Holiday weight gain sucks.
I stepped on the scale a few days after the new year started and realized I’d gained 5lbs. I knew I’d been eating and drinking with abandon in a “sure, give me another sugar cookie” kind of way, but my jeans didn’t feel tighter. See how sneaky a few pounds can be? Every January I go through this and feel like I need to detox.
Our bodies were designed to detoxify but these days we’re bombarded with toxins. There are chemicals in the products we use on our skin, the air we breathe (especially indoor air), the foods we eat, the medications we take (even ones like Advil). Even the invisible waves of energy from our electronics can impact our body negatively. All of these things overload our systems of detoxification.
There are experts who’d dismiss the need for a detox, saying the body naturally detoxifies on its own, but as Food Babe points out, the average person has as many as 500 synthetic chemicals in their bodies, and over 200 toxins have been found in the umbilical cord blood of unborn babies. Toxins cause inflammation in the body and there’s evidence that obesity and diabetes are linked with toxins. That opened my eyes!
What is a detox anyway?
A detox is usually for a set time (anywhere from 48 hours to 30 days) and it’s goal is to lessen the toxic load on the body by eliminating foods that cause problems while flooding the body with nutrients to help the natural detoxification process. You may have heard of a cleanse, and while the terms detox and cleanse are often used interchangeably, the goal of a cleanse is to clear out the digestive tract. In fact, you need your digestive tract clear so you can eliminate the toxins your body removes from your cells. Otherwise, those toxins can get reabsorbed and cause more problems.
Things to know about a detox
I’ve tried several detoxes, from the kit of supplements purchased at the health food store with little guidance on cleaning up your diet, to the one where you only drink lemonade made with maple syrup and cayenne pepper (that lasted one day), to online programs based on whole foods where you eliminate gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. I’ve experienced the most long-lasting effects from the whole food detox and here’s why.
What I Like About Whole Food Detoxes
- Step-by-step guidance on what to eat and drink for a set time.
- Resets your palate – sweets taste much sweeter after a detox.
- It’s holistic, addressing emotions and stress release too.
- You learn a new recipe or practice (like daily green smoothies).
- Forces you to do advanced preparation that you can use beyond the detox.
- Gives your body a break from junk and fuels you with good stuff!
You may think I’m crazy, and doing detoxes is NOT FUN, but I want to optimize my health. More importantly, I want to maintain a high quality of life as I age. I believe taking a break from the Standard American Diet (the SAD one) and detoxing a few times a year is a crucial part of making that happen. And the beauty is, you’ll end up losing weight even though that’s not the primary goal.
Maybe you’re not quite there yet.
And that’s totally okay. If you want to clean up your diet, start with one thing. For me it was sugar. So I cut out added sugars and fruits (except berries). Instead, I focused on eating 5 cups of veggies each day. One cup at breakfast in a smoothie or greens with eggs, two cups at lunch split between a soup, salad or smoothie, and two cups at dinner, some cooked and some raw. As you strive to be healthy this January, what’s the thing that trips you up the most? Start there and try giving yourself 7 days of eating well. You can do it!