Thinking Of Detoxing And Eating Clean? Things You Should Know…
Over the past 18 months, I have detoxed (using real food) around 4 x a year (seasonally). In this blog, I’ll show you what your body is really telling you and explain why many people feel worse when detoxing or switching to a real food diet, before they begin feeling better. I’m not going to lie to you, detoxing and switching to clean eating can cause pretty awful symptoms…
You don’t need to fast…
The longer I’ve examined the detox industry, the more confident I have become in the fundamental idea that a clean diet is the most important detox you need. Every food item you eat every single day, in other words, should be part of a cleansing and toxin elimination lifestyle. My view on this has evolved through my experiences of course and today I know that people don’t need to suffer through detox-fasting regimes to experience lasting results. A healthy, whole foods diet that’s rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and plenty of quality hydration is, all by itself, a ‘daily detox’.
Truth be told, your daily diet is either helping you eliminate toxins or accumulate toxins depending on what you eat. A diet of processed foods and contaminated supplements will increase your toxic burden, but a diet of fresh whole foods will naturally and automatically eliminate toxins.
Exercising also helps. Engaging in regular exercise that cause you to sweat greatly will magnify your body’s detox capabilities. Many toxins are released in your sweat and that explains why people who exercise regularly (or who use saunas as therapy), tend to be far healthier and less toxic than those who never sweat.
People who drink plenty of fluids also tend to be healthier: water helps your kidneys eliminate toxins with high efficiency.
I tried eating real food – it made me feel worse!
So, you’ve cut out grains, refined sugar, fake sugar, industrial seed oils, processed foods like pop or soy and if you choose to eat dairy, you make sure it’s in the form of goats/sheeps natural yoghurt.
You’re following a detox-diet like The 7 Day Body Reset or you’ve started a diet like Eating Clean, Sexy & Lean, but you’re still having undesirable symptoms, even though you’re avoiding all those toxic foods. Or maybe you’re like I was and your carb/coffee/sugar cravings are driving you nuts.
The good news is: you’re not alone!
There are three common problems that people run into when detoxing or starting a new diet like Paleo, GAPS or SCD inspired diets like mine, that can make them feel worse than before they started.
The first and the most problematic for people, is typically referred to as ‘die-off’.
Die-off can make you feel so bad you’ll want to quit before you can get better…
As I said before, I’m not going to lie to you, die-off can cause pretty awful symptoms and many times, it will cause symptoms that are worse than before you started the diet.
Here’s a summary of what can happen:
• Brain Fog
• Intense Cravings
• Joint Pain
The experience of ‘die-off’ is related to the shift in gut bacteria that happens when you stop feeding overgrown bacteria the food it is used to thriving on. When I switched to an eating clean diet, I had brain fog so bad, all I could do the first 3 days was sit on the couch, staring at the TV… seriously.
One of the most common things I come across is when someone is trying to figure out if they have die-off symptoms or not…
Here’s the best way to tell if what you’re going through is really die-off… see how long it lasts.
Symptoms related to the shift in bacteria usually last 3-7 days and anything longer than that is probably something else. That leads me to the second most common problem people face when starting a detox/low-carb diet… which is known as the ‘low-carb flu’.
The low-carb flu can make you feel foggy and fatigued…
The low-carb flu is a nickname for the process of low-carb adaptation and some people have to deal with it and some people don’t – it is very individual. I found it really challenging switching to low-carb.
It can cause symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, intense sugar/carb cravings, lethargy, etc…
These symptoms are a result of a shift in the way the body burns fuel from primarily glucose, to primarily fats.
Low-carb adaptation symptoms typically last 2-3 weeks and slowly fade away after that.
To summarise: ‘die-off’ symptoms might last anywhere from the first 3-7 days on a real food detox/diet and symptoms related to low-carb adaptation might last from 2-3 weeks.
So, if you’ve been on a low-carb diet for 30 days or more and still feel worse than before you started, there’s something more going on…
Why feeling worse doesn’t mean your diet won’t work for you…
Between die-off and the low-carb flu, the first 30 days on a diet like mine can feel even worse than before you started.
The honest truth is: not everyone feels better overnight. I wish everyone that started these types of diets found it easy and never gave up, because that would make it really easy for me to get people to try it.
Fixing your body is a gradual process that happens over a long period of time. When I started eating clean, my bloating began to go down within 24 hours and by the end of the week it had disappeared completely. This was a miracle to me, but it still took months to recover my health.
If you’re still suffering and you still feel worse after 30 days on the diet, eg, constipation, that’s a big sign that you need to start looking at other areas of your health, e.g. thyroid, hormones, birth-control, stress, vitamin/mineral deficiencies.
The third most common problem people face when they start a real food diet is they don’t take adequate supplements for their body. It doesn’t mean the diet isn’t working for them, it means they might have neglected to ensure they’re not deficient in key vitamins or minerals.
Eating clean has helped thousands of people lose weight, heal their gut and fix their health. I’ve found that people do feel better eating a real food diet like Paleo, GAPS or SCD. It changed my life!
So, just to be clear: each person has to do some testing and tweaking to create a custom version of a real food diet that works for them.
And if you don’t experience some degree of improvement after 30 days on a real food diet… it doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you or you’re doomed to forever suffer health issues. It means that your body is telling you that it’s time to make some tweaks. It’s time to start customising your diet, supplements and lifestyle to help your body to heal.
What to do if your diet isn’t working for you…
I’m going to share the 3 most common tweaks I tell people that are 30 days into a real food diet and still don’t feel better:
- Digestive Enzymes – Take these if you have trouble breaking down certain food-groups.
- Probiotics – Everyone should take these. Symptoms like diarrhea and frequent constipation are signs of ‘gut dysbiosis’ AKA ‘really messed up gut bacteria’ – which probiotics will help with.
- Multivitamin/Multimineral Support – Take these for overall support. In an ideal world we would get all of our vitamins and minerals from our food, but in reality, most people probably don’t. Our bodies need all vitamins and minerals to function. If you’re deficient in just one thing, it can have a huge knock-on effect on your health.