Now that we’ve finished spring cleaning our houses (or at least those of you who are more on top of it than I am!) it’s also a great time of year to do a spring body cleanse, otherwise known as, detox! Simply put, detoxification is a process of eliminating or significantly reducing the toxins in your body. Many different thoughts may enter your mind when you think of a detox. Perhaps deprivation, digestive suffering, irritability, emotional ups and downs, and all the other wonderful things that can come from doing a detox. I’m not going to lie, there is a certain amount of physical and emotional discomfort involved, but there is also the most wonderful feeling when you have finished which is absolute BLISS! I will begin by discussing a few reasons detoxing is a controversial topic in the nutrition world and then outline the three ways you can do a detox.
Let me start by listing who should NOT do a detox program. Anyone who has elevated blood pressure or heart disease, low blood sugar, diabetes/insulin resistance, kidney disease, ulcers, or if you are pregnant. If you do not have any of the above conditions, you should be able to tolerate a detox option suited for you.
Detoxification has been a controversial topic in the wellness arena for a few reasons. Some believe that our bodies are already equipped with organs that do it for us such as our liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, and skin. Others will say that you are wasting your money buying those expensive “cleansing kits” because all you really need is healthy food and liquids to achieve the same results. Wherever you are on the belief spectrum, you cannot deny the unbelievable feeling when your body is functioning at top notch. If it behooves you to try one of those expensive kits, knock yourself out! Most of them contain natural substances that will not hurt you. You won’t know how something will work for you until you try it. Just listen to your body and learn from what signals it is sending you.
There is a laundry list of reasons to do a detox. Some of the benefits include decreased fluid retention, clearer skin, better sleep, improved PMS, improved digestion and IBS, decreased cellulite, improved energy, and decreased body fat. Not to mention the psychological benefits that come along with it including improved mood, uncovering emotional food issues, mental clarity, and stress relief. Who doesn’t want these with our increasingly busy schedules and demanding jobs? Here’s the kicker...you will feel terrible at first, most likely for several days to a week. You will feel worse than you did before the detox, but this is necessary for your body to transition. Warn your family members and your work colleagues if you decide to do a detox because they will wonder who took over your body and when the real you is coming back! It will be important to be prepared and organized with a good support system in place to get you through. So, now that I’ve scared you a bit, here are your options:
1. Fasting Detox: water and broths (I do not recommend this to many people. You must be in the right environment and phase of life. Do not attempt if you have a full-time job, kids, etc.).
2. Cleanse Detox: raw and vegan.
3. Food-based Elimination Detox: getting rid of the most common food triggers, towards vegan/raw.
If you were wondering, all of these require you to abstain from alcohol, caffeine, over-the-counter medications, trans fats, and refined sugar. Thus the reason you will become irritable, emotional, and tired for the first several days. Expect some mild headaches, bloating, digestive discomfort, and mood swings, but like I said, the end result is amazing so don’t give up! It will also be important that you pick the right time to do this. Don’t try it when you have lots of deadlines at work or are on a family vacation (they may not want to bring you home).
So, for all of these pleasant side effects, having a good support system is crucial. You could also include things like meditation, breathing exercises, steaming, and massage to make you feel better during the process and that enhance detoxing. Having someone to hold you accountable like a partner or coach is also a good idea. Talking about all those uncomfortable feelings allows them to be released, just like the toxins in your body.
If you are interested in learning more about doing a detox appropriately I offer FREE 30-minute consultations and give clients a questionnaire on their ability to detox. I recommend the book The Great American Detox, by Alex Jamieson. She is the nutritionist who created the detox for the actor on Supersize Me. Like I said before, you will feel AMAZING afterwards and want to do it again next year. Cheers to good health!
Shawn Clavelle earned her bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Vermont. She is currently a student at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition working toward certification as a holistic health coach. Shawn’s vast clinical experience and knowledge of the healthcare system makes her proficient at helping others design their own treatment plan through structured goal setting and continuous evaluation of progress. Using a holistic approach with a focus on nutrition, she helps uncover the obstacles to good health and provides simple options for making better lifestyle choices.
Shawn has been leading a Spring Health Boot Camp this month! Each Tuesday in May from 5:30-6:30, she shares information and guidance on how to lose weight healthfully and cultivate a health centered lifestyle. You can join in any time! Learn more about it here.