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What to Expect When You Go Clean and Green (And How to Make the Transition Easy)

When you begin to change your diet, particularly if you still consume sugar,  coffee, alcohol, and a lot of processed foods with additives, you might notice some symptoms as you go “clean and green.” The most common of these symptoms are headaches from sugar and coffee withdrawal and cravings for the foods you’re eliminating. Additionally, sometimes when people increase their intake of plant foods, particularly fibrous vegetables, grains, and beans, they experience increased bloating, gas, and digestive discomfort.

The good news is that if you make sure to replace unhealthy foods with healthful ones — paying particular attention to maintaining your blood sugar balance with good quality protein and fats — and stay hydrated (I especially recommend drinking lemon water), you can expect the withdrawal symptoms to clear in just a week or less. In their place, you can expect to enjoy:

  • Clearer thinking
  • Improved mood
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy
  • An adios to headaches
  • Reduced aches and pains, including joint pain
  • Clearer skin
  • Weight loss if you’ve been carrying some excess

To make the transition to a fibrous, plant-based diet easier, make sure to chew your food well, and consider including a plant-based digestive enzyme and a probiotic containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. If you include beans or legumes in your diet, make sure they have been soaked prior to cooking, are cooked well (or are sprouted) and are seasoned with aromatic spices such as cumin, which improves digestion. In a short time you’ll not only experience the benefits I’ve mentioned, but you’ll have better digestion, gas and bloating can become a problem of the past, and you can enjoy healthy, regular, smooth daily BMs.

It can take a few weeks for your microbiome — the trillions of microorganisms that live in your gut — to adjust and acclimatize to your new foods, and if you’ve been eating quite a bit of sugary, processed, and starchy foods, it can also take a few weeks for your gut flora to rearrange from more gas-producing and unfriendly species to healthier varieties. So don’t throw in the towel, but keep those digestive enzymes on hand and be patient as your body adjusts. The benefits will be so worth it.

That said, there’s a myth in the natural medicine world commonly referred to as a “healing crisis” that says you might get worse before you get better. While the symptoms I mentioned are common, you should not experience any severe abdominal pain, fevers, skin rashes, or unusual symptoms as a result of changing your diet. Such symptoms usually suggest that there’s another process going on, for example, a viral infection and this is not a result of the healing process.

While longstanding symptoms that you’ve have may take weeks or more to improve, and sometimes also require the help of a qualified integrative or functional practitioner or another care provider, overall, within a few days of improving your diet, you should be moving in a noticeably healthier, happier, more energized direction — and when you experience this, you’ll love how you feel!

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