I have a personal theory, that doesn’t seem to have caught on yet: February is the absolute best month to do a dietary cleanse.
You come out of the holidaze, bumble through a few weeks of erratic self-improvement, and THEN you’re ready for business.
Let me break it down:
- January is usually a five-week month, but it feels like an eternity. This gives you some extra time to plan and prepare for a prolonged cleanse. (Meal planning, grocery lists, psyching yourself up, that sort of thing). Hence the reason we’re talking about it NOW.
- February is exactly four weeks long – the perfect amount for a cleanse! You could use one week for transition, followed by a three-week cleanse. Or put the transition week on both ends, and do a two-week cleanse.
- February is notorious for being the worst week of winter. Seasonal depression is at its worst, the weather usually sucks, and everyone is grumpy. Prime conditions for a food meltdown, and it probably won’t be over kale salad. A structured, specific meal plan can protect you from a doughnut shame spiral.
- Speaking of which, a cleanse makes you feel AWESOME. Why not hedge your bets by cleansing during the least awesome month of the year?
What is this “cleanse” you speak of? Is that where you drink weird concoctions and poop out green stuff?
Um, no. At least, not in my world.
A cleanse is any extended period of time during which you eliminate certain “trigger” foods from your diet, while increasing your consumption of vegetables & fruits.
It can be as simple as eliminating that 16oz. soda you drink every day. Or, it can be more extreme, like a ten-day juice fast.
Both are good, as is everything in between – it really depends on what you’re ready for.
Your body has a natural system of cleansing, or detoxing (they’re the same thing – “detox” is just more of a buzzword right now). Toxins are everywhere!
In the air: car exhaust, secondhand smoke, recirculated office air, chemical cleaning products
On your skin: commercial lotions & perfume, makeup, chlorinated water, deodorant
In your food: pesticides, GMOs, growth hormones, antibiotics
In your relationships: road rage, stress
Hidden: electro-magnetic frequencies (EMFs), undiscovered food sensitivities
Sufficiently freaked out? Don’t worry – it gets better.
Your lungs, kidneys, liver, colon and skin are your five detox organs. One of their jobs is to eliminate waste (or, toxins) – through sweating, exhaling, peeing & pooping.
(Sorry kids. You can’t discuss detoxing without a little poo.)
Anyway, modern living is just too chock full of toxins for the body to handle naturally. It gets overloaded, backed up (figuratively AND literally). Excess toxins get stored in fat cells and mucous, where they can’t get out and wreak havoc in your bloodstream.
After a while, you’ll start to have symptoms:
- Lethargy/low energy
- Moodiness or depression
- Interrupted or otherwise poor sleep
- Digestive trouble
- Brain fog
- Gas and/or bloating
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Other IBS-related issues
- Food cravings
- Body aches & pains
- Itchy skin or rashes
Sounds like a real party, right?
Now, check out the benefits of a three-week, gentle cleanse:
- Increased energy
- Deep, restorative sleep
- Better mental clarity & focus
- Clearer, glowing skin
- Bright white eyes
- Shiny hair & stronger fingernails
- Calmer emotions
- Reversal of all that yucky stuff above
The bottom line is, your body absolutely needs a break from all this toxicity. Even if you eat the cleanest diet known to man, you still live in 2015. During a detox, you eliminate as many sources of toxicity as you can – you stop the insanity, as it were.
Meanwhile, you increase your consumption of foods that support cleansing – dark leafy greens, lots of fiber and healthy fats, lemon water, etc.
Your organs LOVE you for this, and they respond by flushing out all those stored toxins. This is where the “green poo” comes from – which is more or less a myth, by the way.
The type of cleanse you choose depends on your current level of health, as well as your openness to dietary changes. I’m always in favor of a gentler cleanse, especially if it’s your first time.
You don’t have to do a juice fast to reap the benefits. You can eat three squares a day, plus snacks, and still call it a cleanse.
In my next installment I’ll show you some examples of different types of cleanses and detox diets, just in time for my February Sugar Cleanse.
What’s your biggest reservation about trying a cleanse? Let’s talk about it in the comments!