Cleansing does not have to be a drastic event, nor should it be. You might want to jump into some dramatic cleanse, but be patient. Your goal should be to lay a solid foundation of wellness that will become a part of who you are. If you build a lifestyle around healthy choices, cleansing can occur as part of healthy natural functions. We run into problems when our diets contain mostly processed & fast foods and we are using toxic products in our home and on our bodies. I was at a point like this myself 20 years ago. I lived on packaged foods and caffeinated soda: anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients, as the name describes, are void of any nutrients. Products like this are often “entertainment”. They are the processed foods with bright packaging, paired up with attention grabbing commercials geared towards the young, or young at heart.
The marketing campaigns show happy people sharing these chemical concoctions with family and friends. What they don’t show you are those eating these products suffering from migraines, digestive issues and arthritis. Are you thinking I’m being a bit extreme? I was one of those people and looking back now, I see how eating the anti-nutrients sapped the life out of me. I suffered a host of symptoms that no doctors could diagnose: anxiety, migraines, vertigo, digestive issues, nausea and depression. Now I know that many of those symptoms I suffered are brought on by consuming products with MSG (monosodium glutamate), Nutrasweet, processed sugars and flours. On the flip side, when I eat fresh fruits, vegetables and grass fed meats I feel so much better. I also include therapeutic grade essential oils in my diet for real energy – I start each day with a cup of hot water, a spoonful of local raw honey and a drop of lemon essential oil to wake up my system and start absorbing nutrients right away. I only use essential oils that are Therapeutic, Clinical, certified food grade, the purest essential oils on the market.
In yoga, there are lifestyle principles to guide people to better choices. One of these “limbs” of yoga is to not be influenced by outside sources. That is, outside of our true selves, our values and morals. We live in a sensory environment: billboards, commercials, smells in movie theaters, shopping malls and restaurants beckon us to eat whatever we desire. If we did this whenever the thought arises, we would be obese. And as a nation, America has an obesity problem. You can avoid becoming one of the statistics if you are aware of what senses are influencing your food choices. Are you using food to deal with your emotions? Are TV commercials influencing your diet? Do you make excuses for eating fast food because you don’t have the time to cook healthy food?
I may have struck a bit close to home for some of you, and I was at that point years ago. I would not trade what I had in lifestyle for what I live now. I am not perfect, though. Just last fall I fell into the busy parent schedule and didn’t take care of myself like I should have. I thought a few days wouldn’t make a difference, but 1 week of substandard eating continued into a month and pretty soon I hit the wall. It’s taken me a couple of months to recover, and now I know it is essential to stay on top of my choices in food, it is a priority to me. I choose real foods that will supply me with the best nutrition, energy and immune support. I don’t want to live my life on pills and supplements either. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for high quality supplements – but I don’t want to be popping vitamins all day long.
So how do we live in our society when there is so much processed food, parties and social gatherings where unhealthy choices are offered? One tool is moderation. I am trying to teach this to my own kids, because I don’t want them to feel guilty for having candy or cake once in a while. If we eat well 90% of the time, the 10% of the time we might be consuming anti-nutrients will not throw us off balance. Anti-nutrients take energy away from our body that could be spent processing good foods and absorbing essential nutrients. When you are out of balance, sickness occurs. Think of it as a bank account for health. Every time you eat junk you are taking a withdrawal. You need to keep that account in the positive with good quality food. If you withdraw more than you are putting in, you’ll get sick.
All that said, look at your diet and see what you can eliminate (or what you want to eliminate). Don’t feel you need to eliminate everything at once or you’ll feel deprived. It’s also nice to have a favorite food that is delectable to us – my favorite is dark chocolate. I’ve found that I am satisfied with just a square or two, not needing a whole bar when it’s 85% cocoa. And my kids don’t like it, so when I buy it, I know no one else will eat it! Chocolate is also full of anti-oxidants, as long as it’s not loaded with sugar like milk chocolate. White sugar actually makes you crave more food. You can do an easy experiment with this. Keep a journal and write down the foods you are eating for a few days. Ten minutes after eating a food, whether snack or meal, write down if you are satisfied or craving more. You can also note any other symptoms: headache, nausea, fatigue, or positive results like more energy and clearer thinking. You’ll be able to see the results in writing then.
This is my list of products I will never consume because there is no nutritional benefit and I know for me they are toxic. They are just not worth the symptoms I will later suffer.
- White bread, white sugar/corn syrup
- Hydrogenated oils – in just about every packaged food plus any items in the bakery department at a grocery store
- Artificial dyes
- MSG (Monosodium Glutamate – found in almost every canned soup, flavored snack chip and ranch dressing)
- Bleached flour (carcinogenic)
- Candy (real dark chocolate not included)
- Hard liquor -too rough on the liver, brain and blood sugars (I will have red wine once in a while, full of heart healthy resveratrol).
If you want to do more research on your own regarding these individual items, you’ll find plenty of reasons to avoid them as well. I challenge you to make your own list of things you’d like to eliminate as part of cleansing. This step requires discipline as many unhealthy choices we have made are deeply rooted in our lives. But I know you’ll be pleased with the results in the long run if you can stick with it for a few weeks. Eliminating anti-nutrients is going to help your total body cleansing for the long haul so your body can work as it was designed to without being clogged up with artificial ingredients.