Nothing makes me want to eat an entire vegan pizza more than the mere suggestion of a detox or cleanse. I first learned this about myself when I tried a juice fast in the 1990s. I had researched all the benefits, which I conceptually understood, and looked forward to a lighter, less toxic version of myself. It seemed logical that our bodies need an occasional break from its most consistently energy-consuming activity, digestion. Even when we live a relatively healthy lifestyle, our bodies still can be bombarded with many environmental pollutants. We are also a generation of over consumers, and though most of us are beyond a good old fashioned processed food binge (maybe), it doesn’t mean we’re not taking in too much caffeine, nuts, grains, meat, dates, stress, fill in the blank. So, I tried a juice fast. I tried the Master Cleanse in 2005. And then again in 2008. And this last week I attempted the easiest version of a detox known to man. I didn’t make it through any of them.
A half day into each attempt, I am the angriest, most put out person on the planet until I cave and eat more than I usually would. In many ways this lack of stick-to-itiveness is baffling considering my usual drive and determination in most areas of my life. As a rule, it’s pretty easy for me to avoid bread and sugar, and I have gone almost a decade without fine cheeses and bacon, which many of my friends feel is IMPOSSIBLE, yet a half a day of drinking only decent tasting lemonade makes me rageful and rebellious.
I tried a detox last week because I’ve been more stressed than usual lately and my eating has been a bit off. Nothing crazy; just off. And I haven’t been drinking enough water. My body needed a reset, and a detox seemed logical. I’ve often read spring is a great time for a detox, but I’m not sure if that’s because it’s a good metaphor or if it’s still believed we’ve been holed up for the winter storing up body fat. Nonetheless, I genuinely believed this detox would pose no problem because I was beyond all that anger by deprivation nonsense. I felt seasoned at self control. And I couldn’t wait to write about how successful I was!
Day one looked like this: I made myself peppermint tea if only to mimic the ritual of a hot, morning drink since coffee was out. I squeezed some oranges for juice. I sat down to work. Panic set in. Why the hell was I doing this again? God, nothing for three days! This was going to be terrible! It was eight-thirty in the morning. I ate some fruit and calmed down. Everything was going fairly well until the evening when I would have traded my firstborn for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This is the worst part of a detox for me; I think about food more often than I normally do and I crave worse stuff than I normally eat. I asked myself repeatedly what was wrong with me. When my husband came home from work, around 8:00pm, my forehead was pressed against the kitchen counter.
He said, “What are you doing?”
I mumbled, “Trying to survive a detox.”
“I’m stressed,” I said. “My eating’s a little off.”
He said, “Yea, looks like this is working well. Why don’t you just get back on track?”
I lifted my head off the counter at sense in that.
I obviously have some psychologically/emotional hang-ups about being confined – straight-jacketed really! – to the boundaries of a detox. I don’t know what that’s about, but we won’t examine my baggage here. But I figure I can’t be alone. I’m sure there are many people who want the benefits of detoxification without actually fasting. It turns out there are plenty of ways, thank God.
Here are six ways to detox without going insane from fasting or extremely eliminating food
- Drink more water. Water is quite simply our purest and most basic way to detox. Every cell needs it. Every organ needs it to function and to flush out toxins. It helps digestion. When we are dehydrated, our metabolism is off.
- Eat foods that are natural detoxifiers. Certain foods are naturally designed to eliminate toxins or stimulate organs to work better. Fresh, whole foods with a high water content work especially well. Here is good list.
- Go on a supplement detox. Companies like Nature’s Secret sell an herb and fiber cleanse you can take without fasting, though this type of program works optimally while eating a clean diet. I’m a huge fan of Green Vibrance and its huge spectrum of health benefits. Adding this to a daily or almost daily routine supports organ and digestive health to keep your natural detox system working well.
- Dry brushing. Our skin is our biggest organ and is said to be responsible for one forth of our body’s daily detoxification. Dry brushing is not only a great way to exfoliate your body for better looking skin, it can stimulate circulation of the blood and of the lymphatic system. Dry brushing enhances detoxification through the skin. Here’s a great how-to on dry brushing.
- Get some sleep! Your body takes care of a number of critical tasks while you sleep. During sleep, your body releases hormones that assist in the growth of healthy cells, healing of tissues, and fighting off infections. Getting enough sleep will help insure your body is able to do its job and self detox while you’re in a rested state.
- Get back on it. If you normally eat a clean diet and you slipped off a little, I realized this week it can be as simple as just getting back on it. I will admit that after a partial day of a traditional detox, I couldn’t wait to get back to my normal, clean routine. And a clean routine will maximize your body’s ability to detox itself.
Our bodies are perfectly designed to be self-detoxifiers. Our organs are brilliant at this, but they can get over-taxed with everything we put our bodies through, knowingly and unwittingly, which makes detoxing a great idea. Some of us may not be very good at traditional cleanses that restrict food dramatically, and though you may be able to get a deeper detox with little or no food, detoxification is still possible without fasting, with these few simple suggestions.