Happy spring cleaning!
Most people brace themselves between Halloween and Easter – I call it The Season of Sugar and Junk. It’s not just the Halloween candy; it’s the Thanksgiving pies followed by the holiday cookies and cakes. It’s being surrounded at the office by offerings of chocolates and goodies. After the New Year, we’re still not safe. Valentine hearts and chocolates follow, then we slide into Easter – bunny rabbits, chocolate eggs and those darn jelly beans (my personal weakness).
As these holidays pass and the weather begins to warm, let’s turn our thoughts to spring cleaning – not just our homes and pantries, but also our diets.
Some people think a juice fast after the holiday season is a good way to jumpstart their way back into healthy eating, but the damage from the fast may be worse than the fruitcake. When diets have consisted of turkey stuffing, gravy, desserts and candy, a fast can throw one’s system into shock and one’s liver into overdrive. The body might detox too quickly and could go into toxic overload.
In the first year of recovery, the liver is already stressed. During this time, it is wise to avoid dramatic cleanses and fasts. A gentle cleansing is always a great way to get ready for spring. Aim for a 75 percent vegetarian diet.
Start the day with a green juice. Put some celery, kale, cucumber, green apple and ginger in the juicer. Don’t overdo – six ounces is enough. If you prefer smoothies, blend some greens, organic berries, cucumber, apple and chia seeds. Follow your drink with some easily digested breakfast foods such as steel cut oats with coconut oil and berries or organic scrambled eggs with some spinach, kale, mushrooms and onion.
For lunch, again stay with easily digested foods, such as vegetable soup with beans for protein or a giant salad with seeds, nuts and fresh herbs, such as cilantro and basil, topped with olive oil and lemon.
To assist your detox, snack on vegetables and fruits throughout the day. Cucumbers and hummus or some almonds and an apple are healthy choices.
For dinner, eat a small amount of chicken, wild fish, tofu or tempeh with steamed, roasted or sautéed vegetables. Broccoli and cabbage are great for detoxing. Include a moderate portion of whole grains like quinoa, brown rice or barley for added fiber. Don’t forget to use healthy fats, such as avocado, olive oil, nut butters and organic butter. Artichokes, beets, avocado, collard greens, flax seed (freshly ground), coconut oil and sea vegetables, including nori and kombu, are all great to add to your diet.
To help the body clean up after the gingerbread and candy hearts, remember to drink plenty of water – at least half an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink at least 75 ounces a day. That is one half to three quarters of a gallon of clean water a day. While cleansing, limit or avoid caffeinated beverages. Green, white, dandelion and pau d’arco teas are helpful for the detox process.
Whenever possible, remove sugar, gluten, processed foods, conventionally-raised meats and dairy. Include organic dairy products such as goat cheese, high quality yogurt and butter. However, be aware that consuming excess amounts of cheese and milk can cause congestion and slow down the detox process.
Yoga, hiking, dancing and other types of movement also help the body cleanse. Using saunas, steams and a body brush support the body’s natural detox process through the skin.
Avoid dramatic shifts in your diet. Make the changes slowly. Your body will thank you.
Victoria Abel, MA, MNT, is the founder and owner of Center for Addiction Nutrition. She has worked in the addiction counseling field for 20 years as a family, primary and trauma therapist. She is also a nutrition and eating disorders therapist who works with people healing from addiction, mood disorders, cancer and other chronic illnesses. She lectures nationally on addiction nutrition and teaches at Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. She may be reached at centerforaddictionnutrition.com.