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Right about this time of year, you may be thinking about spring cleaning – both inside and out. Even though it’s the dead of winter, spring is coming soon. Both the New Year (Western and Chinese) and spring are times of renewal. We need to get rid of the old to make space for the new. A detox may sound enticing.

There are many warnings about detoxing and fasting, and for good reason. I’ve heard too many stories from friends who have gone to the extremes of fasting, only to get sick or have terrible side effects. Our body can’t handle the abrupt shift. It’s like driving 75 miles an hour and then slamming on the breaks. Not recommended.

 Many of the benefits of a detox – clear skin and mind, less puffiness, inflammation and headaches, better sleep, digestion and energy – can be had simply by shifting WHEN we eat.

Rather than reducing your diet to water with lemon, honey and cayenne for days, try this:

Eat the largest meal of the day midday. Dinner tends to be the biggest meal, but it’s not the easiest tizuppa di verdure miste nella zuppiera biancame for the body to digest it. Our digestive fire is most strong between 10am – 2pm. A simple soup for dinner is ideal, that’s why it’s called “supper.” If you are going to have a big dinner, endeavor to be done by 6pm and…

Close the kitchen four hours before sleep. This one lifestyle hack alone could change your life. The body goes into an amazing array of cleansing and renewal functions overnight, unless there is food in the way that needs to be digested first. Just think if you wanted to repaint the kitchen, but the counters were cluttered. You would have to clear the counters first. This is what your body has to do when there is food brought into the system after 7pm.

No Snacking! Not even an apple. It hurts a bit for me to even type this, because I am a Mad Snacker. But I know that for every four hours I do not eat, my body is able to shift from digesting to repair and renewal.

When our body is constantly digesting, it can’t shift over into detox mode. Imagine being in the kitchen and your family members keep brining in dirty dishes for you to wash by hand in the sink. You have to keep washing dishes so you don’t have any time to sweep the floor, wash the counters or get that gook cleaned out from behind the stove. This is EXACTLY what is happening in the body when we are constantly putting food into it. Even eating an apple takes away from deeper cleaning, repair and detox tasks.

Our bodies are AMAZING – Always working hard on our behalf to create the conditions for optimal well being. Everything we do, every choice we make is either supporting this mission or getting in the way of it. Over-eating is one of the absolute best ways to thwart our body’s singular focus of maintaining wellness.

You don’t have to eat this way all the time, but if you choose to commit to this disciplined form of eating for just 5-7 days, you will realize many of the benefits of a full detox. AND, if you want extra credit (I was an extra credit junkie in school), you can reduce or eliminate anyone or all of these: sugar, wheat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine.

The body is so responsive that you can also take on these habits sporadically. One day you may choose to eliminate snacking. Another day, you may choose to eliminate a certain kind of food, or eat small meals. ANYTHING done to support the body in having some free time to go into repair and rebuild mode is time invested in feeling and looking great!

AND, it just may be all you need to drop those extra 10 pounds.