Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Exnomad's Guide to Cleansing

By popular demand, (OK OK-- by the demands of ink in particular... I'm so whipped!) I'm going to post a bit of a 'how-to' for cleansing. I'm no expert on the topic, but I figure I know enough experientially about the ups and downs of cleansing to give some half decent advice. So without further adieu:

How to Cleanse (a la Dana L.):

1. Get to a point where you are thoroughly disgusted with the way you are feeling, eating, or the way your pants are fitting. Some people are able to just do a spring or fall cleanse on a whim (to work in concert with the shifting seasons of the universe), but I find it's much more helpful to have a firm resolution in place before beginning. That way, when temptations come a-knockin' (and you know they will), you can fall back on your unwavering will, rather than on a bed of flowers or what have you.

2. Decide whether you will start cleansing gradually or cold turkey. Again, this is a personal preference. Some people prefer to cut out the 'bad stuff' over time, but I'm more a fan of shocking my system into healthy submission. The first few days usually feel a bit weird without the usual stimulants (caffeine, sugar, dairy, wheat/flour, fermented stuff, alcohol), but in a few days, the body adjusts marvelously and feels much more energetic than before.

3. Take measurements! My lingering taste for all things academic makes me take some starting measurements (weight and inches) so I can track my progress empirically. However, other indicators, like the way you feel in your clothes or the amount of stamina you have during the day, offer proof that cleansing actually does make you feel better in the long run. You can literally notice a difference in about 2-3 days of cleansing. On the days when you feel gross and sick (which happens-- the toxins inside need to get out somehow), think to yourself how great it is to get the gross stuff out and forge ahead.

4. Prepare your meals ahead of time. This is one of the most difficult parts about cleansing, I find, especially for people like me who work the whole damn day now. However, having an assortment of cleanse-friendly foods immediately accessible is positively crucial for cleansing success. It simply won't work otherwise. Examples of fun cleansing foods include:

- stirfries with rice, quinoa, or buckwheat. Remember not to use conventional soy sauce, as it contains both wheat and sugar. Wheat-free tamari or Bragg's Liquid Soy Aminos make good substitutes.
- almond butter! Nuts!
- Eggs (boiled, scrambled, whatever)
- Hummus with cut-up veggies!
- Baked potatoes with chives!
- Soups!
- Salads! (try to make your own dressings)

5. If at first you don't succeed... cry, then try again. I'm an 'all or nothing' kind of gal, and I get pretty dismayed and disappointed if I fall off the wagon even a bit. However, I'm trying to learn that little slip-ups are not a reason to give up the cause completely. Take this Easter weekend, for example. I resisted and resisted those little Mini Eggs and foil-wrapped bunnies for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, when they went on a drastic overstock sale, of course I had to have some. I just can't resist chocolate bunnies forever! Today, I'm back on track (I hope!).

6. Continue on with this eating plan for 2-3 weeks. Alternatively, you can combine the diet regimen with a 12-day course of cleansing supplements, widely available in most health food stores. I have a Wild Rose cleansing kit ready to go, but I like to ease my way into it. Hence, I'm going to do another day or two (without chocolate) before I start taking the supplements.

7. Take measurements again! Compare your trimmer, healthier, and more energetic self with your sluggish self of last month. Feel great about yourself and even a bit smug.

Whew! I hope this helps (ink...). I'll post for y'all again tomorrow!


ink said...

so it's no breads (no wheat/flour, rice is okay), no candies/other junk food, no coffee, and no drinking.

here's a funny thing - your cleansing diet sounds a lot like what my usual diet is. except i chew a lot of gum (to stave off those potato chip cravings i get when i'm stressed before exams), which I think technically contains sugar. and i use wheat bread to make occasional sandwiches for lunch (stir fry is my usual dinner). I'm not a coffee fiend and I'm an embarassingly weak drinker. I'd love to go all-organic everything, but sadly, my wallet cannot handle it.

is meat okay?

dana said...

Rice is good, but it should be brown for the cleanse (less gluten). Meat is OK in moderation, too. The meat is supposed to be free range or organic if possible, though. And if you eat fish, you can eat as much as you want! (no shellfish, though).

I can't believe you eat like a cleanse on a regular basis.. My normal diet contains all of the cleansing foods, but it also has a lot of other stuff in it (mushrooms, pickles, vinegars in salad dressings, chocolate...) And gum is no good on a cleanse, btw. It stimulates your stomach juices to start churning when nothing is technically coming down to be digested. Maybe drink lots of herbal tea?

ink said...

i think i have pretty bland tastes when it comes to food. except i do love vinegar! it's supposed to be good for you, you know.

and as far as sweets are concerned, once in a while i'll have a bit of chocolate, but most candy is too sweet for me. i like fruit =).

i can commend my mother for being a nazi about keeping the sugar out of the house for my current tastes.