It’s the new year, and I’m sure your social media feeds have been inundated by resolutions, new hopes, dreams and the like. It’s a fresh start. And don’t we all love a new beginning?
One thing I keep seeing a lot of is the idea of detoxing through programs, pills and powders. Not only are these ideas expensive and extreme, they are also harmful to your body and unnecessarily wasteful.
You don’t need a fancy, secret potion to revamp your health (and bonus: lower your eco-impact) while ridding your body of the toxins from the gluttonous holidays. Here are some staples to keep in mind when making your fresh start.
Note: Although these ‘rules’ may seem impossible, try to stick with them for at least four to seven days. After the ‘detox’ is over you still should follow these principles, but veering away every now and again will be okay. For this week, try your hardest to allow your organs to get some rest. Okay? Here we go.
The NO list:
-Animal products. That’s right—cheese, meat, milk, eggs… the works.
-Added or refined sugar (or just sugar in general, ie: keep fruit intake to a minimum). Too much sugar suppresses the immune system.
-Coffee/major sources of caffeine (a cup or two of green tea is okay)
-Cigarettes or any other drugs
-Going out to eat (not only is it nearly impossible to grab a vegan dish, most restaurant foods are packed with extra sodium and saturated fat)
-Taking your car everywhere
-Sitting on your butt at night watching TV and surfing the web for hours at a time
The YES list:
-Fruit, in moderation
-Raw foods (The percentage of raw v. cooked food depends on you; aim for a level that is a challenge, but not impossible. During my cleanse I ate raw until dinner and then an 80/20 raw-to-cooked ratio. Do what works for you!)
-Nuts, seeds, legumes
-Lots of water
-Green and herbal teas
-Daily exercise (35 minutes a day or one hour three-four times a week)
-Less car, more walking/biking/public transit
The daily routine (more or less):
The morning. As soon as you wake up drink a glass of water, or, better yet, a cup of warm water with lemon juice to get your system moving. Breakfast? Something lite to be easy on your system, like a bit of oatmeal, fruit or green juice. Take your time during the mornings. No more rushing around like a crazy person, chugging a cup of coffee on your way out the door. Be mindful. Maybe take a few minutes to pray or meditate. Step outside and breathe some fresh air before you start your day. Try carpooling, walking, biking or taking public transit to work instead of your car.
The afternoon. A salad or raw veggies with some healthy fat like avocado or bean sprouts. Hummus and veggies. Raw almonds. Soups are a good option (my favorites are butternut squash and lentil). Make sure you are moving throughout the day. If you work at a desk job, get up and walk or stretch every half hour. Go outside for your lunch break and get some vitamin D. Be aware of your consumption. Try your best to lower it through bringing your own travel mug, saying no to plastic bags, taking fruit cores home to compost, etc.
The evening. Exercise for 35 minutes. Go for a walk in your neighborhood, jump rope, or do some yoga or pilates with free online videos. Make dinner at home—bean burgers, lentil soup, salad, roasted vegetables, mushroom burgers—the options are plenty. Check out some of my favorite vegan recipes from Tara Stiles, Kris Carr, VegWeb and Post Punk Kitchen. Dessert is a no-go, but a nice cup of lavender mint tea or almond milk may satisfy that craving. Instead of watching TV or going online, be creative and make something, read a book, clean out your closet, volunteer, or do something else.
That’s it! Seems simple, right? Not only is this cleanse excellent for your body, it’s kind to the environment, as a vegan diet and low-impact lifestyle is. Plus, I’ve found (contrary to popular belief) eating vegan meals has actually saved me money. Beans, oh how I love beans! They’re dirt cheap and full of nutrients. Lettuce and kale are also both inexpensive, as are sweet potatoes, squash, cucumbers, and plenty more. To save even more money and waste, consider purchasing large bags of frozen vegetables and fruit.
I’ll admit it was difficult to stay true to this diet, especially over the weekend, but it cleaned me inside and out. After finishing I felt so good I continued to eat and live in this manner. I feel like that’s what a really great cleanse will do. It won’t strip your body of nutrients or energy, making you feel like you need a giant steak to feel right again (although you may feel this way after day two or three). In the end it will help break your food and drink addictions (for me it was coffee) and leave you just as you should be.
Are you planning on embarking on any new eating or lifestyle challenges this year? Do you have new years resolutions? Or are you content with your daily habits as they are? Please share!