Detox

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What to Eat FOLLOW THIS MEAL PLAN DAILY DURING your detox week. Sit down for each meal and eat slowly, chewing every bite thoroughly. Chewing this way helps you feel full on fewer calories, and taking the time to sit down will keep you from feeling deprived. WAKE-UP DRINK: As soon as you rise, drink two 8-ounce glasses of filtered or spring water. Squeeze half a lemon into one of those glasses; the lemon stimulates your digestive juices. Your goal is to drink at least six glasses of water by the end of the day. If you have trouble remembering how much you drank, keep track in your journal. BREAKFAST: Between 7 and 8 a.m., eat one piece of fresh fruit like an apple, pear, or banana. Fifteen to 30 minutes later, eat 1 to 2 cups of cooked whole grains like amaranth, buckwheat, brown rice, millet, or quinoa. (This delay aids your digestion.) Avoid barley, corn, oats, rye, and wheat; many people experience congestion, poor digestion, and other symptoms when they eat these grains. To prepare most of the grains, you'll add them to boiling water, reduce the heat to a slow simmer, and cook them covered for 30 minutes or more until they're tender. (For exact instructions, consult the packaging.) You may want to prepare several servings ahead of time and reheat them in the morning. To flavor your grains, add 2 tablespoons of 100 percent fruit juice or I teaspoon of an oil and butter mix per serving. To make this mix, combine 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil or cold-pressed canola oil and 1/2 cup (1 stick) of room-temperature butter. Store it in the refrigerator. Use a maximum of 3 teaspoons a day. The fats in this mix keep your tissues healthy as you detox, and butyric acid, a compound in butter, helps heal and protect cells in your stomach and intestines. With your grains, take a multivitamin and additional supplements to get 200 to 400 IU of natural vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) and 100 to 200 mcg of selenium. These antioxidants fight the free radicals your body produces as you detox. Taking supplements with food prevents the nausea you may suffer if you consume them on an empty stomach. If you usually take other supplements, continue to take them unless they contain caffeine. MIDMORNING SNACK: Around 11 a.m., sip 1 to 2 cups of the vegetable water left over from steaming your lunch and dinner. (For more on the steaming process, see "Lunch," next page.) You should reheat this water and can season it with a dash of salt. The broth provides valuable nutrients that separate from the vegetables during steaming, eases hunger pangs, and keeps you hydrated (it counts toward your daily fluid consumption). Next, take 500 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C powder buffered with calcium and magnesium. You'll find this powder at natural food stores; choose a brand that's free of sugar and artificial sweeteners. Mix it with 6 ounces of water and drink. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, neutralizes free radicals produced as you detox, and calcium and magnesium help ease any agitation you may feel as you withdraw from addictive substances like caffeine or sugar. LUNCH: Between noon and 1 p.m., eat steamed vegetables. You can make them the night before or in the morning and reheat them at lunch. Save the water from the steaming process in a covered container and refrigerate it. To make your lunch, steam up to 4 cups of raw vegetables in at least 2 cups of water until they're tender but still crisp. Prepare at least four vegetables for each meal, aiming for a variety of flavors, textures, and colors. For example, try a starchy vegetable like a potato, a bitter green like kale, a sweet vegetable like red bell pepper, and a pungent vegetable like scallions. To achieve evenly cooked vegetables, add them to the pot according to their approximate steaming times. For example, starchy vegetables like beets, potatoes, and sweet potatoes take about 15 minutes when cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes. Chopped into bite-size pieces, bell peppers, broccoli, leeks, greens like collards, and the stems from chard and collards take about 5 minutes. And spinach, scallions, and the leafy parts of chard take just 1 to 2 minutes.

You can season your vegetables with a teaspoon of the oil and butter mix, olive oil alone, or flaxseed oil, as well as small amounts of raw garlic, salt, garlic salt, vegetable salt, and fresh herbs like basil, mint, or oregano.
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For variety, eat raw vegetables like lettuce greens, sliced carrots, and bell peppers, dressed with a teaspoon of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, at two or three meals this week. AFTERNOON SNACK: At 3 p.m., reheat 1 to 2 cups of vegetable water left from steaming, season it with a dash of salt, and drink it. Follow with 500 to 1,000 mg of buffered vitamin C. DINNER: Between 6 and 7 p.m., eat another meal of steamed vegetables. Steam up to 4 cups of raw vegetables, and flavor them with the seasonings suggested for lunch. Save the water from steaming to drink the next morning. The early mealtime gives your body a chance to digest dinner before bedtime so it can concentrate on detoxifying overnight. After dinner, do not eat again until morning. Instead, sip noncaffeinated teas like chamomile (Matricaria recutita) or peppermint (Mentha piperita). Adopt These Detox Habits IN ADDITION TO THE DIET, TAKE UP THE following habits this week. These habits enhance your body's ability to shed waste through the organs of elimination, including your bowels, lungs, skin, and urinary tract. The more you stick to these habits and the more water you drink, the less likely you are to suffer from side effects like headaches and fatigue as you detox. EXERCISE. Each day this week, do an hour of moderate exercise like walking, cycling, or yoga. You can divide your exercise into two half-hour segments, or into four 15-minute chunks. Exercise boosts your circulation of blood and lymph (the fluid produced by your lymph glands to sweep waste out of your body), makes you sweat out waste, and increases the frequency of your bowel movements. Do some of your exercise outside this week; breathing fresh air enhances your detox. BE REGULAR. You should have a bowel movement at least once a day this week (but twice a day is better). Frequent bowel movements are key to feeling good as you detox. If you don't have one the first day, drink 1 to 2 cups of a laxative tea daily for the rest of the week. Look for a tea that contains herbs like cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana), Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), and senna (Senna alexandrina). You'll find laxative teas at a natural food store. In addition to the tea, take psyllium husk twice a day. For each dose, take 1 or 2 teaspoons of powdered psyllium husk mixed with 8 ounces of water, or two 500 mg psyllium husk capsules with several glasses of water. You'll find psyllium at natural food stores. USE A LOOFAH. During your showers or baths this week, gently scrub your skin with a wet loofah, a natural sponge available at drugstores and natural food stores. A loofah aids your detox by stimulating circulation and sloughing off dead cells and other waste that collects on your skin. TRY A NETI POT. If you feel congested during your detox week, rinse your nose and sinuses with saltwater with the help of a neti pot. This teapotlike device is sold at most natural food stores. Instructions in the box describe how to do it. Use the neti pot up to three times daily.
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SIT IN A SAUNA OR STEAM ROOM. If you have access to a sauna or steam room, use it for two 20-minute sessions this week to help your body sweat out waste. If you don't have access to a sauna, stand in a hot, steamy shower for 5 to 10 minutes at least twice this week. TAKE A BREAK FROM NEWS. To limit toxic thoughts, which can undermine your health, observe a news fast for three to seven days this week. Make an effort to avoid news or other emotionally disturbing information from the Internet, magazines, movies, newspapers, the radio, or television. Use the free time to relax and enjoy self-nurturing activities like listening to music or reading a book. How to Deal with Symptoms ALTHOUGH YOU'LL FEEL LESS BLOATED AND more energetic by the end of your detox, it's normal to experience some unpleasant symptoms early in the week--including fatigue, headaches, hunger, irritability, and nausea--as your body sheds waste and withdraws from substances you may be addicted to, like caffeine or sugar. These symptoms are usually worst during the first two days. Here's how to cope. FATIGUE: Believe it or not, the best way to pull out of energy slumps is to exercise, so schedule walks for the times you feel sluggish. Dehydration often causes fatigue so make sure you're drinking at least six glasses of water a day. And you may need more sleep than usual. If you're tired, go to bed at least 30 minutes earlier. HEADACHES: They're common in the first 24 hours, particularly if you're withdrawing from caffeine. Drinking plenty of water and having regular bowel movements can alleviate these headaches. You can also use white willow bark (Salix spp). This herb, available at most natural food stores, contains salicylic acid, the active component in aspirin. Take it daily in one of two forms: liquid extract (1 teaspoon or 4 dropperfuls) or capsules (standardized to 120 to 140 mg of salicin). (Don't use this herb with blood thinners or if you have kidney, liver, or bleeding disorders or aspirin allergies.) HUNGER: If you feel hungry and depleted in the afternoon, eat a small amount of protein at 3 p.m. (the time when it's best digested by your body). Try 1/2 to 1 cup of cooked legumes (like lentils), sprouted beans (like sprouted garbanzo beans or lentils), or 3 to 4 ounces of organic chicken or fish that's baked or steamed. Use the approved flavorings from page 59. IRRITABILITY: Withdrawing from caffeine or sugar may make you feel agitated. To relax, take 300 to 400 mg of calcium and 250 mg of magnesium once a day. NAUSEA: Drink peppermint or ginger tea (Zingiber officinale), two stomach soothers. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tea bag or 1 teaspoon of dried herb. Cover, steep for 10 minutes, strain, and drink up to three cups a day. How to Lose More Weight ONE OF THE BENEFITS OF A DETOX DIET IS that it forces you to break your usual routine to try healthier habits. Here's how to build on those good habits, prevent future bloating, and lose more weight.
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GO BACK GRADUALLY. Returning immediately to your old diet, as tempting as it may be, can cause you to regain weight. You'll also miss out on the chance to spot foods that cause symptoms like bloating, congestion, or fuzzy thinking, Haas says. Start by adding back one new food each day, beginning with foods that are less likely to cause those reactions, like beans, fish, and grains other than wheat, before you move on to dairy, sugar, and wheat, which are often problematic. After you reintroduce a food, note how you feel 15 to 20 minutes later, three to four hours later, and when you wake up the next day. If a food causes symptoms, consider eliminating it from your diet. Even if it doesn't cause symptoms, you may want to eat less of it because it's likely to contain more calories than fruits and vegetables. STAY ACQUAINTED WITH VEGGIES. Keep your refrigerator stocked with the vegetables you enjoyed while detoxing, as well as vegetable snacks (like bell pepper strips or grape tomatoes). They have plenty of fiber, few calories, and, unlike processed foods like crackers, won't induce bloating or add pounds. MAINTAIN PETITE PORTIONS. At every meal, put one-third less food on your plate than usual and chew each bite thoroughly. As you learned from eating your low-calorie detox meals, eating slowly helps you feel satisfied with less. KEEP ON MOVING. If you exercised more while detoxing, keep it up. Brainstorm ways to fit exercise into your day, like doing a yoga video before breakfast, walking a few sets of stairs at lunch, or taking your dog for an after-dinner stroll. DETOX AGAIN. Haas suggests that you repeat this process two to four times a year to support your healthy habits. Next time, consider following the detox diet for up to three weeks. This can lead to even greater improvements, he says. Judy Bass, a writer in Stoughton, Mass., is a frequent contributor to Natural Health. Your Detox Diet Plan FIRST, DECIDE WHEN TO DETOX. SELECT A WEEK WITHOUT A DEMANDING SCHEDULE or a food-related function like a wedding. Start on a Friday; you may experience minor side effects like headaches during the first days of detoxing, and it's easier to handle these at home than at work. You'll eat only vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, consuming 800 to 1,400 calories a day. You'll also drink just water and noncaffeinated herb tea. Choose organic foods when possible to limit your exposure to pesticides and other chemical additives. Shop for the foods you'll need before you begin. If you'll be away from home during the day, prepare your lunch and snacks the night before and bring them with you. The day you begin the plan, start a journal. Each day carefully record any changes in the way you feel, physically and emotionally. If you experience side effects like headaches, see "How to Deal with Symptoms." RELATED ARTICLE: Putting it to the test. HOW I Lost the Bloat

Last fall I fell into a rut of unhealthy eating. A detox promised to be just what I needed to get back to a healthier diet. So, despite some concerns it would be difficult, I volunteered to try our plan. I was surprised by how full I felt every day. In fact, I was never hungry, although I sure did crave crackers the first four days. I also experienced mood swings. I was particularly cranky after a trip to the grocery store where I saw so many foods I couldn't eat. But just as with the cravings, my moods evened out toward the end of the week.
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From the first night, I slept like a log, waking early and refreshed. I hardly ever hit the snooze button like I usually do. As the week progressed, I was often physically tired by the end of the day, but usually mentally alert. By the last day, I noticed differences in the body parts where I usually carry extra weight: my face, hands, and waist. My rings went on easily, and my pants were looser. I lost 4 1/2 pounds, and I've kept them off. More importantly, I'm eating less (I learned I could be satisfied with less if I chewed slowly) and choosing healthier foods. To learn some of the tricks that helped me that week, see "How to Make Detoxing Easier," page 16. --Rachel Streit, 32, Natural Health Editor in Chief Learn More About Detoxing To get more information about detox diets and find other health tips, see www.elsonhaas.com, the website of Elson Haas, M.D., or consult his book The Detox Diet (Celestial Arts, 1996).

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