Welcome to the first part of Detox Your Life, "Detox Your Nutrition." Thank you for being here. A new year is always a wonderful time to look at healthy ways to improve your nutrition. Remember, it is more effective to add in small, healthier choices than to attempt dramatic shifts. This approach is more sustainable over time. Let's explore some ways to eat as clean as possible, minimize toxin load and maximize nutrient rich, detoxing foods.
Eat Real Food
Although this concept sounds simple, it can be a challenge especially when we are on the go and life has us busy with activities, children, work, etc. As discussed in RITUAL, "Eat Real Food," is a very important component to living a vibrant life and is key to detoxing your nutrition. Aim for purchasing as many whole foods in their natural state as you can. Fresh is best, followed by frozen, then canned.
By avoiding highly processed foods, foods sprayed with pesticides as well as artificially sweetened and colored foods, you will be exposed to less toxins (which is much easier on the liver) and overall, less inflammation throughout the body. Foods of this nature can lead to high levels of anxiety and stress as these foods fall heavily into what I call "SOS" (sugar, oil and salt). Just like the sailors out to sea experiencing distress and calling in SOS, the body will be under its own distress when consuming these harmful foods. Over time, the exposure gets to be too much on the body and other health problems can occur. By focusing on purchasing more organic, whole foods, you are receiving the most nutritional benefits.
Food Based Cleanses
I am a big fan of cleansing and giving the body a break from the everyday stressors and toxins. There are many different types of cleansing options out there, but I prefer food based cleanses as you are still able to reap the benefits of a cleanse without depriving yourself of nutrients. For additional insight on cleansing, check out the Medical Medium's book Cleanse to Heal. This book offers some amazing cleansing options (with recipes). You can also listen to my podcast episode here on the benefits of cleansing.
Home Cooking & Meal Planning
When you choose to cook at home, you are in control of the ingredients and what goes into your body. Aim for 90% of your meals to be home cooked. This is by far the healthiest option when it comes to healthy eating. I get it though, it's fun to eat out (and your should from time to time) as it is a very healthy form of connection with friends and family. If you are looking for healthy options at a restaurant, I often find some healthy options under the "sides" section of a menu and you can build your own meal this way. Opt for dressings on the side and take a look at the restaurant's menu before showing up so you have time to find healthier choices. As for home cooking, an important rule of thumb is to meal plan. When we plan out our meals and snacks, we are less likely to reach for those unhealthy options.
Detox Your Grocery Shopping
Daily, we are exposed to harsh chemicals and although we cannot control all of the toxins we are exposed to, we can lighten the load by making a few adjustments to our shopping. Let's go over some steps to ensure our food choices are safe and as healthy as possible.
Choose organic when possible By choosing organic, you are limiting your overall exposure to pesticides and herbicides which is much healthier and easier on the body. I am a big fan of the EWG's Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists. Every year, the EWG does multiple testing on produce to find the items that are most contaminated with pesticides (The Dirty Dozen) as well as the produce that is least contaminated with pesticides (The Clean 15). When choosing non organic produce, these lists will help you determine which items are safest to purchase.
Baking soda soak for non organic produce When purchasing non organic produce, you can try this baking soda soak to limit exposure to pesticides. Fill a bowl with water and add 1 tsp of baking soda to the water, add your produce and soak for 2 minutes, remove and rinse well under running water.
Shop seasonally and locally Seasonal produce is easier on your wallet and tastes better too. Know your local farmer. Most communities have a CSA program you can participate in where you are able to get seasonal produce on a yearly basis and you can help your local farmer too- a win-win!
Exposure to phthalates Choosing food and drinks that are packaged in glass vs plastic is a rule of thumb when purchasing. This limits exposure to harsh chemicals that seep into food and drink. Also, choose canned items that are labeled BPA free.
Transporting home Bring your own cloth bags for produce for your trip home vs using the plastic bags at the grocery store. Bring reusable jars for transporting any bulk items.
Eating the Rainbow
When preparing meals, try and get creative by adding in as many brightly colored fruits and vegetables onto your plate. This method slowly clears out all of the brown and white foods. How many different colors do you see on your plate? How can you add more color onto your plate? When we eat colorful plants, we are maximizing nutrient density and are also reaping the benefits of all of the powerful phytonutrients.
Natural Detoxing Foods
There are many foods that have naturally detoxing properties and are great to have on hand and can easily be added into any meal for an added bonus of detoxification. Below are a few of my favorite plant based options.
Vegetables-asparagus, bell peppers, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, kale, leafy greens, onion and watercress
Fruit-apples, avocado, bananas, berries, dates, figs, oranges, peaches, pomegranate, purple grapes
Protein-brazil nuts, chickpeas, lentils, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts
Probiotics-kimchi, fermented vegetables, miso, tempeh, plant based yogurt with live active cultures
Herbs/spices/tea-burdock root, cilantro, chicory root (for tea), cloves, dill, dandelion herbal tea blend, ginger (fresh or ground), rosemary, green tea, rooibos tea, tumeric (fresh or ground)
Clean Living Inventory
The clean living inventory will be introduced in each section of the Detox Your Life series. On a scale of 1-5, rate the statements with 1 being "strongly disagree" and 5 being "strongly agree." The goal is not to score a perfect 50 in each section, but knowing that it is just a guide to help you prioritize which areas you would like to work on moving forward.
Nutrition (rate each statement from 1-5 and see where you land)
1. My nutrition approach energizes me and makes me feel good.
2. I eat a variety of colorful whole fruits and vegetables.
3. I enjoy eating healthy meals.
4. rarely eat processed foods.
5. I consider food quality when purchasing.
6. I eat many organic foods.
7. I drink at least 8 glasses of water daily.
8. I cook meals at home throughout the week.
9. I feel confident in my approach to food preparation and storage.
10. I regularly revisit my nutrition habits and consider new ways to detox.
After going over each statement, add up where you landed and begin creating a plan to dive deeper into these areas, one step at a time. Remember, it's about taking small steps for sustainable change. Notice how amazing you will begin to feel by bringing awareness into the area of nutrition. What small change will you focus on today? Share below! Next up in the series, Detox Your Skin.