Have you often thought of participating in a Cleanse but it never seemed like the right time? It either required too much preparation or you didn’t feel like starving yourself for ten days. If that sounds like you, then read on, because this post will correct the most common misconception about cleansing, and provide you with a few trial exercises to test your willingness to commit to a cleanse in the future.
Make no mistake, cleansing does take planning and commitment, but if done correctly, is definitely not synonymous with starving oneself. It’s actually quite the opposite. Juicing and green smoothies are great, and should be included, but quality protein, healthy fats, fermented foods, and other healing foods like bone broth, should be incorporated as well.
Through the process of cleansing, you are committing to provide your body with nutrient-dense food and drink that will nourish it. You are also committing to eliminating food and drink that do NOT provide nourishment or that have a higher probability of causing a sensitivity or intolerance. The elimination part, of course, is where the challenges lie.
The important thing to remember is that cleansing allows your body to rest, detoxify, regenerate, and be restored to its healthy state. It typically leads to more energy, improved digestion, increased mental clarity, and weight loss, to name a few of the benefits. It can be pretty miraculous if done correctly with the appropriate foods. As a matter of fact, I’ve just completed a 10-day group cleanse that was offered by my colleague Amanda Love (www.amandalove.com), and I am feeling very energized and much more focused as a result.
With this definition and concept of cleansing in mind, I offer six steps that are definitely NOT a Cleanse, but are intended to give you a taste of the required preparation and practice of cleansing.
Consider these 7 steps a prelude to a Cleanse:
#1 Read ingredient labels.
If you aren’t already reading ingredient labels before purchasing, this is the most important step you can take. Familiarize yourself with what you are eating now. Search for products with less than 6 grams of sugar, void of unhealthy refined oils like canola or soybean, and void of genetically modified ingredients like corn and soy. If you do nothing else, do this.
#2 Reduce your use of added sweeteners by one-half.
Yes, this includes natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. For example, if you drink your coffee regular, limit the sugar to one tablespoon instead of two. The same goes for honey in your tea and brown sugar or maple syrup in your oatmeal. If your cereal has more than 6 grams of sugar per serving, buy one that has less. If you use an artificial sweetener – stop immediately – and switch to another sweetener.
#3 Limit grains – bread, cereal, muffin, pasta – to just one serving per day.
What’s it going to be? A bagel for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, or pasta for dinner? Pick one.
#4 Limit intake of diuretics – coffee, tea, soda, juice, and alcohol – to 24 oz. per day and increase your hydration factor.
Twenty-four oz. per day, and for every ounce of diuretic you drink, drink amount of water equal to one and one-half the times of the diuretic. For example, 12 oz. of coffee should be followed by 18 oz. of filtered water. It’s important to stay properly hydrated.
#5 No caffeine after 2pm.
Yes, that includes caffeinated tea, soda, and energy drinks, as well as coffee.
#6 Double your daily serving of vegetables.
Or triple or quadruple if you want. Just eat more vegetables than you usually do. Add onions and peppers to your omelet. A salad for lunch. Try to incorporate as many greens as you can. You don’t have to wait until dinner.
#7 Pick your daily indulgence and reduce by half.
What’s it going to be? Mocha latte in the morning, chocolate for an afternoon pick me up, wine with dinner, or ice cream after dinner? If you indulge twice a day, reduce to once. If you indulge once a day, reduce the serving size by one-half.
And there you have it – your own, flexible test-run. You can choose to incorporate them all or try just a few. Although not as strict as a cleanse, any one of them will be beneficial to your health on their own.
P.S. I plan to offer a group Cleanse this fall. Sign-up here if you’re interested in being notified as soon as registration opens.
P.S.S. If you’re looking for a cleanse combined with adventure, check out Amanda’s Nourishing Cleanse Retreat planned for this coming October in Peru.