Holistic Healing Thought Leader: Carol Lee
It’s January and many of us are feeling bloated, snuffly with Winter bugs, and just plain yuck after the festive over-indulgences and over ‘people-ing’.
The words ‘diet’, ‘cleanse’ and ‘detox’ are buzzwords everywhere. I wanted to present a different, more seasonal and holistic approach to cleansing during these colder, darker months.
“That’s part of why I don’t like the ‘detox’ word because we are always doing it.”
This time of year our energy, just like in nature, is low and slow and at its most inward turning. Winter is linked to the Water element in Traditional Chinese Medicine and this element holds a huge capacity for healing, recharging our batteries, rest and recuperation. Cleanses often feel quite extreme and can involve big changes in how we eat, this can be quite challenging for our body to deal with during sleepy wintertime. For this reason, a gentle more seasonal approach can recharge us much more effectively.
The Principles of Choosing Cleansing Foods:
Firstly, we naturally cleanse all day, everyday, this process is what keeps our system in balance, and us alive. That’s part of why I don’t like the ‘detox’ word because we are always doing it.
All food has what I call a cleansing value, this value represents how much that food supports our body to cleanse most effectively rather than sub-optimally.
A value of one is the lowest, in other words, no cleansing worth at all. In fact, food in this category keeps our energy stuck and depletes our innate vibrant energy. These foods are ultra-processed foods and include sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
14 has the highest cleansing value. This food is light on the system and encourages flow, clearing, and cleansing. These foods are natural and plant-based such as salad greens, cruciferous green vegetables, and herbs. Slightly below this are the starchy vegetables and fruit.
The Importance of Pacing Yourself:
At the lower end we have meat, dairy products, and wheat, At the higher midpoint there are whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
When we know where our usual food sits on this scale, we can either add in higher cleansing value food, or take out lower cleansing value food to create more flow and cleansing.
“It is important not to start to eat food from the higher values all at once.”
It is important not to start to eat food from the higher values all at once. If we have predominantly been eating food from the lower values, this is where our levels of vibrancy and energy will be currently at, playing out in us as feeling sluggish, depressed, and overwhelmed.
By jumping from eating a lot of low-cleansing value food to eating a lot more high-cleansing value food, we have effectively taken our hand off the maintenance cleansing lever and we are now going full throttle into a more active cleansing mode. It’s like going from ‘couch-potato’ mode to running a marathon in a week.
The Principles of Choosing Cleansing Foods:
You might think this would be good. But, our body is tired and sluggish. It simply doesn’t have the energy for all this extra work straight away. This is one reason that when we stop eating sugar we can feel absolutely lousy; nauseous, exhausted, emotional, overwhelmed, with crazy cravings, telling us to ‘eat chocolate NOW’!!!.
“It’s about working with your body rather than ignoring what it is telling you.”
One of the reasons for this is that the cells of our body are shouting SLOW DOWN and one way we can slow down or stop this natural more active cleansing happening is to eat something of low cleansing value, like biscuits, cake, chocolate. When this happens we think we are back to square one and may feel that we are weak willed and lazy. Far from it, we just haven’t understood how the different cleansing values of food affects our body.
The key is to start at the beginning by finding out where the majority of your meals sit on the ‘cleansing value’ scale and then slowly move up a notch by adding or swapping in higher cleansing value food so our body can play catch up. It’s about working with your body rather than ignoring what it is telling you.
7 Ways You Can Gently Encourage A Slow Winter Cleanse:
- Increase your water intake and decrease other drinks. Warm drinks with fresh ginger and lemon are comforting and supportive. You can introduce more water slowly over the course of a week.
- Avoid very drying foods, these make the body work harder and create dehydration.
- Soak grains, nuts and seeds before eating them, again this is supportive to a sleepy winter body and so releases energy for healing and topping up our inner batteries.
- Boost your nutrient intake by eating more greens. These help support the liver energy to manage detoxification.
- Include naturally salty food such as fish, seaweed, and grains such as millet and barley which are naturally salty.
- Focus on natural, plant based meals, including vegetables, soups, broths, and stews. Keep meat and dairy to a minimum.
- Reduce or eliminate processed food and sugar as much as possible.
About the Author:
Carol Lee is a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist, Sugar-freedom coach, Creative Kinesiologist, Teacher and Author from the U.K. She has been working in Complementary Health for over 25 years. Her holistic approach to healing and transformation is about listening to, witnessing and working with the body’s ‘knowing’.
Carol believes this is where we hold our wisdom, experience and capacity for change, especially as mid-life women. She works with women wanting to kick the sugar habit, those who are navigating health challenges, or who are wanting to up-level their life in some way; helping them to clear the blocks to success and wellbeing. She is currently enjoying her empty nest, and the freedom it brings, with her partner Jon. And she loves the coast and walking the wild landscape of South West UK, snuggling her sweet rescue cat Stevie, gardening and eating delicious, nutritious food.