It’s a very rare occasion that I decide to endure a detox, which means a week without cheese, chocolate and (yes, shocker) without a drop of coffee. (Though honestly, the “no coffee” is more like Monday - Friday, if I’m lucky.) While some extreme detoxes and cleanses, like those entirely plant-based, dairy-free or Paleo-focused (no dairy, no beans, no grains - I’d go crazy), can be very beneficial. But I’ve discovered such drastic approaches aren’t always necessary. After all, what is life without cheese and coffee, right? But doing without processed foods for a set period of time, can drastically improve your mental and emotional state of health.
Cleaning house every now and then, in terms of your diet, is a great way to reset your body and mind. And it turns out a little detoxing may give you that mental sharpness and emotional clarity you've been looking for.
Such a mood-boosting detox would entail going without sugar, refined grains and processed foods for a week or so. While I know many are opposed to any idea of detoxing, because of the poor body-image or eating habits it may encourage, I want to clarify that I’m suggesting a detox here where you actually eat food. There are also those who hate the school of thought that says you should not deny yourself what you feel you need, but sometimes it is just good for us to do without. A little detoxing, or, better described as learning to fuel yourself with what is essential for your health (vegetables, fruit, nuts, lean proteins and whole grains) and avoiding what is unnecessary (sugar, processed foods and caffeine) has a way of resetting your body, brain and overall mood.
A little cleanse doesn’t have to mean consuming nothing but green juices all week (though don’t underestimate a good green juice). Still such a commitment can be a little scary. The thought of a week without chips and Diet Coke, or finding replacements to your usual Pinkberry fix is just too much for some and keep many from ever discovering dependancies that may be altering your mood or train of thought.
There is a twofold here to our strong connection to food: eating processed foods not only affects our weight, but has a direct affect on our gut, which in turn affects our brain and mental state. These foods we’ve become fixated on are foreign to our bodies and we are excessively reaping their affects. Studies show that our brain responds to sugar the same way it does to cocaine and heroine, excessive caffeine can increase anxiety and high-blood pressure and salty foods can be the cause of our cognitive decline. It’s difficult to deny the direct implications our diet has on our brain function and emotional wellbeing.
While we manage to find ways to adjust to the changes that life throws our way, making simple adjustments to our diets in order to improve our overall health seems impossible for many of us. True, you only live once. And certainly, life is meant to be enjoyed - my point exactly. So... you could keep eating Oreo’s and telling your-sad-moody-self just that or you could make small, attainable adjustments to incorporate more foods that are nutrient-dense, full of antioxidants into your daily diet. You may be surprised how much more you will enjoy life eating this way and your brain just might thank you.
Did I mention coffee is chock full of antioxidants and is great for your skins? (I could write a whole post on it, but I don’t want to bore you.)