Detox Reactions: Erika’s 30-Day Challenge Progress

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Erika, one of the participants in our 30-Day Nutrition Challenge writes that she is suffering a bit living a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free, alcohol-free and processed foods-free existence. I think she is reacting to the elimination of built-up toxins. Keep reading to see what I suggest might help. First, a few words from Erika.

Erika: Lately I’ve been feeling more run down – less energy, not sleeping as well, and sort of a general malaise. I am under a bit more stress lately, though. Honestly, I’m someone whose energy always seem to be perpetually low, so I’m not totally surprised that I still feel kind of crappy at this stage. I used to get heartburn, so it’s been nice that, in the first week, I’ve only noticed it once.

I’m also having cravings. I’m really craving a cafe au lait from my favourite cafe here. That and an almond croissant. I think eliminating dairy has been the most challenging thing. I’m so used to throwing cheese in an omelet, or using milk when making mashed potatoes and those little things that you don’t always think about as they’re just second nature.

Eating healthy like this also takes time and planning and sometimes that’s tough too. I’ll come home from work and wish I could just order a pizza, but instead look for healthy options that are quick – like an omelet with chopped veggies and some brown rice toast with cashew butter. It’s also challenging for me to see what other people are eating. At work, for instance, if someone brings in forbidden treats I’ll really want some. But I think to myself, “well, it’s only thirty days…” But I swear I’m going to have a really big bowl of cafe au lait when this is done!

I’m in this for the long haul, though, so come back to me next week and we’ll see how my feelings have changed!

Healthy Foodie: I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling so run down, Erika. This could be what’s often referred to as a “detox reaction.” When your body is used to taking in a lot of less-than-ideal foods, the cells end up storing a lot of the toxic junk that comes in faster than they can eliminate it. During a challenge like this, the body takes the opportunity to eliminate a lot of toxins that have built up over the years. The toxins are stored in different cells throughout the body and, once they’re given the chance, start getting rid of all the stored stuff. This means you end up with a lot of that stored stuff floating around the body and that can have some detrimental effects.

This can cause a lot of different reactions: headaches, lack of energy, poor mood, rashes, muscle aches, bad breath or nausea, for example. Know that these reactions are normal and that they will go away. This challenge is pretty minor in the cleansing department so any reactions probably won’t last too long. In a way, this reaction is good because it shows you that you’re getting rid of some of the accumulated nasty business! It also shows that you really need it! But of course, it doesn’t feel good, so I’m sure you just want it to go away.

One thing to do to try to minimize these reactions is to make sure you drink lots of water throughout the day – preferably some sort of filtered water or untreated spring water. The more water you drink, the more toxic stuff can be evacuated from the body.

Speaking of which, making sure your bowels are moving properly is another step that can help here. If you aren’t going two or three times per day, try adding some ground flaxseed to your meals. This will add significant amounts of fiber and help you to evacuate more regularly. Make yourself a flaxseed tea by pouring hot water over flaxseeds (let it steep, discard the seeds, and drink the “tea”) before going to bed, too. Flaxseeds release a lot of soluble fibre when they’re soaked.

There are a couple of supplements you could try too. A green powder supplement called chlorella, which comes as a powder or in tablets, is good for chelating harmful materials so that they can be eliminated from the body. Bentonite clay is another one that grabs on to any offending materials in the digestive tract and allows them to be eliminated. Either of these supplements can be found at a health food store and both would help to cleanse the system so that you get rid of all this stuff. Taking vitamin C is also a good idea for cutting down on detox symptoms.

I hope this helps Erika. Like I said, this reaction is normal and will subside soon. Hopefully once you come out the other side of it, you’ll feel a renewed sense of energy and vitality – this is usually the case. You’re doing really well on this challenge and I think you’re choosing some great foods to eat.

Keep up the good work!

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