With the passing of the Spring Equinox on March 20, it is officially Spring! I don’t know about you, but I am welcoming it after the months of cold cold Winter. Many of us know the saying - “Spring Cleaning”. Many of us probably even have the ritual of getting out the broom, dust pan, mop, etc... and cleaning up our homes. We might even get crazy and start to clean out the garage. But how many of us think about Spring Cleaning our bodies? I know that it didn’t cross my mind for most of my life.
Since I have consciously started to practice becoming more in tune with my body, breath, and mind in order to maintain my health, I have also started a dietary cleanse each spring.
If we take our cues from nature, Winter is when we turn inward, we eat heavier foods, and we aren’t as active. Spring comes and just like a ram it bursts forth with new life, fresh starts, and bold moves. It’s a time for us to turn outward, to eat lighter, and to be more active. Nature in all of brilliance starts to supply us with greens, berries, cucumbers, and a plethora of other fruits and veggies. Spring is the perfect time to cleanse our innards.
One of the ways I like to approach this is to take out 6 of the potentially most “toxic” foods to my system for an extended period of time. I call them the “Six to Skip” and they are listed below.
Don’t be overwhelmed! If you are just starting, you may choose to take out only one of the foods below for say 7 days and see how you feel both at the end of the cleanse, but also on day 8 when you introduce it back in.
You can think of it this way - it’s an elimination diet of sorts. You take out 1 item for a long enough time and when you introduce it back in, you will clearly see the impact it has on your body, breath, and mind. I didn’t think I had an issue with dairy until I didn’t have it for 30 days. When I re-introduced it I was congested in 20 minutes flat with oodles of excess mucous, I had super stinky gas, I got constipated, and my brain felt a little like I had a hangover the next morning. This helped me make the decision to take dairy out of my diet for the most part. Look, I am still gonna splurge here and there and have cheese (I’m from Wisconsin people!), but at least now I know what it is doing to me when I choose to eat it.
“SIX TO SKIP”
Processed foods or beverages
These things are laden with artificial ingredients, additives, and sugars which make your body work harder. Let your body rest a bit by enjoying foods in their purest form.
It’s processed (see above) and has zero nutrients (AKA “empty calories”) - and research shows that it may be just as addictive as drugs. In excess, it leads to weight gain and inflammation. Inflammation leads to dis-ease.
Even if you’re not allergic, it can it be the root of sluggishness, digestive upset, and inflammation. In addition to that, new research is pointing to dairy and meat as the main culprits for the toxins in our bodies. Yep, that’s correct - even over your non-organic fruits and veggies. The animals eat food grown with pesticides and it goes directly from them into our fatty cells and gets lodged there.
Feeling bloated, fatigued, or moody - you may be gluten intolerant. Stop eating this protein found in wheat, barley, and rye and see if you notice a difference. Still not convinced? White flour is a simple carbohydrate that is broken down into simple sugars in the body. Unless you use them immediately they get stored for later use, (I.E., - They cause weight gain).
This false energy booster just masks symptoms in your body like lack of sleep or bad food choices. Coffee is also highly acidic and acidic foods are tough for the digestive system to handle.
Not only can booze mess with your metabolism, it’s a source of empty calories that can interfere with sleep and make your liver work overtime. Alcohol is also loaded with sugar (read above).
Bonus Category: Meat
I also take out meat. As I mentioned above - it can have a crazy amount of toxins in it. People eat WAY more than the suggest amount and therefore less fiber. Not a great situation for your GI Tract. For some bodies it doesn't process it well leading to bloating, bad body odor, constipation, fatigue, and other reactions. But this is also one of the most sensitive for folks, so I hesitate to add it in if it makes people shy away from doing any kind of a cleanse because they get indignant. So take it or leave it :-)
I find it helpful to remember that I am not taking it out of my diet for the rest of my life! It’s just for “X” amount of days. This makes it more accessible for me. That’s how I started this cleansing business in the first place and each year my cleanse has grown in length allowing my body to have a break.
I’m not gonna lie - the first few days can be hard as you may be having withdrawals since many of the foods listed above have in them or they themselves are addictive. But once you get past the first few days notice the impact that the lack of that food has on your body, breath, and/or mind.
Cleansing my body each Spring has allowed me to know what I’m eating and how it affects me. I walk away feeling like I’ve gotten rid of the old and made room for the new. My personal experience is that I’m lighter, brighter, and have more energy.