I went through a bizarre health kick my senior year of high school. I became vegan, binged on yoga, and cut back on coffee. And to round out my salad stint, I decided to try a cleanse. I spent an absurd amount of money on fresh produce to make juice and spent five days of my life blending, straining, and drinking ground-up fruits and vegetables. I was promised nirvana – isn’t that what all those “enlightened” yoga-toned, manicured mommies at my studio claimed?
The only sort of liberation I felt was a sort of hunger-induced delirium. But my stomach was flatter than ever!
I’m not trying to knock a juice fast. It was sort of nice to think of all the toxins literally flushed out of my body. I definitely felt a sense of well-being, but food is meant to be eaten! That’s why you read articles from Small Kitchen College. You like to cook and savor food. Not just suck back kale juice with a wince and a promise for glowing skin.
Good news folks! You can have your cleanse and eat it too. Over the summer I read an encouraging piece by Jennifer Reilly, a plant-based dietician in Washington, DC. She recommends a very user-friendly cleanse that can be used as a health overhaul or as weekly maintenance. It’s really what you make of it.
Ready to jump in? The best part about this little regimen is its versatility. You can choose to eat this way once a week , three days a week every other week, or for a whole week once a month. Or if you have a ridiculous amount of willpower, maybe try this detox for a month once a year. I really like the idea of a subtle cleanse once a week to stay balanced and renew my body on a regular basis. I’ve treated Monday as my wellness day to kick off the week and get rid of the weekend nasties, but maybe you’re more of a humpday kind of person.
**Best Ways to DIY Detox**
1. Begin the day with a large glass of filtered water with the juice of half a lemon. This aids digestion and stimulates the liver to begin the day’s detoxification process. Add a dash of cayenne pepper to balance out your blood sugar.
2. Only consume liquids (smoothies, fresh juices, herbal tea, water) until noon. Snack on raw fruits and veggies if necessary.
3. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of filtered water each day. For example, if you weigh 120 lbs. you should drink at least 60 oz. of water. This is a good rule of thumb for overall health!
4. Eat as many raw fruits and vegetables as possible. Go for organic, especially for the dirty dozen.
5. Enjoy 1/2 cup raw nuts and and seeds per day.
6. Fill up on 2 cups of cooked whole grains throughout the afternoon and evening. But! Avoid gluten (whole wheat, barley, rye).
7. Follow the 80/20 Rule: at least 80% of your cleanse should include raw foods, and 20% can be cooked vegetables, grains, and beans.
8. Take a daily multivitamin.
9. Eliminate: dairy, eggs, meat, fish, sugar, gluten, and alcohol. Cut out caffeine if you can, but this is where I cheat. A small cup of coffee or tea in the morning is actually good for you!
See? Not so painful. If you’d like a little more guidance, Jennifer provides a sample day in the life of a cleanse:
7:00 a.m. – Large glass of filtered water with cucumber slices and a dash of cayenne.
8:00 a.m. – Green smoothie: 1 banana, a few handfuls of spinach or kale, nondairy milk, ice, stevia, cinnamon, raw almond butter
10:00 a.m. – Herbal tea; 1 cup raspberries.
11:00 a.m. – Large glass of filtered water with cucumber slices.
Noon – Large green salad with: sliced veggies, ¼ cup raw cashews, olive oil and fresh lemon juice dressing; 1 cup brown rice.
2:00 p.m. – Large glass of filtered water with lemon wedge; hummus with sliced veggies.
4:00 p.m. – Herbal tea; 15 raw almonds.
6:00 p.m. – 3 cups mildly steamed broccoli, ½ cup quinoa, ½ cup lentils; filtered water to drink.
8:00 p.m. – Chamomile tea.
Bonus points awarded for exercise, meditation, laughter, and writing in a journal.
Remember that a cleanse isn’t about perfection. It’s about taking a conscious break from everyday indulgences to give your body a rest. This is especially important as we approach the holiday season! And if you’re looking for more wellness information, check out Kris Carr. She’s a fun, inspirational, and realistic health guru.
Suzannah Schneider is a junior at Tulane University. She strives to follow a vibrant vegan diet despite her undying love for chocolate cake.