Joel and I traveled to Little Rock to spend the 4th of July and his birthday, incidentally, with family. While the food we ingested wasn’t “bad for you” or even different from our normal fare (his sister’s family eats clean as we do) we weren’t real governed when it came the sheer volume we were eating. Also, there was a lot of meat---delicious, smoked meat---and also a lot of beer. All of that to say, when I returned home it felt like a good time to do a little cleanse.
Ah, simple, you may say. No. It’s awful. I love food and I hate not eating what I want. As I slurped down steamed veggies for the fifth meal in a row, all I could think about was how many creamy, crunchy, tasty things I could make with ingredients sitting in the pantry 15 feet away.
However, this time was easier, and frankly less physically taxing than all-juice cleanses I’ve done in the past. I studied a few sites and looked over a few plans and sort of customized a 2-day cleanse based on what I wanted to accomplish, what I knew my activity level (physical and mental) would be during the cleanse, and what I knew about how my body reacts to the absence of certain nutrients.
The key to a good detox or cleanse, as I casually refer to the process of detoxification, is to push impurities out of your body and give your digestive system a bit of a break. Toxins and impurities can leave by sweating and—ahem—other bodily functions. Therefore, I believe keeping exercise as a part of the detox routine is imperative and one of the reasons I kept solid food and even a little grain in my plan.
Here’s what I did at different intervals during the day with a little rationale after:
First thing in the morning: One glass (6-8 oz) of warm water with half a lemon squeezed in.
This is a good practice that I should really make part of my daily routine, but coffee always wins. Warm water with lemon wakes up your digestive system in a gentle way (more gentle than a rushing flash flood of piping hot dark roast) and is extremely good for your liver. There are a gazillion articles on the benefits of this ritual, so instead of including a link to just one, I’ll let you do your own Googling.
Exercise: 30-45 minutes of low-intensity cardio.
Exercise promotes blood circulation and sweating, and sweating is a key way to get those impurities out. I didn’t do any weight training as I react poorly to strenuous activity with no animal protein. I also didn’t do high-intensity cardio because I simply felt it would tire me out. The idea is get in a long, moderate workout to keep your heart rate up and sweat glands pumping.
Breakfast: High antioxidant fruit juice (16 ounces).
Antioxidants are like ninjas, so why wouldn’t you want a big dose of them running around in your body? Fruit juice in the morning will also provide the energy burst needed to start the day.
All Day: Water. (Hot tea is also acceptable, but no adding sugar!)
I don’t think an explanation is really needed here, but just in case… Upping your water intake during a cleanse will give you greater results because water is the best cleanser for your body. It gets, and keeps, things moving and flushes out toxins. The more hydrated your organs are the more efficiently they function. Also, water will help to suppress your appetite. When you get so hungry you want to go into your backyard and chew on mulch (just me?), have a few gulps of water. You’ll feel better.
All Day: Homemade vegetable broth
Veggies are chock full of nutrients and a good way to get all of them while keeping your sanity and staying hydrated during a cleanse is to drink broth. It’s tasty, too, and you can kind of fool yourself into thinking it’s soup. I recommend making your own because you’ll know exactly what’s in it, i.e. organic vegetables, no preservatives, and no sodium. Below is how I made mine, but essentially, you take a bunch of vegetables, cover them with water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 90 minutes. Drain, drink.
Thoroughly wash all veggies first.
- 5 medium carrots, chopped into 2-3-inch chunks
- 1 handful parsley
- 4-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 medium yellow squash, roughly chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
Place all veggies in a large stockpot, cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low (you don’t want a rolling boil, just a simmer) and simmer for about 90 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half. Strain and drink/use immediately or cool and refrigerate.
Lunch: 1 big heaping bowl of steamed vegetables, preferably cruciferous.
This is the big difference between juice cleanses I’ve done in the past: solid food. Steam up a bunch of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts…you name it, and chow down. All of those nutrients and all that fiber will work wonders in cleaning out your insides. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Dinner: 1 cup millet (or another nutrient-rich, gluten-free whole grain); sautéed or steamed veggies, preferably cruciferous, half an avocado.
*Dinner should be consumed early, say 6 p.m., to allow a full 12 hours of rest for your system.
As aforementioned, I incorporate grain to make sure I’m somewhat fueled up for some cardio exercise. As well, it certainly does help you to feel full and satisfied. Mostly, there are some good nutrients in ancient grains and millet especially, such as copper and magnesium. The veggies are, as with lunch, for the nutrients and fiber.
All of this said, definitely do research and even consult your physician to find the detox regimen right for you.