Maybe it's time to give yourself a break.
As within, so without…
Springtime is a time of renewal; as the long, slow winter has come to an end we start to see glimpses of life and vitality start to appear again. Plants and trees begin to blossom as the days get longer. We start to feel once again the sun kissing our skin as we peel away the Winter layers. The collective sense of relief and joy can be felt as we all embrace that time between the “too cold” winter, and the “too hot” summer.
Springtime signals the end of our hibernating months and encourages us to open our windows and let the fresh air in. Many of us feel compelled to engage in the ritual of spring cleaning, too. Closets and cupboards get cleaned out, walls and floors get scrubbed, and we clear space in our home to make way for the new. We want to feel open, spacious and alive.
Just like our homes, our bodies too require attention and cleaning. The Winter months typically see us slow down and become stagnant. We bundle up in our warm clothes and eat our favourite comfort foods. A glass of red wine in front of the tv while watching a movie. Bored, standing in front of the fridge looking for a second lunch to keep us entertained.
The Winter of 2020 and COVID in particular - it has been heavy and stressful to say the least. It has been a time of #isobaking and home deliveries; less movement and more sugar. It’s been taking a toll on our bodies, especially our livers and our gastrointestinal systems.
The liver - our natural filtration system.
Our liver is our body's filtration system; it is constantly in an active state, metabolising the foods we eat, clearing out toxins and storing nutrients for when we need them. Like every filtration system, our precious liver can also benefit from a clean every now and again, particularly after long periods of high consumption of toxic substances, like alcohol, sugar, saturated fats and exposure to environmental chemicals.
Cleansing can also be very helpful for the gastrointestinal system. By reducing the amount and cleaning up the quality of the food we eat, our digestive system is able to divert energy from digestion and use it for healing and repairing.
Think of it like hitting the reset button on your body.
What’s in it for me?
Better mood, attention & focus
A healthier, more efficient immune system
Let’s break it down...
What cleansing is.
Removing the items that insult your liver from your diet - this includes alcohol, meat, refined sugar, excess oil, drugs and food additives that are often hidden in your food (especially packaged foods).
What cleansing is not.
It is not irresponsibly depriving your body of what it needs, ie. long unsupervised juice fasts or water fasts.
An unsupervised and unnecessary ‘meal replacement’ strategy or avoiding solid foods.
How to know when your liver might need a cleanse?
A few signs you may need to treat your body to a cleanse include:
You are feeling generally pretty sluggish and slow.
You’re experiencing brain fog and can’t focus on even simple things.
You feel bloated and full all the time.
Your sleep is not great and you wake feeling tired and unrefreshed.
You are depending on junk food, alcohol and cigarettes to get through the day.
PMS symptoms can be worse than usual.
You are feeling generally pretty stressed out and irritable, especially about the small things.
What gets the cut?
Too often we see people who want to take more supplements to help detox their body without cutting out the things that are causing the damage; this can actually put more load on the liver. Often it is what you don't do that is more meaningful.
The best place to start is by removing the things that are causing harm. Remove the following items from your diet.
Meat and animal products.
Juices (yes, even fruit juice).
Drugs (except of course medically prescribed pharmaceuticals).
Cigarettes - cut down as much as you can at least.
Stressful high-intensity exercise.
What you can include/increase during a cleanse.
Fresh, organic vegetables, and lots of them.
Fresh, organic herbs, and lots of them.
Legumes and lentils.
Whole grains (brown rice, GF oats).
Filtered water, and lots of it.
Fermented foods (think sauerkraut and tempeh, not KimChi if it is spicy).
Slow movement, gentle stretching and walking.
Sleep and rest, aim for bedtime by 10 pm and a full 8 hours sleep.
One thing that really lends itself to cleansing is intermittent fasting. Periods of time without eating can assist in the healing process of our gastrointestinal system. Our nutritionist Thimpika has written an excellent article on the topic - you can find it here:
Supporting nutrients for a cleanse.
There are some nutrients and other supportive supplements that can support the detoxification process.
Apple cider vinegar
What’s the time commitment?
There’s a lot of differing opinions about what the best time for a cleanse is; anywhere from 14 days to 8 weeks. We recommend at least 14 days to give you a chance to detoxify and then enjoy the vibrancy and good feels that will come. Two weeks is totally achievable, and if you are feeling great and want to continue then another week will not hurt.
What to expect during a cleanse.
There’s no way to sugar coat it (and cleanse protocol won’t allow it anyway). The first few days are going to be rough; you may experience headaches, nausea, fatigue and muscle weakness as your body releases the toxins and they are processed and eliminated. Lots of water and rest will help to ease you through this.
Try not to take any panadol or painkillers as this is adding toxic load to the liver and may counteract the work you are putting in. Your bowel movements may also become a bit erratic, but trust the process and look forward to more regular and satisfying motion soon.
Following this initial period, you will start to feel lighter, more energetic, more clear-headed and more focused. The pain will be a distant memory and you’ll be very happy that you endured.
How to end a cleanse.
It’s important to re-enter the world of “normal” eating a bit more conscious of what you allow into your beautiful body. Bingeing on alcohol and burgers the day your cleanse ends is both disrespectful to your body and the work you have just done, and will overload your body with things it’s now not used to (sugar, fat, ethanol) making you feel very very unwell.
Ideally, the same principles of the cleanse will remain the foundation of your eating habits (plant-based, wholefoods diet with lots of water and movement), with good quality selection from the cleanse “cut” list, and a few cheeky discrepancies here and there (because life’s for living, right?).
Sample Menu for a fast:
11 am - Slow-cooked vegetable broth with red kidney beans, broccoli, spinach and kale.
12 pm - Cup of dandelion tea.
1:30 pm - Roast vegetable salad of potato, carrot and onion with brown rice, rocket and fresh parsley and a drizzle of avocado oil.
3 pm - Cup of chamomile tea.
4 pm - Cucumber and a handful of green beans with a dip made of ¼ mashed avocado with lemon juice.
5 pm - Cup of peppermint tea.
6:30 pm - Baked tofu with lightly steamed cauliflower, zucchini and brussels sprouts with tahini and apple cider vinegar dressing.
** 2L filtered water consumed throughout the day
** 20 minutes of slow yoga, gentle stretching or a walk
If you would like to discuss liver cleansing further, our nutritionists Thimpika and Skye are in store and would love to connect with and assist you.
The Little Hen Team x