It’s quite common nowadays to hear people talk about “doing a detox”, which usually means doing some protocol for a predefined number of days, for example taking a smoothie formula for a week, drinking lemon water in the morning, or even fasting. Usually a detox is performed as a quick fix because of feeling crappy after some not-so-self-loving lifestyle choices. More often than not the detox ends with the person going back to their old habits, either immediately or gradually.
What the detox industry is not telling you, is that the body is always in the process of detoxification. The body has two main functions that sustain all the rest: 1) the intake and assimilation of nutrients, and 2) elimination of waste matter. We are so obsessed with getting enough of everything (even though getting too much is more of an issue in the west), that we completely ignore the other half of the picture. Elimination is equally, if not even more important for the efficient functioning of the body, as is the intake of nutrition.
Every time you eat, the process of ingestion produces metabolic waste, which needs to be eliminated or it will remain in the body, inviting parasites and all kinds of diseases. The tricky part is that your body is not able to eliminate if you are constantly ingesting food. Especially if you eat foods that are hard to digest (meat, fat), unnatural (processed foods), or downright toxic (alcohol).
Detoxification of the body is not a once-a-year for a week thing, especially after years and years of waste accumulation. It is an ongoing process, and for someone coming from a standard western diet, it can take years to get the body over the hump, to a place where they actually start feeling the full benefits of the raw vegan diet. There are no quick fixes with this one.
I have been living relatively healthy all my life with minimal amounts of processed foods, not very much meat and plenty of exercise. I was also whole foods vegan since one year prior to going raw, and still, STILL when I first went raw I spiraled into a detox hell that lasted for several months.
And now, after about 10 months on raw, I am still entering a detox periodically. It comes in cycles. I can feel it coming with a tiredness and a brain fog, then usually nauseas follow, sometimes also rash and itchiness. This usually last anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks. I am also usually more emotional during this time and take more time to meditate, as I believe that our physical and emotional aspects are very tightly linked.
If you really want to clean your body and start feeling energetic and blissful as the new norm, you are gonna have to start detoxing out the years worth of accumulated waste. Of course, you can do this in small steps, for example by doing short fasts or fruit only days, but it is critical that you do not fall back to your old ways in between, as that will be just taking two steps forward and one step back. That being said, it is important to listen to your body and slow down the detox if it gets too heavy. Salads, nuts and steamed vegetables are a good way to do this.
I know it might sound discouraging, but it’s a process and a journey, but I can promise you that once you are on the other side, you will only feel better with time and will come to know the bliss that the long-term raw vegans talk about!