detoxFor over 2 weeks I planned on doing the 7-day detox that Gwyneth outlines in her book, It's All Good, also referred to as the elimination diet. I would start on Friday July 5th, right after the 4th so that I could still partake in the festivities, and end on Thursday July 11th, right before our family trip to the lake. I rallied some troops and even got a few friends and readers on-board, and on the morning of July 5th, I woke up tired and starving, but was committed to follow through regardless.
The detox plan called for an elimination of caffeine, alcohol, gluten, dairy, sugar, red meat, and of course anything processed. Not atypical from most detox plans. The menu plan included recipes from Gwyneth's book, with some modifications, like the elimination of strawberries from one dish, tuna from another. In addition to your morning juice for breakfast, most days also called for a juice for an afternoon snack, I'm assuming to aid along in the flushing out of toxins. The type of cooking and eating she instructs you to follow in the menu plan didn't seem that far off from what I had already been doing, so I didn't think it would be ridiculously difficult to manage.
On day 1, I drank my Best Green Juice for breakfast, even though the only thing I wanted was the Best Cup Of Coffee, and trudged through the morning, trying to wait patiently for snack time, a handful of soaked raw almonds. By the afternoon, after lunch and my midday snack, I was nothing short of miserable. To compound things, I had taken my 3 kids, plus my niece to the beach all day, and sitting in the sun, after hosting a party for 30+ people the day before, on 1/3 less calories than I'm used to consuming, was pretty much pure torture.
By dinner time, I wanted to strangle my husband and eat my arm. I was cranky, I had a splitting headache, and I felt like punching Gwyneth in the face. The thing I was quickly realizing about myself after just 10 hours of detoxing, is that I draw a lot of lot of joy from the little things in life, and those little things in life often have to do with food and drink. Grabbing an iced coffee on the way to the beach, taking the kids to frozen yogurt after the beach, drinking a cold beer poolside. Knowing that I couldn't do those small, simple things that often make me really, really happy, made me really, really sad. There was some serious psychological warfare going on in my head, and I realized I was more emotionally attached to food than I ever thought.
For dinner we BBQ'ed a whole organic chicken, the Gwyneth Paltrow way, and ate almost the entire thing alongside some steamed asparagus. I started to feel semi-human, but got slightly sad again, when I realized I couldn't have any popcorn (even homemade), when we were having family movie night.
We also cancelled a date night we had scheduled that night because what were we going to do, go hang out at our local juice bar?
Before I went to bed I drank a ton of juice, and decided I should add some protein to my morning juice, to make sure I didn't harm my milk supply since I was still nursing my 10 month old son. I hadn't anticipated to feel as badly as I felt, and decided that if my body was feeling the effects of the detox so quickly, surely it was impacting my body in some way. I didn't want my milk to be one of those things impacted
I woke up the next day, after 24 hours on the detox, and felt even worse than the day before. I still had the splitting headache, and in addition I felt nauseous and beyond moody. I posted a picture on Instagram of me lying in bed, detailing how awful I felt, when a follower brought up the fact that I was still nursing. She made mention that she thought she had read that detoxing while nursing was not recommended because the toxins could get released into your milk supply. I instantly felt panicked. Previously, my main concern with the detox while nursing was that it not effect my milk supply. But I had never considered the toxins actually getting into my milk supply. I felt stupid and irresponsible for not researching this further, and also grateful for finding out so soon into the detox.
After doing a quick internet search, and calling a doctor friend, I found out that indeed, it is not recommended to detox while nursing. First, you could potentially become dehydrated while detoxing, which could affect your milk supply. But most importantly, when detoxing, you release the toxins you've stored up in your cells back into your blood supply, and your blood supply is what carries nutrients to your milk supply.
Needless to say, I stopped the detox immediately after discovering this, and have never been so relieved in my life! I immediately went and had a cup of coffee and felt right as rain within 30 minutes.
So why on earth did I think it would be okay to detox while breastfeeding? Well, I thought it was solely about the milk supply, and had never even given consideration to where the released toxins would go. I figured as long as I was eating protein and some healthy fats, along with plenty of green veggies packed with nutrients and proteins, and since there were no calorie restrictions or portion size restrictions, I would make sure I ate enough and all would be well. I was also giving up bad things like wine and coffee, which I figured would be a positive thing for my milk and therefore, my baby. But I hadn't really thought about where the toxins would go, because they do have to go somewhere. For those who aren't breastfeeding, they simply get sweated out our glands or released in our urine. But for those of us breastfeeding, they can also go to our milk.
While I felt extremely naive and guilty about not researching the detox more thoroughly, I will now heed the warnings given about seeking a doctor's advice before starting any drastic diet or exercise routine. For now, I'm committed to continuing to cook and eat healthy, clean meals and limit my intake of dairy and red meat, and may consider another detox after I'm done breastfeeding. I can't say for sure though. Those 24 hours of detox were pretty dang miserable.
-By Andrea Howe
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