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4 Years. 7 Cleanses. 3 Lessons: A Toxicologist Explains

Rhea Mehta, Ph.D.
Toxicologist, Integrative Health Coach By Rhea Mehta, Ph.D.

I’m a scientist and living foodist, with a thirst for knowledge and hunger for data. I’ve been on a natural healing journey since 2005, and, like most of us, have met with periods of deep fulfillment, fear and frustration. Healing isn’t easy! There are so many layers, some (most) completely unexpected, and if we’re not ready, they can take us for a long ride.

I’ve completed quite a few cleanses in my short life time, each resulting in new learnings, reflections and practices. Today, I share my 3 key insights with you, with hopes to help keep you on track during these periods of deep physical, emotional, and mental release.

1. Pay attention to your present needs, not your future wants.

What do you need to get you through this cleanse, with clarity, confidence and balance?

We often get so caught up in our goals and results, that we forget to live the process. To successfully complete a cleanse, you must remain present and focus on your tasks at hand!

For the first couple of days, you may be confused, tired, spacey, irritable, and may even experience nausea or flu-like symptoms. That will certainly make it hard for you to think about what you need to do in the moment to nourish and nurture yourself. You may find yourself focusing on unusual wants, like comfort foods you haven’t consumed in years, and other atypical cravings and urges.

Brace yourself, that feeling very soon dissolves, like epsom salts in a hot, steamy bath. It’s more often than not replaced with feelings of clarity and acceptance, and soon after, resolve and bliss. Yes, it gets easier, you feel lighter, and life begins to make much more sense. This is, however, 100% dependent on your toxic load, and your ability to facilitate the detox mindfully.

To assist, think of cleansing like packing for one big trip, perhaps out into the hot, dry, unpredictable dessert. It requires solid research and preparation, as well as focus and commitment. Consider it a staycation. If you keep a "needs list" visible, it will be hard to forget and get caught up in ‘wants’-(mmmm, nachos and pizza)-land.

Your needs list will include things like juicing recipes that stimulate detoxification, drink recipes to keep you hydrated, energized and full, shopping lists, produce preparation tips, journalling and intention setting, daily detox rituals to facilitate the removal of toxins, like body brushing, hydrotherapy, deep breathing, and movement, and fiber and nutrient supplementation tips and recipes. A visible list will keep these reminders front of mind, and push all of those desires, unnecessary pressures and cravings away, until they begin to dissipate naturally.

2. Find a detox buddy or an entire community. (Accountability rocks!)

Finding a cleansing partner in crime, or better yet, a supportive, loving community is the way to go! They'll lift you on your low days, remind you of your body’s needs, act as your sounding board, and cheer you on along the way. It's great to stay accountable, especially when you’re battling cravings and mind tricks.

As an experienced detoxer and wellness educator and coach, I created a private Facebook detox community this past Spring. Essentially, a sacred space for raw juice and smoothie detoxers, or anyone on their healing journey, to share openly and offer support and gentle accountability. I organized a protocol with well-researched recipes, needs and insights, provided resource guides and journal templates, and shared it with anyone who was brave enough to join. The response and participation was and continues to be mind-blowing! Start your own if you wish, or hop on mine :).

3. Practice self-love and acceptance.

Remember: this detox is about YOU and only you. Not your mother, not your neighbor. Just you. Be kind to yourself! Rest. Relax. Pamper yourself with hot baths, massage treatments and flowers. The best gift and greatest form of healing you can offer yourself, however, is that of self-love and acceptance.

Know that it’s okay for you to call in sick one day, or miss out on that monthly get together or pre-planned dinner. Give yourself your full love and attention, and try to minimize your self-judgements. Your body will thank you. If you’re feeling pressure from others to eat and socialize, when all you want to do is look inward and reflect, remember that those who truly matter, the so-called non-toxic people in your community and network, will eventually understand. Especially after seeing you shining brightly and “being the change.” Your inspiration and force will shine right through you, no convincing required.

You will experience frustrating days on your cleanse. Perhaps you miss a bowel movement, or notice a blemish on your face. You may have drunk too little water one day, or unintentionally run out of produce. Breathe through it! Accept your strengths and accept your weaknesses. I promise you will feel much better in the end, and especially after a few solid, deep belly breaths.

I find it's helpful to communicate your thoughts and intentions daily, either through journaling or through silent inward reflection. Share any negative self-talk, as well as notes of genuine self-love. Keep reminders in your cell phone or sticky notes with you at all times: at home, at the office, and in the car. These notes can say things like I love myself, or I accept me, or Breathe. Make up your own, add a special touch and always remember, you are in control of your own vitality!

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