Despite the fact Wiarton Willie and Environment Canada can’t seem to agree on when we’ll actually see spring, the extended sunlight and longer days seem to be putting people in a “spring cleaning” state of mind. Spring, it would seem, is in the air (even if that air is still cold).
The important thing to do when deciding whether or not to embark on a cleanse, detox or any natural health protocol is to assess your goals. A lot of people hear about cleanses friends, family members or celebrities are doing and decide to try one without really knowing what it’s for.
Often people embark on long starvation protocols in the vain hope of quick weight loss (perhaps after hearing about Beyonce’s success on the Master Cleanse, a severe fast that involves nothing but a mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for two weeks or more). Fasting for weight loss, though, is a terrible idea. Weight lost during a fast will, almost always, be regained once normal eating is resumed.
Also, weight loss shouldn’t be the focus of a cleanse. The best thing about them is their ability to heal the body in targeted ways.
Doing a liver cleanse, for example, will help the liver deal with any accumulated toxicity it hasn’t been able to deal with. This may decrease allergies, clear skin, ease digestive issues (particularly when processing fats), to name a few. The only thing is, a cleanse like this will only help if you’re actually suffering from a stagnant liver.
Many people would like to give their body a general cleanse. Like, when you’ve got a few symptoms that’ve been creeping up that you’re not so fond of (bloating, gassiness, cramps) and you know your diet and environment haven’t been the healthiest of late. In this case, it might seem logical to subsist on nothing but wheatgrass juice for a week. But it’s not.
Fasting is pretty hardcore and should only be done under the watchful eye of someone who knows what they’re doing (i.e. a natural practitioner). When a body is rundown and lacking energy, it’s never good to cut its supply of nutrition. It’s necessary to build up to a fast — don’t attempt it until you’ve got some energy. Otherwise, you could end up feeling worse.
I often suggest people try a moderate cleanse — like the 30 Day Challenge we ran last spring. The great thing about this cleanse is you’re still eating whole meals, you’re not restricting your diet in any way and you’re eating top-quality foods.
The idea is to eliminate all processed foods, gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol and caffeine from your diet. You give your body a break from all of the foods it’s likely struggling with, allowing it to get rid of some of the acquired gunk gumming up the works. It’s a challenge (hence the title), but I find it’s a lot less severe than the starvation cleanses some health writers recommend. And it’s effective.
Have a click around some of the 30 Day Challenge articles to get all the instructions, some tips and hints and see the results of past participants.
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto.