With warmer weather in tow and summer rapidly approaching, more and more people are feeling the pull to do a juice cleanse. While juice cleansing can be an effective and healing practice and help jumpstart weight loss and other healthy living goals, effectively shutting down the digestive system for a day or more is no small thing. Following a few easy steps will help to ensure that you properly nurture your body and avoid throwing metabolism, digestion and blood sugar out of balance.
Before the Cleanse:
Ease in: A fasting cleanse reduces calories and eliminates fiber to put the digestive system in a rested state allowing the body’s other systems to go into an enhanced healing and restoring mode. Preparing the body for this rested state is an important part of a successful cleanse. The longer you prepare the body, the better your results and the greater chance you’ll avoid uncomfortable detox symptoms
-For at least 3 days before the cleanse reduce or eliminate the intake of red meat, dairy, caffeine, sugar, gluten and alcohol. Increase water intake and include more fresh salads, smoothies, fruit, vegetables and soups in your diet.
-Take a look at your calendar and try to keep it as clear as possible. It’s best to avoid any major commitments during the cleanse. Schedule in some time for self care and relaxation.
-Make a list of the health issues- large and small- that you hope to improve on the cleanse. Look beyond weight loss to things like increased energy, better sleep, less joint pain, more clarity. Pay attention to little things that improve during your cleanse and celebrate any and all changes!
During the Cleanse:
Hydration! A cleanse allows the body to release more toxicity than it is normally able to. Even though your liquid intake is high during the cleanse, include fresh water in between juices and smoothies to help flush toxins out of your system.
Cut Out Coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant that can be useful for the occasional energy boost but regular consumption can lead to dependency while taxing our adrenal and thyroid glands. These important glands regulate many metabolic functions including hormone balance. Coffee is especially hard on the body as the high acidity levels can contribute to mineral leaching and reduced immunity. It is especially important to eliminate coffee during a cleanse as the intense stimulation can cause lightheadedness and dizziness.
Honor your energy. Some people feel great during a cleanse and others can struggle with low energy, fatigue, headaches and other symptoms. Try not to commit to too much in advance. If symptoms or hunger becomes unbearable, try including some light foods to get through any rough patches: think avocado, raw veggies and high water content fruit like watermelon, papaya or oranges.
Reduce Exercise. A cleanse is a great time to take a break and let your body truly rest and recover. While you will be consuming enough calories and protein to function pretty normally, intense exercise can be over-taxing during this time. Instead try yoga or walking.
Body Work. This is the perfect time to treat yourself to body or energy work. Think massage, lymphatic drainage, acupuncture, etc. The body is more susceptible to the benefits of these treatments when it’s in this rested state. Body work can help stimulate detoxification and enhance the benefits of a cleanse.
After the Cleanse:
Ease Out: Coming off a fast is an important process that should be a careful undertaking. After your body has been in a rested state for several days, you want to gently re-stimulate the digestive system. The first meal post cleanse should be something light and easy to digest- whole fresh fruit, a green smoothie, chia pudding. Spend at least one whole day gently breaking the fast with leafy green salads, blended soups, smoothies and other raw or gently cooked foods.
The longer you can avoid adding red meat, gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and sugar, the better results you’ll experience post cleanse. Any intended benefits of cleansing (weight loss, increased energy, less pain, clarity, better sleep) will be enhanced by continuing on a clean eating routine. When you add these foods back in try adding them one at a time separated by at least 24 hours to detect any potential food allergies or intolerances.
Kristina Hess is G&T’s Director of Nutrition & Wellness Programs. For inquiries about meal plans and health consultations, please email: email@example.com