Juice, cleanse, detox... the nutrition themes of January socialize under many names. Before you set off for greener pastures though, to gain a strong foundation I ask that you read on!
Those of us who spend our living promoting a healthier lifestyle see it all. We see the health skeptics roll their eyes as if detoxing is trendy. We see the resolution-makers purge all the holiday treats as a right of passage. We see fasters, meal-replacers, elimination dieters, 3-day juice cleansers... you name it.
I'm often asked which is the best option and this is my response: The one at which you're most likely to succeed!
Call it the dirty little secret of the wellness world, but we don't actually want to see you as clients month after month.*GASP* It's not that we don't adore you. It's not that we don't enjoy your smiling faces. But we love seeing you take off the training wheels and own it! We love seeing you succeed!
So let's set you up for success. Pick a protocol - whichever one you feel most drawn to. Then promise me before you begin you will build in a week to plan and TAPER.
Yes, taper. Think of it like a stoplight. We don't jump straight from green to red. We need that yellow in between to slow down. Just for a week!
For success in shifting your habits - nutrition or otherwise - the cold turkey approach doesn't have the best longterm success rate. This is not the Polar Bear Club. When Day 4 of the juice cleanse rolls around we want you saying, "That was awesome! I'm doing this again!" If you hated it don't blame the cleanse. Ask yourself if you prepared properly.
TAPER Before you Detox:
T is for TAME the Sugar Monster
Slay! Succeed in something amazing. Beating down your sweet tooth is a very admirable accomplishment. I'll give you some solid pointers.
A is for AWAKEN Yourself in New Ways
Are your superpowers fueled by coffee? It may seem unattainable but there are better ways to wake up. Caffeine is not the only option, believe it or not.
P is for PURGE it All
All those holiday remnants? They gotta go. Have a couple last hurrah bites and then say, "Buh-BYE!"
E is for EMPLOY a Solid Support System
Tell your friends. Tell your coworkers. Tell Facebook. You need accountability. Ask for it. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. Nothing awesome ever happened in your comfort zone.
R is for REPLACE Your Beverages
We already talked about caffeine. What about the alcohol? What about dairy? And if you're still drinking soda... Duuuuude!
HOW TO TAPER:
Tame the Sugar Monster
My sweet spot is seven days. If I can make it to Day 8 then I'm good to go. Gift me with a cupcake on Day 6 though? Forget about it. Beware of your own pitfalls and have substitutions in place. Be hyper-vigilant about your social interactions until you're in the clear.
My first line of defense is hot cinnamon tea. Cinnamon balances blood sugar, so it makes sense that replacing a sweet craving with cinnamon would tame the beast. Now how about your dental hygiene? Sometimes we crave foods because there are remnants from yesterday left on our tongue. I know, gross, right? Get yourself a tongue scraper and put that to bed real fast! Think you need to bring in the big guns? Maybe so. A chromium supplement can also balance blood sugar. The main reason we crave sugar is to maintain that high - don't be an addict!
Awaken Yourself in New Ways.
Get outside. Try a 6am fitness class. Take a hard look at your sleep hygiene.
Remember I'm not asking you to go cold turkey with the coffee. If you're drinking three cups per day, get yourself down to one. If you're drinking one, go half-caff or switch to a caffeinated tea (which has about 50% less caffeine than coffee). Worried about the headaches? Spend that TAPER week drinking coconut water and eating blackberries. The antioxidants in the berries will soften the blow.
If you fall in the camp of being able to sleep for 5 hours or 9 hours and still feel the same (i.e. unrefreshed), then we need to look at adrenal supplementation. You can read more about that here. If you honestly can't get out of bed in the morning, or you're slow to start, adrenal insufficiency is a very common explanation in our stressful world. You can supplement with bovine adrenals, or if you want to take the edge off try the adaptogen family of herbs. Remember that tea I was recommending? Holy basil is an adaptogen so you're doubling your impact going that route.
Purge it All
All that holiday bliss that's still lingering? It's gotta go. Trash those suckers. Send them down the garbage disposal. Invite your preschooler to squish them into a pile of goo. Light them on fire - Whatever frees you!
Put the treats in tiny Ziploc bags and stash them in the back of the freezer as a reward when you shovel the driveway this winter. Give that expensive cheese away to the neighbor you're sure doesn't have a dairy intolerance. Donate them? Okay, if the organization you have in mind is going to set out sugary treats anyway, I suppose. But ideally we don't want other people growing while we're shrinking, right?
Comment below with your most creative ideas and I'll update my suggestions list!
Employ a Solid Support System
I cannot say this enough: Tell everyone! If you want to give up smoking, then tell the coworkers who are going to call you out when you try and duck out for a 10-minute break. Don't avoid telling your coworkers that you're on a detox because they might shame you when you dip into the candy jar.
No, those are exactly the people you should tell - family, friends, roommates, your kids - the ones who will bring you back to the present when you're not being totally mindful with your decisions. You need accountability to make sure you're not on a whim or combatting stress when you should just be living in an uncomfortable feeling for a few minutes. I promise you won't die living in, "This sucks!" for five minutes. Heck, I even invite you to have a tantrum about it, if that's what creates change!
Don't let the fear of embarrassment or failure keep you from breaking bad habits. Ask for help. Or better yet - Invite them to participate with you!
Replace Your Beverages
We talked about sugar. We talked about caffeine. But I want to make sure you really, really get it. That soda's gotta go. Water is your BFF. Put some lemon in it. The lemon will alkalize the body, which most of us need to ward off illness.
Do yourself a favor and buy a bunch of fancy, interesting teas. There's a whole wall of them at your favorite grocery store. Promise yourself you'll try a tea before you walk to the vending machine.
What about dairy? I'm sorry to report that most detox protocols don't leave room for dairy. The reasons are varied. For one, cow's milk can be very congesting to the lymph. In fact back when families had their own dairy cow, that cow - not plural, would stop making milk periodically. This allowed the (human) family's immune systems to reset. That's what we're doing here. Pair this with jumping on a trampoline every day and you could see some notable sinus relief! With almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, oat milk... (Do I sound like Bubba Gump yet?), this TAPER step should be easy, no?
And sadly we're not going to continue red wine for antioxidants during the detox. Sorry! There are various, other ways to get your antioxidants. Just like caffeine, you can try them to lessen the blow when you pull the plug on the alcohol.
Aside from the physical effects, do you have serious concerns about how this will impact your social life? I get it. Have you ever tried kombucha? It's roughly the color of beer. And you can put it in a pint glass, or even a tumbler with an umbrella. Or seltzer with lime? I'm just sayin' - don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Try some creative solutions to your specialty drinks.
Keep Calm and Juice On
Now you're ready! Crank that Vitamix on high. Boast about eating gluten-free. Book that celebratory massage. Celebrate success!