And so in the seven-day cleanses I recommend for my clients, I try to take a different approach. My aim is to use the week to instill lasting lessons about the foods and spices that help with metabolism, detoxification, and energy levels; the foods that cause harm; and the stress management techniques they can use long after the seven days are over.
Ready to get started? Here's how to go on a cleanse that gets you in the habit of clean and happy living for life.
1. Practice mindfulness as you eat.
During this week, pay special attention to when you feel hungry and when you're satiated. Eat mindfully. This means admiring the colors, the aromas, and the individual tastes. Chew 30 to 40 times before swallowing, which allows your gut to do less work as it goes down. Appreciate that you're being nurtured and your body is being fueled. Appreciate that the Earth has provided this food for you.
When you eat mindfully, slowly, and with appreciation, you not only help your metabolism, but you also help temper your stress response because the practice of mindful eating becomes a meditation.
2. Incorporate healthy fats.
Your body efficiently breaks down healthy fats into fuel, and therefore helps your metabolism and energy levels.
Load up on healthy fats this week, including: avocado, coconut products (oil, butter, flakes, flour, and milk), sunflower oil, palm kernel oil, safflower oil, extra-virgin olive oil, sesame oil, and the omega-3 oils that you can get from cod liver, krill, or salmon.
3. Fill up on vegetables.
Veggies not only provide you with essential vitamins and minerals, but they also give you the fiber your body needs.
Aim to fill up your plate with vegetables as often as you can. The more colorful, the more likely you'll get your fill of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
During the middle three days of your cleanse, I recommend eating only cooked or steamed vegetables, which are more easily broken down by your body.
4. Eat fruits in small amounts.
Keep your fruit intake moderate, as you don't want to raise your insulin levels too often. Two servings a day should be adequate, and aim for low-fructose fruits like raspberries and blueberries.
5. Power up with protein.
Use nuts, eggs, seeds, poultry, meat, and fish as your protein sources. Try to buy local, organic, pasture-raised, or high omega-3 eggs, and wild-caught fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, or anchovies. Same goes for the meat or poultry: Look for pasture-raised, local, or USDA-certified organic.
On a cleanse, I usually recommend cutting your servings down to about 3 ounces per day, again to give the gut less work to do.
6. Be generous with herbs and spices.
Herbs and spices have high-antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, so use plenty. My favorites include cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika, coriander, curry, oregano, cilantro, and parsley.
7. Promote gut health with probiotics.
A healthy gut means having trillions of good bacteria living, digesting, and promoting a healthy immune system. Eating processed and fast foods, having high stress and little sleep, as well as multiple rounds of antibiotics can result in the loss of this microflora and an imbalance in the natural gut world.
On this cleanse, help restore your gut’s ecosystem with probiotics, and plan to continue with them for a couple of months. That means increasing your intake of food groups that contain live cultures of bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, as well as the foods that help feed them, including kefir, miso soup, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha tea.
8. Hydrate with cleansing lemon water.
Lemon water is a well-known “detox drink." The lemon is loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. As a general rule, drink about half your body weight in ounces of water every day.
If you choose, you can also add a dash of cayenne pepper, which can help improve your circulation and metabolism.
9. Avoid inflammatory food.
Sugar, syrups, processed foods, and grain products are inflammatory. These food groups drive insulin production, fat storage, and oxidative stress. Other items to avoid this week: