Living your best life happens one step at a time. In a sea of too much, and often conflicting health information, Healthy Bites provides the simple, specific information and guidance you need to make a small, baby step – or, a “healthy bite” – toward a healthier and happier life. Local wellness expert and health and lifestyle counselor, Mikaela D. Martin (of Guidance for Growing in Souderton), writes the monthly Healthy Bites, and hosts ongoing community conversation about the column’s topics here at, www.guidanceforgrowing.com/news.
A time of balancing, growing and re-growing, longer days, and warming weather, the vernal equinox is a perfect opportunity for cleansing. While the words “spring” and “clean” have long been synonymous, most often we think of spring-cleaning our houses. Rather than focusing on washing windows and scrubbing floors however, this month’s Healthy Bites offers advice on how to start cleansing our physical homes: our bodies. Spending a weekend or even a whole week focused on consuming cleansing foods and drinks is an effective and easy way to recharge and reset after a long winter. During the colder months, we often accumulate fat and excess toxins; incorporating a detox diet is a way to break out of this “hibernation” and to begin the new season a little lighter and a lot healthier. If the thought of starting a detox diet seems overwhelming, or even a little extreme, I assure you it doesn’t have to be. Simply adding whole foods and nourishing teas, broths, and juices to one’s diet provides practical and accessible steps toward detoxing your body:
You spring detox diet should be filled with vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes, and nuts and seeds. From March through June, look for these traditional spring cleansing foods: alfalfa and bean sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, Brussles sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chicory, collard greens, endive, garlic, green beans, hot peppers, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, parsley, peas, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips, and watercress. These are certainly not the only veggies to be consumed during your detox, but rather are the in-season ones that will most support your cleanse and help rebalance your body. The fiber and natural sugar found in whole fruits are also supportive to cleansing. As well, focus on incorporating gluten-free grains such as amaranth, brown rice, buckwheat/kasha, millet, polenta, and quinoa. Animal proteins like dairy and meat are better avoided, but if you feel you need a little, then choose ones that are organic, drug-free, and free-range. Other foods that will impede the cleansing process include refined and enriched flours, wheat products, fried foods, foods containing hydrogenated and trans fats, sugar and foods containing it, and foods with additives and preservatives. These should be reduced or eliminated during a detox diet.
Teas, juices, broths
In addition to drinking filtered water with lemon throughout the days of a detox diet, many teas, juices, and broths also support cleansing of the body. Try herbal teas that contain cardamom, chicory, cinnamon, cloves, dandelion, ginger, hibiscus, orange peal, or strawberry leaf. Fresh-squeezed juices are the best option during a cleanse, as they contain much more nutrition and much less additives. A springtime detox is also a great opportunity to experiment with green smoothies. Use this recipe as a starting place, adjusting ingredients to your taste preferences: 1 cup cold water, 2 cups coarsely chopped greens, 1 stalk of celery, 1 cored and chopped apple, 1 banana, 2” piece of peeled ginger, 1 handful of cilantro or parsley, juice of ½ a lemon (simply blend ingredients in a blender). Thin soups and broths are another tool for detoxifying your diet. Try broths made from anti-inflammatory, ph-balancing and mineral-rich ingredients such as root vegetables, tubers, seaweed, and herbs. Drinks and liquids to avoid during a cleanse include coffee and other caffeinated beverages, sodas, processed juices and teas, milk and other dairy, and canned broth and soup.
Cleansing and detoxing can be done any time of year, but the springtime offers unique advantages. We are much more likely to crave and enjoy the lighter foods that are recommended during a cleanse, and likewise, those mineral- and vitamin-packed foods are more available. In addition, our energy cycles are rejuvenated as the winter passes and the days become longer and warmer. Be sure to visit the Guidance for Growing website for detox diet recipes, tips and more “healthy bites” throughout the month. Have a rejuvenating and cleansing April!