My husband and I, along with a group of 15 people from my practice, are on day 2 of our annual spring cleanse. It is an event that I always look forward to and relish when it comes – feeling the warmth of spring, new sprouts of life everywhere, and taking some time for our health.
This morning we are taking the time to be creative with the abundance of greens and root vegetables from our local farm box (CSA = community supported agriculture). Making a big batch of roasted vegetables and some brown rice will help sustain us. A smoothie of carrots, collards, beet greens, frozen mango and the detoxification powder supplement that we are using this year comprise our breakfast. We will be on this plan for 10 days, with the food choices becoming more restrictive as we go along. From the beginning we bid a fond farewell to caffeine, sugar, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, eggs, dairy products and flesh foods.
I lead liver detoxification workshops twice/year, in the spring and fall, the most optimal times to cleanse. But spring is always my favorite. I’m a summertime gal, so spring is when I can let myself start to get excited about longer days, growing tomatoes and all of the fun that summer brings. That feeling of excitement and motion is why many people are moved to do spring cleaning – it is a natural shift from the hibernation of winter. Acknowledgment of the changing of seasons helps us to be more connected to nature, to eating more seasonally (which I appreciate is a little easier in a climate where we can grow food year round), and to shift our bodies and activities in concert with this.
So too it is the right time to think about cleaning out our bodies.
The eating plan on the detox is more restrictive that what I normally do. For some people making the changes is not that difficult. For many of us, it is. I encourage cleansers to pay attention to the luscious healthiness of what they are consuming (rather than focusing on what they cannot eat). Food on the cleanse is focused nutrient density…and paying close attention to what you are putting in your body. It feels so good to me to do this. We just don’t take the time in our normal daily routines, at least not to the extent that we do now. I love the permission on the detox of taking it easy, spending more time with food, focusing on greens, and feeling all of the cells of my body soak up the intensity of the nutrition.
We are exposed to toxins all the time. When I began leading detox workshops, I spent lots of time talking about all of the things in our environment that are bad for us, and ended up seeing many deer-in-the-headlights faces. I find that the people who want to come to the program realize there are some inherent toxins in their environment, so I don’t belabor the point quite so much. But education is one of my passions, so I always have to throw in a few little details about safe sunscreens and toothpaste. Some people are more exposed on the job. But everyone, even those who live clean lives, has some toxic load. Pollution, plastic bottles, pesticides on produce, medications, personal care products (like deodorant, lotions, cortisone cream, cosmetics, sun screen, shampoo) have chemicals that have been shown to cause harm. Categories of damage include endocrine disruption, carcinogenesis, neurotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, and allergies or immunotoxicity.
While finding the balance between awareness and panic, and making positive changes or falling into bottomless depression about how we’ve polluted our world, I now lean more towards a detox that is also good for your spirit. Find a place where you can make some positive shifts without feeling completely overwhelmed. Doing a detox requires spending more time preparing your food, rather than buying something quick. Relish in that. Give up some of the other tasks of the day to make chopping the carrots meditative. Rest and take care of yourself, so that putting together a delicious vegan dinner doesn’t feel like such a heavy load. Appreciate the new leaves on the Japanese maple, or the tulips or whatever is blooming in your yard. That is the beauty of spring. That is all part of the health of our natural world.