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The words cleanse and detox often cause strong, guarded reactions. The idea of deprivation or consuming bizarre foods you can’t even pronounce is simply not appealing to most. But before you turn and run… truth bomb: you don’t have to suffer on a cleanse! You can have your coffee and drink it too if you really can’t fathom going without.
And best of all: you don’t have to deprive yourself! Cleansing can be done in a completely satisfying, totally delicious way.
The fact is, our bodies are designed to detox on a daily basis. Detoxification is a natural process. However, modern life is so full of toxins that it’s difficult for our bodies to keep up with the constant toxification loads placed on it through our food, the products we use, and the air we breath. By periodically and systematically eliminating foods that are more taxing on the digestive system and are known common irritants, we allow our bodies’ systems to rest and reset.
Symptoms often include relatively minor annoyances like poor sleep, weight gain, brain fog, mood swings, food cravings, or bloating to name a few. (But let’s be real, anyone who suffers from these knows how real the frustration is when nothing seems to work, no matter what you try!). But toxic overload can also be a factor in more serious conditions such as chronic insomnia, autoimmune conditions, asthma, arthritis, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, and more.
What is a Cleanse?
These days you hear the terms cleansing and detoxing everywhere. Detox your life. Do a juice cleanse. Do this detox diet and make these detox-friendly recipes. The two terms are often used seemingly interchangeably, so what’s the difference?
Detoxification is actually a natural process that happens every day in our bodies to clear out toxins and waste. A true detox diet typically refers to a highly restricted diet that may reduce down to only liquids (fruit and vegetable juices) and usually calls for specific supplements to support the detoxification process.
Cleansing ultimately has the same goal as a detox – to give your body the chance to reset – but takes a somewhat gentler, more sustainable approach. A cleanse essentially cleans up your diet: it eliminates processed junk food and strips the diet down to the essentials – nutrient-dense real, whole foods. Think: lots of fruits and vegetables.
By removing the junk from your diet and consuming foods that support the body’s natural detoxification processes, you allow your body to rid itself of the toxins and waste that have been building up over time – a natural detox. It’s basically like unclogging a drain. Cleansing allows our kidneys and liver to function more efficiently, which makes for a healthier, happier body.
Who should cleanse?
While weight loss is a common goal of such diets, cleanses are a good idea for anyone struggling with low energy, stress, poor health, or, frankly, nearly any form of disease in the body. Cleansing can not only repair the body, but it can remedy your relationship to food and help you rethink the way you fuel yourself.
Basically, if you fall into any of the following categories: you should consider a cleanse:
If you wake up feeling less than vibrant or energetic. If you feel like crap all the time. If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed below.
If you struggle with keeping the weight off. As it turns out, not all calories are created equal. Sugar and refined flour have a unique effect on the body’s metabolism, and often trigger hunger and cause people to overeat. Not to mention, sugar triggers inflammation.
If you’re addicted to sugar, carbs, or salty food-like junk. The fact is, it’s not your fault. It’s the sugar and the flour and the chemicals and the concerted efforts of the food industry over the years to hijack our brains so we become addicted, repeat customers.
If you’ve never done a cleanse or detox. These days, all of us could use a little reset. And most of us could do with a little more self-care. Cleansing allows you to focus on self-nourishment. You and your body are your top priority for over a week. How great is that?
But wait, cleansing sounds hard!
I get it. For most of us accustomed to the SAD (Standard American Diet), cleansing sounds like an onerous chore. And frankly, it can sound really intimidating to many. No pizza? No burgers? No fries? No cookies!? And on top of all that… no coffee??? Are you nuts!? (Well, maybe a little, but that’s neither here nor there ?)
As I mentioned above, while perhaps not the absolute ideal, you can have your coffee on a cleanse. Just stick to one cup of organic coffee in the morning, then maybe reduce to decaf, and then possibly consider dandelion tea. If you can start to wean yourself down a few days before, even better!
I LOVE my coffee too, but I do encourage clients to give the no-coffee thing a shot at least once as we easily get hooked on the caffeine. It’s possible that after a few days, you may even choose to go without.
Here’s the thing about cleansing: if often opens up a whole new world of eating. Healthy, nourishing food can be absolutely delicious, and your whole approach to eating can shift. Cleansing can get you better attuned to what your body truly needs, and many often find they begin to crave these healthy options full of nutrients your body requires rather than empty calories that mess with our chemistry. Delicious food that nourishes body, mind and soul – who wouldn’t want that?
When not to cleanse
Detoxing is one thing – many people should avoid strict detoxes. When it comes to whole foods cleansing, there are far fewer risks.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should always avoid strict detoxes, however my gradual, whole foods cleanse approach is safe to follow during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
There are of course situations when caution is advisable. Anyone suffering from a serious condition should always clear any major dietary changes with their doctor. Diabetics in particular must excercise caution, as with any dietary change.
Because this approach is gentle and calls for real, whole foods, there is nothing to be lost except for what you want to lose: the toxic crap that makes us feel less than great!
The cleansing process
What happens when you eliminate all the ‘dead’ foods? Foods that contain gluten, flour, wheat, dairy, sugar and trans fats are technically dead, and dead foods have lower energy. Because they’re dead. No wonder consuming them makes us feel like crap.
So, first, you replace them with lots of live foods: delicious fruits and veggies and clean plant-based edibles. Once you eliminate the processed, refined, and difficult-to-digest dead foods, your body will feel cleaner, leaner, and lighter. You’ll be able to think more clearly, have more energy, and be more productive. Imagine feeling light and free and full of energy – imagine feeling like the best version of yourself, every day.
I won’t sugar-coat it: things often get a little worse before they get better. Cleansing can release toxins stored in tissues into the bloodstream and cause a little fatigue, brain fog, or skin flare-ups, but this usually only lasts a couple days, and proper preparation and cleanse-enhancing activities can ease these symptoms.
A cleanse isn’t necessarily an easy quick-fix solution. It’s not a magic pill (they don’t exist). It does take a little planning, effort, and willpower to stay the course when everyone around you is indulging in pizza, cake, and beer. But consider getting your friends or family on-board: social support and friend-power is a winning combo!
Bottom Line: It’s worth a shot!
Once you get through to the other side, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this ages go. And you may find something somewhat astonishing: that food in its natural state not only tastes good, but that it’s better than all the other stuff you used to indulge in. You may find that you start to prefer, fresh, real food.
Bottom line: Cleansing effectively switches your metabolism into full gear, activates your body’s natural healing abilities, and helps you function better than you even thought possible.
Signs you need a Cleanse
Still not sure if a cleanse is really worth it for you? Here are some common signs your body could benefit:
have trouble sleeping
gain weight easily, especially in the belly
feel exhausted and depleted
feel a lack of focus and energy
have trouble losing weight
experience bloating or gas
have digestive complaints
have excessive sinus problems
suffer from joint pain
have acne, eczema or other skin problems
feel stuck, unmotivated, or irritable
feel stressed and overwhelmed
experience mood swings
crave sugar or starchy food
Symptoms of Toxic Overload
What underlies these signs are typically the symptoms of toxic overload. The complaints listed above are often how the body signals that it’s experiencing toxic overload and wants a little TLC.
The symptoms of toxic overload are much more extensive than the relatively minor frustrations listed above. The symptoms are also extremely varied and can impact the entire bodily system. Seemingly unrelated conditions may all result from this underlying issue. As mentioned above, chronic insomnia, autoimmune conditions, asthma, arthritis, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, and more serious conditions can all by influenced by toxic overload.
Below is a list of the many symptoms of toxic overload:
weight gain or loss
joint and muscle aches
inability to focus or concentrate
If you experience any of the above, this is a sign your body needs a good internal cleaning. Overall health and optimal wellbeing begin with gut health and nutrition, and cleansing your body is the best way to shift your body into healing and optimal functioning.
Ready to cleanse? Got any questions? Get in touch with me now and we’ll come up with the best plan for you! My cleanse guides are packed with even more information and are full of delicious, cleanse-friendly recipes to get you started.
In the meantime, check out a few of my cleanse-friendly recipes:
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hi, i'm amanda, a health and transformation coach, a writer, and a survivor, here to share my journey to wholeness though wellness, healing, and inspiration for living deliciously. follow along as i share my delicious and healing recipes, healthified desserts, stories, and tips for healing and thriving! i believe in eating real good food for a real good life, dancing to the rhythm, travel and adventure, creating beauty, finding balance through yoga and laughter, and doing it all with lots of dark chocolate! ~ amanda xx
hi, i’m amanda, a health and transformation coach, a writer, and a survivor, here to share my journey to wholeness though wellness, healing, and inspiration for living deliciously. follow along as I share my delicious and healing recipes, stories, and tips for healing and thriving! i believe in eating real good food for a real good life, dancing to the rhythm, travel and adventure, creating beauty, finding balance through yoga and laughter, and doing it all with lots of dark chocolate! ~ amanda xx