So You’re Thinking About A Cleanse

You read my most recent post on whether to cleanse or not, right? If not, it’s right here! Well, if you’ve decided that it’s time to clean up your food story a little with a delectable tune-up, where in the world do you start? There are so many kinds, and so many ways to go about those various kinds, it could make a person’s head spin! So let me break it down for you, but keep in mind, if you’re new to the idea, it’s important to have guidance. Get me on board and I can guide you along the way, so you feel utterly delectable instead of deeply deprived, confused and generally out of sorts. (And keep in mind that you don’t need to cleanse to be healthy and you should absolutely consult your most trusted health professional first).

  • The juice cleanse—this one is so popular lately, I’d really call it a fad diet. The idea is that you drink nothing but unpasteurized, fresh, mostly veggie juices for a few days and these alkalize your system, infuse it with amazing enzymes and micronutrients, give your digestion a break and clear out the “crap.” There’s a lot to be said for fresh green juice. It really does mainline the nutrients. But while this sounds good in theory, it only makes sense in the context of a bigger picture. And I think perhaps that’s gotten a little lost lately. Rather than using the “juice fast” as a band aid whenever you feel you’ve overindulged, try to eliminate the junk slowly, then pare your diet back to raw foods, then finally take a couple of days for the juice before re-introducing solid food and possible allergens to see how your system handles them. This will also keep you from feeling sick, tired, and generally crazy from going too far too ‘fast’. Approach with caution and guidance.
  • The elimination diet—For this you basically eliminate various categories of food. Some focus on eliminating common allergens, others focus on going “vegan” or eliminating sugar or toxins. My favorite is kind of a combo, eliminating animal products, processed foods, processed sugar, common allergens like wheat, corn, soy, peanuts, dairy and gluten, and adrenal offenders like alcohol and caffeine. Basically eating a super clean whole foods, simple diet for a little while to get back to base line. Some of these cleanses also involve weaning off of grains and legumes, to reach a lighter day or two or three filled with greens and healthy fats and smaller portions of nuts and seeds or even the abovementioned juice days to give the digestion a rest before adding things back in.
  • The raw food cleanse—This is just what it sounds like. You eat only raw, live, food for a time. This can include various fun and decadent preparations, involving nut cheeses and dehydrated veggie burgers and all kinds of fun stuff, but nothing heated over 105 or 118 degrees (depending who you listen to). The thing is, this can be a great and vibrant way to eat, but it’s not appropriate for everyone. Some people have weaker digestion and can’t handle all that raw roughage. Others might be allergic to nuts which leaves very few options for the “dense” part of the meal. And, I really don’t recommend it in winter time at all! Approach the raw food cleanse with caution and guidance.
  • The mono diet—Just what it sounds like. You eat just one type of food for a time. This can give your mind a break from the endless decisions we make all day long about food. Just think about all the emotional energy and time we put into figuring out what to eat! By eating just one thing, you may find you eat less because true hunger becomes obvious, as opposed to boredom, sadness, celebratory eating, what have you. Also, by eating just one thing the digestive system doesn’t have to work quite so hard. It simplifies things all around. Still, you’ll want to be very careful when you choose the “one thing”. Did I mention before? Approach with caution and guidance!
  • The Ayurveda approach-This is actually a mono diet! You’ll eat nothing but kichari for a little while,  and you may or may not drink some ghee in the morning, building up to a day when you drink castor oil. Yes, you’ll want guidance for this one the first time too. Kichari is a mono-meal involving rice, mung-dal (small, nourishing, easily digestible beans) and veggies all cooked in a pot together. Ayurveda says that when you cook different ingredients together they will “work out their differences in the pot,” so according to this ancient wisdom, kichari is the most nourishing, most easily digestible meal of all. It has the benefit of providing all kinds of both macro and micro nutrients, and being warm and satisfying, so you don’t feel cold, underfed or deprived during your cleanse. It also has the mono diet benefit of taking the thinking out of it. Though it can feel heavy in the spring if you’re used to a lighter more raw diet, and it may not be appropriate for those who have a hard time with grains or legumes.
  • Juice till dinner—Yup, just like the name you drink nothing but juice till dinner. Some theories say that you can digest best in the evening, when you’re not running around or trying to work or do other things and your system can focus on its own work. So you drink fresh veggie juices all day, then indulge in a healthy, but clean and simple meal for dinner. It also gives your system basically a 24 hour rest each day before your main meal, while providing enough calories to keep you going for the time of your cleanse. Some people do very well with this approach, since they don’t have time to focus on food while going about their day anyway and get to eat at night when the hunger and emotional hunger both hit. Others feel tired, foggy and spacey all day, then get a boost of energy from the infusion of calories and fiber which keeps them up all night long! If you work a job that gets you home late, this one may not work for you, since it’s best to consume your main meal before 8 pm for optimal digestion and to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Juice-lunch-juice—This is similar to the above. You get one solid meal a day then rest your system the rest of the time by taking liquids, which can include soups, smoothies and juices. This one works for those who feel “foggy” on the juice till dinner approach and is also good if you have the time to be home and cooking in the middle of the day so you can get your meal fresh. It’s nice to do this one, making your one meal raw and vegan (and leaving out all the allergens and toxins as in the elimination diet) during the warmer months, which  could make it easier to bring the one meal to the office with you.
  • The master cleanse—here’s one I don’t really recommend. You drink nothing but water with lemon, maple syrup and cayenne for a number of days. Not only is this too little fuel to really keep your system functioning optimally (in my opinion) but it can spike your blood sugar without any fat to help it absorb more slowly and doesn’t include all those great enzymes and micronutrients you’d get from juice. In addition, I’ve heard of several instances of people cleansing their systems too fast (with complications like flushing a gall stone!) and ending up in the hospital with serious complications. If you really must attempt it, talk to your physician first!

And here is something to consider however you choose to tune into your food story: it isn’t all about the food. You might consider giving up email, tv and social media for a little while to give your psyche a good rest. While your cleaning up the eating part, you need to let go of stress, nurture your neurons and love your skin a little too. Make it a delectable nurture instead of a cold, harsh sounding detox to really reap the benefits.

Ready to talk? Contact me for a free 20 minute consultation to assess your current story and talk about the delectable possibilities.

And with that, I’m off to sweat out the pressures of the week and cook up something delicious to share with you soon. Happy Saturday!