“Wellness is more than being free from illness, it’s a dynamic process of change and growth” – UC Davis SHCS
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting my Foundation for Wellness Workshop where the main topic of discussion was cleansing and how to incorporate some of these healthy habits into your daily life. January is a perfect time to discuss this after we’ve all just indulged in way too much bread, wine, cheese and sweets over the holidays and need to get ourselves back on track.
While the main purpose of a cleanse is to give our digestive system a break and eliminate a lot of old junk that’s been built up, it’s also a beautiful way to get ourselves to slow down and reset, create healthier habits moving forward, and bring more awareness to our relationship with food and ultimately, ourselves. I like to think of this as a mindful, whole-food cleanse.
I recommend doing the below for 10 to 21 days to really allow yourself and your body time to feel the positive shifts that are happening for you. The first few days are hard, I’m not gonna lie. You may get headaches and eliminate a lot. You will be cranky without your comfort foods. And a lot of emotional stuff comes up when we can longer rely on food, wine, TV or whatever else we may be using to compensate for what we may be missing in our lives. But once you get past the hump and are feeling great, it will only get easier, I promise!
If doing this as a cleanse feels too much, that’s okay! Choose one or two items from below, like drinking warm lemon water in the morning and adding more dark, leafy greens into your diet for a month. See how it goes. And when you feel like you’ve got that down and it’s just become part of your day-to-day, try adding in another item, maybe a daily gratitude practice. Just go one step at a time and then all of a sudden, all these small steps will add up to huge, positive changes.
Are you ready?!! Let’s do this!!
1. Find a partner or group to join
Having a partner or a group of people to cleanse with will help you both keep each other inspired and accountable while having fun in the process. Make dates to go on a hike or do yoga together or spend an afternoon cooking up some new, healthy dishes.
2. Drink 16-24 oz. of warm lemon water in the morning & keep drinking it throughout the day
This is something you can easily incorporate into your daily life while cleansing or not. Drink before you have any food or other beverages. It will help to cleanse your liver and rehydrate you from the night before. If you’re having issues eliminating, add a pinch of cayenne and a few slices of fresh ginger. As a general rule, we should drink about ½ our body weight in ounces of water each day.
3. Eat breakfast! And eat small meals/snacks every 3 to 4 hours
Eating breakfast is an important part of keeping our blood sugar balanced. It also helps to reduce cravings and burn calories. Make sure breakfast includes healthy proteins like nut butters, smoothies with chia & hemp seeds, plus protein powder, or organic pastured eggs (you may want to exclude eggs during the cleanse). Also, eating small meals or snacks every 3 to 4 hours helps keep energy levels up, our mood balanced and cravings curbed. Some great snack options are raw almonds, walnuts or brazil nuts, hummus or cashew nacho cheese with some veggies, organic edamame, or some nut butter on a granny smith apple.
4. Eat a rainbow of vegetables with an emphasis on dark leafy greens.
Eating a variety of vegetable ensures you’re getting all the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants you need. Eating organic, locally and as seasonally as possible is best. Raw vegetables are best in the mornings and during the day then cooked in the evening, which is easier on your digestion. Think smoothies, green juices and salads for mornings & afternoons and steamed, sautéed or roasted veggies, soups and stews for dinner.
5. Eat lots of fiber
Fiber helps sugar burn more slowly in our digestive system and because our bodies have to work harder to digest it, you burn more calories and stay full longer. Fiber of course, also helps to keep us regular. Whole vegetables, lentils and beans are all great sources.
6. Include high quality protein at every meal
Protein gives us energy and helps to keep us full besides being the important building block for our bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. While cleansing, you may want to experiment with no animal protein but if you do, make sure it’s organic, pastured, wild caught meat and fish. For plant-based protein, try adding in more lentils, beans, seeds (hemp, chia, sesame) or nuts and supplement with bee pollen, spirulina and chlorella.
7. Include gut-healing foods & supplements
Did you know that 70% of our immune system resides in our guts? Understanding that you can see why it’s so important to keep it healthy. You can do that by eliminating sugar and adding in probiotic rich foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso and supplementing with probiotics.
8. Avoid sugar and all processed foods
Did you know that sugar is 8x as addictive as cocaine? That 1 Tablespoon suppresses our immune system for 4 hours leaving us more vulnerable to colds and flus? Or that it zaps our energy and is the leading cause of diabetes, obesity and fatty liver? And all processed foods contain high amounts of sugar (mostly HFCS), chemicals and genetically modified ingredients our bodies don’t recognize and has been linked to causing various autoimmune disease. Yuck.
9. Cut out gluten
Many people are sensitive to gluten and aren’t even aware. People with gluten intolerance may experience fatigue, foggy brain, depression and ADHD-like behavior as well as severe digestion issues like bloating, IBS, and leaky gut, which has also been connected to brain disorders such as autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia.
10. Cut out dairy
75% of the population is lactose intolerant because we don’t have the enzyme, lactase that breaks down the lactose into simpler sugar forms called glucose and galactose. This is why some of us are doubled over in pain after a scoop of ice cream! Dairy is also highly inflammatory and can cause upper respiratory and ear infections, aggravate asthma and allergies, is linked to heart disease and is also incredibly acid-forming. Some better plant-based sources of calcium are collard greens, kale, hemp milk, and tempeh.
11. Cut out alcohol
We all love a glass of wine with dinner and while studies have shown that 1 glass of red wine can be beneficial, there are plenty of other ways for us to get our antioxidants. It’s also an extra 140 calories without nutritional benefits.
12. Cut out coffee (caffeine)
I know this is a tough one for most of us. However, caffeine can really put a lot of strain on our adrenals, increase insulin production, which causes inflammation and it also disrupts our sleep patterns – even if we’re only having 1 cup in the morning. A great alternative is Dandy Blend Instant Herbal Beverage. It’s made up of dandelion and chicory and has the rich taste of coffee without all the caffeine. Just add water, some fresh almond milk and you’re all set.
13. Move your body!
Even just 20-30 minutes a day gets your blood flowing. Do whatever makes you feel good – hiking, yoga, biking, brisk walking, etc.
Getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night can sometimes feel like a challenge but is crucial in protecting our physical, mental and emotional health. It’s best to shut down all electronics – phone, TV, and computer at least 1 to 2 hours before bed for super sound sleep.
15. Self care
Self-care is essential to our overall wellbeing and cleanses are a great time to go inward, reconnect with yourself, and create more time for the people, places and things that nourish you. Maybe start a journal documenting how you’re feeling so you’re able to develop more awareness around your relationship to food and with yourself, take long baths with Epsom salts and lavender, treat yourself to a massage, meditate – even if for just 5 minutes a day, do your best to be more mindful and present in your daily life by focusing on what you’re grateful for, and take time to breathe deeply – close your eyes and take deep breaths into your belly throughout the day to help calm and ground you.
So that’s it! Who’s up for the challenge? Leave comments below and let me know how you’re doing on it – I know you’re going to be awesome!!