Summer is fast approaching—the time for fitness, fun in the sun and waking up from that winter slumber. You may be struggling to shake the fog from your head or to find the spring in your step. You may have even discovered last season’s summer clothes don’t quite fit. Panic ensues—spring is in full swing and will be over before you know it! You start to think about all the ways you can shed the feeling that you hibernated all winter and that all that comfort food is now sitting around your waistline—running a marathon, biking across Australia, sitting in a sauna for hours, living off water and air only. Stop and breathe! There’s no need to go to extremes. It’s not too late to deprogram your body from the habits of a long, gruelling winter. Spring is the time for renewing and refreshing and just as you give your abode a spring clean, you can do a little “housekeeping” on your body to help get rid of all that winter blues build-up with a detox.
What is a detox?
You may have seen advertisements and headlines about “detox diets” in the past. The truth is you don’t need to starve yourself or rush out and buy a special product to kick-start your body for summer. Your body has a natural detoxification system that rids it of toxins and it takes place primarily in the liver. If your body is working optimally, the detox system can perform quite well on its own. However, when you overload your system with things like caffeine, processed and junk foods, alcohol, sugars and drugs, you put excessive strain on the liver and your detox system can become overburdened. Occasionally, you may need to help it along. There are many variations on a “detox diet,” some quite extreme (and the jury is still out on their real benefits). We’re going to look at simple, effective ways to lighten your load. While many programs suggest a 21-day regime, this boost can be done for 14 days and get you back on track to a healthier, more energetic you. Afterwards, you may even want to adopt some of the recommendations into your lifestyle permanently!
What to Avoid for 14 days:
Cut out highly processed, packaged and fast foods as well as any foods that contain artificial preservatives, colours and additives (chips, deli meats, bacon, cakes, biscuits, candies, pre-packaged sauces). In addition avoid alcohol, soft drinks, coffee and other caffeinated beverages. For added kick, steer clear of the following:
Avoid Dairy. Many people have trouble digesting the proteins found in dairy. In addition it is a very mucous-forming food that can exacerbate immune reactions such as hay fever, asthma and skin conditions—which are also most active at the height of Spring. Avoid all cows’ milk dairy products (butter, cheese, milk) and substitute for unsweetened almond, rice, oat or soymilk or try sheep and goat’s dairy, as it can be easier on the system.
Avoid wheat. Today’s wheat has changed a lot from ancient times and can be another culprit in digestive issues as well as exacerbate that pesky hayfever. It can also lead to unwanted weight gain due to the amount of carbs it contains. Avoid all wheat products including bread, pasta and noodles. Choose instead oats, barley, rye, brown rice, quinoa and spelt (*Coeliacs should only eat rice and quinoa).
Avoid red meat. Overloading on red meat can lead to over-acidity and cause joint inflammation and pain. Instead choose organic chicken, fish or a vegetarian protein such as tempeh. After the detox challenge: Decrease your intake of red meat to 1-2x week tops…and if you’re feeling brave, try one vegetarian night a week!
What to Include for 14 days:
- A great way to kick-start your metabolism and stimulate digestion is consuming half a lemon squeezed into warm water each morning on rising.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables (carrots, beetroot, celery, pumpkin) and be sure to include the brassica family such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage which help stimulate detoxification processes in the liver.
- Include 3-4 serves of fresh fruit daily. If you’re a fresh juice fan, be mindful that fruit juices contain more kilojoules than fresh vegetable juices, so choose mixtures that have mostly veg with a dash of fruit for sweetness. Adding the spice of ginger can be great too!
- Steaming your fish and vegetables is nice and light and doesn’t require oil. Poaching your chicken will help it retain all that juiciness. Load up on fresh herbs such as parsley, ginger, coriander and chilli and lay off things like salt and soy sauce (which contains wheat). If you’re stir-frying using water rather than oil to cook and add a dash of tamari (wheat-free soy sauce).
- HYDRATE with H2O. Drinking at least 2 litres of filtered water through the day can help flush your system of all those toxins that have been building up.
*Note: These recommendations do not take allergies and medical conditions into account. If you have health concerns, please see a professional practitioner before undertaking a detox of any kind.
Share Your Experience
Why not try this detox light program this month and keep a daily journal? Share your experience of how you felt before and after with us. You can even upload your comments on our Facebook page to share with others!
Prepared by: Heather Smith (Nutritionist)
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