It is January and that means a lot of people want to cleanse, detox, and overall become healthier. However, a lot of people dive head first into a new "healthy" regime and end-up harming themselves and/or losing motivation very fast. When making any lifestyle changes, it is best not to be too drastic or make changes too abruptly. If you are looking to clean-up your diet, cleanse the body after all of the holiday sweets and booze, and/or implement some simple strategies to have you living a healthier life, then this post is for you. I've given you some gentle and simple tips to help your body cleanse. Even if you don't want to cleanse for any period of time, these suggestions are still excellent ways to work towards a healthier you! Disclaimer: as with any major health modification, you should seek the advice of a health professional.
So, in order to gently and simply cleanse, you need to--for one to four weeks--try to...
- Up water intake. Aim for 8 glasses a day and try to make one lemon water. This is important to flush out toxins. Lots of tips featured here. I made a batch of lemon water cubes this morning. Anyone else try it?
- Up herbal tea intake. All of those botanical constituents/chemicals are very cleansing. Lots of varieties featured here. Bored in the afternoon? Then it's time for a tea! Feel like munching in the evening? Make a cuppa tea!
- Have one caffeinated beverage a day, MAX! Asking someone to give up caffeine cold turkey is cruel and compliance will be low. Plus, coffee and black tea have some health benefits too. Thus, cut your caffeine down to once a day. A "real" coffee in the AM, but then order a decaf one when you hit up Tim's later that day. Tea with dessert? Switch your normal black tea with a decaf or herbal variety. Ideally, green tea is the best caffeinated source during a cleanse... but I won't ask you to give up good 'ol coffee ;) Tips for reducing caffeine intake here.
- Avoid sugar. Completely! It is really important to give your body a break from sugar, especially after (likely) having lots over the holidays. This means no packaged goods and a lot of label reading because sugar lurks everywhere! However, you may still have honey, maple syrup, and these natural sources of sweetness. Instead of sugar in your (one) morning coffee, try honey. If you absolutely can't replace sugar, at least buy/use organic cane sugar. As for desserts, check out my recipe page; I have lots of sugar-free treats posted.
- Avoid alcohol. Give that liver a break! Replace your nightcap with herbal tea (see above).
- Buy organic whenever feasible/affordable during your cleanse. The idea during a cleanse is to minimize the number of toxins (including sugar, caffeine, and alcohol... see above) that your body has to process. By buying organic, you are reducing the number of pesticides and herbicides entering your body. Here is the list of the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables (the most important ones to get organic).
- Avoid processed foods. During the cleanse you should be eating real, whole, and homemade foods. If you absolutely have to buy something packaged, aim for organic and/or a product with an ingredient list you can understand. If you don't know what an ingredient is, neither does your body. Again, you can refer to my recipe page for inspiration; I have lots of homemade snacks and even a granola bar recipe.
- Exercise when possible (sweating releases toxins and moving around increases circulation). Make cleaning the house a full body workout and/or take a pre-dinner stroll. Every little bit helps.
- Get enough sleep. The body is in repair-mode during a cleanse and thus needs a good amount of sleepy time to do deep healing. Some sleep tips here, but I'll be talking more about sleep later this week. Stay tuned!
- Keep good foods in and troublesome foods out. What I mean is that it is much easier to eat healthier if you fridge is stocked with nutritious goodies. By having them on hand it'll be easier to create cleanse-friendly meals in a pinch. Go to a bulk food or health food store and go nuts! Buy lots of ingredients to experiment with during your cleanse. And while you want to have the house full of healthy food, you want to keep junk food and temptations far away.
Some final tips:
- Planning is key. Don't just decide to cleanse tomorrow. Pick a week (or more) that is free of social outings (restaurants make cleansing hard and remember that no booze is allowed) and any major commitments (cleansing is about celebrating your body and your health!).
- Communicate your plan with loved ones so they don't try to "tempt you" with a mid-afternoon latte and so they know why the fridge is exploding with vegetables.
- Stock-up. Don't start cleansing until you have lots of good foods on hand to eat (including snacks, alternatives to sugar, lemons, and herbal tea).
Good Luck and Happy Cleansing!