When we think of doing a detox or cleanse, we often think of calorie restriction, juicing diets, special supplements or detox kits, the maple syrup cayenne cleanse, and the list goes on. If you’ve been lax on healthy eating over the holidays and now feel like it’s time to reign it in, try resetting your system with 2 weeks of whole-foods-based clean eating. Contrary to a strict cleanse, this gives your body all the nutrients it needs to support proper detoxification of your system.
Why Detox the Whole Foods Way?
- Remove toxins and excess waste from your system
- Balance blood sugar levels
- Decrease inflammation
- Provide optimal nutrients to support your body’s natural detoxification
- You get to eat actual food! No crazy restrictions
What to include in your clean eating detox:
Focus on whole ingredients including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meats and fish. Cut back on all processed and pre-prepared meals and snacks, these are generally high in sodium, sugar, processed grains, unhealthy fats, and added chemicals and preservatives. A general rule of thumb is to shop on the perimeter of the grocery store, avoiding the center aisles of boxed, pre-packaged foods.
Dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble, is essential to a healthy gut and effective cleansing of your digestive tract, promoting regular, healthy bowel movements. Additionally, it helps balance blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and keep you feeling fuller longer. Adults should aim for 25-35g per day. Dietary fiber is found only in plant products (i.e., nuts, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables-make sure to leave the skin on!).
Cut back on Sugar
Especially after the sweets-crazed holidays, it is important to cut back on added sugars in your diet. Sugar is extremely addictive and easy to over-consume. In order to reduce cravings, you must cut way back on processed sugars and focus on nutrient-dense wholesome foods. The bad bacteria in our bodies thrive on sugar and it’s time to reset and rebalance the good army of healthy bacteria in our gut that support digestion and overall well-being.
Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, miso, tempeh, and cultured unsweetened dairy products provide a great source of those healthy bacteria to boost your system. If these foods don’t appeal to you, it may be beneficial to take a refrigerated multi-strain probiotic supplement.
Staying hydrated is essential to overall health and especially vital to a healthy detox. Water carries nutrients to our cells, aids digestion, supports healthy kidney function allowing toxins to be removed from the body and keeps your metabolism functioning properly. It is important to maintain electrolyte balance to stay hydrated. The major electrolytes include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphate, and chloride. Coconut water is an excellent source of electrolytes as well as many fruits and vegetables.
Sweat it out! Exercising stimulates the body, promoting circulation of our blood, lymph, and digestive systems, aiding in the elimination of waste products from our body. You are supporting a healthy heart and lungs as well as cleansing your skin through perspiration. Almost any form of aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping and your breathing going will help your body cleanse itself. A 30-minute boot camp class will most certainly do the trick!
Maximize sleep and minimize stress
As wonderful as the holiday season can be, it can also be a busy and stressful time which can disrupt our routines and throw us off track. When hitting the reset button, it is equally as important to focus on getting optimal sleep and reducing daily stresses as it is to clean up your diet. Our bodies rebuild and repair overnight making a good night’s sleep vital to a successful cleansing of the system. Chronic stress can cause our body to hang onto unwanted pounds and waste products, and increase inflammation. Make these few weeks all about YOU and don’t stress about giving yourself some much needed TLC!
Make a plan, get organized, and commit to this for at least two weeks. It can be so easy to slip back into bad habits if we aren’t motivated and don’t have a plan of action. Ask for support from those around you and keep your goals in mind. It may be challenging at times, but focus on how good you will feel once you’ve done it! It takes time to create habits, stick with it!