One of the easiest and most supportive ways to cleanse your body is with whole foods. There are a wealth of options that come with whole foods cleansing from mono-diets (eating one food throughout the day), Ayurvedic Panchakarma detox (where you eat kitchari, a mix of mung bean dahl and rice), to raw foods eating (no food heated above 118 degrees), and the list goes on. As your body cleanses with whole foods, you are giving the body ample nourishment so you can continue to excercise and go about your everyday life fueled in the manner you would given it any other day. The difference is that you are supplying the body with ONLY real, unprocessed, nutrient dense, pesticide/herbicide and toxin free foods that promote health and slowly work to detoxify the system. Shifting into this style of eating will bring you great health and vibrance, and may just transform how you eat the rest of your life. Cleanses decompose and burn the excess wastes in the body and other substances that are damaged or diseased.
When deciding to start a cleanse, there are a few questions you should ask yourself to make sure you SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS and are completely REALISTIC in what you can do/what foods will satisfy you in a day (or perhaps for a week or longer):
1. How strong/weak is your body...what is your current state of health?
*if you currently have a cold or the flu, while eating healthy is a great idea, some full cleanses may be to restrictive and with the immune system already weak, your detoxification symptoms may amplify, pushing you over the edge of resistance from sickness.
2. Are you taking medications?
*Our liver is a major processing center. Those individuals who are on statin drugs or antibiotic drugs usually have an excess of said drug in their liver. That being said, obviously a liver cleanse would be helpful, HOWEVER it could also be detrimental to the drugs use to take your cleanse slowly. Cleansing will push the medicine out of the body sooner. If you are taking medication, whole food cleanses are fine, but consider what your drug does with the interactions of the foods you are eating. For example if you are taking blood thinners, be careful that you do not consume an excess of blood thinning foods that you didn't consume before (garlic and kale are a few). Also consider taking a probiotic or eating more fermented foods and cultured vegetables. Probiotics put 'healthy' bacteria into the colon that prescription drugs and antibiotics strip away, creating an acid state and an unhealthy inner ecology.
3. How intense might your detoxification symptoms be? And are you going to be able to push through, or what might you allow into your diet to help quell these symptoms.
*While most everyone gets detox symptoms such as headache, backache, spotty skin or rash, and fatigue, these symptoms usually are fairly short lived, and will vary based on how toxic the body is. Are there 'upgrades' you will allow yourself (alternatives that are better choices such as green tea instead of coffee, stevia instead of chemical sugar substitutes, milk alternatives instead of dairy)? Giving yourself these back up upgrades could be the difference between healthy success or complete and udder disappointment. Every upgrade/shift you make in life creates a healthier environment. This also will make each subsequent cleanse that much more attainable and successful.
4. How willing are you to change your lifestyle at least for the duration of your cleanse?
*With cleansing, so much is given up. Often these are foods we reach to when we need energy, comfort, or a quick snack. You'll need to stock your refrigerator with the foods that will benefit you throughout the cleanse. This is a great time to raid your pantry before you get started to take out any foods that might temp you from staying on your path, and donate them to a nearby charity.
So once you've asked yourself these questions, and you've figured out which cleanse will be best for you, you can begin to embark on it with great success. Remember a few important tips while cleansing.
*HYDRATE! i can't say it enough or loud enough! This is the ticket. Water is going to help flush the toxins out of the organs, out of the blood stream, out of the body, and keep the colon from drying.
*Start each day with a large glass of pure water with lemon to help induce peristalsis.
*Consider enemas or visiting a Hydrotherapist for colon therapy/colonic. This will also help quell your detoxification reactions/symptoms, as it will aid movement of the wastes built up in the colon out of the body.
*if you are whole foods cleansing, keep your sugars/fruits to a minimum, and make sure you eat smaller portioned meals throughout the day, offering you a mix of complex carbs and protein with each meal. Fueling yourself every 3 hours will set you up for success: main meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner and 2 snacks or mini meals. Make sure your main meals don't exceed 350-500 calories and your mini meals/snacks about 150-200 calories. Knowing that your next meal is only 3 hours away makes it easier if hunger starts to abound. If it does, DRINK WATER! Most often when we are sensing hunger, it's merely because we are dehydrated. This whole foods style of eating will support your metabolism so you can also kick up your workouts, while simultaneously allowing the body time from processing additional toxins, and allow it a chance to start eliminating stored toxins through sweat and elimination.
*80/20 rule. Fill your plate with 80% (low starch and sea) veggies and eat until you are only 80% full. 20% of your plate is lean protein, and leave 20% of belly empty - it takes a while for the brain to realize it is indeed satiated
*Contraversely, if you are extreme fasting on liquids (be it juice, teas, or other drinks) offer your body some time to relax and truly repair. Without the energy consumption of foods, our body needs to have rest so that the organs can fully work at clearing out toxins, rather than trying to push out sugars and stored glycogen so that your body can preform during high impact activities.
*SWEAT! if you are whole foods eating take hot yoga classes or higher impact activities. Those on liquid fasts opt for saunas and hot baths. (Hot baths are great and relaxing for everyone. Consider putting 1 cup epsom salt in bath water to additionally pull out toxins. This will also dehydrate you, so drink lots of water) Skin is the biggest organ of the body. Sweating is a huge avenue for toxins to leave the body.
* LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! If you are feeling utterly miserable, consider upgrades. While you most likely do need to go through some unfortunate symptoms as you detox, if it is overly amplified you are likely to give up on your cleanse, and never want to cleanse again. As i said before, each upgrade/shift you make creates a healthier environment, so consider allowing your cleanse to be less about restriction and more about making better choices. Great cleansing foods for when you need sugars are melon like watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and papaya. If you are on a liquid fast consider these, or even watery vegetables like cucumber and celery. These foods are still in their natural state, and while they may offer a few more sugars than you originally planned on your cleanse, they will still offer the body a wealth of nutrients and pure energy.
*No matter what your cleanse, make sure you have the foods/liquids you need available at all time to set yourself up for success. Those that are whole foods cleansing, when you are at the market make sure to pick up:
*Salmon or other cold water fish full of Omega 3's
*Eggs (enriched with Omega 3's) - consider hard-boiling to have as a snack or look at my blog "brown bag this kid" for an egg salad recipe using only veggies, herbs, eggs, and olive oil. That post also has some other lifetime snack ideas.
*Raw Almonds - the only nut that creates and alkaline environment
*Raw Pumpkin Seeds create alkalinity as well
*gogi berries, mulberries, goldenberries - with no additives: no additional sugars, oils, or sulfur dioxide. combine a handful of these with your pumpkin seeds and almonds for a healthy and lower sugar, no preservative trail mix
*Vegetables sticks - buy baby carrots, sugar snap or snow peas, or cut up various veggies and have them in containers to quickly make a snack or salad (you can even consider making your own hummus or bean dip if you are allowing legumes in your cleanse. Soak the beans overnight or look online for quick soak directions - cook beans as directed and then use them to add to your grain dishes for protein, or to make dips for veggies)
*Buy tons of sprouts, veggies, and tons of greens. Greens are great detoxifiers. Consider making a veggie based / pureed soup to support your nutrient and energy needs throughout the day
*Sea Vegetables- buy nori (sushi wrapper) and use it to wrap up your veggie sandwiches. Or try wakame, arame, or one of the other choices for sea greens to add to salads.
*Non gluten grains such as amaranth, quinoa, millet, or brown rice
*HERBS - fresh cilantro, basic, mint, rosemary (etc) - use these to flavor your dishes - you'll be amazed at the tranformation of taste by adding herbs to your grains, proteins, and salads!
*Small amounts of low sugar fruits
*LEMONS - add to water every morning, dress on salads
*Appropriate oils - flax oil & cold pressed olive oil to dress salads and ghee or coconut oil to cook with
*Apple Cider Vinegar - the only vinegar that is good while cleansing
*Dulse - this would be an 'upgrade' from salt - replacing the saltiness in your recipes with this iodine rich version from the sea
(bring a list also of 'upgrades' in case sticking to your cleanse is too tough - HAVE OPTIONS AVAILABLE!)
Good Luck on your clean eating/cleansing journey!!!!!