I find it so interesting that there are so many detox/cleanse type protocols today that people want to try. From hot yoga to water fasts, there is an awareness of the need to cleanse our bodies. I imagine that thousands of years ago, cleansing one’s insides was not necessary or even a concept. But today, in our world so full of toxins in our environment, people are more and more aware of the conundrum and are wanting to micro manage their health.
This awareness has morphed into a movement to control every detail of what we eat, how we eat, how we exercise and even how we sleep. We are tracking our ‘steps’ and our sleep patterns. It’s almost as if we no longer allow ourselves to simply live, eat, drink and be merry anymore!
A new word has even been created to label the obsession with clean eating. It’s called orthorexia. It’s when you’re eating habits become a primary focus of your life (possibly even before work and family). Some people may even spend so much time researching nutrition issues and recipes etc. that they don’t have time to even cook their meal; or are afraid to cook a meal for fear of making a mistake.
Now, I’m not talking about a cancer survivor spending extra time learning about food choices that could enhance immunity and decrease inflammation. I’m not talking about a health enthusiast whose hobby or vocation is about studying nutrition and coaching others to make optimum food choices. I’m talking about the ‘food Nazi’ who is obsessed with micro-managing their times of eating, choices of food, over supplementing with marketed products, jumping from one product to another because of another new endorsement by yet another social media crazed food enthusiast.
I’m an acupuncturist and a nutrition coach, so my work revolves around health and healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle is going to keep your nutrition issues in a realistic balance with the other priorities in your life. Yes, we must hydrate adequately. We must eat enough fruit and vegetables. We should avoid processed foods and especially fast food. But that does not mean we can’t indulge occasionally. Eating and living clean actually supports your health so that when you do occasionally ‘indulge’ your body can manage it effectively.
We are so surrounded by poor food options that our choices become an effort today; which is a sad state of affairs.
So, let’s get back to the detox/cleanse issue. You can have a detox/cleanse lifestyle. You can eat clean as a general habit, but not be so strict with yourself that you can’t ebb and flow with your social life and family. What is eating clean?
Eating clean means making food choices that are predominantly non-inflammatory. That means cutting out refined sugar products as much as possible. Refined sugar products are any sweet product that is not a fruit or honey or molasses based. Products that incorporate high fructose corn syrup, granulated sugar, powdered sugar etc. are sugar cane that has been highly processed and ‘refined’.
I stopped purchasing deserts (candy, cookies, cakes etc.) a few years ago. I eat a desert on the few occasions that my husband and I go to a restaurant, or on a special occasion (birthday celebration, holiday meal etc.). I’m not a ‘food Nazi’ because I will indulge in a desert on occasion.
I do not shop the middle aisles of the grocery store. Anything with multiple words listed in the ingredient list, is generally ‘processed’. Processed food is inflammatory because it has undergone too many steps beyond the whole food. It often has ‘added’ nutrients to restore some nutrition into the product.
Basically, what I like to coach my patients on is the lifestyle. I tell them that my acupuncture work in the treatment room is 25% of the healing process. The remaining 75% is their lifestyle:
- How hydrated they keep themselves (rule of thumb: half your body weight in ounces everyday)
- how many fruits and vegetables (whole foods) they consume on average on a daily basis (7-10 servings/day. A serving is about the size of your fist)
- are they moving their bodies (everyday), which means time at the gym or running or walking
- do they rest and allow their body to be horizontal and asleep 7-9 hours/day.
- These are some of the key components to a healthy lifestyle. When you develop this habit of ‘clean living’ then your body is capable of detoxing on its own. It really is like a ‘detox lifestyle’. It does not completely preclude the occasional indulgences.
I often hear people say “I need to take baby steps’. I believe they say this because they fear that the ‘healthy lifestyle, detox lifestyle’ is that extreme micro-manager lifestyle. I’m here to tell you it’s not. It’s easy. It’s an intentional decision. It’s totally doable!
Start small. Hydration (with only water) is the best first step. Stay tuned for a post soon on hydration.
Add more fruits and especially vegetables to your diet.
Cut out one regular processed food/week.
Cut down coffee to one cup/day (your favorite one).
Move! Walks around the block, stairs instead of elevators when possible, gym, swim….you get the idea.
Remember….it takes 30 days for a new behavior to become a habit.
I’ll be posting more inspiration over the summer to get you going. Don’t hesitate to reach out with comments or messages or emails for any questions or support you would like.