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Health & Wellness: Cleansing Is the New Black

Aug 06, 2014 12:15PM, Published by A Kitchen Drawer Writer , Categories: Lifestyle, Today

Image titleBy Courtney Yancey

Cleanses are the new black; and rightfully so. There are a variety of types and there's something for every body. 

Do you feel lethargic and/or bloated? A good cleanse should do the trick.

Have you eaten a lot of crap lately and the skinny jeans don’t feel so fab? 4-day “restart/rejump/revamp/re-anything” will have you back in the game with a quickness.

Are you currently a stockholder/taste tester for Doritos but looking for a lifestyle change? A jug of lemon juice and cayenne pepper should be a great motivator for the next 72 hours.

Are you already super healthy but seeking a challenge? (besides the cabbage soup diet because that did not work well last time). Well, for better or worse, there is a cleanse for that. All of that.

Setting Expectations 

First, the greatest thing you can do for yourself pre-cleanse is to understand it will not fix all of your problems. Women especially love to convince themselves that if we could just fix “insert appearance issue here” then the tension we have with the mother-in-law would not matter anymore and the nonsense of our co-workers would diminish. Pre and post cleanse, you will still have to make payments on your student loans, and life will proceed to be life. Make sure the desire is solely rooted in appreciation for your health.

Second, ask yourself this precious question: does it just sound ridiculous? That is in the eye of the beholder, I know, as some people think swapping fries for broccoli is ludicrous; that is not the kind of crazy I speak of. I mean to say if a “cleanse” requires you to drink only room temperature water and eat quartered grapefruit all week it is probably not going to do much but make you drop “water weight” (not from sodium but from all the tears you will cry in agony).

Finally, is it a stepping stone toward or supplement to an already healthy lifestyle? Short term “cleanses” will not substitute good nutritional habits and regular physical activity. Scales may budge for a moment, but without the holy grail of wellness found in proper diet/consistent exercise your thrills will be oh so short lived. The body does not like to be starved, nor will it respond well in the long term to stimulants that promise great abs if you pop a few vitamins a day (there’s a reason companies continue to make stupid products like that: none of them work).

Now that we are done cheating on our actual health and can break off the affair with insane approaches to physical harmony, let’s skim through some options that meet the criteria of a cleanse with benefits:

The Jill Michaels Approach

Not the title of an actual cleanse, only a name given to a common sense approach coined in her phrase “If it didn’t grow from the ground, or it didn’t have a mother, don’t eat it”.  Simply put, cut the processed stuff.

Cleanse your cabinets of foods laced in additives like MSG that only make you crash and feel hungrier (Chinese food, sound familiar?). Take sugar coated cereals out of the equation. Go in the fridge and make sure there are no “sugar-free/fat-free/nutrition free” yogurts and treats that really just send your hunger hormones in a whirlwind despite the 100 calorie label (fake food has a bad effect on your body’s ability to register fullness). Set aside your desire to cover everything in cheese or condiments. Cut dairy. Trade man-handled cow’s milk for unsweetened or vanilla almond milk.

One week. Seven days, and if it didn’t come from the ground (vegetables) or have a mother (lean meats like chicken/fish) then do not eat it.

This is not forever, BUT my crystal ball says this: if you notice how great you feel eating slow-digesting carbs (think sweet potatoes) and whole proteins (like scrambled eggs), cleansing your body of additives, preservatives, and factory produced “crap” that keeps you sick and tired, you will not go back. The end of the week will yield a far “cleaner” you than when you began and you will be on the road to health supremacy.  

Plant-based Cleanses

Barbecue connoisseurs may not do so well on something like this right out of the gate, but plant-based nutrition makes people feel awesome. There are exceptions to every rule, but most clean-eating borderline vegetarians would function just fine embarking into a more vegan approach. “But your protein….” Stop, I know. A complete protein has all 13 amino acids: black beans and rice make a complete protein. 

It is incredibly possible to tackle a plant-based cleanse full of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and still meet nutritional requirements. This would look something like a 4 to 7 day window of consuming fresh produce when hungry, keeping sugar-laden juices in check (preferably not in the picture at all) and remaining active while refueling through whole, nutritious vegan options. There have been studies that reveal taking a break from meat and animal products can do wonders for your digestive system. You won’t want to replace animal products with packaged junk foods, but with fresh vegetables and fruits. Depending on the caloric count consumed in higher fat choices such as nuts (like pistachios), weight loss should happen and a good dose of rejuvenation waits on the other end. Introduce animal products back into your routine slowly after a week or so of cleansing (determine time tables for your personal health status) and you may feel so much better sans-steak that this becomes a new lifestyle in your house (or you may head right back to Southern Pitt but at least you gave it a go).

Want to read about the next two cleanse options? We'll be posting them next week in continuance of our Healthy Lifestyle article series. 

We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

courtney yancey health fitness

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