Juice cleansing, the master cleanse, clean eating, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, raw…you name it — I bet you know someone who is giving it a go. Maybe it’s you. Is this just a fad? Just a more socially accepted or evolved way of re-naming what we used to call a ‘diet’ in the 80’s? Some nutritionists and experts say it is.
I tend to look at it differently. There’s a reason I started a juicery. Plain and simple, it works. Juice heals and it has the power to transform our lives from the inside out. Healthy Being Juicery clients share amazing stories of healing through juicing and cleansing with us on a regular basis and I’ve experienced it myself.
The proof is the juice. Why do we need to cleanse? It’s true, our bodies are constantly cleansing and rebuilding, whether we are intentionally supporting that by doing a cleanse or just functioning normally. We are miraculously designed to cleanse constantly. In fact, we are extraordinary detox machines, filtering and eliminating the toxins that enter. The toxins in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and everything else we put into our precious systems. Our lungs, liver, skin, blood, lymphatic system, kidneys, colon are all focused on filtering toxic waste products and eliminating them before they cause damage. But sadly, our world is more toxic than ever. Sometimes the body has trouble keeping up. There are also times when it’s more challenging to stick to our healthy eating patterns. During times of travel, busy seasons and holidays, we often revert to not so healthy choices that can add up to us feeling heavy, bloated, lethargic and craving stimulants and what I call ‘food drugs’ like alcohol, sugar, and caffeine.
Giving the body a little rest from food drugs and reset every now and then can be immensely beneficial to getting us back on track, kicking the cravings and increasing our longevity. The latest scientific research supports intermittent cleansing and fasting as a tool to be used wisely toward achieving a healthier body.
What is the difference between a cleanse, a detox or a fast? That depends on who you ask. The word fasting was used historically to refer to a period of time where you abstain from food, especially as a religious or spiritual discipline. Cleansing and detox are more modern versions of the same concept that seems to appeal to our culture. We buy hygiene products for our bodies, our homes, our clothes etc. Why not for our insides too? Detoxification by fasting is the oldest treatment known to humans and is completely aligned with nature.
The trouble I see today with the idea of cleansing and detox is the mindset that we are dirty, imperfect and need to be stripped clean through deprivation in order to be whole human beings. If we can shift that mindset to one of deep loving nourishment, we can cleanse and support ourselves in a way that leads to a healthy, vibrant whole lifestyle most of the time. Integrating nourishment and pleasure will allow us to relax, which allows our body to release toxic build up and excess fat.
If we learn to accept our body, appreciate it and support it with fresh vital nutrients it will function optimally. This takes practice because we have been convinced that we are separate from our body. We look at our bodies imperfect, if not flawed, and take on the belief that we are just not good enough.
These are very vulnerable feelings for most of us. We practice, we nourish, we learn, we connect, we practice more and eventually we see change, we make peace, and we are happier. The quick fix deprivation mentality only leads to disappointment and a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting. Focusing on what we are adding in, more than what we are taking out; what we give our body to nourish every little cell is the key.
Often, physical food cravings are less about hunger and more about a deficiency in spiritual, intellectual or emotional food in our life. When we practice nourishment, balance, and pleasure in all areas we become creators of the life of our wildest dreams.
I believe, and science supports, that our thoughts and where we focus our energies are some of the most potent tools we have for being healthy and living a fully engaged life. Negative thoughts and beliefs can be some of our most toxic experiences. Mediation, yoga, nature, counseling, gratitude, coaching and simply breathing are valuable practices to help us learn to constructively use our thoughts for healing and positive growth. It is so important that we feed all aspects of ourselves so we feel completely satisfied.
Living a less toxic life is the best way to improve our health and reduce our risk for developing disease. The key areas to focus on are what we put in our body, what we put on our skin, our thoughts, our emotions and finding movement that you enjoy every day. So, relax, find pleasure and fully engage in all experiences large and small. Integrating these simple practices and a regular cleansing ritual will give you more energy to live a life you love.
Here are a few methods of cleansing that I recommend along with benefits and challenges:
Fresh squeezed or coldpressed vegetable juice floods the body with pounds of easily absorbable, vital nutrients, truly allowing your digestive system to rest for one to five days. Fresh squeezed, or coldpressed juices are primarily made of vegetables and little fruit. The multi-step process of coldpressed juicing, renders a smooth, rich juice, free from fibery pulp. Our body requires fiber for healthy assimilation of nutrients and elimination on a regular basis.
Juice cleansing is best used as an occasional rest for our digestive system if consuming only juice or an excellent fresh whole food alternative to taking pills as supplements to an already healthy fiber filled diet rich in fresh, raw fruits and veggies.
Convenience – It’s amazing how much extra time you have when you’re not making meals three times per day or shopping for food.
Increased happiness and clarity – This might be my favorite part of a juice cleanse, the good mood and almost giddy feelings after you get through the first couple challenging days.
Visible elimination of gunk from your trunk a day or two in. We’re talking poop here people. Need I say more?
Mental – You may experience caffeine, sugar and alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can be very uncomfortable.
Sleep – You may feel extra tired. It’s beneficial to build in time for more sleep during this time and to lighten up on your physical exertion.
Finishing Eating by 3 p.m. for 3 weeks
One of the challenges we face in our culture is we often have dinner too late then wake up and eat breakfast right away. We’ve been programmed that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If we don’t have a healthy breakfast, we will run out of energy and over eat later in the day. It turns out this isn’t necessarily true.
We are all unique and there is no one right way of eating. The most important time for detoxifying is at night while we sleep. We need at least 4 hours of designated time to adequately detox. If we eat right before bed, the first 3-4 hours of our sleep are spent digesting our dinner instead of rejuvenating. Considering most of us don’t get 8 hours of sleep each night, it is hard to find the time we need for complete regeneration. This can lead to poor sleep quality, more rapid aging and a harder time adapting to stress. A very simple way of cleaning up and slimming down is to eat dinner earlier. Try not eating food after 6pm or even earlier if your family and work schedule will support it. Eating your last meal at 3pm for 3 weeks will have you feeling rejuvenated.
Simply cleaning up your diet for a period of time can also be extremely beneficial, leaving you at a healthier weight, reducing inflammation and increasing energy. A simple rule of thumb is to eliminate the things that commonly cause allergies and sensitivities. This is commonly referred to as the elimination diet. You work to temporarily cut out meat, wheat, alcohol, sugar, soy, dairy and any processed refined foods. Remember that many pre-packaged gluten free foods are highly processed and better avoided. Add in beautiful large fresh salads, soups, sautéed veggies, quinoa, brown rice, etc. Drink more water. Get more sleep. Don’t eat after 6pm. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you start feeling great!
The One Day Detox
You can do anything for a day. Pick a day of the week that works for your schedule, for example every Wednesday. Eat a large healthy meal between 3-5pm on Tuesday afternoon as your last food for the day. Drink plenty of fresh water or herbal tea. All day Wednesday you drink only fresh living juices, water and herbal teas. Then on Thursday morning you will resume normal healthy eating. You have effectively squeezed in about 40 hours of cleansing each week, but it only felt like one day because you were sleeping most of that time. This is equivalent to about 12 weeks per year of supporting your body!