I have been thinking a lot about habits lately and how difficult it can be to change them – depending on what our habits are and and how attached we are to them. When I was writing my book Raw7 – Juicing & Raw for Weightloss 7-Day Plan – I knew that I wanted it to be more than just a recipe book or a detox programme. I wanted it to be a support to help people change their habits. A bit like doing exercises to get fit – if you are not used to it you need instruction, a new routine and support. My 7-Day plan is an instruction manual full of exercises in juicing & raw and an outline of a new routine – all there to help you develop new habits.
I know ‘the gurus’ say that it is possible to change habits in 21 days and even in less time than that – I believe this depends what you are doing to change your habits and what your habits are in the first place!
To make something a habit you have to do it repeatedly 21 times
Let me explain: if we assume that to make something a habit you have to do it repeatedly 21 times (so the gurus say!) then we can assume that ‘eating healthily’ for 21 days might change habits. Or making 21 juices at home over three days will help change your habits. Or drinking water throughout the day – you guessed it – 21 times – is going to change your habits.
However – habits don’t just change by chance you have to be consciously connected to why you are doing something and plan for it.
Changing habits can also hurt. Not eating food that gives us comfort might hurt, initially. We may feel a sense of loss. Again we have to be connected to why we are doing something to keep focused on our goals and remain motivated and prepare for a different level of reward. One that doesn’t focus on food.
We have to be prepared for change
We also have to prepare for changes and results! It’s not easy breaking cycles – particularly when those cycles are based around our eating habits – those are hard nuts to crack. But there are three things that can make a massive difference here:
a) being prepared – it’s very difficult to just wake up one morning and decide to ‘detox’ and expect it to work if your kitchen cupboards are still full of the wrong kinds of foods. You have to be prepared and get your provisions in! You have to get that gym bag ready for the morning. You have to have that water ready by the bed, you have to have your lunch prepared to take to work… and so on..
b) its all about mindset – focusing on your goals is what’s important. If you can’t connect with the reason why you are doing this in the first place – you just might fall at the first hurdle and forget why this was ever important to you. You need to establish goals and connect with them. These don’t need to be just about weight, they can be about a higher sense of purpose, gobal consciousness, animal welfare, overall health and so on.
c) get ready for change – when we make changes we often don’t expect a whole load of extra ‘change results’ to come in. We think that if we are changing the food we eat we are changing just one thing when we are in fact changing everything! Weight, mood, energy, skin, health, attitude, friends, how people react to our changes, how we react to our changes and so on. How we interact with the world can take on a shift all of its own. The person you see in the mirror is changing. How we respond to this is what we can not always be ready for.
Changes can happen immediately on a detox
Let’s imagine that we embark on a long detox. A 21 day detox to make some healthy changes to pratice and embed new habits so that they become the normal way of doing things. Let’s say that this detox involves a high level of ‘clean eating’ – moving away from meats and instead having most of our diet replaced with juices and raw foods.
Changes can happen immediately on this kind of detox. I have worked with people who on day one of a detox have had more than 7 bowel movements in one day! Not diarrhea or anything nasty but the normal occurrence of things – just much more of it! These are fit ‘healthy’ people who are just eating the wrong foods; overly processed foods, meat and dairy rich diets. Now that might sound scary – but it’s not. Think about it. It’s just the body’s way of getting rid of what it doesn’t need and cannot use. As soon as you start putting the good stuff in – there is no room for that other stuff – the body gets it out by using the fastest route possible because the body just doesn’t need it. It’s as if the body is taking a deep breath – a sigh of relief – and whispering ‘finally! Food that I recognise and can use!’
We are what we absorb
More important than reminding ourselves that ‘we are what we eat’ – which is incredibly powerful – is the message: ‘we are what we absorb’. If our pipework is full of the wrong stuff then the process of absorption can be blocked. Almost immediately when we start eating clean the body carries on with its daily detox tasks but it can feel like we are in ‘superdrive’ or ‘detox mode’ because the bad stuff chooses its escape route; the first to release is usually the skin, the bladder and the bowels.
Depending on what’s going on for an individual those first few days can feel tough, but once the initial toxicity is out – and absorption is really kicking in – then energy levels start to surge! Skin starts to glow! Eyes dazzle. After 21 days without a doubt there will be significant health improvements.
We are who we eat
When we start to connect with the concept ‘we are who we eat’ our food choices take on a whole new ball game. It’s this place that we should be moving towards. Connecting with animals in such a way that we no longer choose to see them as a food option.
When starting a detox, making lifestyle changes or ‘going raw’ for a day or a week – typically omnivores panic about ‘where am I going to get my protein from’. This is an unnecessary panic because the most protein rich sources of food on the planet come from greens. Most tuned-in athletes know this. Foods such as hemp seeds and spirulina (which is around 70% protein!) really help to get some protein-perspective here. While looking at protein levels is important – taking a wider view and looking at the whole range of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes is much more important.
On a well thought out eating plan omnivores would probably panic about meat out of habit – I see this a lot. Those moving from a highly processed diet start to dream about sizzling burgers and fantasy foods! Again a lot of this is about breaking habits and routines and nothing to do with lack of energy, vitamins or calories. Meat eaters don’t realise that their body is craving the fat and the salt – not the ‘meat’.
Become a ‘conscious eater’
When you start feeding yourself to nourish your body on a cellular level – you become a ‘conscious eater’ and moving towards that can be tough in the first few days! People sometimes find that they are ‘craving’ certain foods but that is quite different from hunger. Depending on what the ‘original’ diet was like and what the new regime involves some people can actually feel quite ‘full’ after a few days – feeling for the first time true nutritional satisfaction.
Skin will definitely glow by day 10! The initial toxicity should have left the body by then and I see lots of people at Raw Juice Camps and my Raw Food & Yoga Summer Retreats with skin conditions like psoriasis that show incredible results in just 7 days. I haven’t worked with anyone yet who doesn’t have a healthy-eating glow about them after consciously consuming for 7 days so I have no doubts that a fuller programme of 21 days or more will leave the skin glowing, refreshed and quite changed.
Beyond the wall of the first 3 days of a detox a wonderful burst of positive energy awaits
During a detox – particularly with the first 7 days – clients can go through various stages. It’s part of the process of letting things go! And some people struggle if they are not ready for the results, prepared for the journey or have the right mindset. Generally speaking the first three days are the hardest. It can be tough letting all that toxicity go. I often hear ‘this raw food detox is giving me such a headache I feel awful!’ when in fact it is the release of the toxicity that is truly affecting how we are feeling. It is not the good food. It is the processed foods and unhealthy diet! I encourage people to stick with it because beyond this three day wall a wonderful burst of positive energy awaits! Beyond day 5 is a breeze because you are in the rhythm of things. And after a 7 day cycle people really are on such a high! I see physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energies go through the roof! Food starts to taste better because the palate is cleaner and we are beginning to truly taste food – not food like substances. Beyond day 7 is about motivation. Keeping the new routines going. Staying motivated and on track. Moving beyond the initial results and breaking the habits by keeping the new routines going. That’s when these new routines and eating habits become life changing!
The body’s natural state is one of constant self repair
The body’s natural state is one of constant self repair. I tell this to my clients a lot. If we remember when we were kids and we fell over and scratched our skin – we learned early on that there was no need to panic. A scab would form and the body would take care of healing itself. We now have to connect with the fact that this happens not just on the skins surface but on the inside too. On every level. On a cellular level. The body’s natural state is absolutely one of constant self repair. When we feed the body meat and dairy, processed foods, alcohol and so on it puts a strain on the body’s natural ability to repair itself. We are overloading the system with the wrong things. Internally we are swimming in our own toxicity, as a fish would be in a bowl if the water was not regularly changed. If we didn’t change that water the fish would get very sick.
Eating a clean diet – high in vegan and raw foods helps to clean the system, change the water, and recover balance in the body – allowing for the natural state of self repair to be restored
This also helps explain how the initial few days of a detox can feel harsh – the dirtier the water and more toxic the system is and the harder it’s going to be.
Saying that once the water is clean – life just feels fantastic! Energy levels soar and food tastes truly amazing! We begin to crave real food again!
Eating vegan is more than just a diet. It’s a lifestyle. I say that because if you clean up your diet you want to clean up everything! The benefits of eating a vegan/raw foods/high-raw diet are truly limitless! We can hold on to the personal benefits of being vegan/raw/clean; weight balance, energy, health, mindset, clarity of thought, performance and so on, but the benefits of eating vegan fall way beyond that.
Be a clean eating vegan. Eating a diet heavy in processed and packaged foods is not healthy. It is important to be 100% meat free AND 100% chemical free. People worry too much about calories when they should be worried about chemicals.
I was a vegetarian myself for years and had one of the unhealthiest diets around. I thought that just because I wasn’t eating meat I was going the right thing – that it was enough. But it wasn’t enough. I was eating way too much dairy, processed foods and meat substitutes, and I was over toxic, overweight and sick. You can read more about my story here.
Just opting out of eating meat isn’t enough. If we continue to overload the system with processed foods the body still has a hard time recognising it as something it can use – and the waters remain toxic. Bad fats and chemicals are some of the biggest things to worry about in our foods. They can be poisons to our system and should really be avoided.
To get around this clients ask me ‘what should I look for on the label’. The answer is already in the question: look for foods that don’t have a label. Look for FOOD: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds do not need labels and that’s what you should be looking for. Foods. Not food like substances. People are too worried about calories when they should be worried about chemicals.
Thinking about going vegan or raw, doing a juice detox or just eating more cleanly?
Go for it! Those that make changes have a 100% success rate for getting to a happier, lighter, healthier life! No-one ever got sick from eating a healthy diet. No-one who was sick ever got worse from becoming vegan (done the right way of course!) A diet high in raw foods, unprocessed foods, good quality water and vibrant living that doesn’t destroy our planet and does not involve unnecessary animal slaughter is good for everyone.
For more tips on moving towards a healthier lifestyle you might be interested in my Explore Raw COOKERY SCHOOL. For a guided detox why not join us in Portugal for our Raw Food & Yoga Summer Retreats and Raw Juice Camps?
For tips and recipes download my ebook Raw7 – Juicing & Raw For Weightloss 7-Day Plan.
Keeping it juicy & raw