For this month’s experiments in healthy hedonism I’m focusing on whether life without alcohol, caffeine and sugar is a life worth living.
Eliminating these three liver foes is something that I already tackled last year during my wellness explorations. I won’t give you my full verdict now—I want to give you a chance to try this type of detox for yourself before I weight in. But I will say that it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was also one of the only things I’ve done so far, aside from eliminating gluten, that had a huge, immediate impact on my health.
These days the idea of detox has become synonymous with the more abstract word “cleanse.” You see it thrown around all sorts of ways this time of year as people hunker down with a new set of healthy habits. But for the purpose of my exercise, the idea of detox is really about dedicating a month to our central detoxifier: the liver.
Helping to improve the integrity of our second largest organ has a host of other health benefits, including more efficient digestion, weight loss, and better skin. For more information on how it works and what you can do to make it your new BFF, my acupuncturist Heidi wrote this amazing article on spring cleaning your liver that largely informed my practice.
If giving up all three for 30 days sounds incredibly daunting, try one or two. You can also reduce the time period. But you may find it easier to ditch them as a trio, since they tend to feed each other as bad habits. Without alcohol, you’re automatically getting rid of all that fructose-laden margarita mix. And without the inevitable hangover, you’re less likely to need a giant vat of coffee to get out of bed in the morning. Also, with your blood sugar in check, you won’t need that post-lunch slump pick-me-up.
I’ll be sharing more tips this month from my research on and experience with detox, but first, here are some ground rules and inspiration if you want to try it out for yourself.
GIVING UP ALCOHOL
Why: Alcohol is perhaps the most well known toxin that our liver battles on a regular basis. But it’s not necessarily the worst one, as many think it is. The liver processes everything—both emotionally and physically—that you put in your body. It treats Stoli the same as it does stress and steroids. But the issue with alcohol is really about quantity. If you’re flooding your insides with vodka sodas, your liver can easily become too distracted from the 5,000 other jobs it has to do. At night, one of those major jobs is to clean your blood, which makes nighttime boozing all the more problematic.
What: Go cold turkey on this one. Unless you’re a legitimate alcoholic (in which case, you should probably be pursuing a different type of program), you shouldn’t experience any withdrawal.
How: This time of year it’s more socially acceptable to go off the sauce for a little while. I did my detox during lent for that same helpful construct. But if your friends are prone to peer pressure, you can always say you’re on antibiotics. Just make up a good illness so that people still want to touch, kiss, or share food with you. Continue reading