DETOX. It's a word the conjures the idea of health and a fresh start. I can't imagine any woman out there who doesn't reach a point in her postpartum life when she's ready to "get back to herself". Often this comes with the desire to lose weight, start exercising, and fit back into her pre-pregnancy clothes.
As we start searching for the perfect program to help us in this quest, most women will stumble upon detox or cleansing program to jump start the process. The promise is ridding our bodies of the built up toxins that have accumulated over the years. The benefit to the kidneys and liver has been proven. So why not? Well, those toxins that are removed are secreted from the body in our fluids -- sweat, urine, feces, and... breastmilk. While there debate is ongoing regarding how much of these toxins are really transferred to babies via breastmilk, it's definitely something for the breastfeeding (or exclusively pumping) mama to consider. But there is more than just the toxin release for breastfeeding mamas to think about when starting a cleanse or detox. Most of these program severely restrict calories and nutrients (most are solely juice-based). Our bodies need an adequate number of calories to sustain our milk supply. Even a 3-day cleanse can deplete our energy stores enough to reduce our output. So again, is this side effect worth it?
Finally, most cleanses and detoxes suggest that you schedule it during a time when you can do nothing. No exercise (possibly short walks or restorative yoga). This is mostly because you do not have the energy to do anything (see above paragraph. Calories = energy... you do the math). With active kids at home, do you really have time to "take it easy". So what's a new mom to do? Are we just supposed to wait until we're done breastfeeding before taking that step to renewed health and wellness? Absolutely not! There are healthy ways to detox during breastfeeding that do not have the negative effect on your baby.
Cut out sugar. One thing that I dislike about the detoxes is that they often contain added sugar. This is to give the body something to burn, but it's unnecessary if you're following the additional steps below. Cut out the added sugar in your diet, and even reduce high sugar and GI Index fruits and vegetables for a bit. Starchy carbs (like grains) and dairy might also fall into this category depending on how your body processes them.
Eat a Whole Foods Diet. Making the foundation of your meals high-fiber Rainbow Vegetables and lean protein. This will help to flush the system out while nourishing it to really give the the digestive system a cleanse. Adding in whole grains in moderation can be helpful, but this is truly based on your personal carb tipping point and needs. As always, the more startchy and sugary carbs should play a bit role in your meals.
Drink Water. It's pretty easy. Drink about 3 Liters each day to keep you hydrated. Sure, you might be hitting the bathroom a bit more during those first few days, but the water actually helps to flush any excess water that your body is holding onto. In a day or two, you'll actually start to balance and feel better. The secret is to sip and don't gulp. Fill a water bottle up (I used one that's 48 oz and try to fill it twice) and keep it with you. I also have a cup of water that I keep in the car. Adding some lemon or ginger is fine. Herbal tea is a nice substitute if you want something different, but unfortunately coffee is not. I love coffee, but it's a diuretic that can actually dehydrate more than nourish in these cases.
Get Moving. Start walking, do a workout (you don't have to kill yourself), some yoga, etc. This movement actually help our body to circulate to toxins so they can get out of the body. Some maybe sweated out and some may be brought to the liver and kidneys to process. Our bodies need movement to process the nutrients we feed it, and it also help remove toxins. When we sit around all day (even after a workout) those toxins get stagnant and settle. Keep moving throughout your day. Find ways to get up, change positions, and basically get off the couch. Even though this is steps number 4, this is probably one of the most important needs for a successful detox and reset of your body.
That's it. Not too hard, right? I have a few additional tools that might be helpful for you during this reset.
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