By Rumana Zahn
First Steps to Great Health
How often have you thought, yes I’ll start tomorrow? Tomorrow arrives and so does the next but we never actually begin. Well, stop. Decide that you are going to begin now and you’ll be amazed at how easy it gets after that. Trust me!
In my practice as a Naturopath, I always get clients to visualise their goals and achieving good health is usually at the top of the list. Defining what this means is essential: losing 3 stones in weight; getting rid of a persistent skin condition; getting over depression. Deciding to do something about it is the first step.
How you go about making it happen will define how successful you are in achieving your goal. A strategy of simply increasing your number of visits to the gym will of course improve general fitness but it is by no means a complete health giving programme. To take full control of your health and well-being I believe in putting together an integrated health plan. This would include some self-help techniques such as making some adjustments to your diet and lifestyle combined with professional help from your doctor and/or health practitioner which might include working through a particular health ailment. In my experience, including a good detoxification programme is one of the most effective methods for an overall improvement in health.
Putting together your own cleansing programme doesn’t have to be an ordeal, it can be quite straightforward and enjoyable. Cleansing slowly and gently can effectively bring about deep health changes but this does rely on careful preparation and methodical, steady progress. Trying to rush things can lead to severe detoxification symptoms and what is often referred to as a ‘healing crisis’ where certain health issues seem to get worse before getting better.
Embarking on a health programmes including cleansing (i.e. cleaning up) takes time, so planning is essential. Your three levels of planning need to include:
Make a commitment to yourself and set your goals. Write down what it is you want to achieve with the cleanse and focus clearly on embarking on it. Visualise this in your mind and do this daily every morning before getting out of bed.
- Organise kitchen cupboards. Clear out tempting foods such as biscuits, cakes, crisps, etc on the red list (see box inset) and replace with healthy foods.
- Shop for the green list foods (see box inset).
- Give yourself some extra time to experiment and learn to cook healthy meals.
- Source and read some good books on detoxification – visit the library or purchase some recipe books to help you along.
As well as cleansing the body physically, the process may also release any repressed emotions. You may feel particularly angry, frustrated or tearful around your cleanse. Talking over the issue with a good friend can help, but long seated problems may require you to seek professional help. There are many therapists available who can assist, so find a good counsellor, psychologist, or life coach who you feel rapport with. You may also want to tell family members and close trusted friends that you are embarking on a cleansing regime in order to enlist their support.
How Long to Cleanse
Set yourself a time period – one day, a weekend, seven or twenty eight days – and stick to it. If you find your body is reacting quite strongly to cleansing, you will be better suited to doing small regular cleanses, such as one day a week or one weekend per month. I usually recommend women start a cleanse at the beginning of their monthly cycle where the body is more able to cope with the release of toxins.
It’s Simple, Really
Making adjustments to your diet and nutrition is the first step. Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables that are in season will give you the nutrition and balance your body needs at this time of year. Your organic farmers market will be full of wholesome locally grown produce at reasonable prices.
Getting an extra boost of vitamins and minerals doesn’t always have to come from a vitamin and mineral tablet. Juicing is an excellent way of getting more food based nutrition and it’s definitely worth investing in a juicer if you haven’t got one. There’s just no comparison between real fresh juice, free of additives and commercially bought varieties.
Another easy way to increase your natural source of vitamins and minerals is to use herbs in your cooking. Not only will you get nutritional benefits, but there are also therapeutic advantages to be gained from using herbs regularly. Rosemary, for instance, is great for the nervous system and parsley is excellent for supporting the kidneys.
For your cleansing days you will need a rest from wheat and dairy products, which I usually find aggravate a lot of people, causing mucus in the body. You will notice it as catarrh or continually having to clear your throat. You will also need to cut out all red meats; pork, beef and lamb. The cleanse will still work if you eat white meats such as chicken and fish once or twice a week, but if you want a deeper cleanse then cut out the meats completely.
No detox is complete without eliminating stimulants such as tea, coffee, all the alcohols and sugar. Do this gradually over a few days before starting the cleanse as you can get detoxification symptoms such as headaches, emotional releases like anger or general fatigue by coming off these suddenly. Drink plenty of water, at least 8 glasses per day, and herbal teas to help flush the toxins away.
If you want to go a step further and deeply cleanse the body consider cleansing your vital organs – the colon, liver and kidneys. These eliminative organs work continuously for us without a single break and often come under pressure through eating processed foods and living stressful lifestyles. Just think of these as filters which become clogged and needing regular de-gunking! There are some products on the market that help you do this and if you decide to buy a kit ensure that it is of high quality so you will need to shop around. I find herbal companies such as Specialist Herbal Supplies and Herbs Hands Healing produce some very good kits.
Once you’ve completed the cleanse, pat yourself on the back and start planning for the next! It may all sound like hard work initially, but when you see the weight loss, skin glow, feel more energy and improvements in health you’ll feel it was really worth it.
If you a have particular health condition then make sure you consult your doctor or a health practitioner before embarking on any cleansing programmes and do not attempt them if you are pregnant or breast feeding.