January is cleanse month!

Dr. Jennifer Luis, B.Sc., B.Ed., N.D.

Dr. Jennifer Luis, B.Sc., B.Ed., N.D.

Given the fun indulgences of December, most people plan to “get back on track” in the New Year. This year in particular, a cleanse is much easier to attempt because most of us are cooking more meals than dinning out. I am going to share my favourite ways to improve energy, lose weight and get healthier for 2021.

Intermittent fasting has become more popular in the past few years. Clinically, I have seen this model of meal planning lead to weight loss and correction of blood levels of sugar, insulin and even triglyceride levels within 3 months. It doesn’t have to be the traditional 16 hours fasting followed by 8 hours of eating to have an effect. To start, choose even a 12 hour window (ie 8am-8pm) to eat your meals and 12 hours (overnight) to fast. This will likely be pretty easy and you can move on to a 10 hour window of eating (perhaps 8-6pm) and 14 hours of fasting. Depending on your goals and how you feel, the last level would be a full 16 hours of fasting and an 8 hour window of eating, however many reap the benefits keeping with 10/14. Speak to your naturopathic doctor if you have conditions that involve blood sugar disorders or thyroid disorders before beginning.

Sugar-free January! The most popular plan out there is the Whole 30 diet. Many resources are available online along with meal plans to make it less daunting to follow. The concept involves removing processed foods, sugars and common allergens for 30 days. The focus is on vegetables with high quality plant-based fats and proteins that can be animal or plant-based. A sugar-free diet that I regularly recommend is similar to the Whole 30. Removal of all refined and natural sugars, white starches (potato, rice, white flour), corn, lactose, alcohol and only 1/2 cup of berries per day for fruit intake. However, whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats and carbs like yams are still permitted but should not be more than 1/2 cup per serving per meal. Each meal should have at least 1 tablespoon of healthy fat – nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut, olive oil and at least 20g of protein.

Fermentable foods or probiotics will help to balance the gut. Be careful though – if you are new to probiotics and feel excess gas and bloating or digestive upset, speak to your naturopathic doctor. Some digestive conditions can be made worse with probiotics.

Well, today is day 6 for me on my month-long sugar-free/dry January. I welcome your participation to get back on track!