I LOOOOOVE food. I'm sure you do, too.
It’s not only one of the greatest pleasures in life but also a powerful way to connect with others.
At the same time, food is also frequently used as a way to escape certain emotions, such as loneliness, boredom, and stress.
We've all been there before, right?
You sit absorbed in front of the computer, when suddenly, you have these food cravings which you are unable to control. Next thing you know, you're munching your way through your favorite comfort food.
These cravings and yearnings are just part of life but when food becomes an addiction, it can lead to some serious imbalances that could take years to repair.
Now, I'm a pretty healthy eater and all but recently I started to feel sugar cravings on a daily basis.
I became addicted to sugar.
The Dangers of Having a Sweet Tooth
I met Laura Thomas, the voice behind the site Happy Sugar Habits, in Bali, Indonesia. She made it her personal mission to inspire others to minimize the sugar in their diets for healthier lifestyles.
We connected pretty quickly and naturally our conversation soon revolved around sugar and its contribution to health issues in the the 21st century.
Here are some interesting facts:
- In 1822 the average American consumed about 45g of sugar every five days. Today, that number is 756g! In the past decade alone, sugar consumption jumped 23%.
- Americans drink 53 gallons of soft drinks per person every year. The average can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar… In a 64oz serving of soda there are 53 teaspoons of sugar…
- Refined sugar has no nutritional value, besides empty calories. It does not contain any vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fats, or fiber. Everything beneficial is removed during the refining process.
- Consuming refined sugar depletes the body of B vitamins. Vitamin B deficiency causes symptoms like: heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, difficulty focusing, restlessness, indigestion, rashes, and cravings for more sugar.
- Refined sugar is linked to a number of deadly diseases, including cardiovascular disease, colon and pancreatic cancers, and obviously diabetes.
I guess this sweet stuff may not be so sweet after all…
Laura offered a handful of useful strategies and tactics, some of which had helped me for a while, until that one night when I stood in front a dessert window and ordered 3 big cakes one after another.
That had never happened before 🙂
Setting my Eyes on Detox Fasting
While living in Bali, I had the opportunity to attend a series of health talks by a young Naturopath named Andrea Paige.
After one of her inspiring talks, I approached her and introduced myself. We chatted for a bit and she asked me what I was here for.
I told her about my long life-goals list, the Yoga challenge I was doing in Bali, and the next health goal on my list: a 21-day juicing cleanse. Andrea runs the cleansing program onsite at the beautiful Yoga Barn and I was hopeful that she would have some tips for me.
She listened attentively and then said something that has stuck with me: “Well, if you’re thinking of doing a 21-day cleanse, how about you do a 7-day detox first so you can learn first hand from it?”
Of course, I remember thinking. This makes total sense. I did complete a Half Ironman triathlon before tackling a full Ironman. Perhaps, it’s best to treat this challenge the same way...
I went home thinking about our conversation and then it hit me - Koh Phangan. I will do a my 7-day detox in Koh Phangan...
Detox Fasting in Koh Phangan
The Thai island of Koh phangan is usually known for its famous full moon parties however with its numerous world-class wellness retreat centers, the tropical island is also a perfect place for detox, cleansing, and spiritual refreshment.
I was about to leave Bali to go to Thailand anyway, so I opted to combine my trip with a 7-day Detox Fasting in Koh Phangan.
After some research, I had found that there are 3 main detox retreats on the island:
Each retreat has its own flavor and its advantages as a place to detox. In the end, I chose Ananda, mainly because it was the quietest of the three and I desired ample time alone in order to reflect on my year. There was no dubiousness with the retreat, people who came to Ananda came mainly for detoxification.
In the words to follow is the exact detox fasting program I followed while staying at Ananda wellness resort. They recommend to carry out a 7-day detox program at least once a year.
I was a bit worried in the beginning when I heard I'd only consume ~200 liquid calories a day but I decided to put my trust in the capable hands of their team. And I'm glad I did, as you’ll soon read.
The Detox Program
Ananda’s 7.5 day Detox Fasting program uses an integrated system of self-purification that supplies the body with what it needs to be healthy: well-planned nutrition and perfect elimination.
There are several elements to the program, each chosen carefully to give an optimal support during the fast:
Herbs, Detox Shakes and Probiotics.
Juices and Broth
Special Detox Massage
1. Herbs, Detox Shakes and Probiotics
Five times per day I took two special herb formulas and at five other times I drank a special detoxifying shake. In the evening I took a probiotic (healthy bacteria) capsule.
Herb Formulas (Chomper™ and Herbal Nutrition) - These two formulas are the heart of the Cleanse Program. They work together to help condition, soften and break up mucoid plaque and to remove toxic waste from the alimentary canal, organs and cells. Chomper is a gentle herbal formula designed to thoroughly cleanse the alimentary canal, liver, organs and deep cell tissues. When combined with Chomper, it helps the body remove the mucoid plaque that may be accumulated in the alimentary canal. Herbal Nutrition is essential in helping to strengthen the body and pathways of elimination
Detox Shakes (Psyllium Husk Powder and Hydrated Bentonite) - Psyllium husk powder is a fibrous bulking agent that sweeps toxic buildup out of the intestines. Hydrated bentonite has long been used for both internal and external detoxification. Because of its highly absorptive properties, hydrated bentonite is ideal for drawing out the toxins that the psyllium helps eliminate from the body.
Probiotic capsule (Flora Grow) - A healthy bacteria that may have become depleted from years of poor eating and lifestyle habits. Proper bacteria are essential for overall health and well-being, including a strong immune system, complete digestion and nutrient absorption, and the manufacture of B vitamins and various amino acids. Flora Grow is unique in that it can effectively establish itself in the bowels while supporting a balanced pH environment.
A colema is a type of enema that is more thorough in its internal cleansing of the bowel. It takes slightly longer, uses more water, and involves special dietary procedures that make the cleansing deep and powerful, yet very safe.
During the detox I was recommended to do two Colemas per day but I only did one each morning. It contained organic coffee.
Caffeine is a very effective stimulant, fat emulsifier and liver detoxifier. Apparently, however, this is only true when injected rectally. When the coffee is injected into the colon, the caffeine is absorbed by the veins in the portal system and channeled directly into the liver. The caffeine stimulates the liver and gallbladder to excrete toxins, open bile ducts, and encourage peristaltic action of the intestines. It breaks down the accumulated fat in the liver cells, encourages excretion of bile and removal of gallstones, and cleans the intestinal walls.
On my last day I did a Garlic Colema. Garlic is a natural disinfectant. It helps kill parasites and cleans out harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi (which includes Candida).
3. Juices and Broth
My initial detox fast was suppose to include one fresh carrot juice, the juice of one fresh coconut, and one glass of warm vegetable broth.
However, in the end, we replaced the carrot juice with another glass of fresh coconut in order to eliminate candida completely.
In general, carrot juice is one of the best vegetable juices for detoxifying tissues. Raw carrot juice delivers abundant supplies of readily assimilable vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. It also helps alkalize the bloodstream.
Coconuts (one glass at 3pm) are one of nature’s most desirable health foods. The clear sweet water is cleansing and invigorating, with proteins, fats, carbohydrates and a variety of minerals and vitamins.
Vegetable Broth (one glass at 6pm) even if the cooking process destroys the enzymes and some of the vitamins, all the essential minerals and trace elements are retained and easily assimilated, and these are the most important nutrients for detox purposes.
4. Detox Massage
The massage included a combination of foot massage, head massage and abdomen massage. It’s objective was to relieve constipation and headaches, improve circulation, boost the immune system, balance the body energetically, and help to restore general well-being.
5. Herbal Sauna
The heat and steam from the herbal sauna helps sweat out toxins. They suggested to go in and out three times but I only went twice a day.
My Detox Fasting Experience
My experience was pretty much as described when I got there.
The first day was easy and simple. It takes at least 24 hours for the body to commence detoxification and to start pouring toxins into the bloodstream for elimination.
The second day, however, was difficult. By then my bloodstream carried up to ten times its normal load of toxins, as the entire body excretes accumulated poisons into the blood for disposal. I felt weak, fatigued, and nauseous.
On the third day I felt slightly better but still a little light-headed and weak.
The fourth and fifth days are particularly important. The dried mucus and toxins are so deeply impacted in the folds of the colon that it takes four or five days just to start jarring them loose. I’ve been quite amazed to see what comes out of my body, especially due to the fact that I was not eating anything!
By the sixth day, I felt pretty amazing. I seriously did not think I could survive a week on 200 only-liquid calories a day but apparently it was not that hard.
On the 7th day I counted the hours until I could eat again. When the time arrived, I was surprised I did not have cravings for desserts and sugar. For the first couple of days after my detox fast I took special care in how I ate (95% of my diet consisted fruits and vegetables).
Here’s how my schedule looked like for that week:
07.30 am: Shake (Psyllium and Bentonite)
09.00 am: Herbs - Candida Drink
09.15 am: Colema session with Coffee
10.30 am: Shake (Psyllium and Bentonite)
12.00 pm: Herbs _ Coconut Water _ Candida Drink
12.15 pm: Massage
1.30 pm: Shake (Psyllium and Bentonite)
2.30 pm: Sauna
3.00 pm: Herbs + Coconut Water + Candida Drink
4.15 pm: Shake (Psyllium and Bentonite).
6.00 pm: Herbs + Broth Soup + Candida Drink
7.30 pm: Shake (Psyllium and Bentonite)
9.00 pm: Herbs + Yeast End Drink
Before sleep: 2 Flora Grow.
Detox fasting is a personal journey. Each of us is unique and so are our body. In my case, the experience was great. After 7 days of fasting I felt light, fresh, and in a different mental state. Perhaps more strikingly, i don't feel hungry and have zero sugar cravings like I used to have.
What I've primarily learned is that my relationship with food was mostly emotional and that fasting is not only a healthy way to cleanse the entire body and purge it of accumulated toxins, but also a great way to experience an emotional cleanse.
In future, I plan to experiment with other types of cleansing such as juicing. The details differ, but the principle is always the same: give the body and the digestive system a break from its normal practice and support the breakdown of toxins.
As Daniel Reid, author of Tao of Detox says, most people today take far better care of their cars than they do their own bodies. Imagine what would happen if you indiscriminately poured Petrol, Diesel, Kerosene, Propane and a cup of Sugar altogether into the petrol tank of your car… That’s precisely the way most of us eat today, mixing frozen meat, bread, milk, fat, sugar and other digestively incompatible foods at the same meals and pouring them into their stomachs at the same time.
In fact, as one of the detox books I recently read remarks, we are the only creature on earth that takes decomposing animal carcasses out of the freezer, cremates them in the kitchen, buries the corpses in our body and then must process the passing of the resultant putrefactive morass using medication.
This improper food combining and choices cause foods to ferment in the stomach, thus creating toxins that seep through the intestinal wall, get stashed around the body, and stay there until we detoxify - something which we almost never do in our rat-raced lives.
You don’t have to fly to Koh Phangan for a detox fasting adventure retreat. Fortunately, there are simpler ways to cleanse and detoxify the body (juicing, periodic fasting, etc)
Just as we care for our cars with periodic tune-ups and proper ongoing maintenance, it’s up to us to take the time every once in awhile and allow our body to allocate its resources to clean itself out..