It’s finally spring; the weather is getting warmer, daffodils are starting to sprout, and trees are starting to bud. With the seasons changing, it’s the perfect time to detox the body and prep for warmer weather. During the winter months, our diets and exercise habits change; portion sizes increase, cravings for carbs intensify, and motivation for exercise decreases. During winter it’s natural to gain more weight, as we need that extra fat on our bodies to keep us warm. But now that the weather is changing, it’s time cleanse the body and shed that extra waste.
When people think of detoxing and cleansing, they immediately assume they need to starve themselves with a vegetable juice fast, or a cayenne pepper and lemon juice flush. But this is not necessarily the case, and there are plenty of ways to gently and safely detox the body to prepare it for spring. The goal of cleansing is to open the detoxification organs to allow excess waste to be removed from the body. Detoxing the body can be as simple as eating more detox-friendly foods and eliminating inflammatory foods, in order to function as optimally as possible.
What to Eliminate:
For those who have never detoxed before, this list may seem quite daunting, but don’t be alarmed; the goal is to eliminate foods that cause inflammation in the body, rob the body of nutrients, or offer no real nutritional value.
Foods to Eliminate:
- Refined, White Sugar
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Whole Wheat & White Flour (if you’re ready for it, eliminate gluten as well)
What Can You Eat While Detoxing?
Leafy greens such as kale, collards, spinach and chard offer a lot of nutritional benefits. They are rich in chlorophyll, which helps increase oxygen flow throughout the body. These greens also have great insoluble fiber, which acts like a sponge to clean out the digestive system and release waste.
How to use it: use it as salad leaves; take a handful and put it in a smoothie and mix with berries, sauté with garlic, or bake into chips.
Lemons are one of the top cleansing foods. They stimulate digestive juices, ensuring digestion of foods, which allows the body to absorb the proper nutrients. Lemons also support the liver in the detoxification process. The liver is one of the main detoxification organs and everything you eat gets processed by the liver; so it’s important to support it well!
How to use it: squeeze ¼ of a lemon into a glass of water, or mix with extra virgin olive oil to make a dressing.
Beets have that great, rich, purple colour and that wonderful earthy taste. They are also detoxification powerhouses, and actually neutralize toxins in the body, allowing those toxins to be properly removed. The fiber in beets also cleanses the digestive tract and allows waste to be removed.
How to use it: grate raw beets into salads and pilafs, slice into matchsticks, or cut into cubes and roast in the oven.
Although it may look like a leafy green, this fresh herb is a potent detoxifier. Parsley has diuretic qualities, perfect for cleansing the kidneys and removing toxins from the body. It also helps the body detoxify from heavy metals, which can accumulate from the environment, and certain foods we eat.
How to use it: chop fresh parsley and sprinkle it into salads, quinoa dishes or pilafs, brew it into a tea, or blend it into a pesto.
Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous family, and is an incredibly hardy vegetable. The antioxidants and sulfuric nutrients in cauliflower work to boost the liver’s detoxification phases, and it specifically works to activate detoxification enzymes.
How to use it: cut it into florets and roast in the oven, or shave it finely with a knife and toss in salads.
Detoxing the body is incredibly important, especially in the springtime. When the body is not being supported by the right cleansing nutrients, it can get overworked, overwhelmed and congested, increasing the risk of illness and disease. The detoxification process can be as challenging or gentle as you want it to be. The backbone of a good detox is consistency; remember to eat the detox foods list above on a regular basis, and ditch the foods that simply don’t support you.
Tamara Green is co-founder of The Living Kitchen, and a Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Cook. She combines her knowledge of nutrition and passion for cooking good food to work with clients to create lasting changes in their lives.