.
However, when the body gets overloaded (maybe too many potato chips, cupcakes, candy, fried chicken, whiskey, etc and not enough fresh vegetables, water, fruit, etc) for a prolonged period, our detoxifying organs get too overworked and overwhelmed.That's where detoxing comes in to the rescue, as we remove, for a short time, those harder to digest foods, and focus on getting the most helpful foods and activities into our lives in order to make our organs' jobs run more effectively.
Let me put it another way...
Imagine you are at your office and your boss doesn't stop bringing you files to work on, some of them are really important and some are just junk mail. The papers tower up high, they even collapse onto your desk. You keep working and sweating because you just can't keep up with the sea of documents. Here he comes again, and again with another load, and another…You are already working overtime....and some more papers come in. Then suddenly, your boss goes away on vacation and stops bringing in more assignments. He even calls a few interns to help you arrange, review, organize and work on everything laying on your table, on the floor and all over. This is the detox: stopping the burdening factors and bringing in support to allow you to thrive at your best. You cleanse by drinking plenty of liquids, and eating fiber to help eliminate all the accumulated stuff you don't need (think of them as the cleaning crew), and you also add in foods containing great quality protein, vitamins and minerals to do all the rebuilding and repairing your body needs (the construction crew).
Detoxing is not about depriving yourself of foods as a punishment, nor a weight loss diet. It is about eliminating anything that can be weighing you down, preventing you from thinking clearly, or of moving painlessly and freely. It's like stopping more files from coming in. Weight loss may come as a side effect, but it isn't the main goal.
Since we are all different from each other, detoxing is great for self discovery and for understanding better the specific body we inhabit and how it reacts to the different foods we feed it with. When we remove certain foods and later add them back, we can find out how our body reacts, and this information can later help us make our own decisions on what we should eat so our body feels his or her (better than its!) best.
Detoxing is not a punishment, but a tool for self-discovery and self-care. There're tons of different detox programs all over, and as I mentioned, some of them might not be adequate for us. They range from total fasting to only drinking, to excluding certain food groups, etc. However, my recommendation if you are willing to try it out for the first time, and you are generally healthy, is to eliminate the foods that generally cause the most inflammation and that are more difficult to process in our bodies. They are: sugar (and artificial sweeteners), caffeine, dairy, gluten, and over processed foods.
Some people can be sensitive/allergic to other ingredients, and they should also be eliminated during the detox if you suspect one or some of them make you uncomfortable, such as soy (especially not fermented), peanuts, corn and even eggs, but again, since we're all different, it's important we pay attention to our own body's reactions and take advantage of the cleanse to do so.
Before you think your life has been ruined by the eliminated food list, just think about it as a short experiment and observe what happens....The best would be to do this kind of detox for 3 weeks, but it's fine if you can do only a few days. And remember, even if you "fall off the wagon," don't give up the whole thing! Don't feel guilty, let go and hop into the wagon again. And add in the good stuff. This is the best part! Suddenly, by eliminating certain foods you tend to eat often by default, you'll discover amazing new foods that you didn't even know existed, your taste buds change and you open up to new possibilities, a rainbow of colors and you can let your creativity run wild with plants, seeds, and even meats. Focus on discovering not on missing!
These detoxifying “potions” (Detox Drink, Chilled Green Soup, Chocolate Banana Smoothie and Bone Broth) will not only keep you hydrated, but will give you a wide variety of super foods and nutrients that will help in the cleansing process. They are easy to add to your diet and are delicious, as well. Just give it a shot and see what happens!!
Having a hard time ditching soda or liking plain water? Try Infused Water (Featured in the Main Image). Drinking 8 glasses of water seems hard for some people, so adding cubed cucumbers, watermelons or citrus fruits and allowing the flavors to infuse can be a good solution. Lemons are particularly alkalizing. But if you don’t feel like washing, peeling, cutting, etc, just use frozen fruit like any kind of berry, pineapple, peaches or mangoes instead of ice. And don’t forget the power of fresh herbs! Mint is a classic, but basil, rosemary, thyme, lemon verbena, culinary lavender, sliced ginger, etc root are incredible options. Play around with different combinations. Kids love getting creative with this!