The truth about cleanses is that they don’t have to be long, arduous or expensive to work. And, yes, they do work. Some don’t even require that you go without food! Benefits of cleansing include clearer skin, more energy, reduced bloating/digestive distress, weight loss and enhanced sense of taste.
I’ve had folks (including my Mom) tell me that they’re skeptical of cleanses because the body has the ability to cleanse itself. The body does do a good job of cleansing itself IF/WHEN we eat a simple diet, eat only when we’re hungry and only to 75% full, and lead a lifestyle that is conscious vs compulsive.
Who among us follows these rules of healthy eating and digestion all the time?! I have yet to run into someone who can tell me that they’ve never suffered from digestive discomfort or distress, even those who are skeptical of cleanses. Along with my own positive experiences with cleansing, this leads me to believe that we can all benefit from occasional simple cleanses.
Spring is cleansing season as evidenced by the heavier rains, melting snow and running sap. It’s the season to let go of the heaviness of winter in preparation for the energy needed to burst forth in full bloom.
Here are my three favorite, quick and easy cleanses for spring that will boost your energy, help to clear your skin and help you let go of the heaviness of winter.
The simplest cleanse is to skip breakfast during spring season to give your digestive tract an extra rest. The word breakfast is a combination of break and fast. If you eat after 8 p.m. and then eat again first thing in the morning then you’re not really giving your digestive tract a good fast.
Don’t eat anything past 8 p.m. and skip breakfast, eating an early lunch at 11 a.m. if you get really hungry. You can try this once per week, once per month or try it everyday for a week. Be smart, and don’t try it for the first time on a day that you know you’ll be expending a lot of physical energy paddling, biking, hiking etc… It’s best to try it out on days where you’re expending less energy.
TIP: Make friends with the feeling of hunger. Being a little hungry before a meal is healthy. Most of us are privileged to have an abundance of food available to us. When I’m fasting and I get really hungry I ask myself will I survive another two, three, four hours without food? And the answer is yes, absolutely.
Dinner to Dinner Fast
For a deeper cleanse, try a dinner to dinner fast. You’ll skip breakfast and lunch and eat an easy to digest dinner (recipe below). Ideally you would have eaten dinner the night before no later than 8 p.m.
You can do a dinner to dinner fast as often as once per week during spring season if you feel that you need it. I generally do a dinner to dinner fast one day per month throughout the whole year to help reset my digestion and eating habits.
It can get challenging, especially around lunch time. I keep coming back to the tip above and think of working through hunger as a positive challenge. It’s really no different than having the courage to run an intimidating rapid or surf a new break. Use your experience in pushing your limits in the outdoors as inspiration for working through hunger and compulsion.
As you observe your hunger you’ll start to get a sense for the foods that you crave out of emotional attachment versus what your body actually wants/needs for your highest and best performance in life. That is the other benefit of cleansing: Deepening your self-knowledge so you can make better choices moving forward.
TIP: During fasting and mono-diet cleanses below drink plenty of warm water and herbal teas throughout the day. My favorite cleansing herbal teas are by Gaia and Pukka, pictured.
You don’t have to fast to cleanse! Eating a mono-diet for a day is a gentle and effective way of resetting the digestive tract without cutting out food completely. In fact, in Ayurveda, mono-diet is the main cleansing strategy for the longer, more in-depth cleanses. My favorite mono-diet meal is dahl and veggie soup and I’ve included recipe below.
With a mono-diet cleanse you eat the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner – only eating until you’re 75% full. No snacking in between meals, instead drink warm water and warm herbal teas.
TIP: Prepare and eat your food mindfully so that you enjoy eating and put your nervous system into ‘rest and digest’ mode.
Mung Dahl and Veggie Soup Recipe
This is the meal that I ate throughout my 3 week Panchakarma cleanse and I love it! It’s delicious, nutritious and easy to digest. Recipe courtesy of Vishnu Das, from his cookbook, Vishnu’s Kitchen available on Amazon.
2 cups chopped veggies of your choice (I like zuchinni, summer squash, carrot and broccoli).
1 cup red lentils (rinsed and soaked for at least 2 hours)
1 handful of chopped cilantro
1 lime wedge
6 cups water
1 Tbsp ghee, sunflower or safflower oil (I prefer ghee)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds (aka brown mustard seeds)
1 pinch hing (asafoetida) can be found in an asian grocery store if not in spice aisle
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala or cayenne
1/4 tsp curry powder
Combine water and red lentils (soaked and rinsed), bring to a boil and then simmer partially covered for 30 minutes or until lentils become tender.
While lentils are cooking, chop veggies into small pieces and steam until tender, but not mushy. Set aside with the lid off.
Heat the ghee or oil on medium heat in a small frying pan. Add the cumin and mustard seeds. Stir until the seeds pop. Turn off heat and add hing, turmeric, garam masala, salt and curry powder and stir.
Add the spice mixture and steamed veggies to the water/lentils and stir. Bring to a boil again, turn off heat and let sit with the lid on for 5 minutes. Give it a stir.
Serve in bowls. Add a handful of the fresh cilantro and squeeze the lime wedge on top of each serving. Usually makes up to 4 servings.
TIP: You can also make a side of white basmati rice to serve or mix in with the soup. White basmati rice is easier to digest than brown rice so for cleansing white rice is preferred.
I acknowledge you for having the courage to try one of these gentle cleanses this spring! I’d love to hear how it goes so please share your comments below!
Want health reset? I offer customized cleanses and diet and lifestyle coaching based on your Ayurvedic constitution and lifestyle. Please email me anna @ mindbodypaddle.com or call 828.505.2782.
For group coaching check out my Art of Self Care Retreat!