When I first started writing this blog post, it was supposed to be one small article, but the information I wanted to share just kept growing. So my copywriter and I decided to split it in two and to provide both information on Why Cleanse and also on How To Cleanse.
Because it’s important to individualize treatment, and cleansing is so multi-factorial, I can’t get into all of the details here. But I can offer some general tips to putting a cleanse into action, using Food As Medicine.
Focus on increasing foods that help with detoxification rather than how you’re avoiding the ones that disrupt it.
When I give my patients dietary guidelines, the list of foods I want them to increase is always longer than the list of the foods that I’m asking them to avoid. When you focus on increasing beneficial foods, there won’t be room for less desirables, and you won’t feel deprived.
Real food provides us with both the gift of nourishment and of deliciousness. Purchase unprocessed, single ingredient, whole foods. Processing strips foods of their natural nutrients and value, and additives increase our toxic load. Besides processed foods in general, depending on the patient and their goals, during a cleanse I may also ask them to avoid sugar, wheat, dairy, alcohol and coffee.
At the same time, I will also ask them to increase their consumption of organic berries, Brassicas (broccoli, broccoli sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts), chlorophyll (spirulina, chlorella, spinach), seaweed (nori, dulse, wakame) brown rice, beets, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, onions, garlic, rooibos, matcha green, oolong, and licorice tea.
You will find that you’re spending more time in the kitchen. I tell my patients to consider their food prep time as meditation. I’ve discussed the benefits of mindfulness & meditation here before, but here is a link to a recent study on how mindfulness in the kitchen reduces stress and anxiety. Mindfulness can been described as “a meditative method of focusing attention on the present moment.” Participants in the study experienced less nervousness and more mental inspiration than those who didn’t practice mindfulness.
In her article A Road to Mental Health Through the Kitchen, Jeanne Whalen describes how health-care clinics and counsellors are using cooking as therapy tools for people suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental-health problems.
Q: What happens if I have to eat out?
A: Check out TIPS
Q: How long do I have to do this cleanse?
A: That depends on your health concerns. I ask my patients to follow it for 2 weeks. After that, they’re usually feeling so great that they want to do another 2 weeks. Some of my patients are dealing with health issues related to toxicity that require cleansing as a long term lifestyle for healing. Sometimes patients, myself included, just want a 7-day “reset”.
Q: If I’m eliminating sugar from my diet for now, can I eat anything sweet?
A: Yes, fruit (ie. berries, bananas, dates), honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar can all be acceptable alternatives, depending on the person doing the cleanse. I’m not asking you to avoid naturally occurring sugars, I’m asking you to eliminate added sugar. Read ingredients and stay away from those ending in the suffix -ose (like glucose/fructose).
Q: How do I come out of the cleanse?
A: Introduce the foods you eliminated slowly, one at a time, and pay attention to how you feel in the days following. At our post-cleanse follow up, I give my patients a food reintroduction timeline table, with space to record their reactions. We go through the order of reintroduction together, but start with the foods you miss the most!
- Prep fresh veggies, like celery, carrots, cuke, peas, beans, cherry tomatoes, broccoli & cauliflower florets. Stick ’em in mason jars lined with easy homemade dips like hummus, pesto, or guacamole.
- Stock sweet fruits like pears, blood oranges, apples, mangoes or bananas.
- Get fresh organic nuts & seeds in bulk and roast them at 350 until fragrant & golden, around 10 minutes. Pack in jars with dried goji berries for a delicious trail mix.
Bring Your Own
- salad dressing, if you’re going out to eat. Equal parts acid (squeeze juice from citrus fruit or use your favourite vinegar) to oil. Add garlic and fresh or dried herbs (basil/parsley/oregano) if you wish, plus salt & pepper to taste.
- drink if you’re partying. Sparkling mineral water like San Pellegrino, thermos of jasmine green tea, or pitcher of iced hibiscus tea with honey.
- dessert if you’re celebrating. Try this easy, no-bake, raw vegan, gluten-, dairy-, egg-, soy- and sugar-free decadently delicious “cheesecake“.