For most of us, spring cleaning means clearing the clutter from our pantries, garages or closets. But it turns out that our bodies also need a good spring tuneup to clear out a winter’s worth of heavy, comfort foods and to reverse the inevitable creeping in of some unhealthy eating habits.
While most people associate cleansing diets with fasting and unwanted side effects, endured only in an effort to squeeze into your spring wardrobe, South Portland native Joanne DiMauro says spring detox doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. And it can lead to healthy, long-term change.
DiMauro, a health coach and fitness instructor who lives in New York City, conducted a 5-7-day spring detox workshop for 13 clients in May. The participants met with DiMauro in person or via teleconference to support each other’s efforts to cleanse the toxins from their systems. Participants scratched red meat, white flour, dairy products, caffeine, alcohol and sweets from their grocery lists for the week. In the place of these foods, they cooked meals that emphasized raw foods, organic produce and small amounts of chicken and fish.
“Some people have great results with a severe (fasting) cleanse,” says DiMauro. “But it’s so much safer to do a whole foods cleanse.”
DiMauro says the goal of the workshop, which she blogged about on her website, www.JoanneDiMauro.com, is to help her clients understand that our diets should follow the rhythm of the seasons. Eating heavier foods – meats, stews and oils – in winter is natural, she says, but once spring comes, replacing some of those high-fat, comfort foods with lighter, raw food choices can help us “clear up the junk” in our lives.
“We tend to eat the same 20 foods out of habit,” says DiMauro. “I encourage people to try new foods, hummus with daikon radishes instead of with crackers, sprouts and dandelion greens, which have high curative qualities.”
DiMauro is a certified holistic health counselor, with an impressive list of certifications from various institutes of health and physical fitness. Her health coaching business, Know Your Body, combines her skills as a nutritional counselor with her personal fitness training.
Still, much of DiMauro’s wisdom on the subject of healthy living comes from her own experience. DiMauro graduated from South Portland High School in 1974 and danced with the local Casco Bay Movers from 1980 to 1986. She moved to New York City and landed a job with the Rockettes, where she worked with the legendary Bob Fosse for three years. During that time, she also performed in several films and TV shows. Once her dancing career ended, she began working in finance, but developed migraines. These symptoms, coupled with the allergies she’d suffered since moving to the city, led her to investigate natural, non-prescription ways to heal and stay healthy.
“I was told by my doctor that I’d need allergy shots for the rest of my life,” says DiMauro. “But a nurse at the front desk gave me a packet of foods to avoid. That’s when I realized there’s so much to preventative health.”
DiMauro started a fitness business and, after earning certification as a holistic health counselor from the Institute for Integrated Nutrition, part of Columbia University, she decided to combine the disciplines and become a wellness lecturer and full-time health coach. Know Your Body, her business, employs a staff of fitness trainers who conduct yoga and fitness classes. DiMauro does all the writing and lecturing with the help of a personal assistant. Her Facebook page has frequent status updates that link her advice with that of such “rock stars” of holistic health as Dr. Andrew Weill and Deepok Chopra.
“I’m so passionate that I want to share it with others,” says DiMauro
“People want to get healthy and there’s so much information out there. I help them sort through the confusion.”
DiMauro says her spring detox sessions emphasize the abundance of choices people can make as they clear their systems of fats and processed foods. What people like, she says, is the opportunity to experiment with different foods and the chance to get advice on how to come up with a personal plan that fits into their own routines. They also like her flexible, low-key approach to change, and the idea that even some high-fat foods have a place in our diets.
“I personally don’t feel dairy products are necessary for our diet. I try to get people to experiment with getting off dairy (long term),” she says. “But cheese and ice cream are comfort foods. They are better to eat in winter than in the spring.”
DiMauro no longer suffers from allergies or migraines. She credits such lifestyle changes as her yoga practice for relieving her migraines. She attributes her freedom from allergies to dietary changes, such as limiting dairy products to an occasional treat, and only eating pasta occasionally. She also substitutes whole grains for white flour and has exchanged her morning cup of coffee for green tea.
What works for her own health and well-being may not work for everyone, she acknowledges. But clearing out the clutter in your diet, she says, is one way to figure out what works for you.
“We tend to eat the same 20 foods out of habit,” says health coach Joanne DiMauro. “I encourage people to try new foods.”A daily newspaper reporter for many years, she is now well into her second career, English teacher at Bonny Eagle High School.