Bonjour, et bienvenue! This is the first *official* post in the Living Clean project. To find out what we’re up to, click here to read the introduction.
So, the first thing we need to do in order to start Living Clean is to…
Detox. I know, I know. Lots of people feel hairy around the edges about this word (you might be one of them), conjuring images of tasteless fluids, carrot sticks and lots of toilet time.
I’m here to tell you it needn’t be that bland or extreme – at all.
A good detox (or cleanse as I prefer to call it) begins with strategically cutting out the crap that’s making its nasty rounds through your body, keeping you from sloughing off any excess baggage, and holding you back from supreme amounts of energy and vitality. It can sometimes feel like a bitch to begin with, but the rewards are humungous.
[Please note, before we go any further - I am not a certified nutritionist or a medical expert. Any ideas I might suggest should be taken by you with your own circumstances most earnestly in consideration - and - that before embarking on any new program you should consult your own doctor or team of medical experts.]
On Friday, I’ll go into detail what you can put into your body to support your cleanse, but today’s post is a quick look at the Top 7 not-so-clean habits that creep into the modern, Western lifestyle and wreak their havoc:
Egh. Gross sticks of death. But wait! I used to be an almost pack-a-day smoker! It’s true. I was a full-time smoker for ten years, my loves and although I like to be all Edith Piaf about life, if there is one thing I regret, it’s the durries. I’ve already noticed the issues it has caused me in ye olde respiratory system, and not to mention the fine lines around my lips (they’re there, okay) that won’t go away no matter how much paw paw loving I give them.
My dad’s got chronic emphysema from his lifetime of cigarette love – he’s about 3 months away from an oxygen bottle and can’t walk more than five paces without falling into a heart-wrenching coughing fit. It’s not worth it, guys. I don’t need to go into masses of details about all the other bad shit it does to you. The ads are enough. Google is there. The plain and simple fact is, if you suck em back, stop or you’ll never be truly healthy, and they’ll probably end up killing you.
Totally fine in small amounts. Toxic in the long-term, in anything beyond small. The trick here is to forgo liquor for long enough to give your liver a real chance at resting and healing (especially if you’ve been on a bit of a festive knees-up), and then when you start to re-introduce the odd social drink, you do it very mindfully and deliberately, rather than going five rounds at the pub one Friday after work, and re-toxing yourself blind.
I will broach the delicious subject of organic, biodynamic and preservative-free options too – but that will be a post of its own to look forward to. For now, it’s time to wean yourself off the wine, beer and spirits.
If you’ve been at it heavily, and can’t stomach the idea of going cold-turkey, cutting your daily intake down to no more than one standard drink a day, no more than twice a week is a good idea (go on – you can do it), and go for a very good quality red wine (antioxidants, baby), or high quality clear spirit like vodka with soda or mineral water (locally made for both is best!). No beer, sweet ciders, sugary mixers or passion-pop, please! Make sure you surround your alcohol consumption with copious (copious!) water, and healthy, nutritious food.
Better still – go without entirely. Aside from the fact that you’ll be able to think far more clearly the next morning, you’ll cut your weekly spending down by a crap load, and your body will be able to heal itself and absorb all the good things from the foods we’ll be eating far more efficiently.
[Teaser: I've got a wildly delicious and utterly decadent, cleansing, alcohol-alternative coming up for you in, wait for it: video form oh so very shortly!]
Matcha Green Tea by Sheri Giblin via Yoga Journal
Arrrchk! Help! I am a caf-fiend! Bad puns aside, I am truly culpable of slippage here, and have found kicking the caf to be one of the hardest things to do in known history. On and off, and off and on, I’ve never consistently been able to manage staying 100% caf-free.
But I’m going to give it another shot – for the sake of giving my body the best chance at getting clean.
The process is one of the slow wean. We’ll take it down to one cup per day (and root out all the evil diet cola!), weaken said single coffee, and then replace it entirely with green tea – which contains a small amount of caffeine – and a green juice.
If all you manage to do is get down to green tea, and not eliminate the caffeine entirely, it’s not something I’d lose sleep over (ah, the bad puns continue). This relatively clean, antioxidant rich beverage is a far healthier alternative to chucking back liters of joe, and if your hit is indispensable, then please let it be in this form.
Oh – and unless you’re working out like Arnie, caf won’t necessarily aid your weight loss, either – it may actually hinder it, as apparently caffeine boosts your adrenaline levels which has the knock-on effect of releasing the panic-hormone, cortisol into your bloodstream, storing fat. Nice. Not.
4. Processed Fat and Fried Crap.
I don’t really need to say too much about this, do I? Chips, onion rings, margarine, cooking oil, biscuits, fatty spreads… Oh, I could go on all day. Essentially all of the things loaded up with saturated and processed fat, or cuisine that is overly fried in this artery-clogging goodness – well, it’s slowly turning your insides into slime.
Biologically of course, we’re wired to crave fat from our cave-dwelling days when it was a long time between wilderbeast. That’s why it stores on our bodies so nice and easily. And f**kit, I LOVE chips. Love. Them.
However, the upshot is, if we wanna get clean, I’ve – you’ve – we’ve gotta cut the fatty crap.
But not the good fats: we should still definitely be consuming nutrient-rich and anti-inflammatory oils, and good fats in their natural state (like in nuts and avocado, etc). It’s very important to not go 100% fat-free – damaged nerve-endings and all that (and here’s where I point you to Dr. Google for further research). Here’s a good, short little article on the subject by someone who knows a little more about it than I do.
Ah, bless it. It really is the devil. Again, our caveperson genes are programmed to crave this shit, and big companies know this and so pump all of their highly processed snackities full of it so you’ll be coming back to swipe for more.
The long and the short of it is that simple (refined, or high GI) sugars converts to fat more readily than complex, unrefined, Low GI carbohydrates that are found in everything from green veggies to whole grains. I recommend reading The New Glucose Revolution, which is a comprehensive study on how different types of carbohydrate affect blood sugar and can regulate energy levels and other things such as our body fat.
In a nutshell, the sugars to avoid here are processed fruit juices, sugar in your coffee or tea, soft drinks, lollies and sugary chocolate, cakes, icecream & desserts… And pretty much most processed foods – if you read the label – you will find contain a form of refined sugar (glucose, sucrose, corn syrup – it’s got lots of evil names, and it’s a good idea to school up on what they could be masquerading as, or better yet – avoid processed foods entirely).
Healthier and now very available alternatives are: agave nectar, coconut sugar and stevia (there are lots of different brands of all of these foods available now). Stevia has the lowest glycemic index of all (it spikes your blood sugar the least rapidly and converts least readily into fat), followed by coconut sugar. So, if you must get your sweet fix, there are plenty of healthier options available. However, once you start really living clean, you’ll happily find that your sugar cravings will descend to an absolute minimum (I can honestly hardly handle sugary foods at all now), and that a piece of fruit will often be more than enough to sweeten up your day.
Whatever you do, don’t go the chemically synthesized options! Saccharine, aspartame, etc. can be worse for you than sugar itself, wreak havoc upon your body, and psychologically make you crave more sweetie things to boot. I even hear talk that it’s a carcinogen. So, most sugar-free “diet” versions of products (particularly soft drinks) are a big no-no.
6. Refined starchy things.
Such as… white flour, white bread, cakes (again – yeah, sorry about that), white rice (opt for brown and/or wild, baby), too many mighty whitey potatoes (go sweet, or those with a lower glycemic index mixed with kumera if you just can’t forgo the spud). And, hey, if it looks like it had to go through some serious-assed milling and buh-leaching to get your starch to the white-as-the-driven-snow final product, then give it a miss. It’s not going to come vaguely close to being cleansing.
7. Animal products.
You know what I’m talking about. Thass’right – the flesh or yield of any living creature. The exception being if you are a baby on the boob (perfectly acceptable, and heartily endorsed from this corner).
Once again, I’m not going to go into details about the pure and utter destruction that animal products can and do cause your body, and what farming and harvesting meat, dairy and eggs does for the environment (not to mention the beasts from whom it’s taken).
If you need ethical reasons as to why going purely plant-based is the sanest idea on the planet, I refer you to PETA, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, The films Food Inc. and PlanEat and of course, Ms. Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet.
But as super spunkrat vegan chef, Chloe Coscarelli says, when transitioning from an animal-based to a plant-based diet, go slowly if you need to – try eating vego or vegan one or two days a week. Wean yourself onto the greens, and you’ll soon look back in deep gratitude.
Living Clean is all about being kind to your body, being kind to the planet, and to other living beings, and giving animal products the shove is the very best thing you can do for all the above in one fell swoop.
Yeah. I know. That felt like a whole bunch of “don’ts”, right? Trust me – it’s actually not as hard as it sounds. The key is to take it one at a time (and seriously – I’m no saint when it comes to these things – just this afternoon, my sister-in-law handed me a glass of champagne and a delicious vegan cupcake she’d made especially – and who was I to say no?).
But the point is – we can do this. Even if you just use the above as a guide that helps keep you roughly on the straight-and-narrow, you’re off to a great start.
Friday’s article is going to be all about what you can prop your newly clean-bod up with, because of course, when you take things away, you have to replace them with their more nutritious (and delicious) alternatives.
We’ll be talking juices, salads, water and a couple of supplements thrown in for good measure.
And make sure you stick around for Cassie’s next article – coming up on Wednesday – she’ll be getting down and dirty with detoxing your gorgeous locks! That’s right – harmful-crap-free hair care.
Until then, Santé!