Around both the Spring and Fall Equinox I take a break, a time out as is traditional in Ayurveda. I hesitated calling it a cleanse because in current cultural speak I see cleanse being used as a code word for an extreme diet posing as something healthy.
A cleanse does not have to be food. It can be a cleanse from social media, mindless scrolling or binge watching, electronics, clearing a space or resting your body. A cleanse is self-care. Ayurveda holds that everything that is consumed including food, news, information or goods must be digested. I agree with that. I know when I feel overwhelmed, angry for no reason or anxious or find myself binging on treats or wine, I look at how I have be mindlessly spending my time. Often the culprit is consuming too much news, scrolling social media or falling down a YouTube rabbit hole.
For my spring cleanse, I listened to my body which was craving green, smoothies and juice. It is early spring in Tennessee and Kentucky, so my body is ready to transition from the heavier, warming foods of winter like beans and soups.
I decided that I would eliminate sugar, wheat, pork and beef, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and Twitter. I decided my timeline was ten days with two days of pre-cleanse. As part of my cleanse, I would keep my daily yoga practice, but I would do low-intensity gentle movement rather than power yoga and to continue my 20 minutes of prayer and meditation each morning. First thing in the morning I regularly have warm water with lemon, but for the cleanse I did not add honey.
When something is being removed, something will need to take its place. I plan for this. Herbal tea to replace my morning Earl Gray, herbal tea and one date after dinner to replace my wine and warm baths with essential oils and Epsom salt to rest and release stress. I have a new machine that carbonizes water, so my treats were lots of filtered water with added lime and coconut water powder or sugar free red raspberry electrolyte powder with lime.
For the two day precleanse period the only change I made was to eliminate the previous list. I also started adding the smoothies my body wanted for breakfast.
The first three days was a juice cleanse I purchased from a local shop that I like. I followed their recommendations. One the second day I really started to notice my body clearing itself. As this is not about diet, but about letting my body and digestive track take a break, I do eat raw veggies with hummus, unsalted nuts or an apple with natural peanut butter if I need a snack. I was really hungry on the third night, so I had a salad with grilled chicken. By listening to my body, I was able to discern what was an actual need and what was my ego fearing deprivation or needing a stress release.
The first phase is the hardest because your body wants what it is addicted to sugar, diet sodas, sweets, treats, a glass of wine, mindlessness and so on. Being prepared helps avoid pitfalls. I have found that it only takes three to five days for my sugar and wine cravings to go away and my urge to read Twitter when I’m bored or have short periods of time open has disappeared.
After I completed the juice cleanse portion, I went to two smoothies and a juice or three smoothies each day. I also added a daily light meal similar to salad with grilled chicken or a plain, roasted sweet potato with steamed asparagus with lemon. I use a homemade dressing so I can ensure there is no sugar. I also made sure I had plenty of appropriate snacks on hand. For the weekend I added a breakfast of oatmeal made with nut milk and natural peanut butter as I was riding horses and doing things on the farm.
I have reached my ten days. My body is happy and I have energy. For the last couple of days I have felt like I am shooting energy beams out of my fingertips! I have decided to continue with this general style of eating. For the time being I will continue to resist alcohol, sugar, pork and beef, dairy and Twitter, but I will not beat myself up when I have one of these. I did add back my daily pot of Early Gray with warmed nut milk, but I have not added maple syrup.
Just like we all look restored when returning to real life after a vacation, I can see and feel the changes in my body. My skin is glowing and my clothes are fitting a more comfortably. I have energy. I am using the evening light for slow walks with my neighbor. I had purchased a used juicing book and last night I found myself making several juice recipes for the heck of it. I am continuing to eat, move and do as my body prompts.
I encourage you to consider what you can take a break from. If you want to change or rest from something, create your own cleanse. I only gave an outline of mine to show how I created mine. Remember this is not a diet or a penance. It is a time out.
Coconut Water Powder, nuts, dates and Peanut Butter, Spirulina and Wheatgrass powders for smoothies form nuts.com.
Superieur Electrolytes from their website or Amazon.
Find more information on the basics of Ayurveda start the with Banyan Botanicals web site.
Juice Book: Juice Recipes for Juicing, Cleansing and Living Well by Carly de Castro. The Lime in the Coconut is my new, go-to smoothie!