At the beginning of January I wrote about an idea to experiment with a juice cleanse, hoping to recover from my life in December. My basic research was inconclusive and although I wasn’t fully convinced that a juice fast is a safe and beneficial thing do to my body, I was curious about the process and willing to experiment. I decided to get my ND’s advice, as I’ve had a really good experience with him in the past, and he suggested that while a 1-2 day juice fast would be okay if I wanted, a detox protocol would be more beneficial.
So what exactly is a “detox”? That was my first question. The idea of a detoxification process is that it helps our bodies eliminate built up toxins. Toxins are found pretty much everywhere – food, water, personal health care products, pharmaceutics, cleaning agents, dust, air, LIFE! Our bodies are ideally capable of eliminating these toxins, but there may be several reasons for needing some help. I’m pretty sure that modern day life (especially in a city) exposes us to more toxins than we have evolved to eliminate. Obviously we’ve adapted to a certain degree, but who really knows if its enough? Then if our immune systems and elimination channels are not functioning optimally, we may be accumulating more toxins that we’re letting go of. So a detox protocol, like the one my ND suggested, focuses on limiting the toxins that are being taken in, and supporting the body in eliminating existing toxins by taking liver-supporting supplements, drinking more water to help the kidneys, and trying to sweat more (exercise, sauna, etc..) to help eliminate toxins through the skin. There are, of course, more aggressive and invasive methods of detoxing, but they have no place on a food blog ;)
How do you know if you need to detox? It seems to make sense that we can all benefit from a detox every once in a while, but I had a couple of symptoms indicating that there may be a more urgent need. If you know me personally, you’re probably used to getting a slap on the wrist for wearing perfume and/or smoking around me. I may also have disappointed you by refusing to wear makeup to your wedding, bailing on plans due to a migraine, or remaining completely sober at the drunkest of events. If you know me and are reading this, you’re probably still my friend, so thank you :) I always thought that chemical/smell/alcohol sensitivity and migraines were genetic since my mom has all of the same issues, but my ND suggested that these problems may indicate my body’s inability to properly eliminate the toxins present in those substances and that a detox may potentially make them a little better. I’ve also had a few random skin reactions to food that I can’t seem to track down, indicating some sort of interesting immune system activity.
The most recent course I completed at IHN was all about nutrition and the environment. I have sort of avoided this topic in the past, choosing to be ignorant to things I felt that we couldn’t really control, but taking the course opened up a giant can of really nasty worms and more importantly made me realize that there are many things that we can control. Going back to toxins and detoxification, we used a barrel analogy in class. The simplified version goes something like this: Our body is a barrel. Toxin intake fills our barrel, elimination (detoxification) empties the barrel. Individual “barrel sizes” vary based on the the individual’s immune system, genetics, and overall health. Once our barrel gets full, we experience illness. The moral of the story was to do everything we can to avoid filling up the barrel, assist our bodies in emptying the barrel (this is where detoxification comes in), and maintaining good overall health.
I’m not going to go through the details of my protocol. If you’re interested in doing something like this, get some professional guidance, as the process likely varies for every individual. I do want to say a few things about the food though – this is a food blog after all! The dietary portion of the protocol was surprisingly not very restrictive, and I found that I was already pretty close to following it. The obvious things to avoid were processed foods, sugar, wheat, dairy (unless cultured), seafood, non-organic meats, alcohol, and caffeine. The most painful thing (by FAR) was letting go of my morning coffee, which set off a 3-day migraineathon. I’m proud to say I’ve survived it with no drugs, for the first time in my life, since that would mess with the whole liver detox thing. Once that passed, it was smooth sailing. The detox was supposed to last a month, but my husband and I had the opportunity to book a last minute trip to Mexico, which will interrupt the detox after 2 weeks. The 2 weeks are almost up. I feel better than I did in the beginning of January, but it’s hard to say whether it’s because of the detox or just going back to eating well. In any case, I hope that the past two weeks helped empty the barrel just a little bit, and I’ll be back to trying the whole 1-month journey some time in the spring/summer.
Eating more cruciferous veggies was part of the detox protocol. Yay! :) So today I’m sharing a creaaamy coleslaw with radicchio, and apples, dressed with a honey-mustard-curry cashew dressing, garnished with raisins (I was supposed to avoid these – oops!), more cashews, and cilantro. Using a nut base for creamy dressings is seriously revolutionized my salads, there’s more to come for sure!
- 4 cups shredded green cabbage cabbage (about 1/4 medium head)
- 2 cups shredded radicchio (about 1 small head)
- 1 granny smith apple
- raisins, cashew pieces, and cilantro to garnish
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup raw cashew pieces
- 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 tsp. curry powder
- 2 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- a pinch of cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- Lightly massage the shredded cabbage with a few pinches of salt and set aside.
- In a food processor, process the cashews to a fine meal, then add salt, curry, cayanne, honey, dijon, and lemon. Process to combine.
- With the food processor on, start adding water, a little bit at a time, until the mixture forms a thick paste. Process it until completely smooth, and scrape the sides.
- Continue adding water until the mixture resembles a thick buttermilk consistency. It should be creamy, but pour easily.
- Add the radicchio and apples to the cabbage, toss with the dressing, and garnish with cilantro, raisins, and cashews.