Why I Turned to a Detox Diet to Heal My Symptoms

Photo by SOULSANA on Unsplash

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already interested in detoxing through diet.

You likely have your own reasons:

  • to lose weight
  • decrease your sugar intake
  • shed toxins from foods
  • determine food sensitivities
  • decrease heavy metal exposure
  • take a break from alcohol or caffeine.

Whatever your reason, I’ve done it too, and I’d like to share my story with you and how I made it through my detox time.

Detoxification isn’t new. Ayurveda, a natural way of medicine, is 3000 years old. It has been and continues to be used in India through herbal supplements and other lifestyle changes to purify the body, mind, and spirit. Traditional Chinese Medicine takes on detoxification by removing the blockage of energy to flow with its intended connectedness. Other ancient cultures used saunas and sweating to rid themselves of toxins.

The common goal is to heal the mind, body, and soul. That’s what I wanted.

I detoxed through a low-calorie, ketogenic diet to feel better, improve my sleep, mood, energy, decrease joint stiffness, return to a hormonal homeostatic balance, and lose weight in my trouble areas. The catalyst for this decision happened after I sought help from my doctor about these issues and explained my case.

My doctor decided we should run a few blood tests. The results came back normal, and my doctor explained via email that everything was fine. But what about my symptoms?

The doctor told me, if things worsen, I should set up another appointment. I wondered what would happen at that appointment that hadn’t been conducted at my original appointment? Perhaps the doctor thought my symptoms not serious enough, not life-threatening enough, and not something that a prescription could cure.

I was discouraged by this lack of listening and guidance. I still didn’t feel well. I was tired, cranky, irritable, and angry that I couldn’t lose weight no matter how hard I tried or exercised. My body hurt. I was losing hope.

The point was my symptoms were still present and needed attention. I wanted to feel the wholeness of feeling well to be a good partner, a good mother, and a happy, functioning member of society.

I decided on a more holistic approach after reading, The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfied. One of the big culprits(not the only one)in disrupting and throwing women’s hormones out of balance is cortisol, the stress hormone. Your fight or flight hormone.

This hormone comes in handy when your grandmother is drowning in the pool, and you need to save her — true story, don’t worry, my grandmother is OK! Thank goodness. However, this hormone can become overused. Especially when your body releases cortisol for little things like getting your kids to school on time, getting through a workday, or even drinking caffeine.

When your body is constantly stressed, it needs to make more cortisol to keep up with the demands of your stress. To make more cortisol, your body has to steal what it needs from your other hormones. This causes an imbalance in your hormones, resulting in several unpleasant symptoms—many of which I had.

After learning this, I decided to take matters into my own hands to combat the symptoms that were dragging me down.

My detox diet involved a low-calorie ketogenic diet, meditation, and gratefulness. My food included low glycemic fruit, certain proteins, and certain vegetables for 28 days.

No dairy, no grains, no nuts, no sugar, and no extra fats besides coconut spray for cooking. Oh, and no alcohol either!

I did this regimen twice with breaks in between and lost 20 pounds and 25 inches overall. Detoxing was hard to do but worth the results. It’s taught me how to enjoy good, healthy foods. Most of all, I feel better. Now I sleep soundly, no longer have joint stiffness, and my mood is more positive and even.

I feel like superwoman! Or if the world were on fire, I’d be out there with my sword- Michonne style- killing zombies.

If you are going on the journey of detox, these are my tips for success.

When to begin — I started my detoxing after the holidays. I wanted to set myself up for success. If you start your detox the day before Thanksgiving, it’s going to feel like torture to be around all your favorite foods, and it will be way too easy to give yourself an out and fall off from your goal. Remember, detoxing through diet is restrictive eating for 28 days. It will be hard. Pick 28 days that will work the best for you with what you have going on in your life.

Journaling — Write down what you’re eating every day and any self-care. This way, you’ll know why you’re feeling off or why and when you are feeling better. I enjoyed looking back over my days and seeing my progress in meditating daily and how I felt that day. Reflect on your day, and think about what you’re grateful for and begin your day with this positive feeling. Journaling is also a great reference when adding foods back into your diet to determine food sensitivities.

Meal Prepping- no matter what type of detox you are doing, or diet, meal prepping will save your life. This is probably diet 101, but it’s the best thing I do for myself every weekend. Meal prepping gives me ready-to-go meals throughout the week. Especially with a crazy week with appointments, kids, sports, you name it.

There is a decent amount of work that goes into meal prepping. You need to know what you can eat and what meals you will prepare. Try to develop creative varieties to keep you on track and to keep for menu fresh and new.

Write your grocery list, grocery shop, and set aside time to prepare. My prepping takes about 1 to 2 hours on the weekends, including prepping for myself and my family. Then I can make whatever veggie I want that evening. My protein is prepped or finished ahead of time and ready to warm up or bake, etc.

Meditation — Meditation may seem too woo-woo to some people, whatever that means. However, there is scientific backing to meditation and reducing cortisol levels (our fight or flight stress hormone), which improves mood and helps with weight loss. In the Hormone Cure, author and doctor Sara Gottfried explains high levels of cortisol or stress increase body fat. Cortisol levels rise when you are in a state of constant stress, and cortisol’s job is to raise your blood glucose and elevate your blood pressure. This way, you have the energy and oxygen available to run or fight. However, we aren’t usually about to do any of those things. Instead, we are likely sitting in a meeting or running late to something, and so our blood glucose doesn’t get used up. It gets stored. Stored mostly in our midsections.

Meditating helped me during my detox diet to feel less stressed and more capable of following through with the process. Ultimately reducing my cortisol levels so I could lose the weight I needed to.

If you’ve never tried meditating, I would suggest starting with mindful-based stress reduction (MBSR). This technique helps you with thoughts that some people have a hard time silencing during meditation. MBSR helps you to label the thought and let it go. The thought disintegrates when labeled. It’s very freeing and helpful. You keep this up, and your mind and body begin to relax, and that’s where the positive side effects start.

Support — I’ve done detox with and without support. Of course, it is much easier to do it with a friend. We were able to support each other during food cravings, ask each other questions, or samp food ideas. I’ve had the support of an outside entity also. A company supporting me and a representative checking in on me through meetings, education, answering my questions, and providing advice and guidance. It helped me stay on track.

If you’re deciding to try a detox diet, I hope these tips help you. I want you to succeed, make it through, and find you’ll see improvements in your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Detoxing is only the beginning. Maintaining the benefits of detox is also doable and another journey!

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We are in this together. Let’s create and connect. I enjoy the creative process, writing, learning, and helping others. amiedestefano.com

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Amie DeStefano

Amie DeStefano

We are in this together. Let’s create and connect. I enjoy the creative process, writing, learning, and helping others. amiedestefano.com

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