Part one of the Detox can be found here: Introduction and Phase One
The Gentle Detox – Part Two – Eat food your body recognises…and can work with!
In my previous posts you will often find me having a poke at the diet food industry – well actually more than a poke. There are certain products that are health related that I do not have a problem with, but I don’t have much time with slimming bars and shakes. I do not care how many nutrients they say are in them, they are not in the form that the body understands or wishes to. We are designed to take our nutrients from natural foods.
I do agree to an extent that what we assume is a nutrient packed vegetable or fruit is not as nutritionally dense as it used to be. Farming methods have changed in the last 50 years or so and we also have to consider the addition of fertilisers that may not be of organic origin. However, despite having busy work or family commitments it is easy and quick to bulk prepare vegetables for several days and it is a great deal cheaper.
There are other times of the year when spending at least two weeks in a transitional mode as far as your diet is concerned is a good thing.
Around May time I get a yearning for the crisp crunch of lettuce, the peppery taste of watercress and Rucula, the smooth buttery taste and feel of avocados – I lose my appetite for parsnips and stews with mashed potato and butternut and carrot soups, preferring gazpacho, cold and tangy with an omelette for lunch.
The same happens again in September when I start to think about more root vegetables and warming foods. I think you get the idea.
Our bodies over the last hundreds of thousands of years, would have been sustained by seasonal foods, both animal and plant.
It makes sense that we would therefore get the most nutritional benefit from seasonal foods, with the added benefit of an abundance of other fruits and vegetables that we now have year round. It is wonderful to have this access to so many varieties because they offer us so much more than our ancestors could scratch together.
I am fully supportive of any ‘diet’ programme than encourage us to only use fresh produce and cook it from scratch, but some trendy diets out there are a bit too restrictive, and you need to include other fruits and vegetables and other food groups that were not necessarily available to our ancestors.
If you make seasonal fruit and vegetables your primary choices, you can add in others to provide a more varied and balanced diet. This is why I follow the Gentle Detox seasonally every three months and not just at the beginning of the year. It marks the change in different eating patterns from the more stodgy, carbohydrate driven diet for the winter months to the lighter spring available food and the even lighter summer options and then back again.
Doing any form of detox should not put your body under increased stress but alleviate it. Which is why, this programme is not intended to be used as a crash diet, with few calories and nutrients. Even if you wish to lose weight as well as detox your system, you must not consume below 1500 calories if you are a woman or 1800 as a man.
How many calories do you need each day?
Basal metabolic rate – BMR establishes the approximate calories your body needs to function. At rest, with your digestive system inactive. So basically, first thing in the morning when your organs have been idling, rather than fully functional. This is dependent on your age and gender and as we age our requirement for calories decreases which is why you need to make sure you are compensating by including plenty of activity.
The simplest thing is to give you a link so that you can establish according to your age and gender what the minimum calories your body requires. However, it is important to point out that whilst calories are vital, it is also critical that those calories be as nutritious as possible. Particularly, if you are planning on cutting down calorie intake to lose weight.
Calculate your Basic Metabolic Rate… and add in your activity level to identify how many calories your body needs: BMR Calculator
For example my basal metabolic rate at 69 is currently 1300 calories per day based my height and weight. That is not taking into account the calories required to operate my digestive system, organs such as my brain and heart, lungs, liver and kidneys etc. If you are not desk bound, walking around, doing shopping, housework, etc. you will use about 100 calories per hour – in activity and operating the body. That will add about 500 calories per day. If you are exercising once a day for twenty minutes, with a brisk walk you can add anther 100 to 150 calories per day.
Men use slightly more because of body mass so I use 2000 calories basic requirement for women and 2,300 for men.
I never drop calories for an individual to less than 1500 for women and 1800 for men per day. And the food within that calorie restriction needs to be nutrient dense to make sure the body is still provided with what it needs to be healthy. They should also be sourced from good quality fresh products.
Your meals should be prepared from scratch using these ingredients, and if you are not very experienced in the kitchen, then do get yourself one of the many excellent cookery books available that promotes healthy produce and preparation. If you pop in every other Wednesday you will find great recipes that are cook from scratch and nutrient dense Smorgasbord Health with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiency
Don’t buy pre-chopped salads and vegetables
To prepare these meals you have to first buy your ingredients and in step two I would like you to think more carefully when you buy produce. For example buy whole vegetables and fruits rather than pre-chopped.
Cabbage will lose at least 50% of its nutritional content once it is chopped and the longer it sits there in that plastic bag the more it will lose. This also applies to bags of chopped salads. It is also a more expensive way to buy your vegetables and fruit. Check the prices but I am pretty sure that the extra that you pay for convenience multiplied over a year will easily pay for a week if not more of shopping.
Also do not be afraid to buy cheaper cuts of meat and get out the slow cooker to prepare a casserole or a roast while you are out at work. You will save both time and money. Visit a farmer’s market and buy your vegetables without them passing through the hands of the distributors. You may find they are all shapes and sizes, rather than beautiful but the nutrients in them are the same.
Bring them home and blanch in salted boiling water for five minutes and then freeze in Ziploc bags. They will only take a few minutes in a microwave or in boiling water to finish cooking.
Here is a basic shopping list you can cut and paste into a word document and take with you when you do your next shop. Printable Grocery Shopping List.
As you can see it is not restrictive to the same degree as some of the very rigid detox programmes, but is intended to give you all the food groups in moderation.
Vegetables – carrots, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, corn on the cob- any dark cabbage or Brussel sprouts, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, watercress, dark lettuce leaves, cucumbers, celery, avocados and potatoes. (Any other fresh seasonal produce you enjoy) At least five or six portions a day – use a cupped handful as an estimated portion size.
Lower Fructose Fruit – Bananas, kiwi, strawberries and any dark berries that are reasonably priced – try frozen. Enjoy all fruit in season at least three portions a day.
Hot lemon and water first thing in the morning will not only give you a Vitamin C hit, start your digestive process off but will also help with sugar cravings.
Wholegrains – brown rice- wholegrain bread – whole wheat pasta – Weetabix – shredded wheat – porridge oats. Please do not buy sugar or chocolate covered cereals – more sugar than goodness. Carbohydrates are an important food group.
However, as we get older and less active you really only need a large spoonful of rice or potatoes on a daily basis. If you suffer from a Candida overgrowth be aware that it may not be the yeast in bread that causes a problem but the sugar or its substitute.
Fish – Salmon fresh and tinned- cod – haddock (again frozen can be a good option) any white fish on offer – shellfish once a week such as mussels. Tinned sardines, Tuna and herrings – great for lighter meals. (Any fish that is available fresh not from farmed sources)
Meat and poultry –chicken or turkey – lamb, beef and pork. Lean ham for sandwiches, (processed meats should be used sparingly) Venison if you enjoy it. Liver provides a wonderful array of nutrients served with onions and vegetables is delicious. Tofu for vegetarians has become more accessible and can be used by non-vegetarians once a week to provide the other benefits of soya it offers.
Nuts and seeds – to put on your cereal in the mornings or as snacks – check prices out in your health food shop as well as supermarket. Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts.
Dairy and Eggs– Milk, butter -yoghurt. Free Range Eggs – have at least three or four eggs a week.
What is very important is that you eat dairy from grass fed cows, not grain fed.. and if you buy meat, it should also come from grass fed animals. The reason being that the vital vitamin K2 is only present when protein comes from grass fed stock. (more about that in a new series on deficiencies later in January). The butter will be yellow in colour and it should state on the label that it comes from a grass fed herd.
Oils – Extra virgin Olive Oil (least processed) – great drizzled on vegetables with some seasoning and also eaten the Spanish way with balsamic vinegar on salads and also drizzled over toasted fresh bread. If you do not like the taste of Olive Oil then use Sunflower oil – do not use the light version of any oil as it has been processed heavily – use the good stuff. For cooking use ordinary virgin olive oil with a dash of sunflower or butter but do not heat to very high temperatures. You can also use coconut oil which tolerates higher temperatures well and has some additional health benefits.
Honey and extras –You really do need to avoid sugars refined and in cakes, sweets and biscuits but honey is a sweetener that the body has been utilising since the first time we found a bee hive and a teaspoon in your porridge is okay. Try and find a local honey to you. You can also use a small spoonful of Manuka Honey which is produced in New Zealand. To obtain the medicinal benefits the honey should be classified as 15+.
Sauces – If you buy your sauces in jars and packets they will have a great many more ingredients than you bargained for. One of the worst is sugar or its substitutes. The greatest cooking skill you can develop is to be able to make a wide variety of sauces from scratch. If you do this you will be not only using fresh produce with its nutritional punch but also taking hundreds of pounds of sugar out of your diet over a lifetime.
Fluids– Green Tea and other herbal teas including dandelion, peppermint and a combined detox tea., tap and mineral water, coffee 1 cup a day (not instant but ground coffee) Black tea also has antioxidants so drink a couple of cups a day. Try with sliced lemon and get some Vitamin C. (depending on the climate and altitude at which you live you will need to experiment to find out how much fluid you need. If you have very low humidity you will need considerably more. Average is around the 2 litres per day of combined fluids).
Next time I will be covering willpower which is another ingredient required a few days into any new health and lifestyle upgrade….
I hope you have found this of interest and any questions please don’t hesitate to ask..
©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022
A little bit about me nutritionally. .
About Sally Cronin
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.
Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.