Understanding the Elimination Diet (the foundation of my detox programs)
When deciding what to eat, how often do you listen to your own body instead of listening to the ‘media health experts’? Foods and supplements are like fashion in the media. Fashion comes and goes. 10 years ago margarine was the best choice, now butter is back. Eggs are good; eggs are bad; eggs are good again. Who can keep up? The problem with cookie cutter nutrition guidance is that some foods may not be good for your body. What might life be like, if you got back to the basics, and listened to your own body. Pretty cool in my experience.
One way to get in tune with your own body is to understand and implement the elimination diet. The elimination diet is one of the keys to creating a lifetime of healthy weight maintenance, healthy digestion and freedom from compelling cravings and the diet mentality.
Supporting the body’s detoxification processes with the elimination diet is your opportunity to find out what really works for YOU, your body and your circumstances. This is your opportunity to discover what actually fuels your body in a balanced way. As you commit to the process you will begin to understand which foods are quietly wreaking havoc on your digestive system, contributing to unnecessary weight, sleep disturbances and other chronic challenges.
There are levels of engagement with an elimination and detox protocol (which we'll talk about in another post). There are also phases to follow and they go something like this:
The Preparation phase:
During your prep phase you will begin to reduce and/or eliminate the foods on the foods to avoid list. These foods are all common allergens that cause many people unrecognized inflammation, leading to an increase in waste and toxicity to be held in the body that show up over time as other challenges in the body. Over these very important prep days you will begin to reduce and eliminate these foods to prepare your body for quality food that will relieve the burden of digestion and elimination and allow your body to rest as it resets. Shifting into a program gradually, also eases what we sometimes call ‘the detox blues’. This is a response that can happen when we remove foods that we habitually consume and are most likely addicted to. Things like, caffeine, fats (not all fat is bad) and processed sugar. If you experience a headache after you remove your favorite cereal from your diet, or even your “healthy” snack, do not worry. This is a positive sign that you are uncovering something that is not serving your body well.
The Detox Phase
After you complete the prep phase you will begin the Detox Phase. The detox itself is based on a list of foods you can eat (when you work with me you receive a collection of recipes that are chosen for their easy digestibility and organ supportive qualities). The time frame can be anywhere from a few days, to weeks to several months. The longer you are able to follow this way of eating the more information you’ll get about your body and the deeper the potential for transformation. It’s also very helpful to keep notes of what is coming up for you during this period including how you feel emotionally and physically. Our bodies store incredible information and when we bring awareness to this wisdom we give ourselves greater tools for engaging life fully by responding with more of our inner resources intact. It’s really cool stuff.
The Transition (to a new normal)
Do not skip this phase. Do not underestimate the power of transitional phases. The purpose of the Transition Phase is to reintroduce the foods on the ‘avoid list’ back into your diet one at a time, every 2 to 3 days. It is important to follow this schedule to allow for a period of time to notice any reactions (usually occur within minutes to 24 hours of taking a food in), identify mood shifts, and note any inflammation that occurs when the body releases histamines. Histamines are released in the body as a natural defense when the body treats certain foods as an allergen. A histamine response in your body results in water retention and bloat and congestion (for example).
In the next post, find out where you should begin.
Is that Your Hair?
That question doesn’t offend me. Neither does “can I touch your hair?” I get it. Over the years, I’ve seen a few heads of hair I’ve wanted to touch. I didn’t know, until way too late in a brown skinned woman’s life, that Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance” hair wasn’t hers. I would have had hope, at a very young age, that I could buy curls and colors. By the time Niki Minaj came along, I’d caught on to the color part.
So, when I get questions about my hair it’s usually an opportunity for me to help someone else find hope for hers. Is that Your hair? Is usually followed up with ‘so, what do you use on it?’ This post is about some of those products.
Some things to keep in mind as you read through this information:
1. I like heavy conditioners.
2. My hair is super dry and the texture changes throughout
3. I prefer products that are lauryl sulfate, mineral oil and dye free (but sometimes I'm desperate)
4. You will give or throw some fails away. Finding products that work for YOU is a process (just like changing your habits with food). And once you find something that works you’ll want to start shopping around for a back-up because your hair will probably change its mind and fall out of love with whatever it is you fell in love with.
My favorite leave-in conditioner is Kinky Curly’s Knot Today. You can find it at Target for about 12$. I think this is the only product that I’ve been able to work with for years on end with consistently great results. The shampoo in the line was too harsh for my hair.
Currently, I’m using Wen’s cleansing conditioner. I like this line a lot. It really does build up in such a way that I end up needing less as time goes on. There are specific directions on the packaging. Give them a try before improvising.
When I find a conditioner that I like, I often use it as my leave-in. Over time this creates build up (different from the desirable Wen buildup) and it’s important to have a good cleanser that does not strip. I will use apple cider vinegar as a rinse sometimes but that’s for another post. I also like doTERRA’s shampoo for a deeper cleanse without stripping action.
Organix is a line that I go to off and on. I started with the coconut shampoo and conditioner. I like them both. They’ve also introduced the coconut water line and I’ve had good results with that as well. The kukui line is a good choice also. I tried the Moroccan argan creème and it wasn’t great for me partly because the aroma is so perfumey and I’m not a fan. Second to that, it didn’t hydrate my hair the way I like, but it may work well for you.
Recently, I discovered Sukin Organics at Marshall’s. That line is free of all kinds of things we want out of our personal care products. It’s free of synthetic fragrances, sodium lauryl sulfate, mineral oils, dyes and more. It’s also a vegan product. I tried the conditioner and it wasn’t quite rich enough for my hair but, it is a lovely conditioner and may work for those of you who prefer a lighter touch.
There’s also a company you can order from online called Paradise Naturals. I haven’t used this line myself but it comes to me highly recommended and the ingredients are on the clean end of things. Maybe you can check it out and let me know what you think.
I am not immune to hair product desperation and a tight budget. I’ve had good luck with Suave coconut conditioner and Dove and Pantene moisturizing conditioners. These are NOT clean ingredient products, but they are crazy cheap and available just about everywhere.
It’s important to take into consideration, your water hardness/softness. Hard water makes for hard, brittle hair. Soft water makes for challenging shampoo removal. The state of your water may be impacting your hair.
Also, what you eat impacts your hair. It’s not to say that you can’t enjoy your Doritos (and this isn't the best snack choice anyway) and have pretty tresses, but quality EFA’s and macro and micro nutrients will likely make a big difference if you aren’t already eating well.
I’m going to close here. This is a long and ongoing conversation that adjusts each time I discover something that works well, address my water challenges, change my diet, protect my hair from cotton pillowcase and the elements, etc.
I may get organized around this topic and make it an ongoing series…
It’s Spring. The Great Purge is on!
So, you’re thinking about doing a detox. Or, a cleanse. Or… something to shake the cobwebs and weight of winter off. Do you know where you’ll begin? Knee Deep? Up to Your Neck? Or, All In? First, there’s a lot of disagreement about what it means to detoxify the body and, whether we even need to detoxify the body.
Let’s talk about whether we need to detoxify for a moment. The body has five natural pathways of elimination and detoxification that are most commonly recognized: the skin, lungs, kidneys and liver and colon. These organs know what to do. These geniuses have been doing the detox thing way longer than we have.
So, if the body has the detox process mastered, why do we feel compelled to “help” it along with things like skin brushing, rebounding and lemon juice in our morning water? Well, it probably has something to do with marketing and the pills, powders and programs promising perfection: perfect digestion, perfect weight, perfect skin, perfect lives and on and on.
So… why? Would you want to detox or cleanse? Our body knows how to do the work, but we are unrelenting in the garbage we pour into and lather onto our bodies. Our food is filled with preservatives, pesticides and other extras our bodies were not designed to handle 24/7- throughout a lifetime. Add to that the products we put onto our skin and into our homes and we increase our toxic load with a variety of ingredients recognized for their neuro-toxic and endocrine disrupting ways.
I always think of the Batman movie with the Joker’s plan to kill Gotham city by creating a chemical cocktail that was activated by using deodorant and shampoo and toothpaste (for example) all together. One of the arguments against the dangers of chemicals in our environment is that the amounts involved are way too small to matter. We can play with that possibility while reminding ourselves that it’s not just food we’re eating, but, also soap for our bodies and faces, make-up, deodorant, cologne, fabric softener, floor wax, carpeting etc., etc., that we live with day to day.
Yes, our body needs a break.
Our body can sort through good and the bad, but more and more, the bad ends up stashed away in our tissue somewhere. Some of the signals our bodies give when over worked include headaches, migraines, fatigue, insomnia, poor digestion, foul breath, constipation, diarrhea… all the fun stuff we love talking about.
There are levels to a detox. You can name them what you want - I like Knee Deep (entry level); Up to My Neck (intermediate) and All In (as in, you’ve done this before).
You deserve a break. I’ll let you know how to decide where you are, and where to begin, in the next post. A two-parter, kinda like those old comic books...
“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road does not mean they are lost."