The Cleanse

Last year I did a cleanse for the first time after learning about them in a health seminar. It was difficult at first but at the end I felt amazing. One of the biggest benefits was that instead of having constant highs and lows (sugar-yum yum), I felt balanced. It sounds silly, but it was a huge step for me. Sugary sweet delicious things stopped calling my name so frequently and I got to a place where I was more conscious about what I ate for the first time. Losing a couple pounds didn’t hurt either :-). I was actually kinda embarressed to write about it last year j, but not this year!

Let’s address the elephant in the room-  the word “Cleanse” has a bad reputation. A verrry bad reputation! I mostly attribute it to the Master Cleanse. A person cannot live on cayenne pepper, lemon juice, maple syrup and water alone. I’m sure it’s worked for people (flavored water will do it for a person) but I don’t agree with the premise, I thought it was unhealthy (among other things), and being a foodie, I wanted to eat food! Not drink gross tasting water for days.

So I researched. A lot. I didn’t want to take pills (diet pill aversion- again scared of the affects on my body), I wanted something that made sense, was healthy, natural, fit my lifestyle, and wasn’t expensive. With all those requirments I was lucky to find something! Clean, a program developed by Dr. Jungar and used to treat himself and his patients for all sorts of ailments, fit the bill perfectly. I bought the book and was off to the grocery store in no time!

The concept is well thought out and goes something like this (this might sound like an advertisement, but it’s all me! I love this program). Remove all foods that our bodies have been shown to have allergies to, and those with high levels of toxins (pesticides, etc.) and bring in foods high in nutrients and vitamins (yay!) affectively cleansing the body. It’s a great break for the digestive system and also helps inspire long-term health.

Here’s the quick low down: You eat from a set list of foods for 21 days. This includes being gluten, diary, soy, alcohol, coffee, and sugar-free (it’s entirely possible :-). I promise.). Have a smoothie or soup for breakfast and dinner (you can swape and drink a smoothie for lunch if you have dinner plans). Leave a full 12 hours between breakfast and dinner this allows the body to detox. Drink lots of water. I did the book plan not the kit, because I didn’t have the money to spend. Here’s a description on GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow’s site.

It was extremely hard at first. I kept thinking about the long list of what I couldn’t eat, my smoothies didn’t taste good, and I was hungry. I received a lot of negative comments too, and was slightly embaressed to write about it (well not this year!). I quickly found though that the way I felt outweighed any comments I was receiving. I focused on foods that were allowed like chicken, brocolli, apples, turkey, brown rice and pineapple. Making a delicious smoothies became easy when I discovered that unsweetened vanilla almond milk, frozen fruit, and a dash of cinnamon made the perfect base. I adjusted my portion sizes to fit my lifestyle, started bringing healthy snacks, and planned my meals. I started spending a lot of time in the produce section focusing on foods that were high in nutrients, not processed, and tasty. I tried things I never had before- finding a rice based protein powder for my smoothies, adding magnesium (natural way to ward off headaches among other things) and Vitamin D to my daily routine, and making cookie bites out of dates, nuts, and cocoa powder as a sweet treat.

The cleanse also gives you the opportunity to find out if you have any food allergies. At the end of 21 days, you test foods you want to add back into your diet and see if there’s any reaction. I quickly added back in several things and missed out on this, but I continued to still include several aspects of Clean into my life. This included eating unprocessed foods, having a smoothie for breakfast, and leaving a 12 hour gap between lunch and dinner (as often as possible). This cleanse helped me kick start a healthier lifestyle, one that I’ve been benefiting from for the past year. Until the holidays.

I ate lots and lots of cookies, wonderful butter filled food, and drank lots of wine. yum yum in my tummy! The food was amazing! I started feeling pretty icky though and found my diet returning back to it’s old ways (not as bad, but not as good as before). I decided to set a goal for the year of two short 10-day cleanses as a reminder to eat healthy.

A couple of days ago I started Clean again. It was a rocky start as usually with catered lunches (yum Chinese food!), social events, and a friend’s birthday party cupcakes (chocolate on chocolate always gets me!). The stigma followed me around too. Not as bad as the first time (maybe it’s all those cleanses being advertised on magazines this January), but still ever present. I’m working past it and hoping for a Clean next 10 days. That’s a week and a half- I can surely go without sugar that long. Right? tehe

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