My approach to cleansing / detoxing is like my approach to everything in life: through the filter of my own experience. This includes asking lots of questions, doing research, and ultimately trying it out for myself…all with as open of a mind as possible. I really encourage you to do the same. There is NO ONE – no teacher, no expert – better than yourSelf that can tell you what is most right and best for you.
That said, I feel we can all learn a lot from each other so I want to share my thoughts and experience with you.
I like to do a cleanse a few times a year. I feel like it resets my system. It gives my organs a break from their constant hard work, and it gives my body an opportunity to recharge so it can function optimally. Yes, our bodies are magnificently intelligent and at their best, they cleanse and detoxify automatically. But this is assuming you’ve taken proper care of your body for most of your life. And even with the very best of care, simply with use and over time, it will get rundown. It’s the same with your car, your computer, anything you use on a regular basis. Your car needs a maintenance check; your laptop needs to be shut down every now and then.
And let’s be honest. Most of us are not taking optimal care of our bodies all of the time. Are you always drinking enough water, eating as clean and holistically as possible, getting all your vital nutrients, exercising regularly? Do you live in a pollution-free environment and never let any chemical substance touch your skin? And how about your stress level? Emotions that weigh you down and drain you out? This can all translate to toxic buildup in your cells, and they say that you are only as healthy as each of your individual cells.
I don’t think it’s about attempting to eat perfectly all of the time or attempting to completely eliminate all stress factors. I don’t think this is actually possible. I do think it’s important to reset and restart your system now and again. Clear out any gunk that may be blocking your cells’ abilities to function properly, so that your system and your energy can flow with more ease and vibrancy.
Personally, I’ve tried all sorts of cleanses and detoxes. I’ve done one-day fasts, ten-day detoxes, herbal pills, juices, lemonades, etc. I’ve also tried all different kinds of eating regimens: pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, raw, blood type-based, and most recently, my misguided attempt to be gluten-free, though I do not have celiac disease or anything like that. I’ve always been curious to jump on the bandwagon of the moment, and I’ve often ended up very confused and left without much I was allowed to eat.
What I seem to always come back to is the rule of moderation. Balance. I don’t completely avoid tasty foods that I would really derive pleasure from, I don’t live in a state of fear and anxiety over whether my stress level is going to lead to an ill-timed stroke, but I also don’t go to McDonald’s. Ever. I try to learn what my body needs to be healthy: a good balance of the food groups, anti-oxidants, omega-3s, veggies veggies veggies. I don’t think there’s any school of nutritional and health thought that dismisses the importance of green veggies. I read up on what I simply don’t need at all (from a nutritional standpoint): refined grains or sugars, hormone-injected meats, alcohol, caffeine, and generally speaking, anything processed, with preservatives, or exposed to pesticides.
This all feels pretty common-sense to me, and I’m sure most people know all of this already on some level. If you stay on track loading up on the good stuff and keeping the not-so-good stuff at a minimum, you’re likely going to be in good health. Which to me means you’re at a healthy weight with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, you have a good appetite, you metabolize and digest your foods well, you don’t constantly crave junk food or alcohol, you sleep well and wake up feeling refreshed and energized, your moods are reasonably stable, you can think clearly, you feel motivated, your skin is clear, and you’re not always catching colds. If all this rings true for you – amazing! Keep doing what you’re doing. If not, then I’m willing to bet that a cleanse is going to help get you on track.
There are so many different cleanses and detox programs on the market. (By the way, I personally use the terms cleanse and detoxify interchangeably.) And I think a lot of them are ultimately about big business. So I want you to be smart about what route you choose to go. Do some due diligence, talk to people who have personally tried whatever program or brand you’re interested in…never blindly follow anything.
The simplest option that I think anyone can do is to clean up your diet. I would suggest eliminating alcohol, caffeine, gluten, dairy, meat, anything processed, and anything restaurant-made (you never know how much oil, salt, sugar etc goes into the food). This in and of itself will do most people a good amount of good. Do it for a minimum of 3 days, longer if you can. And just so you know, this is not to say I don’t think you should eat meat. That needs to be your own personal decision. But meat DOES require more effort to digest, as compared to pre-digested foods like fruit, and the idea during a cleanse is to give your body a rest. You’ll primarily consume veggies, fruit, and whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa (which actually technically is a seed!).
A next step up from here can be to add system-boosting supplements such as a superfoods powder, the omegas, fresh-pressed juice (mainly vegetables). I highly recommend getting your own juicer…a slow juicer that presses or masticates if you can afford it. I realize they are quite pricey, so if you can’t get one of those, even an old school one will do you good. It just won’t get as much out of your produce, and you’ll have to drink it a bit quicker due to the oxidization process (from my experience, anyway).
If you don’t have a juicer, you can of course buy juice, but please note that most pre-bottled juices sold in stores have been flash pasteurized, which means enzymes/nutrients have been destroyed, and oftentimes you’re left with a high level of sugar. Buy from a cafe that does it fresh, and ask them to make you a primarily veggie one. Or if you are lucky enough to have a pressed juice company nearby, it is soooo worth it!! I know the prices can seem crazy expensive, but you have to remember what you are getting. It can be 6kg of organic produce in one juice, which might cost $10. You’d easily pay similarly if you bought the actual produce yourself, and when buying it ready-made, you save yourself time. If you’re still not convinced, think about all the times you paid the same – if not more – for a drink at a bar!
My preferred option in cleansing is a cold-pressed juice cleanse. When I lived in Hong Kong, I cleansed with Punch Detox. I also worked with them on creating their first detox programs, bringing yoga into the process. Now that I am based in London, I am obsessed with Plenish Cleanse. I just did their 3-day Level 3 cleanse last week, and I felt – and continue to feel – SO amazing.
Plenish Cleanse uses all organic ingredients, and offers three different levels of cleansing. As I’ve had a fair amount of experience with this kind of stuff, I went for the all-greens level. I put my hubby on Level 1. Plenish delivered all our juices to us, with reusable ice packs in case we needed to travel with the bottles, as well as straws and tips in case of “meltdown”. They offer the best customer service, with their founder and nutritionist personally answering emails and offering support. While on their cleanse, they strongly suggest that you not eat anything, but they know that sometimes that just won’t happen. And so they offer a handful of food suggestions they’ve deemed to be safe and gentle on your system during this process, such as avocado or steamed greens. I have to admit – I was actually pretty hungry throughout the 3 days. Since I’m quite active for my job, I did feel like I needed more calories, and at the end of Day 2, when I was feeling really famished, I had my meltdown and ate some of their suggested solid food.
Other than feeling hungry, I had no negative “symptoms”. In the past when I’ve detoxed, I have had those awful sugar / caffeine-withdrawal headaches, and I always craved the feeling of “crunch”. I remember so desperately wanting to eat a cracker! But this time it was pretty smooth-sailing. I had plenty of energy to teach my classes and to do my practice; the cleanse in no way disrupted my regular flow of life.
My husband on the other hand was not very happy with me on Days 1 and 2. A few times he gave me an exasperated look and said, “Why are we doing this again??” To be fair, he is quite a tall man that works out and runs a daily 10k, so I think he also just needed some more calories. He did experience some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, namely the headaches, which I always consider a good sign as it means the body is flushing toxins out of your organs and sending them back out into the bloodstream, so that they can be circulated out. (I think he was flushing his mochas out of his system!)
But by Day 3, even he was feeling great. Re-energized, no headaches, and enthusiastic about having done the cleanse. He says he would happily do it again, but would probably just plan on eating a bit of solid food from the beginning, so that he can keep a more balanced level of energy.
For my fellow caffeinated people: As an experiment, and since Plenish allows for green tea, I decided to continue with my daily servings of matcha tea. Another one of my obsessions is matcha tea from Breakaway Matcha. Before discovering Breakaway, I didn’t realize that not all matcha is made the same. I have always loved the sweet green-ness of matcha tea lattes, particularly the ones from Urth Caffe – yum! But now I’ve learned the difference between culinary matcha (which you usually need to sweeten and add milk to to make it taste nice) and pure matcha. Breakaway offers pure matcha, and in a few different blends. Each blend has a unique flavor and character…not unlike the uniqueness of wine! Through Breakaway, I have also learned that not all caffeine is the same.
And look, I LOVE coffee. But I gave it up for a long while a few years ago, because I realized that I was psychologically and physically addicted to it. There was a time that if I didn’t have a cup of coffee on a given day, I was irritable. And when I did my first detox, I had heinous withdrawal headaches. I had also somehow bought into the idea that a real yogi avoids caffeine. I decided I didn’t want to be addicted to or dependent on anything, so I stayed off all caffeine. When I decided to come back to it, I tested myself. Could I have coffee one day, and not another? Could I have it for a week straight, and then not at all? Once I realized I could, I gave myself permission to have this vice. I don’t drink much alcohol, I am a pretty conscious eater, I exercise regularly, so if I want to enjoy coffee, I’m gonna!!
Anyway, what I’ve recently learned about coffee vs green tea is that coffee is acidic (bad) whereas green tea is alkalizing (good). So I happily decided to include my matcha over the three days. To be honest I was at first concerned that I was going to feel sluggish, so I started with 2 servings of matcha on Day 1, and then just 1 serving of matcha on Day 2, and stayed caffeine-free on Day 3. This may be why I had no headaches and a good level of energy level throughout my three days. It was awesome to be able to have the energy boost, without losing any of the benefits of the cleanse. In fact, I believe the matcha added to the cleanse benefits, with its anti-oxidants, naturally detoxifying effects, and stimulation of metabolism. It was a really brilliant addition to my Plenish Cleanse experience.
During any sort of self-healing time period, it’s important to make sure you get plenty of sleep, move your body, and treat yourself to baths and even a massage if you can. Take quiet time to reflect and tune into your experience. I happened to time this cleanse with the new moon, which is an excellent time for getting quiet, turning inwards, and beginning anew.
A week after finishing the cleanse, I feel (and actually am) lighter and, well, cleaner! I have less of a taste for junk food (and believe me – I can throw back an entire bag of kettle chips and Haribo gummy bears!) as my body has experienced the wonderful effects of consuming only super clean stuff. All in all, such a good experience; I really can’t recommend it enough. Whether you do a formal cleanse or just clean up your diet, I am sure you will come out of it feeling better, and at least a bit more aware of what actually works best for you when it comes to what you’re eating.
And of course it’s important to continue on with your good habits over the long term. I’m not saying never eat those kettle chips or gummy bears, but you KNOW it’s not good to be eating them regularly. And you KNOW you should eat your greens. I would suggest picking five really healthy foods that you consume on a daily basis, and stay committed to that as best as you can. This will help keep you in balance. My five things are: superfood greens, home-pressed veggie juice, a hearty protein (usually organic eggs or wild-caught salmon), matcha, and a good fat (nuts, avocado, or coconut oil).
I actually MISS my Plenish Cleanse juices…especially Sweet Sexy Green which is my absolute favorite, as well as the Cashew M*lk, which is so soothing and just delicious. Luckily they offer their juices outside of their cleanse programs, so I will definitely be placing orders between now and when I do my next round, which I will aim to do in about 3 months. (I read once that it’s good to cleanse at the turn of every season, which makes sense to me.)
Thanks for reading…I hope this is helpful!
xxx Leah xxx
Fantastic blog about juice cleanse detox. Juice cleanse is a better method of detoxification. I am feeling very great after completing my 7 days of juice cleanse detox. Thanks for sharing such informative post with us.
Hi My name is Nicole and I am a producer for a medical talk show. We are doing an upcoming show about how cleanses can become addicting and I wanted to know if that was your experience.
Please let me know
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