Flowers are blooming, the weather is warming and Spring is in the air. But instead of just cleaning up at home, why not clean out your own house (aka: your body) with a Spring cleanse?
What is a cleanse and why would you do one?
A cleanse is a limited period during which you eat easier-to-digest food, and less of it, so that your digestive system can take a break and your elimination system has extra energy to move out some of the stuff that’s stuck in your body. Two of the most compelling facts that inspired me to try my first cleanse were:
- Standard American Diet (SAD) meals are so time-consuming to digest (8-12 hours each), that we actually have a back-log of food in our guts
- Digestion is a very energy-intensive process, which is why you get a “food coma” after a heavy meal. Your digestive system takes precedence over your elimination system, but if you minimize your food intake your elimination system will get more energy to work.
I started doing cleanses six-years ago to prepare my body for pregnancy, but it’s also a great tool for transitioning to a healthier way of eating since it “resets” your palate. One of the most noticeable—and unexpected—benefits of my first cleanse was the complete clearing up of the adult onset cystic acne which had plagued me for 5 years.
What kind of cleanse should you do?
All cleanses fall into 2 categories: liquid vs. solid. Liquid cleanses have zero solid food and include “The Master Cleanse” (the infamous lemon juice/cayenne pepper/maple syrup drink) and vegetable/fruit juicing. The easier the food is to digest the faster the cleanse will work; and since liquids are easier to digest than solids, these cleanses work faster.
I know it’s hard for many to get past the idea of not eating solid food, however, fasting for a short period, as a method of maintaining health and wellness, has a long and well-documented history. I believe that it is possible to be so overloaded with toxins and chemicals, that something drastic (like a fast) may be necessary so that your body can eliminate the bad stuff. Many afflictions that Americans suffer from are diseases of excess. We are a feast-and-famine animal by design and we weren’t designed for the constant feast that many of us have access to. You can’t ignore the famine part of that design and expect the body to operate optimally. It would be like pouring oil down your sink and never putting anything down to move the oil out. What do you get: a clogged sink.
Many of us have “clogged” bodies, and for me this had manifested itself in inflammation, a body weight and shape that I was not content with and adult onset acne. While no one would have classified me as unhealthy I was not feeling optimal. I embarked on my first Master Cleanse and after 10-days I knew that something was different. I felt light, energetic and clean. I’ve now done the Master Cleanse a number of times, and each time I’ve been amazed at how high-energy I am throughout, and also how very not hungry I am.
Early last fall, after a particularly arduous and stressful period of my life, I decided I needed a mid-year cleanse. My overall health was still excellent, but I am a stress eater and had put on 7-pounds in four-months. I decided to try a less intense, and therefore longer (30-days!), cleanse created by nutritionist Natalia Rose in Detox for Women. The first 5-days of the cleanse were really difficult for me, however, by day 11 I could imagine incorporating many of the concepts into my daily life. The 7-lbs came off after 6-weeks and has stayed off and the cleanse also helped to reset my palate and get me off the cookie-binging train that I had been riding on all those months!
Cleansing coupled with a mostly raw plant-based diet and regular exercise has “cured” me of the aches, pains, acne, wavy nails, etc. that I had been suffering from and has brought me to a place of optimum health and wellness beyond my imagination. Keep in mind that you can’t cleanse, and then go back to eating poorly and expect the benefits to still be present. Cleansing is something that you can do periodically but you must maintain a healthy diet on a daily basis in order to stay healthy. Good luck on your journey to optimum health!
Tips for Cleansing
1) Consult a nutritionist or medical professional before embarking on a cleanse. Be aware of where you are personally and be gentle and kind with yourself. Achieving optimum mental and physical health are long-term goals, so take it slow.
2) Set yourself up for success by choosing a time of year when cleansing will be easy for you (traveling is not a good time.)
3) Keep a cleanse journal to track your progress. Include “stats” such as weight and measurements, as well as information about what your goals are and what you are feeling mentally and physically. Try on your smallest article of clothing and take a picture with it on and then try it on every few days to feel your progress (I feel my progress way before I see it.) Take pictures on a regular basis through your cleanse.
4) If you are doing a cleanse with food, than find allowable treats that you love. Some of my favorites: avocado with salt and lemon, kale with hummus, cinnamon tea and dark chocolate.
5) Reward your progress with non-food related items that keep you motivated such as a piece of work-out clothing, a book or a bar of soap.