It seems my urge to declutter extends also to myself, and about a month ago I started a detox program. Designed to boost energy, heal the gut and of course remove nasty toxins from your body, detox programs come in many shapes and sizes. I went with the The Clean Program, beloved by Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop followers, and when I was last in the US, I picked up the Clean detox pack and started the very next day.
The last time I did anything similar was about seven years ago whilst visiting India for an Ayurveda program. I like to be very melodramatic about it and tell everyone how it nearly killed me, but its true, for a very long time I was sworn off detox’s and so it came as a pleasant surprise that I was now finally ready to give my digestive flora a much needed cleanse. I had read Clean last year and somehow it made sense that good food and energy were intrinsically linked. So while the thought of no alcohol, no coffee, no sugar, no gluten & no dairy… (as well as a couple of other food groups like nightshades) did seemed daunting, it also seemed like a fair trade for a much welcomed shot of vitality.
The Clean program is reasonably straightforward. By removing certain food groups from your diet, you allow your body to focus its energy on removing toxins and strengthening the gut. To facilitate this you supplement your breakfast and evening meal with light meals like shakes and soups and eat your main meal at lunchtime. The Clean Program comes with a box of multi-vitamins, probiotics and supplements to ensure that you are getting all the right minerals into your body. There is also a requirement to keep 12 hours between your evening meal and your breakfast, so that your body has plenty of time to properly detox, eliminate and recover. And you can also snack on nuts, seeds and some fruit and veg, so its not as is you have to starve or purge yourself to the point of self punishment!
On my first week, the novelty of using my Nutri-bullet in the morning was enough to keep me distracted from my usual fix of porridge and honey. I bought fresh fruit and veg every couple of days and loaded up my shakes with berries, avocados, spinach and a range of milks (almond, rice or coconut). After a few attempts I managed to get the consistency of my shakes just right, (the trick being to add ice cubes) and I was essentially on my way. Lunch was straightforward enough and I normally went with fish, chicken and brown rice with loads of veggies. Mid afternoon snacks were usually nuts, rice cakes and sometimes some dark chocolate (yes! you are allowed this). The real challenge was facing into a shake for dinner after a long day at work. There is something quite comforting to come home in the evening and flop down in front of a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. So this switch was a real challenge. But I soon expanded my repertoire to include mangoes, dates and other interesting concoctions and this seemed to do the trick…
The whole time I was doing the Clean Program I was just really really curious to see what difference removing some of the baddies from your diet can make (i.e. sugar, dairy and gluten) to your overall well being. The first thing I noticed was that my sleep pattern changed, I started having really really deep sleeps and in the beginning I would wake up not knowing where I was, but better quality sleep was a big plus and I woke every day feeling like I had slept better. The next thing I noticed was that my brain became a lot clearer – far sharper in work (I think!), more focused and less brain fog towards the end of the week. I no longer had a creak in my neck and while my energy levels took some time to gather momentum I did start to feel a lot more energised in general. The other thing is that I think my skin is clearer (but that could also be due to my penchant for spas too -;). I’m not sure if I look younger, but this is also meant to be a big benefit too.
I didn’t initially do the Clean Program for weight loss and in fact its not guaranteed. The last thing I wanted was to drop a load of weight and then pile it all back on again with a surplus, once the detox was over. The program advises not think too much about it and if and when your body is ready, it will shed some pounds. To my surprise, it was only around Day 17 or 18 that I finally started to notice a difference and in the last few days of the detox my cumulative loss has been 6 pounds. But I really wouldn’t obsess about this and more focus on all the other benefits. Right now, I feel really good, healthier, sharper and empowered. Doing the detox has made me really curious to start exploring more healthier alternatives and foods and I genuinely feel like I have a spring in my step to venture into newer, healthier eating habits for improved well being. Why not give it a try?