Why you don’t have to give up your fave foods to detox
Think a detox involves drinking lemon water and surviving on steamed vegetables? Think again. The latest “detoxes” are actually more about creating healthy habits that you can carry with you, long term, so you don’t stop the detox and return to your old bad habits (and body). Nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullen says we don’t have to give up our favourite foods to detox. But what if your favourite food is a deep-fried, bacon-stuffed-crust triple cheese, sausage pizza? Maybe then. But really, nobody loves that food. Your body, if it could talk, would tell you that it hates it.
“An ideal detox is about putting the brakes on certain behaviours and giving the body a rest to get back on track,” says Bingley-Pullen, “and because our emotional health is so connected to our physical health, a cleanse should focus on taking care of all aspects – nutrition, physical activity and our state of mind.”
Bingley-Pullen says we need to make the switch from thinking of a detox as giving up foods, and “more about celebrating and looking for nutrition in food. Scale back on your ‘party-season’ eating – processed foods, caffeine and alcohol – and focus on whole foods. They’re easily digestible, rich in nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. It’s important to focus on what you can eat rather than what you can’t eat.”
It’s a mindset switch that, once made, is truly a force to be reckoned with. Thinking about all the delicious foods you can eat once you cut out processed food, actually opens the door to a bounty of fresh food. And if you start thinking about food less in terms of “good” and “bad” and more about whether they are nutritious and ‘feed your body’ with all that it needs, then you’ll be in a much healthier mindset from the get go.
What to eat on a detox:
- “Adopt a wholefood diet, organic where possible,” says Bingley-Pullen. “This means enjoying fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, lean protein and nuts and seeds at each meal and snack.”
- “Include foods that are rich in natural compounds and are supportive of liver health at each meal,” she says. That means bitter green leaves like radicchio, watercress and rocket, brassica vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts and turmeric.
- Increase raw foods. “They’re high in natural enzymes that help our body digest foods and absorb nutrients, causing less load on our digestion,” says Bingley-Pullen.
- For something that’s versatile and tasty, “try milk alternatives like Vitasoy Almond, Coconut, Oat, or Rice milk. They’re great on cereals or in smoothies,” says Bingley-Pullen.
- Take a break from alcohol: it can be taxing on the digestive system and nervous system.
- Drink adequate water to help flush out toxins and remain hydrated.
- Limit eating out unless you know exactly what’s going into your foods.
- Bingley-Pullen also suggests eating adequate fibre like fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, psyllium husks, to help eliminate build up.
- Eat until content and not over-full. “This assists in reducing any extra burden on the digestive system,” she says.
A healthy cleanse like this which doesn’t involve giving up nutritious foods, can also set up long term habits – which is the ultimate aim of the game. The healthier you are, over a long period of time, the more likely you are to keep it up.
“Eating healthfully should be a life goal, not a two week detox goal,” says Bingley-Pullen. “I also think it’s important to keep a sense of balance in your life too. Enjoy that piece of chocolate or small glass of wine from time to time to keep the joy in food and eating.”
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