If I'm correct, you probably generally know what not to eat, and while occasionally in denial, know what goes in a healthy diet. And a detox diet is really just that, healthy food. The aim is to minimise any of the nasties in your diet to give your body a moment to clean house – after all, that's what detoxification is. I'm not saying this isn't something your body isn't doing already every day, it's just the difference between a quick vac around your furniture once a week and taking the time to do a proper spring clean. Enough with the cleaning metaphors! You get the idea.
But why are you detoxing? Think about what it is that you are trying to achieve. Are you feeling a little sluggish, tired, feeling the need for a clean start? Perhaps the stressors and pleasures of a modern lifestyle are catching up with you? Burning the candle at both ends, even if it's to fit more fun things in, will eventually cause you to feel a bit under par.
Get enough sleep
Sleep time is the healing time your body needs every day. If you are ‘dreaming' of the luxury of an early night – book it in! Nothing says detox like getting enough sleep and this is the number one lifestyle prescription for a successful mini detox. Detoxification involves the large and small intestines, the lungs, skin, liver and kidneys all processing the things we put into our body to make sure there isn't any backlog. Mostly, this is done while we sleep!
Do I have to cut out everything?
Reducing the processing load on your organs means cutting out caffeine, alcohol, fried foods, sugars and foods that people are commonly sensitive to, like gluten grains and dairy. So what's left? Plenty! Focussing on vegies, fruit, vegetable proteins from nuts, seeds, beans and lentils, gluten-free whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, brown or white rice along with fish and eggs you'll find you have lots to choose from. It can, however, feel like almost everything in your pantry is off-limits if you haven't done a little preparation.
Step 1: Extra nutrition is the first part of a successful detox diet
I like to start with adding the extras. Extra vegies, legumes, beans, regular serves of berries, clever herbal teas and exciting salads. Expanding the good things you regularly eat, it won't seem so difficult to gently ease out the other more processed items in your pantry. Putting some extra greens in your smoothies can be another spot to start adding some extra nutrients. You are aiming for at least 5 serves of vegies and 2 serves of fruit each day. These are all excellent sources of fibre which is essential to assist detoxification and help bind and eliminate the chemicals and hormones your clever liver processes.
If you eat fish (which is a great idea!), focus on the smaller varieties. As they do not take as long to mature, these fish have less time to accumulate heavy metals and are cleaner in terms of mercury and other toxins. Try mackerel, anchovies, sardines, salmon and herring or just remember MASSH which is a handy abbreviation to keep these fish in mind when you make your shopping list.
Step 2: Detox your mind
Detoxing your mind goes hand in hand with a lifestyle detox. Taking a few minutes for mindful meditation will enhance the process. A great place to start is with this fantastic free course by Headspace. Full of cute animations and meditations that you can take 3, 5 or ten minutes to complete, and the benefits speak for themselves.
Findings suggest that meditating for just four days is enough to improve novice meditators’ working memory, executive functions and their ability to process visual information.
Amazing! So not only is your memory better, the executive functions of the brain improve which means you are better able to:
- Pay attention.
- Organise, plan and put things in priority.
- Start and complete tasks.
- Put yourself in another person's shoes.
- Regulate your emotions.
- Keep track of what you're doing.
Once you've completed the easy 10-day course, you might like to sign up for a membership or check out other apps. Buddhify might suit you, or maybe Smiling Mind app. Smiling Mind is a free, Australian mindfulness app but you may find the style of other apps suit you best and opt to purchase an annual membership.
Alternately, some people find more active meditations like a walking mindfulness exercise more their style. This type of meditation has you observe the sensations of walking, the sounds, the feel of the air on your skin, the colours and shapes surrounding you. A guided meditation with an experienced Forest Therapist might also be something to try on a detox. Shinrin-Yoku 森林浴 Forest Therapy Australia which is a local Victorian based business may be able to help you establish a regular walking practice if sitting still is not something you can relate to currently.
Step 3: Hydrate
Water assists detoxification processes and flushes out the by-products. Make sure you are getting your full quota each day. For more tips on how to remember to drink water, check out this article here.
Step 4: Cut back on irritants
Caffeine can be a bit tricky to give up in one day, so try cutting down every second coffee to gradually wean off. In a similar way, sugar withdrawal can be a little challenging. Make sure you are having a protein with every meal and snack to help stabilise your blood sugar levels. You can take several days to wean off sugar in this way too. So once you have all the extra salads, fish, healthy meals and vegies added in ease out the caffeine, alcohol, fried foods, sugars and foods that people are commonly sensitive to, like gluten grains and dairy. This will give your body a wonderful rest from having to process additional irritants, so it can concentrate on cleaning house for a week or two.
Be gentle with yourself, take some time out and come chat if you need some tips to get your detox started.