You’ve finally decided to give up the junk and eat healthier. So why don’t you feel the vibrant energy and sense of well-being your friends have been bragging about? Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is the cornerstone of good health but if you’ve been living on a junk food diet for years, you may feel worse before you feel better.
Processed food withdrawal combined with something called a “healing crisis” can make even the most committed of individuals throw in the towel and grab a diet soda. Resist temptation. The fact that you feel terrible when you eat healthy is a good thing. Keep reading to find out why.
What is the Herxheimer Reaction?
The healing crisis (“Herxheimer Reaction”) occurs when your body attempts to dispose of toxins at a faster rate than they can be eliminated. The higher the amount of toxins in your system, the stronger the healing crisis you will experience. During any detoxification program, you will experience a massive die-off of bacteria, which can cause a temporary worsening of your current symptoms. While this process may be uncomfortable at first, it generally only lasts a few weeks.
Causes of a Healing Crisis
You don’t have to go through a 5-day organic juice fast to experience a healing crisis. Even a gradual weaning off of processed foods can contribute to a wide variety of symptoms. If your diet has been highly-processed for the large majority of your life, switching to a whole-food diet will cause detoxification symptoms. This is a good thing as it means your system is being cleared of unnecessary toxins.
It is also very important to note that the large majority of foods on your grocer’s shelf contain chemical additives that are designed to be addictive. Aspartame, MSG, and high fructose corn syrup have a similar effect on the reward system of your brain as a street drug. This is why processed food withdrawal is a very real experience that should be taken seriously.
Symptoms of a Healing Crisis
As you go through the process of clearing toxins from your body, you may notice symptoms similar to the ones listed below.
- Muscle and Joint Pain
- Sinus Congestion and Post Nasal Drip
- Extreme Fatigue or Restlessness
- Increased Anxiety and Fear
- Low-Grade Fever
- Frequent Urination
- Skin Rashes and Acne
- Mood Swings
- Recurrence of Former Symptoms
Easing Your Way Through the Herxheimer Reaction
Whenever you’re making a major change to your diet, introducing a new supplement or doing a fast, a Herxheimer reaction is likely to occur. During this process, it’s important to give yourself the time and patience you need to get to that lasting place of health. Drink plenty of water and take Epsom salt baths to aid in the detoxification process. If you are unable to use Epsom salt due to an allergy to sulfur, use hot showers or saunas instead.
Remember, the healing crisis is a normal part of your detoxification process. No matter what type of process you’re going through, be it a dietary change, a cleanse or the use of coconut oil or probiotics, take it slow. Your body may have been filled with quite a bit of toxins for years or even decades. This means it could take a month or two before you notice a real difference.
Hang in there. Your health is 100% worth it!