When it comes to clean living, one of the first places that I recommend my clients start is with FOOD. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming. 😜) Because yes, it’s fun and trendy to weave in some new exotic practice like ear candling. (Ear what? 😳) But really, when all is working as it should, your body is designed to be able to detox day in and day out — without necessarily giving up food (or sanity) on a juice cleanse.
I mean, when you think about it, you eat at east three times per day. And every single time is a chance to move your body closer to (or further from) health. What you eat can either aid your body in its natural detox efforts, or require that it to shift to detoxing what you just consumed, instead of all the other things it could be going after like viruses, bacteria, and pollutants.
Nope, I’m not talking about organic
One might assume that pesticides and organic produce are the likely place to start, right? While I agree that there are certainly ways to upgrade what you’re eating to the cleanest food source possible — there’s another category that I believe often gets overlooked, and often especially by the healthiest of eaters.
I would wager that, if you look at the back of your protein powders, energy bars, or even almond milks, you’ll find at least one of the culprits I’m talking about.
That is: mystery chemicals, additives, preservatives, or ingredients. The things that sneak into even the so-called healthiest of foods, making it what I call: junk food marketed as health food.
How can you tell? The easiest way to tell if you have some suspect characters is to read the ingredient list. Food marketers can use all kinds of terms on the front of a food package to make you think it’s healthy — things like all-natural, low-fat, and sugar-free. But the truth is, terms like all-natural are barely regulated by the food industry, and something could be low-fat but loaded with a ton of sugar, or sugar-free but loaded with a bunch of questionable artificial sweeteners.
Where the rubber meets the road is the food label. Because that’s where what is ACTUALLY in the food you’re eating identifies (and speaks for) itself.
What’s the issue with mystery ingredients, anyway?
Think about it this way: the challenge you have in pronouncing an ingredient is the same level of difficulty your body probably has in processing it. If you read a food label and think “what the what?!” then your body is probably thinking the same thing. It’s one thing to have a hard time pronouncing sodium acid pyrophosphate, but how do you think your BODY feels knowing what the heck to do with it?
Evolutionarily speaking, human bodies have never been tasked with turning sodium acid pyrophosphate into hormones, muscles, hair, skin and nails… let alone knowing whether it’s something that’s safe for the body, or something it should put on the red-alert detox list.
As such, eating these foods can detract your body from bigger things competing for its attention with detox. And leave YOU feeling foggy, run-down, and tired (and wondering why) in the process.
Additionally, your body tucks toxins inside of fat cells, protecting YOU from them hitting your bloodstream. And the last thing you want is to accumulate a body full of stored toxins, that your body hangs on to because it’s not really sure what else to do with them.
What to look for instead
A good rule of thumb is: can you pronounce the ingredient? Better yet, do you know what it is? Better yet, does an 8-year-old? Children could identify foods like apples, beef, lettuce, and bananas. The human body has likely been digesting these things for thousands of years, meaning it’s a pretty solid bet that it knows what to do with them once they hit your system. The more you can ease into those foods, the better your health, hormones, weight, metabolism, and detox systems will be able to function.
It’s not to say that you can never eat packaged food. It’s just that when you do, give a quick glance at the food label. Make sure that you recognize the ingredients in it as real food. And if you don’t, keep looking for another option with real-food ingredients.
Where to learn more
If you’re interested in learning more about real food, pesticides, organic food, what it all means — and in getting product list for clean, real-food brands and products — check out The Detoxinista. It’s my self-paced online program about clean living, made simple.
You’ll get a deeper understanding of where to begin with clean eating, but also cleaner beauty, skincare, water filters, and — yes — some of those fun daily practices that you may have heard about like oil pulling, should you be so inclined. All taken step by step, at a pace that feels doable for you.