The Ultimate Post-Travel Detox
You can easily tell how much a woman has traveled
based on how readily she talks about poop.
Yep, poop is one of the main conversations that goes on between travelers.
Men and women alike.
While most people in the modern world pay little attention to their poop, as travelers we put our digestion through such turmoil it’s impossible to ignore the way our bodies scream at us. Since I’ve been traveling in developing countries for the last five and a half years, as you can imagine I’ve gotten a lot of screams.
Like when I ate street food in Guatemala and went to the toilet at least twenty one times in one night. Or when I got Bali belly and nearly passed out in the bathroom with stuff coming out both ends. Or when I spent a month in Morocco not able to go at all, so bloated that my belly stuck out like I was pregnant. And back when I was in Cambodia and my skin became so broken out that I would intentionally sunburn my face just to clear it up.
Can you relate to any of this?
As much as I’ve literally wanted to die every time I got sick on the road, my body has never been as thin since getting constipated in Europe, and my skin has never been as clear since I went to Asia…
I see it all as an incredible blessing.
Getting sick on the road is what pushed me on the path of natural wellness and healing. If I’d never suffered with so much food poisoning, digestive issues, and skin breakouts, I wouldn’t have made the lifestyle changes that have made me such a healthier person inside and out.
I probably would have continued with my low grade symptoms of acid reflux and stomach aches that I’ve had since childhood, thinking they were “normal” and continuing to eat pasta covered in cheese every day, taking antibiotics whenever I got sick.
And recently, after getting so blocked up in Sri Lanka and contracting the flu multiple times, my symptoms have led me to finally put into practice the cleansing that I truly believe in and clear up the symptoms I’ve been carrying for years from travel.
While I still have cleansing and healing to do, after just one week my skin is perfectly clear again and after just one month (with way less exercise than I normally get) I’m fitting back into clothes from my pre-travel body.
So my adventurous dear, today I’m coming to you with the most beneficial cleanses, supplements, diets, and practices I’ve experienced on my journey to help you with yours.
Let me preface this by saying, I’m about to give you A LOT of information. Because in my own healing journey I’ve done A LOT of research and experimentation. This doesn’t mean you need to do everything in this article. Trust yourself and your body.
Remember, health and wellness is not an instant fix. This is a lifestyle change. A way to honor and love the vessel that you inhabit. Be patient with yourself and make changes in a way that feels sustainable for you.
The stress of constantly moving around, taking long flights, and shifting time zones can cause a lot of tension and inflammation in the body. You’re literally uprooting yourself every time you change locations and some of us move as often as every few days. That’s why when I come from travel (or at least base myself somewhere for a while) the first thing I do is ground myself in my surroundings.
My favorite way to get grounded is to connect with local elements. Easier to do in some places than others no doubt, but try to put your bare feet on the Earth, feel fresh water, and sit with a tree. Synchronize yourself with nature’s time clock by watching the sunrise in the morning and turning off electronics with the sunset. Do some grounding yin or restorative yoga in the evenings. Sit still and breathe.
Clean Up Your Diet
Before you begin any kind of cleanse or detox, you need to make dietary changes. Yep, this is not a quick fix solution, this is a lifestyle change towards a happier healthier you. Use these sicky travel symptoms as your inspiration for feeding your body medicine instead of garbage. It’s time.
Your version of clean eating will vary dramatically depending on your past eating habits, your addictions, and your body type. Remember, this is a lifestyle change not a quick fix, so clean it up in a way that’s sustainable for you. I’m going to talk about what I believe is truly healthy, but it’s not like if you don’t get it “perfect” you’re failing. Just information to take or leave as it suits you.
1. Remove the Sugar
The first thing I recommend that EVERYONE do is cut out sugar completely. Not only the processed stuff, also natural sugars like honey and even fruit… just temporarily. If you’ve gotten bad bacteria in your belly, and if you’ve been traveling in places like Thailand where they put mounds of white sugar in everything, you’ve probably developed a sugar addiction.
In my pre-travel days I didn’t have a sweet tooth at all. I didn’t even crave fruit and if I had two bites of cake I felt kinda sick. Well, somewhere along the road I developed a horrible sugar addiction, to the point that I would rather eat a brownie sundae than dinner. Even when I cut out processed sugar completely, I was addicted to raw vegan desserts with tons of dried fruit, cacao, and nuts.
So, recently I cut out all sugar entirely for two weeks. To curb the sweets cravings I used stevia (a wonderful herbal supplement that’s very sweet) in homemade chia pudding and hot tea. I really missed fruit, but now that I’ve incorporated it back into my diet, I am way less addicted to sugar than before and feel content with a couple of pieces of fruit a day and no other sweeteners.
2. Cut Out Allergy Inducing Inflammatory Foods
The Western Diet leads to all kinds of health problems that we’ve come to accept as “normal.” There are so many things we feed ourselves that lead to issues like bacteria overgrowth, inflammation, IBS, and on and on. It’s time to cut out the “foods” that aren’t actually feeding us. (If you’re interested in really diving deep into this, I recommend reading the book The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder.)
I suggest we all remove from our diets anything processed, bad quality salts (only use celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan), bad quality oils (only use coconut oil or avocado oil for cooking and raw olive or raw oil from seeds for salads), alcohol (trust me the cleaner your system the less you will want it), gluten, dairy (do you know any other animal on the planet who drinks milk past infancy?), processed grains (white rice, corn, wheat), and low quality meats (full of hormones and horribly upsetting how much pain is inflicted on the animals and the environment).
Have I lost you yet? The good news is, the more you remove these things from your diet and the less you want them. So, it’s time to fall in love with the healthy stuff.
3. Eat Your Medicine
Eat in abundance dark leafy greens, all kinds of vegetables, fruit (unless you’re curing your sugar addiction), seeds like chia, flax, sesame, and pumpkin, raw nuts in moderation (eating a lot can constipate you and cause weight gain), ancient grains like quinoa and millet, coconut (oil, milk, flakes), avocado, quality fish and eggs (unless you’re vegetarian/vegan).
If that stuff is already obvious to you, take it to the next level and start practicing proper food combining. This can feel very restrictive at first but it’s so much easier on your digestion. Get more info on food combining here.
4. Make it Easy
It can feel overwhelming and difficult to clean up your diet all alone, all at once, especially when you’re coming home from traveling, where you were likely eating all kinds of things you wouldn’t normally. Not to mention, when I’m in the states after a long travel stint, there’s so much temptation and people around me eating all kinds of foods I’ve developed addictions to: dairy, gluten, and sugar in particular.
That’s when it’s really helpful to have some kind of health coach or diet plan.
When I came home from having really bad digestive issues in Europe and Morocco and was used to eating whatever I wanted in huge quantities, I knew I needed some support. So I signed up for my dear friend and holistic health coach Carly’s online detox program 12 Days to Sexy. It was an incredible reset from the inside out and made a detox so simple with daily non-restrictive eating plans, recommended cleanses, mantras and meditations, and a supportive Facebook community to share with others going through the same experience. I came out it feeling like I had a sustainable eating plan, a greater appreciation for my body, and healed some of my emotional addictions with food.
If you want to join 12 Days to Sexy the next session opens up June 5th, and because you’re a special reader of mine you’ll get 10% off when you sign up with this link. You get access to the course for life, so you can come back to it anytime you’re in need of a post-travel cleanse.
Clean Up Your Digestive System
If you’ve picked up bacterias, parasites, and yeasts on the road it will take more than a clean diet to heal your symptoms. That’s where cleanses come in handy. Again, what cleansing you do will depend on what you individually need. Listen to your intuition, look for the signs in your body, and trust your gut.
1. Kill the bugs
To kill the bad buggies I recommend choosing some kind of supplement. The effectiveness will depend on what you actually have, so you may want to have your poop tested in a lab. I’ve had success with clearing out bacterias with diatomaceous earth (more info here) and recently I’m really noticing a difference with bentonite clay.
If you want to deeply cleanse out your whole digestive system, you can do bentonite clay and psiliyum husk shakes which kill the bad bugs and scrub them out of your system. More info on this cleanse here.
You may also want to pick up a supplement blend that specifically kills parasites, but note that you’ll also have to do a parasite elimination diet for it to really work. Here’s more info if you want to do a parasite cleanse.
Same goes for candida, you will want to take supplements that kill the yeast and also eat a diet that doesn’t feed them. Here’s a great guide to doing your own candida cleansing.
2. Flush it out
If you’re killing bacterias and yeasts, you need to make sure that you’re also pooping them out, otherwise you may be re-absorbing toxins and generally feeling really sick. This is especially important if you’ve been experiencing constipation.
Warm Lemon Water
A gentle, easy way that everyone can clear their entire digestive system is by drinking a big glass of hot lemon water every single morning. I recommend using half of a lemon and a splash of raw apple cider vinegar (very important that it’s raw, I use Bragg’s brand) with a big mason jar of half cold water half hot water. This is an ancient ayurvedic cleanse that clears the digestive tract and also balances your stomach acid. If you have acid reflux or constipation this will be very helpful.
To fully flush your system I recommend a few options: salt flush, coffee enemas, or colonics. These are meant to be used temporarily, as part of a cleanse, not as part of an ongoing routine.
I was very hesitant to try these, and thought it sounded just wrong, until did one and realized how amazing I felt! Coffee enemas were made famous by doctor Max Gerson with his natural and highly effective cancer treatment programs. They’re so effective for detoxification because the coffee breaks down old crap on the colon walls, cleanses your blood, and releases bile in your liver to dump out toxins. If I do a coffee enema when my skin is broken out it’s completely cleared up by the next day. I’ve also used it for early onset cold symptoms and nipped the illness in the bud. I especially recommend coffee enemas if you get migraines or have skin problems.
Get all of the info on how to do coffee enemas here.
To really get a deep clean, a colonic is a great way to go. Colonics hydrate the colon, exercise the muscles to improve bowel movements, and flush out a ton of built up gunk. It’s like doing 30 enemas in one session. They’re not cheap but if you have the money and access it’s a great way to go, plus the technicians will advise you on how many you need and what course of treatment is best. Definitely get the open system colonics instead of the closed system, where you’ll have privacy to release on your own. I recommend checking Groupon for deals on colonics in your area.
While colonics and coffee enemas only clean the colon, a salt flush cleans your entire digestive system… starting at your mouth! This is another ayurvedic cleanse that scrubs out your intestines and colon with cleansing salt. I’ve done these with not great results, I mostly flushed out water, but I have heard incredible success stories from friends who have done them daily for a week post-travel. Get all of the instructions for salt flushing here.
3. Do a Fast
If you’re more experienced with cleansing, you may want to actually do a fast to reset your system. Please only do a fast if you have support and guidance, as you really need to make sure that you transition in and out of it safely. Fasting is a big deal!
That said, there is a very gentle, non-deprivational way to fast with an ayurvedic meal called kitcheree. Basically, you eat a delicious spiced stew of mung beans and basmati rice for all of your meals, nothing else, for three days. The kitcheree intends to balance your system, which is so essential when you’ve been traveling. Because you’re eating the same thing for every meal, your digestive system doesn’t need to work so hard. Plus, you’re still eating and getting calories so you won’t experience the intense detox symptoms that come with other fasts. Learn the kitcheree recipe and more details on how to do the cleanse here.
Bring in the Good Bugs
This is arguably the most important part of all. To balance your system, you must restore the healthy bacteria in your gut so that you’re not so susceptible to outsiders. It’s my personal belief that the over-prescription of antibiotics and lack of fermented foods in the Western diet is what causes so many of us to get food poisoning abroad.
For the last four years I’ve traveled with a jar of water kefir which has kept me from getting food poisoning. (I wrote all about it my post: How to Travel and Never Get Food Poisoning.) The times when I traveled without it were the times I had digestive issues.
That said, when you’re home with access to more options, I recommend doing more than just drinking water kefir. Especially if you’re doing any kind of cleansing or supplements to kill bad bacteria, you will need to take a lot of probiotics to restore the good stuff. Here’s what I recommend:
1. Take a Probiotic
Probiotic supplements are not cheap, but they are convenient especially when traveling and you need all the good stuff you can get. I recommend soil based probiotics from Prescript Assist or Kimberly Snyder, and also Dr Ohirra’s Professional Probiotics and The Garden of Life Raw Probiotics. Take them on an empty stomach, very important, first thing in the morning and before bed. Wait at least an hour after taking them to eat anything.
2. Make Your Own Probiotics
A very cheap and effective way to get lots of probiotics and also digest your food more easily is to eat and drink fermented foods. I highly recommend water kefir as a cheap and easy probiotic source, learn more in my post How to Travel and Never Get Food Poisoning. When you have access to a kitchen you can make your own homemade sauerkraut which requires only cabbage, salt, and a glass jar so you can make it even if you’re traveling and don’t have access to special health food stores. I personally eat sauerkraut before lunch and dinner or have it with other foods to make them more digestible. Get some great recipes here.
Love Your Body
Here’s an important one that we often overlook: be kind, loving, and nurturing to your body!! Your body is only having these symptoms to communicate to you what you need to be healthy. It’s your ally, your only companion in this lifetime, and deserves your respect and love. In addition to giving kind words to your body, thanking it for what it does, and being appreciative no matter where your health is at, do things that feel really yummy… that are also detoxifying!
Take epsom salt baths before bed with some lavender essential oil and you’ll release toxins and feel great! Massage your tummy with castor oil and put a warm flannel cloth on it. Take saunas and sweat it out. Go to yoga. Do some deep relaxing twists before bed. Visualize your body being purified with white light. Cleansing is not just a physical journey, it’s an emotional, mental, and spiritual one too.
Release and Process
Diving deeper into the layers of where you’re storing the old gunk, you may need to release and process certain experiences and emotions from your trip. Un-released emotions have a way of sticking around in the body, and showing up through aches, pains, and yep tummy problems.
To release and process your trip, write about it. Journal your experiences. Honor the challenges, the beautiful things, and the many lessons that you learned. Dance it out with music that taps you into your emotions. Meditate on the memories and let them go. Energetically distance yourself from the past with your imagination. Recognize that you are a whole being, healing, healed, perfect, learning, growing.
Have a Plan
Having a plan is essential if you want to successfully stick to your cleanse, whatever it may be. Again, depending on where you are in your personal journey your cleanse will look different than anyone else’s. To help you make your plan, here’s my personal detox routine:
5-10 minute morning meditation
Warm lemon water and glass of water with bentonite clay
Fire building exercise, maybe a yoga practice with lots of sweat and twists, going for a run, hula hooping to stimulate the belly
Cup of hot tea with ginger and turmeric and probiotic supplement
Coffee enema (ideally AFTER a bowel movement, only if it’s working for you, you could do daily for a week, make sure to have lots of probiotics if you’re doing this to introduce good bacteria)
Breakfast, only after fully releasing everything from the enema: Green smoothie with ginger, tons of greens, a little bit of fruit, squeeze of lemon
Lunch: Start with digestive enzyme, then have sauerkraut, salad, veggies, avocado
Afternoon snack: chia pudding unsweetened or sweetened with stevia
Get some exercise, maybe take a walk somewhere or do a more gentle yoga flow
Dinner: Start with digestive enzyme, then have sauerkraut and salad, soup and quinoa or some kind of stir fry
Yin or restorative yoga
Before bed: magnesium oxide supplement and probiotic
Like I said earlier, it can be very difficult to do these practices alone, especially if you’re in an environment with people who are not focused on holistic health or cleansing. Do you have friends who would consider cleansing with you? Is there a yoga community you can dive into? Are there health food cafes where you could meet like minded people? Raw cooking events? How can you seek out others making this lifestyle change?
No matter where you are, you can access these kinds of communities and groups online.
For emotional and mental detoxing, you are welcome to join my VIP community The Freedom Tribe where we support one another in releasing our blocks and opening to our unconventional dreams. Enrollment is now closed for 2017 but you can join us next year.
For a holistic health nutrition program with daily meal planning, cleansing tips, video lessons to heal from the inside out, and a supportive Facebook community led by a nutrition coach, join the next round of 12 Days to Sexy on June 5th with my dear friend and world traveler Carly. Because you’re a special reader of mine you’ll get 10% off when you sign up with this link.
Wishing you abundant health and wellness wherever you are, whatever path you’re on. You’re whole, healed, healing, and beautiful exactly as you are.
Tell me in the comments, what symptoms have you picked up on the road? What cleansing techniques have worked for you? And, wherever you’re at in your journey, how can we help you be happier, healthier, and…. poop better?
*Check out all of my travel health related posts here*