Dilemmas, dilemmas . . . (Credit: ThinkStock)
If you hear "detox" and think of Gwynnie and Anne Hathaway starving themselves on spendy green juice fasts to fit into their size negative 2 red carpet gowns, think again. While our internal organs have evolved to be self-cleaning, a host of external factors have taken a toll on our health, including lazy diets, polluted air and water, and exposure to chemicals in processed foods, medications, cleaning and personal care products. According to the Environmental Working Group, the average American baby is born with up to 300 different toxic chemicals in her umbilical cord blood. If babies are born with that much toxic exposure, imagine how many chemicals you come into contact with every day.
When our bodies are overwhelmed by these toxic chemicals and inflammatory substances like sugar and processed flours, they don't work efficiently. The result is that we can't lose excess weight, our skin looks like hell, we get eczema and acne, we get bloated and we don't poop. Oh, and lots of us walk around moody and depressed.
All of these are good reasons to take an occasional pause to clean up our diets and detox our bodies. Yet too often, we get confused into thinking that a detox means starvation and spending a ton of money. How can you do it safely and effectively without going broke . . . or feeling murderously hungry? Put down your vodka gimlet and read on.
1. Don't Fast, Don't Starve
Real food (whole, unprocessed and as close to its natural state as can be) is a good basic way to approach detoxing without going hungry. Yes, it's a sad fact of our food economy that fresh protein, fruits and vegetables cost more than fast food and processed foods. But the good news is that nourishing whole foods are a lot cheaper than your morning scone and latte, your after-work drinks and your dinners out.
2. Start The Morning Right
There's no need to punish your body with nasty herbs, pills, supplements or shakes to detox safely. Start the day with the juice of a lemon in warm water to stimulate digestion, alkalize the body's pH, and give a little jolt of vitamin C . . . for as little as 10 cents. Or take a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to stabilize blood sugar and assist the body in weight loss for roughly 7 cents.
3. Get An Oil Change
Coconut oil is one of the best detox investments you can make. It is a healthy and delicious cooking oil, as well as a versatile and non-toxic body treatment that works beautifully as a makeup remover, body oil, hair treatment and cuticle oil. Make a cheap and effective deodorant by mixing coconut oil with a pinch of baking soda to form a paste. It's way more effective than the natural foods store brands at a fraction of the cost. You can also use coconut for your morning oil pulling (another good ingredient to use is ancient Ayurvedic, cousin of the Water-pik and one of the most popular detoxing tools there is).
As a bonus, coconut oil can also serve as a natural lubricant; it's petrochemical-free, doesn't make a mess, and doesn't do damage to condoms or private parts. (Please note that oils may break down latex condoms, so if you use coconut oil and condoms, choose the polyurethane kind.) By using coconut oil in place of toxic cooking oils, body products and lube. All for as little as $8 for 16 ounces, depending on your brand.
4. Use Plants, Not Pills
You've probably heard that you should consume turmeric to reduce bodily inflammation. It's true that turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories and antioxidants around. It has been shown to reduce joint pain and depression, to prevent the spread of cancer, to heal skin eruptions, and even to protect against Alzheimer's disease. But turmeric's active compound, curcumin, is expensive to buy in capsule form, and it can wreak digestive havoc on people with sensitive stomachs. For that reason, it's better to take turmeric in culinary doses. Try it in scrambled eggs, lentils, even added to tea. A pinch will do it, at less than 10 cents a serving. (And, as I've learned from experience at lunch time with my 10-month-old, turmeric also makes for an effective and permanent clothing dye.)
5. And Finally . . .
Detoxing is as much about what you remove from your daily life as what you put in. For a week or two weeks or however long you choose to detox, try—as much as humanly possible—to stay away from relationships, activities and media that cause you stress. Getting help with your detox will save you from mistakes that waste your time and money. A moment of quiet with some deep breaths and mindful appreciation before your meals will support your detox process far better than snapping a photo of every smoothie for your Instagram. Best yet, it's completely free.