I can remember when I was young that every spring my Mum would give the whole house a Spring Clean. Walls, windows and paintwork were washed, cupboards cleared and tidied up, everything dusted, the windows were opened to let in the fresh air and anything that had accumulated over the winter and was no longer needed was thrown out. This always gave the house a new lease of life for the summer and it did feel good!
But a Spring Clean is not just for our house: our body can also benefit from doing this from time to time. Spring is the ideal time to do a gentle detox, as our body is starting to re-energise from winter lethargy and a little helping hand can make a huge difference.
Why detox during the menopause?
Doing a detox in the menopause can often offer more benefits as well because the falling hormones at this time can affect many aspects of our health such as:
- Slowing down our digestion and elimination, causing bloating and cramping – this can have further knock-on effects on our hormone levels and then contribute to other menopause symptoms
- Slowing down our circulation, which reduces the delivery of oxygen to all our cells and also causes mental fogginess and cold hands and feet
- Stressing our liver, which can cause fatigue, skin rashes/spots, dizziness, nausea, headaches
- Triggering joint and muscle aches and pains
- Causing low mood, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks and palpitations
So why not have a go? All you need is 10 clear days – you don’t need to give up work or miss your day to day chores, but you will need to spend a bit of extra time on yourself (when did you last do that?)
A gentle detox is easy to do and I will give you a simple plan you can follow, but there are some FAQs that I will answer first.
I have heard that a Detox is very difficult and makes you feel unwell?
Some detoxes are really hard – doing a water or juice fast, or eating practically nothing. This kind of detox is not good for you going through the menopause as you may feel really ill with wobbly blood sugar levels (which are often a bit wonky at this time anyway). We want you to feel better not worse, so these severe ones are definitely to be avoided!
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I have heard that giving up tea, coffee and fizzy drinks can give you bad headaches?
Yes, this is true! Caffeine is seriously addictive and coming off it quickly can give you withdrawal symptoms which would include headaches and feeling tired. The best thing to do is to start cutting down slowly a few weeks before you start the detox. Try adding in herb teas and you could also try Rooibos, which tastes a bit like ordinary tea but with no caffeine. Coffee lovers could try Bambu®.
Do I have to give up all the foods that I like?
If your diet is really bad and full of sugary, salty, processed foods or fizzy drinks or lots of caffeine then, yes, it is important to cut these out – these foods/drinks are often the main culprits for hot flushes, anxiety, panic attacks, palpitations and headaches!
However, our aim is to give you a diet that can allow you the type of foods you like but in a healthier form. But… you will feel so much better afterwards that you probably won’t want to go back to the unhealthy foods!
So let’s get started – preparation is really important.
– Start to cut down on caffeine, fizzy drinks, and high sugar foods, 2 weeks beforehand and gradually start to introduce more water and fresh foods into your diet.
– Just before you start, clear out your cupboards of unhealthy foods such as biscuits, sweets or anything you are likely to ‘cheat’ with.
– Make a shopping list of all the foods you are going to need for the next few days. Eating healthily does mean shopping for fresh foods more often, so only buy a little at a time.
– Be aware that time may be a bit of an issue as you will, more or less, be cooking from scratch every day. Good planning is very important.
So what can I eat and what should I avoid?
1. Hopefully you will be off or nearly off tea, coffee and fizzy drinks.
Have instead: herb teas, Rooibosch tea, Bambu® and lots and lots of water -see my blog about why water is so important in the menopause
2. Cut out all white flour and white sugar-containing foods.
Have instead: wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice, and if you do need a little sweetener, have honey. Don’t, whatever you do, take artificial sweeteners (the clue is in the name – why would you want to put anything artificial into your body?).
3. Your protein needs tend to go up in the menopause, so have good quality, low fat meats, lots of oily fish and the occasional free range or organic egg.
4. Cut out dairy if you can – this can cause mucus build-up and also bloating, diarrhoea and skin rashes. However, a little organic plain yoghurt would be ok.
Have instead: rice, oat, almond or coconut milk but check the ingredient list first as some kinds have sugar or processed oils in them.
5. Have lots of fresh foods, vegetables, salads, homemade soups and a little fruit – too much fresh fruit can give you a sugar rush, so if you tend to get dizziness, palpitations or flushes, just have 1-2 pieces a day.
6. Believe it or not, fats are really important in any diet but just make sure that you are using the healthy options for cooking and salad dressings. Organic virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil for salad dressings and coconut oil for cooking are the best.
7. And finally: lots of rest and relaxation. Detoxing can make you feel tired, especially for the first few days, so resting will enhance detoxification and make you feel better generally!
Is there anything else I should be doing?
Yes – breathing! Seriously though, most of us only shallow breathe, which is not good for us. So regular deep breathing not only oxygenates every part of us but gets rid of toxins as well. Deep breathing is one of the quickest ways to calm down an over excited nervous system, so it’s great for hot flushes, anxiety/panic attacks, foggy thinking and anger.
Exercise is really important too but at this time don’t go overboard as a detox can sap your energy for the first few days. Brisk walking for 15-30 minutes, breathing deeply as you go, twice a day is fine to start with. If you feel tired rather than energised after exercising, then you have done too much!
Can I take anything else to help with this detox?
Yes! Herbs such as Milk Thistle Complex and Solidago Complex are known to help support liver and kidney function respectively. If you tend to get bloating you may find adding Molkosan Vitality to your daily plan eases it, and taking a probiotic can help with making your elimination better.
Can you give me a sample diet for this as I am not sure what I should be eating at each meal?
Breakfast could be a choice of:
- Fruit salad or muesli (without sugar!) with a little organic plain yoghurt
- Organic or free range egg with a choice of veg such as tomatoes, mushrooms, sautéed red onion etc
- Smoked salmon
- Organic porridge with rice milk
Lunch could be a choice of:
- Homemade vegetable soup
- Mixed salad with protein such as tuna, boiled egg, cooked chicken, tofu, or beans etc.
- Wholemeal sandwich or wrap with a healthy filling such as guacamole, hummus, salad and either lean meat or a bean mix.
Dinner could be:
- Fresh fish and a combination of fresh vegetables
- Vegetable or chicken curry with brown rice
- Nut roast with steamed veg
- Stir fry
- Spaghetti bolognese with wheat free or wholemeal pasta
If you find that your blood sugar levels are a bit jumpy then have a mid-morning and afternoon snack. A mix of dried fruits, nuts and seeds is great for a pick-me-up or for satiating a hunger attack.
Check out A.Vogel Talks Food for some delicious healthy recipes!
Cut Down: red meat, burgers, fried food, wheat, refined sugar, dairy products, alcohol, coffee, tea, biscuits, cakes, chocolate and sweets
Include: fresh fruit and vegetables, chickpeas, adzuki beans, butter beans, kidney beans, green or red lentils, tofu, wheat-free pasta, rice cakes, oatcakes, corn cakes, hummus, dairy-free milk, dairy-free yoghurt and cheese, coffee substitutes such as Bambu, herb teas, dried fruit, nuts and seeds
So, good luck and let me know how you get on!