For those of us that eat clean, it is a way of life. Social media may poke fun, portraying us crying over our salad.
But we know better. We know that when we eat good, we feel good, and when we eat great, we feel great! We understand that real, healthy food, void of chemicals, is biocompatible with our biology. We are connected to the fact that real, whole foods are nourishment required for maintenance of our most valuable possession—ourselves. That once broken down, what we eat is absorbed into our blood stream through our small intestine, and then pumped by our heart to each and every cell, tissue and organ in our body. Nature gives us just what we need, and just as a baby feels deeply satisfied by her mother’s milk, that is designed perfectly for her, we, too feel deeply satisfied when we eat food provided by Mother Nature. The wisdom of food is released by the innate wisdom of our bodies that take in these natural compounds and utilizes them to thrive, to live!
Generally speaking, substances we so nonchalantly call vitamins and nutrients are complex substances vital to proper development, growth and function of the human body, and cannot be sufficiently produced endogenously, and therefore, must come from food sources. Our bones, muscles, tissues, organs, hormones—our mind even—all need proper nourishment and nutrients, thus the word, “nutrition” for health and survival. No wonder you feel so great when you start eating well, and feel lousy when you don’t. No wonder our children feel cranky or have trouble paying attention when their bodies are deprived.
Why do we binge?
I know for me, I don’t at all feel deprived. I have allowed my body to return to its natural state, craving natural foods that taste good as well. But wait! Why do we crave unhealthy food? And why does bad food taste good???
The answer lies in the exploitation of our taste buds. Our bodies, and especially our brains, need a certain amount of carbohydrates to function well. Carbohydrates have a naturally sweet taste. Our taste buds are expertly programmed to seek out these flavors in natural foods such as tubers, roots, vegetables, fruits etc. You may not think of vegetables as sweet, but once you remove processed foods from your life, you begin to once again taste the natural sweetness in a snap pea, a red bell pepper, some lettuce.
Processing food is like photoshop for our taste buds. Just as an image of a naturally attractive person can be artificially manipulated to be surrealistically “beautiful” ie changing proportions to enhance what is naturally perceived as healthy, to redden lips and cheeks, to exploit traits that are naturally perceived as fertility. Food is processed to exploit our natural seeking of healthy foods. Chemicals are added and renamed as “flavorings” to trigger our ancestral brain that is seeking the nutrients. The problem is, that this manipulation, this flavor, is not coming from the nutrients as they would in nature, but rather is a chemical manipulation to entice you to eat more, to want more, to purchase more, and even, to become addicted. Our tongues and brains are being tricked! I even stay away from “natural flavorings,” which are also chemically produced, just the raw material was from a natural source. I don’t want them in my body, or in my kid’s bodies and brains. Fragrances and colorings are also just another name for chemicals.
Because of these reasons, I don’t at all feel deprived when I eat real, good, healthy food—what I call happy food! Best of all, I CRAVE happy food. It took some retraining. I eliminated all the bad stuff by not bringing it into my home, and I don’t give into the social pressure of bad food. That is not to say that I’m not human. I’ll give you an example:
My weakness is more so for salty foods and less for sweet. I tend to have low adrenal hormones, due to my history of fibromyalgia, so I crave salt. My kryptonite is barbecue potato chips. Not too long ago, I found myself digging into a bag of barbecue chips. I told myself that eating a few would be no big deal, but all those natural flavorings were playing games with my taste buds. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. I ate waaaaay too many. As in, looking for some more in the corner of the bag. Ugh! Not only were these chips void of nutrients, but they were likely loaded with acrylamides, a carcinogen that forms as a result of cooking at very high temperatures.
I started to feel kinda sick. I ate the whole. bag. of. chips. And I didn’t even notice until they were gone because I was
up late watching a webinar. Kids asleep (I homeschool so when they sleep is my “me time”), so my brain was on total vacation. I knew the next morning I would feel salty and puffy and dry mouthed, and even itchy. And you, dear reader, know full well, that once we get used to clean eating, we really feel the effects of eating poorly.
It happens. We are human, living in a very faux world, trying our best to get by, and feel good. So what to do next? This is what I do to get back on track when I fall off my healthy chuck wagon.
5 Ways to Detox
1. Eat lots of Soluble Fiber to increase digestion
Soluble fiber is found abundantly in vegetables and can help food pass more quickly through the digestive system. I make sure my next meal is a big, delicious, happy salad with only olive oil and lemon as dressing.
2. Amp up the probiotic intake
Probiotics have many roles in health. What is important here is that your intestinal flora is happy enough to help protect your gut lining. Holes in the gut lining, or leaky gut can lead to allergies, autoimmune diseases and more. Healthy intestinal microbiota also help your body get rid of toxins. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir are good options. I also take a probiotic supplement.
3. Baking soda
Baking soda is an old home remedy. It was so prevalent that the Arm and Hammer company used to publish recommended dosages for preventing and treating the flu. Baking soda can balance the alkalinity of your body’s pH which is thought to play an important role in many diseases. It is thought that processed food can result in a more acidic environment and increase susceptibility to disease. I drink a teaspoon in a full glass of water in the morning at night, when I intuitively feel I need it. I’m not your doctor, so please check with your ND before you add this to your health protocol. Also, be certain it’s aluminum free.
4. Milk Thistle tea
After a toxic food situation, I try to stick to just water as a beverage choice. Meaning I avoid tea and even green juices for at least a day. The reason for this is that I want all the fiber I can get, so I don’t rely on the green juicing to get my daily greens. Some teas can be dehydrating, and I want to stay as hydrated as possible. One exception I would make is that of milk thistle tea, which is very tonic to the liver and very helpful when trying to detoxify
For me, eating badly can cause a Fibromyalgia flare up. When this happens, I don’t feel like doing anything at all! But I force myself to get some exercise knowing that I will feel much better afterward. Exercising will help me detoxify through sweating and respiration and helps keep my energy up.
No one knows your body better than you. Bad food is bad for everyone, but some of us may be more sensitive to the effects than others. This is what I do when I break my clean eating lifestyle. Check with your naturopathic doctor before starting a new program of any kind. Because prevention is the best cure!
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.