Now is the time of year when many people start to consider doing a cleanse or detox diet. With all the rain falling and flowers making everything fresh, it’s hard not to think about self-renewal. Over the years I have tried a few myself; from candida cleanse, juice fasts, and raw diets, to regimented cleanses out of a box. I can’t say they’ve all been successful, but I won’t say that it wasn’t worthwhile either. As far as the experts go, they are pretty divided about whether or not cleanses are beneficial. And after trying a few I’m kind of sure it takes the guidance of an expert to really get it right. There is whole book to read if you want to do the master cleanse properly, even though the actual concoction is quite simple. There are also times in your life when a detox diet doesn’t make sense, like if you are nursing, sick with a chronic illness, or having trouble eliminating stress and don’t have time to relax. There is one thing I can say with confidence though. It is not good to get on a cycle of binge and purge. A well seasoned detox dieter, particularly in their off season, is not necessarily healthier than someone who makes a habit of eating healthy most of the time.
For strict vegans, or if just sticking to a vegan diet for a while doesn’t make you feel better, you may want to try eliminating problem foods from your diet. For those who already eat vegan, the first step with most cleanses is to eliminate gluten, sugar, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol from your diet. If you are experiencing unexplained headaches, tiredness, indigestion, and sometimes depression, it might be time eliminate these culprits from your diet. Many nutritionists believe that sugar is poison and some even are starting to push for the regulation of sugar, just like alcohol or tobacco. It takes a lot out of the liver to digest refined sugar and wheat, which may explain why so many people feel better after giving them up. Do not replace sugar with chemical artificial sweeteners. Instead try using dates as a sweetener or just leave it out entirely. You might be surprised what new flavors you will come to love. Try replacing foods made from wheat, with those made from gluten-free whole grains like rice, millet and quinoa.
There are also a good number of foods that can be added to your regular eating habits that are good for cleansing the body. Fresh juices are full of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help your body run clean and strong. Salads and smoothies have the same benefits as juices, but are full of raw fiber that will help to scrub out your insides. Drink herbal teas, like mint, dandelion root, burdock, and ginger. Do something to relax, breathe, or do yoga. An abundance of stress hormones can slow down the body’s natural detoxifying process. Nothing is more revitalizing to me than starting my day with a glass of fresh water mixed with lemon juice. Add cayenne to your lemon water if you need and extra kick in the morning like I often do! Make cleansing foods a part of your regular eating regimine, like this massaged kale salad on Oh She Glows! (Note: some cleanses recommend eliminating nutritional yeast from your diet and I think the tahini salad dressing tastes fine if you want to leave it out!)
If you are considering doing a detox diet, please consider trying these things first. If you can’t stick to just a gluten-free and sugar-free vegan diet, then ask yourself if eliminating even more of the things you usually eat is right for you. Breaking bad eating habits can be difficult, but pushing yourself too hard can lead to relapse binges. Coupling the shock of a fast or cleanse with the shock of a bad relapse can make the body worse off than before. If you have a hard time giving up unhealthy foods, start of slowly by limiting how often you indulge- then work your way up. Make and effort to renew your long-term eating habits and avoid binging on junk with the promise to cleanse later.