It’s a grey and SNOWY! (wow,that’s surprising, I just looked out the window) March day in Montreal and I’ve just had a healthy lunch consisting of potato and leek soup accompanied by a smoked salmon salad with green beans, a hard boiled egg, some mixed greens and shallots.
I’m currently doing a food detox. It’s a commercial version called Wild Rose. This is the 3rd time that I’ve done it and I’ll most likely continue doing it every few months in order to stay healthy and recalibrate my eating habits. Wild Rose is a detox program where you take certain herbal pills that activate organ functions, herbal laxatives with the goal of cleaning your digestive system, and where you are restricted in what you are allowed to eat. Google it if you are interest.(I don’t want to promote any specific product so I’ll avoid putting in a direct link. Suffice to say, in today’s mediated society, accessibility to information is not a problem for most in the 1st world.)
There are a great many alternatives, some harsher than others, some harder, some easier. There are many where there is no need to buy anything, or to take any supplements. Most are simple readjustments in your eating patterns.
I first heard of food detoxes some years ago, while taking a cooking class. Someone in the class was doing the infamous lemon juice, cayenne, water and maple syrup detox. The idea is that you mix these 4 ingredients and only drink this for 3 to 7 days. You get your energy from the sugar and your laxative is the lemon and cayenne. He explained it to me in simple terms. Your body is like a car engine, it’s important that you take good care of it and one of the ways of doing this is to clean your energy generating mechanism.
Essentially the goal of most detoxes is to clean out your system, re-energize your organs by helping them clean out your body’s accumulated toxins, and to improve your digestive and energy generating efficiency.
There have been debates over how successful these detoxes are at accomplishing these tasks. It seems rational to me to say that the effect is different with each detox. However whether they work at really cleaning out your system or not, in my experience they are useful exercises that are very helpful.
Under my limited understanding of neurological activity, the brain is predisposed to reward behavior that it gets used to. Addiction is a perfect example of this. When one becomes addicted to something, the brain rewards the user with chemicals such as endorphins that make him feel good, essentially these chemicals are drugs. Habit usually reinforces this process. Food is no exception, and the brain is particularly sensitive to sweet things and salty things. The more one consumes the more he needs to trigger the brain’s release of its “feel-good” chemicals. And so, as one goes through their day-to-day routine, especially in today’s hyperactive society where time is of the essence, they tend to consume foods that aren’t so good for you. Fried foods, almost all processed foods, energy bars and so on. Having one bowl of ice cream a week becomes having one every night. And your body rewards you for this. This is where food detoxes are perhaps most important in my mind.
Under the detox I use, for 12 days I can’t eat flour of any kind, no fermented products, no sugar, no meat other than occasional chicken, no lactose, and I need to reduce my sodium(salt) intake. It’s a moderate detox, rather simple to follow, most foods are allowed and available at grocery stores and I don’t need to make many sacrifices. What happens is that I break my addiction cycle and break my habits with foods that are unhealthy. When the detox ends, I usually have a very easy time keeping the good habits I’ve developed during the diet. Over time of course, as you start reinserting the bad foods into your diet you gain those habits again, which is the reason I do the diet every 6 months. In the end I feel great, more energetic and I’ve also developed new recipes out of necessity during the detox.
It’s something I would recommend to everyone, with or without a specific program.
What’s most important to cut down on during a detox are the following: foods rich in saturated fats, sugar, lactose, fermented foods and yeast, as well as all flours.
*this does not mean that healthy foods or vitamins and minerals can’t be found among the mentioned food groups, simply that in general these are the most harmful.
When doing a detox, or changing your dietary patterns, always remember that what you’re taking out of your diet might be your only source of an important vitamin or mineral. If you cut out lactose, make sure to find an alternative source for calcium for example. There are many.
Try it out. I’d go with a moderate one. I actually think that they’re more effective in that they last longer and are thus more likely to help you break your bad patterns and of course they are more accessible.
You’ll feel better.