We just returned from a two-week road trip, and with the exception of a few good meals in Savannah, Charleston, and Asheville, the food we got while traveling -- and especially the food we got at Disney World -- was categorically terrible. Here in New York, juice bars with $13 green smoothies are on every block, and even in a diner you might get a pile of mesclun with your omelette. I take for granted access to healthful meal options. In Orlando, I pigged out on the Olive Garden bottomless salad bowl because it was the most veggies I'd had in six days.
By the time I got home, the mere sight of a Subway sandwich shop made me nauseated (to say nothing of the smell). Desperate, I called my health coach (and mom!), Suzanne, for tips on how to do a quick detox -- a simple way to gently get myself back on track. What follows are Suzanne's basic tips for cleaning up the system and getting ready for summer.
Suzanne's Simple Spring Detox
- Fresh spring greens such as watercress, baby spinach, and spring onions. Leafy greens contain several crucial nutrients, like pyridoxine, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin, and raw watercress leaves' digestive enzymes help the body absorb nutrients during digestion. The vitamin K in spinach may contribute to a healthy nervous system and brain function, and spring onions are plentiful in B-complex vitamins as well as essential minerals like copper, iron, manganese, and calcium.
- Whole grains like quinoa or millet. Quinoa "contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains," according to Forbes; and fiber relieves constipation, lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, and aids weight loss. According to Donna Gates, nutritional consultant and author of The Body Ecology Diet, millet doesn't feed pathogenic yeast like candida, and it acts as a prebiotic to promote important microflora in our inner ecosystems, provides serotonin to calm and soothe moods, and helps hydrate the colon.
- Morning liver tonic of warm water, lemon juice, and a touch of cayenne and turmeric. Lemon is alkaline (good); some evidence suggests that in moderation, tumeric is a powerful liver cleanser; and cayenne helps speed up metabolism.
- Plenty of spring water (un-chlorinated, un-fluoridated). Clean water has a vast array of health benefits, and may help digestion.
- Take five minutes each day to do nothing but sit and breathe deeply. Good, deep breathing is key to a healthy immune and digestive system.
- Caffeine and other stimulants. Stimulants disrupt sleep, which is essential to a wide variety of bodily functions.
- Sugars and artificial sweeteners. The potential toxic effects of sugar and almost all sugar substitutes are now widely known.
- Wheat and other gluten containing grains. Many of Suzanne's health coaching clients report feeling better when the eliminate or limit their intake of foods that contain gluten.
- Dairy. Dairy consumption is associated with digestive problems (especially pasteurized dairy).
- Alcohol. Booze taxes the liver, and a big component of any detox program is giving this vital organ a chance to clean up and rejuvenate.
Do you feel like following this advice would leave you with nothing yummy to eat? You'd be surprised! Join my mom and me for a cooking class in New York City on April 25th, where Suzanne will serve a delicious meal without any of the no-no ingredients above (actually, there will be organic wine for those who feel that they have already sufficiently detoxed). Email me for the details of what will be a lively, hands-on class.
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