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You’ve made the commitment. This year you are going to do an “official” cleanse. You’ve made the preparations, completed your shopping list of detox foods and supplements, decided on your time goals and are ready to go. You may be wondering, though, what to do when you’ve finished your formal cleanse.
As with any individualized health practice, you have many options. Of course, you can resume eating your usual foods. But does that mean your cleanse was a waste of time? Not necessarily. Engaging in safe, gentle periodic detoxification helps lighten your toxic burden and can definitely benefit your health.
However, a comprehensive cleanse/detox program is a remarkable opportunity to press the reset button and rejuvenate not just your physical health, but your mental and emotional health as well. You can truly take advantage of this opportunity you created, by transitioning very consciously from your official detox program to a new, healthier phase in your life. In this way, you continue a commitment to ongoing wellness and take advantage of this momentum toward greater health.
Think about the advantages to this approach: During a cleanse, you avoid specific foods, including dairy, soy, sugar, gluten and processed foods. You observe how you feel, noticing if any of chronic symptoms have changed… Indigestion? Bloating? Fatigue? Skin problems? Brain fog? Constipation? Many people experience an improvement in such symptoms after eliminating these foods for a one- to two-week period. This is known as an “allergy elimination diet.”
As you transition off of the strict cleanse, you can add back one of the above food groups (i.e., dairy) at a time by eating a small portion with each meal. Do not add in a different type of food (such as gluten foods) for a full three days, because it can take up to 72 hours for “delayed hypersensitivity reactions” to occur. Take your time and keep close track of how you respond to different foods: Did you get a headache? Bloating? Fatigue?
This is the easiest way to catch the culprit foods that you may be sensitive to. In doing this, you not only accomplish a cleanse, but you have found an important key to staying healthy and reducing chronic inflammation. As you add more items back to your diet and eliminate the foods you react to, you will find that the gains of the cleanse are sustained. Your digestion, immunity, brain health and other areas can improve significantly.
(Note: Some people have food sensitivities but no clear symptoms, and an elimination diet will not pick up these types of reactions, which require more formal testing through a health practitioner. If you’re dealing with a persistent condition, it’s important to have your doctor check for underlying sensitivities.)
What does a healthier diet look like? Fresh. Seasonal. Organic. Unprocessed. Brightly colored. Nutrient-dense. Humanely raised. These are some of the hallmarks of foods that provide the best nutritional quality and are healthy for the planet.
Hearty Nutrition For Fall And Winter
During this fall season, as the weather is cooling and the light is fading early, our natural tendency is to go inward, spending more time indoors. It’s time to get out the soup pot and the warming aromatic spices. Warming broths, soups and stews that are made with root vegetables, greens, medicinal mushrooms and the protein of your choice (sprouted lentils, peas and beans; organic chicken, seafood or a bit of organic beef) can provide hearty variety to your fare. Add a bit of seaweed into the broth for extra mineral support.
Breakfast is often a challenge for those who want to eat well. Starting out with the usual sugar-laden white flour products and a cup of coffee is not an expression of your new commitment to yourself. That lifestyle starts your day by suppressing your immune system and metabolic health with sugar and fills you with calories from foods that are empty of nutrients.
Consider a “dinner for breakfast” approach with miso soup with ingredients like hot quinoa, brown rice or sprouted beans. As an alternative, consider sautéed salmon and broccoli, or fresh salad with a sprinkle of walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
Use spices liberally depending on your taste: cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Or you can incorporate Indian spices such as curry, cumin and turmeric, or rosemary, oregano and thyme. These all contain compounds with antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial effects as well as antioxidant and immune supportive benefits.
Include healthy fats like coconut, olive, macadamia nut, walnut or avocado oils in your diet. Add the oil atop your vegetables and salads. Coconut, macadamia and avocado oils are the most heat-tolerant, while other oils get easily damaged by high cooking temperatures.
Add mushrooms to your diet. Culinary and medicinal mushrooms offer incredible health-promoting benefits and immune support. They are easy to prepare and add to many recipes. Many potent medicinal mushrooms, such as shiitake and maitake, are easily obtainable at your local stores. Lightly sauté in a bit of oil and add some fresh garlic for a simple delicious meal. You can also add botanically enhanced mushroom powders to soups, stews or tea for more concentrated immune and vital energy support.
Think color. This time of year, the harvest is in. You should eat squash and pumpkin; they are abundant sources of important antioxidant compounds called carotenoids, which help maintain immune function and overall health.
Pomegranates, persimmons, figs, apples and pears are the fruits of the season. They contain numerous health-promoting compounds for antioxidant support plus anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits.
It’s important to find healthy substitutes for foods you’ve left behind. What is the taste you are missing? Salty? Sweet? Cheesy? Try some of the flavorful dehydrated kale or other vegetable chips on the market, or make your own. There are numerous recipes online, and they’re very easy to make.
For a healthy desert, bake an apple or a pear with cinnamon and nutmeg. Toast a thin slice of gluten-free bread and spread with some avocado or almond butter. There are infinite choices and creative ways to prepare satisfying snacks and meals. With the abundance of energy you’ll get from a healthy cleanse and detox program, preparing these foods will be a snap. As you adapt, you will have a sense of renewed energy and stamina and an appreciation for the ability of food to truly sustain you. Chances are, you won’t look back.
For more health and wellness information, visit www.dreliaz.org.