1. Be a green machine: Dark leafy greens are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They’re anti-inflammatory and great for detox and help keep our immune system strong. They’re also high in good dietary fiber, which is great for increasing elimination! Try kale, arugula, romaine, Swiss chard, collard greens and spinach in salads, lightly steamed, or in a green smoothie.
If you’re thinking “yuck,” hold your tongue. Just because something is green doesn’t mean it has to taste bad! The green smoothie revolution is upon us, and if you haven’t tried one yet, it’s time to bust out your high-speed blender. Start with 2 cups of pure filtered water. Add to it a cup of your favorite fruit (I always include a banana for creaminess but pear, peach, mango, blueberries — they’re all great!) and a big handful of your favorite leafy greens (romaine, spinach, kale, etc). Blend until smooth and well combined. Sip and enjoy slowly.
2. Sip warm lemon water: Upon waking, turn on your teakettle and boil a fresh pot of pure filtered water. Take a quart size mason jar and add to it the juice of half a lemon. Drinking warm lemon water will gently wake up your digestive and lymphatic systems, which helps remove toxins from the body. It also helps to cleanse and detox the liver, giving you more energy, balancing hormones and improving digestion and elimination.
3. Beware of the food demons: Minimize sugar, processed foods, gluten and dairy. I know this can sound scary. You might be thinking, “if I don’t eat fill in the blank (cheese, crackers, bread, pasta, wine), what will I eat?” Take one item at a time and focus on what you can add to your diet in place of these items. Try hummus with celery instead of cheese. Use a Swiss chard leaf and make a wrap instead of a tortilla. Baby steps. The food demons will without a doubt clog and slow your system down. If you don’t believe me, just try it out for yourself for 2 weeks and let your body be the judge.
4. Follow the 80:20 rule of conscious eating: Eat well at a minimum 80% of the time and allow yourself to go wild 20% of the time. This can be a genuinely freeing concept if you really take it on. When you follow a healthful eating routine 80% of the time, your body will run like a well-oiled machine. And a well-oiled machine can much more easily process that 20% — you’ll find that your body won’t slow down the way it used to. As an added bonus, when you do “indulge,” you’ll find a new appreciation for your old favorite comfort foods. Eating a decadent meal or snack won’t carry guilt anymore, which is also less toxic on your system.
5. Drink half your body weight in ounces daily: Water, water, water. Our cleanse participants hear us say this ad nauseum. It’s our answer to everything. If you’re reading this, you more than likely you know that your body is made up of 80% water. And it needs water — lots of it — to move toxins out of the body, to function and to thrive. We like to say that our secret weapon is actually that we drink close to our body weight in ounces. And a general rule is that more is better. Another good measure: if you’re not peeing at least 10 times per day, keep the water flowing!
6. Get your heart rate up. Break a sweat: The body thrives on movement. In fact, experts say that the body heals (detoxing is a form of healing) 8 times faster with regular exercise. It’s so important for our overall mental and emotional health, and as an additional bonus, sweat is the fastest and easiest way to release toxins.
7. Take a hot Epsom salt bath: One of the most simple, easy and inexpensive ways to kick up your body’s natural detoxification system is to run the bath water as hot as you can get it, sprinkle in 2 cups of Epsom salts, and add a few drops of lavender oil if you have it. Dim the lights, fire up some candles, put on some relaxing music, and soak for at least 20 minutes. The warm water will open up your pores and the Epsom salts will pull toxins right out of your body.
8. Eliminate allergens: 90% of Americans suffer from allergies or sensitivities and 9 out of 10 of those people have no clue that what is causing their symptoms can be linked to the food they are eating! Alarming health challenges like stubborn weight loss, weight gain, mood disorders, irritability, depression, headaches, migraines, eczema, acne, joint and muscle pain, brain fog, asthma, bad breath, diarrhea, constipation … the list goes on and on. Doing a cleanse can help you identify your allergies, but what’s important is that you learn to recognize the signals your body is sending to you as potentially connected to a food sensitivity. Allergens cause inflammation, which can cause us to be puffy. If you want to de-puff, be diligent about keeping these sneaky little suckers off your plate and out of your body.
9. Practice easy-in-easy-out food combining: Food combining is a big topic and not an exact science. What we do know is that upwards of 80% of our body’s energy goes toward digestion in any given meal. We also know is that waste equals weight. To keep the good cleanse vibe flowing, eat in simple yet specific food combinations so that your body has to do less work and so that it can take out the trash more easily (poop!). Meat and potatoes, eggs and bacon, chicken and rice, fruit for dessert — these are all food combining nightmares, making your body do overtime. Make vegetables the center of your food universe and add in either a protein or a grain. Eat fruit on an empty stomach (unless it’s blended). Remember, digestion should happen in the background of life. If your stomach (think gas, bloating, heartburn, etc) is talking to you, re-think your food combinations.
10. Keep Soul Food balanced: Soul Food is what we call the other areas of our life that feed and nourish us. It’s things like having a fulfilling career, a regular spiritual practice, healthy relationships and regular physical activity. You could be eating all the kale and quinoa in the world but if any area of your Soul Food is off balance, you won’t feel as vibrant as possible. Balance is a daily practice. Soul Food is no different.