October is here and with its arrival comes that wonderful transition between the lazy days of summer and the arrival of cool crisp days, colorful fall leaves(depending of course on where you live!), digging through your ‘winter wardrobe’ and getting re-acquainted with life lived more indoors than out. It is also that time before the arrival of ‘the holidays’ and the onslaught of celebrations, busier schedules, over-indulgence of food and libations, often less sleep and feelings of being overwhelmed.
So this is a perfect time to hit the pause button(for those of you new to our blog, go back to my post from December 9, 2011: “Hitting the Pause Button”) and regroup. Although summer markets offer wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables and the daylight hours seem endless and filled with activities, I often feel as though I need a break from my food and beverage habits of the summer before the start of the holiday season: too many late night barbecues and perhaps an over-surplus of happy hour get-togethers(Portland is famous for its selection of happy hours, in case you don’t live here).
Last fall I went on a ‘cleanse’ of my own design for 10 days and I felt so empowered and healthy that I decided to do it again this October. This is not your usual cleanse filled with special drinks and supplements, but rather a very simple one that eliminates specific food and beverage groups. It was designed to make me more conscious of the food and beverage choices that I was making and led me to a better awareness of what I was putting into my body. I loved how I felt afterwards and its effects lingered long afterwards. Of course, here it is a year later and I am badly in need of a tune-up.
During some of my recent conversations about this with family, friends and patients, people have expressed an interest in joining me on this 10 day cleanse and have asked me to share this on the blog. So here goes: starting on Sunday, October 14th , I am going to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, sugar and ‘whites’ from my diet. I plan to do this for 10 days in a row so that Tuesday, October 23rd will be my final day. I chose these dates because they work for ME and my schedule. If you would like to join me and those dates are not optimal for YOU, play around with the starting and stopping dates but start when you can: the more the merrier!! I have several friends in my book group who are going to ‘take the challenge’ and we are excited to have the camaraderie and support of one another.
Ah, you ask: how did I pick these 4 main groups to eliminate? Essentially all of them have an effect on the adrenal glands and liver, as well as your insulin levels. As always, it is extremely important to support your adrenals as well as giving them a break from time to time as well!! In addition, we need to strive for a more steady insulin balance in our daily lives. The health benefits of maintaining a steady insulin/glucose balance are far-reaching: decreased risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia….the list goes on and on.
I could have included other food groups, such as dairy, gluten and animal proteins but these have so many health benefits and are not problematic for me. I choose to eat a diet that is primarily plant based in general and when I do eat animal protein, it is always raised organically. Feel free to include other groups to eliminate that will benefit you : modify and individualize this cleanse so that you get the most out of it. Perhaps you will choose not to eliminate caffeine. I have heard many concerns about caffeine-withdrawal headaches, which are valid: you might try gradually decreasing the amount of caffeine you take in rather than going cold turkey. You could try substituting herbal teas at times which might help you become ‘caffeine-free’ by the end of 10 days.
In terms of ‘sugar’, I plan to eliminate any item that contains simple sugar and focus on foods that contain natural sugars instead. I like to use stevia or Truvia as a sweetener, as it comes from the stevia plant and has no impact on glucose levels. I suppose one could make an argument that honey and agave are naturally occuring sugars, which in fact they are. They do affect blood sugar levels but the rise is not as steep, so I will leave that up to you whether you would like to eliminate them or perhaps include them in small doses.
And what do I mean when I say “the whites”? White rice, white flour, white potatoes, white pasta, white sugar…..sorry folks, although some of the foods that contain them are often comfort foods and childhood favorites, they are so devoid of nutritional value and are huge culprits in terms of raising glucose levels, they have to go for awhile. There is a great deal of evidence that an excessive level of sugar(glucose) is one of the primary causes of all types of diseases: dental disease, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases are some of the primary ones. So anything we can do to minimize the amount of sugar we consume will have a powerful impact on our health, as well as our hormone balance.
It always comes back to balance…and hormones...remember insulin is a hormone as well. And all of them work together to help you to feel your best. When one or several of your hormones are out of balance, whether this is caused by stress, diet, lifestyle, aging, genetics or environment, the rest of your hormones will strive to get back to balance but often the ‘new balance’ doesn’t feel that way at all.
So mark October 14th on your calendar and do the cleanse with me . I will include more details about what to include as well before I start so stay tuned. As always, we love to hear from you. Please be sure to comment on the blog as well as on Facebook as some of our readers may not be your ‘friend’ and don’t get to see what you are writing.
See you soon. I look forward to your company during these 10 days.