Written by Lauren Marotta, www.laurenmarotta.com
Once the days start getting brighter and the temperatures rise, you may begin to feel the familiar urge to open the windows in your home, scrub down every surface, and toss out all the old belongings that have been collecting dust in your closets.
Spring-cleaning is calling, but not just in our homes.
We live in a province of extremes: -30 to 30 degrees. Snow to sun. Dark to light. Bitter cold to brutal humidity. Our bodies feel these changes internally and strive to adapt to our environmental conditions in many ways. The foods we crave and the activities we’re drawn to often depend on the season. Winter meals tend to be heavier; we eat cooked foods and usually rely on meats and carbohydrates to keep us feeling warm and full for longer periods. We stay inside, burrowed under blankets, bingeing on our favourite Netflix series by the fireplace. But, once the days warm up? What we eat starts to naturally shift. I’ve never heard of anyone wanting to feel cozy and weighed down in their bathing suit, shorts or sundress. Nope. Not once. Summer foods are typically grown locally, eaten seasonally, packed with vitamins, nutrients and natural enzymes, quick to digest, and leave us feeling light and energized. We suddenly want to be outside. We want to move more. We take time off. We breathe deeper. We laugh a little louder with our friends and families under the sun.
May is the perfect month to ease our bodies from winter to summer mode. There’s no better way to prepare for this transition than with a 7-day reset; an internal power wash to clean out the winter debris and start anew. I have a simple 5 step cleanse that is guaranteed to efficiently prep your body for the seasonal switch.
Hold on, am I talking about a detox? Kind of.
What’s the Deal With Detoxification?
Truth time: the word ‘detox’ makes me cringe. There are way too many alternative facts circling around in the wellness world regarding detoxification. It upsets me that people have been led to believe they can reverse years of damage by strictly juicing for a week. Many “detox” diets seem to promote fasting, bingeing and other disordered eating habits. This is decidedly no bueno.
Let me be clear: detoxing is not something we need to ‘do’ — detoxification is a process that is always occurring in the body. 24 hours a day. You’re doing it right now, without even trying!
Our detox system is incredible: it’s made up of a sophisticated web of organs and pathways that are constantly filtering out foreign substances to protect us from harm, no matter what we ingest. Having said that, there are many things we can do to assist our primary detoxification organs – namely, the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, and skin – to function more efficiently. There is no such thing as a quick fix – one week of cleansing will not repair years of daily Big Macs, Twinkies, smoking, drinking, poor sleep and lack of exercise – but I am a firm believer that if you live mindfully 80% of the time and cleanse seasonally, you can keep yourself in tip top shape. The body thrives when we fuel it with a consistent whole food, nutrient dense diet. The body thrives when we try our best to remove environmental toxins like carcinogenic pesticides, chemicals found in conventional body products and non-filtered water, cigarettes, over-the-counter drugs and pharmaceuticals, processed foods and harmful fats. The body thrives when we actively prioritize self-care like adequate sleep, movement, breathing and stress management techniques.
We know what to do. Kale > Pizza, Water > Wine. Sweating > Eating chips on the couch, Meditation > Freaking out.
For long-lasting health, good lifestyle habits need to be practiced on a regular basis. But life is hectic. Some weeks – or months – we slip up and fall prey to junk food, too much alcohol, too little sleep. It happens to us all. That’s why a week-long reset is so beneficial: it initiates a return to balance, and optimizes the body’s natural detox processes, lightening the toxic load on our organs and improving our vitality.
Why Should I Lighten the Load?
When we spend a period of time deliberately tending to our organs of elimination, we give them a boost. This helps them function more optimally, ultimately leading to improvements in:
- Focus and energy
- Mood and sleep cycle
- Skin issues like acne, rashes, eczema, etc
- Allergies – reactions and symptoms
- Elimination – better poops, better life, am I right?
- Weight loss
- Inflammation, free radical damage, and signs of aging
Sounds pretty good, right? Let’s get started.
What Do I Need To Do?
For the easiest reset plan, practice the following instructions for 7 days:
As humans, we are made up of almost 70% water. We need it for every function in the body to operate. It’s essential that we drink more good quality water! I encourage you to buy a filter – you want to hydrate your cells and organs without adding to your toxic load. Do your research and choose the best option for you. Every morning, before you have anything else, have a glass of warm, filtered water with the juice of half an organic lemon. This will quench your cells and give your liver a high five. Trust me, you want your liver to like you. Make friends. Focus on drinking about 8 glasses of fresh water throughout the day. Your kidneys need plenty of fluid to filter out toxic substances and maintain proper sodium and electrolyte balance in the body. Keep them flushing! If you want a bit of beverage variety, can I suggest this awesome liver-loving iced tea? Any herbal tea, warm or iced, with the addition of fresh grated ginger and lemon is delicious. Experiment! Just hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Change Your Diet
You know the diets that give you a ridiculously long list of what not to eat but never tell what you can eat? I hate that. This is a list of what you can eat. If I don’t list it here, just avoid it. This is a mainly vegan diet that follows the general rule of 75% veg, 15% fruit, 10% fat. Remember: it’s only a week. Try to eat as organically as possible. I understand if financial constraints prevent you from eating entirely organic and suggest you follow this list for guidance on what conventional produce is safest to eat.
Your meals will consist of:
Any vegetable you can imagine – none are excluded. Rely heavily on the following, which are extra sweet to your liver, kidneys, skin and colon: broccoli, kale, cauliflower, onions, garlic, beets, cabbage, brussel sprouts, mustard greens, ginger, leeks, dandelion greens, arugula, swiss chard, spinach, celery, fennel, asparagus, carrots, sweet potato, fresh herbs (specifically cilantro + parsley), and sprouts. You can eat them raw, steamed, sautéed, or roasted, but please don’t boil them! Major bonus points if can include some fermented veg like sauerkraut or beet kvass into your meals; the bacteria in your colon loves the probiotics found in these foods and will reward you with superior bowel movements, improved digestion, and a strengthened immune system. I don’t recommend juicing as part of this reset, because juice is missing fiber, which is essential for proper elimination and detoxification of the colon. Smoothies are more beneficial here. Vegetables are the backbone of this plan, so eat them any which way you please, as often as you like.
Any fresh fruit you can imagine. Your focus should be on every type of berry, pineapple, papaya, apples, pears, coconuts, tomato, lemons, bananas, pomegranates, cranberries, and cherries. Include whatever you like. Stick to about 3 servings of fruit a day.
A small amount of the following fats: olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, or avocado. Stick to about 2-3 tablespoons per day.
Unlimited quantities of homemade bone broth or vegetable stock. Bone broth is an extremely powerful food and I encourage everyone to incorporate it into their regular meals. It contains vital amino acids, gelatin and other nutrients to nourish your digestive system, nervous system and immune system. Learn more about the importance of a good broth and how to make one here.
That’s it – pretty basic, right? You can get extremely creative with this. Soups, salads, smoothies, and roasted veggie bowls are all super delicious and will leave you satisfied.
Never underestimate the importance of a deep breath. It sounds silly, but unless we are mindful of our breathing, we tend to breathe shallowly, limiting the amount of oxygen reaching our brains and other organs. Begin to be conscious of your breath. I encourage clients to download a meditation app like Calm and spend 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before bed just focusing on their breathing. This not only helps with detoxification, it removes carbon dioxide from the body, oxygenates your tissues and organs, improves sleep, and is vital to managing stress.
Your skin is your largest organ, and often, the most ignored! There’s a reason your underarms smell after a night out drinking – your powerhouse sweat glands are trying to eliminate the toxic byproducts of alcohol. You can use this natural process to your advantage by, quite literally, sweating out the junk. Go spinning, go for a run, do hot yoga , or relax in an infrared sauna. Whatever you do, just try to sweat once a day. I love taking a detox bath with a cup of dead sea salts and 10 drops of lavender essential oil every night during this reset. It encourages detoxification, promotes sweating, and gives me time to decompress before bedtime. I also encourage you to rethink the home, bath and beauty products you’re using. There are so many cost-effective organic options now that work just as well as the conventional stuff, while protecting you from disruptive, harmful chemicals. Finish what you have first and start replacing things one item at a time. This is a great resource to help you get started.
Use Castor Oil Packs
This one may seem strange at first, but I promise you: castor oil packs are totally awesome. Cold-pressed castor oil has been used for centuries as a remedy for inflammation, constipation, detoxification, lymph circulation and many other ailments. It works as a poultice to draw out impurities and activates detox pathways in the liver and intestines. Soak a cotton or flannel towel in cold-pressed castor oil, lay it flat on your belly, cover it with another towel and place a heating pad or hot water bottle on top. Leave this on for an hour, before removing the pack and taking a warm shower. You can reuse the castor oil soaked towel; just store it in a glass jar until you’re ready for your next pack. One word of caution: castor oil stains everything it touches. Use old towels and cover your bed with a towel if you’re worried about spillage. Learn more about how to make and use a castor oil pack here. You can do a castor oil pack once a day, every morning or evening.
There you have it: the 5 basic steps to an effective cleanse!
Maybe you’re wondering why I didn’t include supplements? Well, for starters, if you’re eating all that great produce, your body is getting everything it needs. Also, supplementation is not a one-size-fits-all thing; recommendations vary from person to person depending on health concerns and individual goals. If you feel like you might benefit from supplementation, please consult your healthcare provider or make an appointment with me!
One last thing before I send you on your way. Here’s a basic recipe for a detox soup I love to make every week and keep in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner. As usual, you can customize it and get creative.
Detox Soup Recipe
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, pour two tablespoons of oil and heat slightly over medium heat. Add two finely chopped onions and 6 cloves of minced garlic, sauté until slightly golden and fragrant. Add 6 diced carrots and 4 diced celery stalks, cook about 4 minutes, stirring constantly. From here you can go two ways:
Add two diced tomatoes, 2 heads of chopped cauliflower, and a large box of baby spinach or baby kale. Season with salt and pepper. Top with filtered water and bone broth, or vegetable stock. Cover the soup and simmer over low heat for about an hour, or until vegetables are tender. Drizzle a teaspoon of cold-pressed olive oil and a pinch of himalayan salt on top of the bowl before serving.
Add two heads of chopped broccoli florets, a large box of baby kale, a bunch of chopped asparagus (with the tough ends removed), 1/4 cup of chopped parsley. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Top with filtered water and bone broth, or vegetable stock. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Once the soup is cooked, add two avocados, Blend until smooth with immersion blender or high-powered blender. Enjoy!
Lauren Marotta is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), lifestyle & wellness expert, and writer obsessed with keeping it real. To learn more about Lauren, follow her on Instagram & Twitter. Visit her website www.laurenmarotta.com, or get in touch with her by saying firstname.lastname@example.org