The idea that you can “detox” your body from the damage caused by overindulgence in food and drink is a false one. Just because a juice cleanse or extreme diet gives you diarrhea or makes you feel hungry all the time does not mean your body is “shedding” all the bad stuff you did to it.
In fact, these unpleasant GI symptoms may actually cause more harm than good, as they can strip your gut of all beneficial bacteria and vitamin stores that help keep you healthy. Furthermore, extreme diets tend to confuse your body’s metabolism and may lead to additional weight gain later.
However, none of this means you can’t start over on a better path this new year. The trick is to do so strategically, and in a way that will actually benefit your body and mind.
I’ve put together a list of 20 habits you can begin today that will help “clean up” your body, mind and home. Over time, these changes can make a big impact on your health and quality of life. Just remember to start small – working on a couple of these at a time is plenty. After you’ve mastered those, you can always start on another.
20 Ways to Detox Your Body and Mind
- Drink water before every meal or snack. This will ensure you don’t mistake thirst for hunger, and makes you less likely to overeat.
- Cook most of your meals at home. Restaurant food is packed with salt and oil, no matter where you dine or what you order. Putting together a simple salad or topping beans & frozen veggies with a fried egg is not that hard and goes a long way in keeping you healthy. If you’re new to cooking, start slow and consider using a meal plan service like CookSmarts or The Fresh 20.
- Make vegetables the “main event” at every meal. Meat, cheese, bread, starches, etc. can be present too, but in smaller portions as “accents.”
- Buy organic when possible. Organic food is free from synthetic pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, and artificial additives. The more you buy organic, the more you avoid these undesirable components of food.
- Eat fermented foods. Yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and other fermented foods have natural probiotics that promote better digestion and perhaps better health in general.
- Turn off your phone, computer and TV while eating. This makes mealtime more of a conscious event and reduces the likelihood that you’ll overeat.
- Indulge in one treat everyday. A cookie, a handful of chips, a glass of wine – just not all three ;).
- Spend time with people who support your healthy habits, not people who try to sabotage them.
- Schedule one social event every week. A date night, a walk with a friend, or even a phone conversation with someone you love talking to can “refuel” your soul and make your outlook on life more positive.
- Give out more hugs. Embracing someone releases endorphins that make you – and the recipient of your hug – feel really good. Make it a hearty, two-armed embrace to get/give a bigger benefit.
- Listen to an uplifting song in the morning. Music evokes emotion, and when you hear something upbeat or that resonates with you, it’s likely to get your day started on the right foot.
- Practice mindfulness once or twice a day. This doesn’t take any additional time or scheduling, because you’re literally just allowing your mind to focus on whatever you’re doing in a given moment. But it can really help you relax and regroup. If you’re new to the term “mindful,” here are some TED Talks about the topic.
- Swap out some of your TV time for reading time. We watch TV to relax, but often it’s not that relaxing. Plus, it burns less calories than sleeping! Reading, on the other hand, can be invigorating and relaxing, as well as good for the mind.
- Schedule a time for social media. Social media is kind of addictive, yet it tends to make us feel worse about ourselves. Curb your use by setting a specific time for checking Facebook, Instagram, etc. then turn off notifications and avoid this media the rest of the time. You’ll probably feel happier and free up time for other activities.
- Move your body more. Physical activity, whether it’s walking, yoga, cardio, or simply getting up from your computer or desk once an hour to move around, has a variety of positive impacts on the body.
- Make exercise as much a part of your routine as eating is. When you view exercise as a natural part of your regular day, not something you have to squeeze in, you’re much more likely to do it regularly. Find a type of exercise you love and work it into your routine like you would with eating lunch or brushing your teeth. Soon it will feel like a habit you can’t break.
- Go to bed 1/2 an hour earlier. I’m notorious for staying up late, my excuse being that I need “me time” after putting the kids to bed. But a little extra sleep can make your day so much more enjoyable, that it’s always worth it!
- Give yourself permission to rest. Whether you’re a working parent, a stay-at-home-mom, or a social young professional, you’re probably on-the-go all the time. Taking 5 minutes to lie on the couch doing nothing might sound impossible, but it’s not. And you deserve it. Life will still be there when you get back up, and you won’t be any more behind than you were before your rest. But you will feel refreshed.
- Swap out your fragranced products for fragrance-free or natural scents. Every time you put on perfume, light a scented candle, or dry your clothes with a fragranced dryer sheet, you’re breathing in toxic chemicals. (The word “fragrance” on an ingredients list contains an average of 100 chemicals, many of which are toxic VOC’s). These can aggravate respiratory problems in the short-run, and disrupt the body’s endocrine system (leading to obesity, breast cancer, and more) in the long-run. Buy fragrance-free products or those fragranced only with essential oils.
- Ditch chemical cleaners. The word clean is defined as “the absence of impurities,” yet most of us deposit harsh chemicals all over our houses every time we clean. Switch to natural cleaners like Honest Company and Seventh Generation, or even just vinegar and baking soda for all your household needs, so that you breath in and ingest fewer toxins around the house.
I’d love to hear what else you’re doing to clean up your mind, body and home this new year!