DIARY OF A CHEF AT HOME
a collection of holistic nutrition tips & tricks, plus many of Food on the Table's favourite recipes
Spring has sprung here on the West Coast! Flowers are poppin', all the shades of green are as vibrant as ever and I've officially changed my closet over!
It's usually around this time of year I feel a deep urge to update a few lifestyle habits, some of which include: cleaning and organizing my house from top to bottom (this usually takes a few months!), spending more time outdoors, getting my hands in the dirt, connecting more with family and friends and simplifying the foods I eat. I'm often compelled to do a cleanse during the Spring, which to me feels more like the "new year."
Is it necessary to do food cleanses?
No, not really. However, adjusting your dietary habits to connect with the season and reducing or eliminating poor eating habits can help us get our eating on track to a more supportive, whole foods diet. We all know that highly processed foods eaten in excess are harmful to our health, well-being and environment. In the long run, they’re more expensive and have a negative impact on our health and health care system. Canada currently has the highest rate of gastrointestinal disease which is being diagnosed in children, even as young as infancy. Many of these ailments can be prevented, drastically reduced and/or eliminated through a balanced diet suited for the individual.
Our great grandparents and even grandparents did not see the types of disease that plague us in this modern day. We are consuming more processed sugars and foods than ever before in human history. It’s becoming more and more clear that there’s a strong link that points to the foods we eat, environmental toxins, sedentary lifestyles and the high rates of illness & dis-ease throughout the world. Being in control of the food we put into our body is a powerful and impactful step in taking charge of our health and wellness.
We’re all human and sometimes we get caught up in habits that impact our health negatively, like refined sugar, processed food and alcohol. Take sugar for example. Sugar is highly addictive, and it takes only a small amount to get caught up in the vicious addictive cycle that can have damaging effects on many of the body’s systems including mental health.
Doing a cleanse can be a great way of reducing or eliminating these less than beneficial foods and bringing more self awareness with the foods that we choose to consume. As we eliminate these foods from our diet, we may have cravings. These cravings are important to note as they hold a lot of information as to what nutrients our body needs. For example, if we’re craving sugar, we may require more whole-food based protein like nuts and seeds. Or, if we’re craving salty, processed foods, we may benefit from increasing our levels of nourishing fats like avocado and coconut oil. As we listen to these cravings we begin to identify the foods that nourish us deeply and the foods that leave us feeling hungry, sick and craving more. Eventually, we no longer crave these foods as intensely because our body has the nutrients it requires. Of course, there’s a time and a place for a piece of cake loaded with icing but those desires become few and far between!
The body is continually and naturally eliminating harmful toxins and waste products via the liver (body's largest detoxification organ), intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, kidneys and skin. When we re-set our body with specific whole foods we reduce the amount of toxins and potential allergens that burden the system, giving our hard working organs a well-deserved break. We are continually bombarded by environmental toxins, pesticides in our soil and food, harsh chemicals in house cleaners / skin & beauty products, chemicals in highly processed and GMO foods, prescription drugs, cell phone radiation and much more.
A healthy body should be capable of neutralizing and eliminating many of these harmful toxins, however, the more we overload our systems and fill our bodies with depleting foods, the less capable we become of clearing these toxins out, bringing us closer to illness and dis-ease. (Keep in mind, this will look different for everybody so it's important to understand you're nutritional needs).
Getting in the practice of doing a yearly or seasonal cleanse can simplify this process for the body, especially if we're loaded down with environmental and dietary toxins that can burden the body's systems and wear us down. I like to think of a cleanse as a “dietary re-set”, to bring one back to a natural, whole-food way of eating. This is the way that the body was to designed to consume food and the closer we get to this, the closer we will come to finding a healthy balance in our wellness.
You may find that eventually you’ll no longer need to do a cleanse or “wholefood re-set” and that you will just naturally consume the foods that nourish you most. However, it’s a nice way to give yourself the time and energy needed in this fast-paced world to tune into what your body (and mind) need, as there’s only one constant and that’s change. As the seasons change, our body's also change. What worked for you in your 20’s may not necessarily benefit you in your 40’s. Our bodies are constantly communicating with us and we owe it to ourselves to listen and take action.
How do I know if I should cleanse?
If you experience the following symptoms, you may benefit from a yearly or seasonal cleanse:
Some benefits of cleansing include:
I mostly consume a whole foods diet with the odd bag of ketchup chips or handful of wine gums…yes, my weakness! But I know my body can handle it because I eat in a way that’s balanced for me. I enjoy cleanses one to a few times a year, to give my body a break from certain foods and tune into what my body really needs. Life can be busy and it's easy to set our needs aside.
When I do seasonal cleanses, I stick to eating vegetables, fruit, organic & grass fed meats, pastured eggs, nuts and seeds. Pretty simple, not much different from how I normally eat.
The foods I cut out are processed flours, gluten, dairy, all sugar (including natural sugars), alcohol and sometimes caffeine. I do this because I find it’s nice to eliminate them from my diet from time to time. I’ll often do a 2-3 week cleanse in the Spring April / May. One week at the beginning of Fall (the white wine tends to flow freely in the summer!) and if I’m feeling the need for a re-set after the holiday season I’ll do one for a week or two in January. After completing a cleanse I feel more mindful of the foods that I consume or decide to reintroduce. Cleansing over the years has helped me tune into the foods that nourish me and the foods that don't.
Seasonal cleanses are also a great time to tune into the energetic flow of the season and the foods it has to offer. Here's a seasonal food chart for all the foods in season in Southwest British Columbia.
If you're wanting to do a seasonal cleanse or "whole food re-set" but don't have the time, energy or know-how of how to successfully plan and execute a safe and supportive cleanse, check out my new Seasonal Cleanse - Chef at Home program. You'll work along side a culinary nutritionist who'll:
Do you do cleanses? How and what do you do? How has it impacted your health.
I'd love to hear from you!
One of my great joys in life is cooking! As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) & food lover I continue to explore the balance between healthy, traditional food preparation and tasty dishes.
Check out my new COOKBOOK! Planting Seeds of Nourishment with over 40 whole-foods based recipes and tons of nutrition info!