You may be hearing a lot about cleansing these days because spring is one of the most popular times of year to do a food cleanse.
The confusing part is that cleanses are defined in many ways. Some are steeped in ancient traditions and have religious or cultural overtones, while others have a more modern slant and may tap into current trends or the latest craze. Still others can be quite dramatic with a strict regimen of fasting, colonics or supplements.
As a health coach, I have been leading seasonal cleanses for several years, and I take a very gentle approach to the process. Why?
Because after working with many women over the years whose health habits and status run the gamut, I am a true believer that the body wants to be well, and with a simple but clear mind/body regimen you can experience dramatic improvement in your health.
Of course, none of the following information is intended to be medical advice, but, we hope that it gives you something to discuss with your doctor on your next visit.
Our bodies have the potential to heal. The challenge is to build time into busy lives for a period of gentle rehab so we can avoid developing acute or chronic illness. That is what a cleanse can do.
I follow what I call my 90/10 rule that I describe in my book Food Becomes You. It means I typically eat high quality food 90% of the time and relax for the other 10%. Even with that, I do a cleanse every spring and autumn so I can support my health and offset that 10% and the environmental pollutants that are all around us.
Spring is an ideal time to cleanse because of the many changes the body goes through when transitioning from cold winter days to warmer, moist days with more hours of sunlight.
When looking through the lens of traditional Chinese medicine or Indian Ayurvedic traditions, you see connections to cleansing to prevent muscle strain from increased activity in spring and the need for astringent type foods for clear up mucous and prevent seasonal allergies.
Religious traditions may come from the perspective that cleansing, or fasting, puts you closer to your spiritual side. Cleansing is beneficial and has purpose from these traditions.
We all experience stresses on our bodies. Environmental pollutants, processed foods, heavy metals and chlorinated water are but a few. These chronic challenges to well-being show up in the form of headache, allergy, aching joints, dry skin and more seriously in chronic or acute illness.
A cleanse is a concentrated period where we severely limit the intake of toxic pesticides and include copious amounts of clean organic foods that are known as detoxifiers. We also consume foods that are gentle on the digestive system.
As noted at the beginning of this article, a cleanse can take many forms. Some include juice-only nourishment for several days; others involve removal from day to day activities to engage in colonics and therapeutic massage, while others call for limited fasting or extensive use of supplements.
The cleanse I teach has a body, mind and spirit approach. We start by doing an inventory of how we’re managing life in general to get a sense of where we are in balance and where we may have work to do.
We give attention to and use rituals for self-care of the body; there is a spiritual piece centered on daily reflection and gratitude; the food piece immerses participants in all the foods aligned with spring that reinvigorate the digestive system.
The cleanse does not interfere with one’s daily responsibilities or activities. After a few days of engaging in deeply nourishing foods and self-care practices, it is not unusual to notice that achy knees feel better, or sleep has improved. This year we begin on April 15th and end two weeks later.
I encourage you to read more about cleansing. There is much information on the web if you Google “cleanse.” Or visit my blog where I have a number of articles about cleansing, including why women over 50 should cleanse.
Do you have rituals around self-care? If so, are they centered around the seasons? Have you participated in cleanses before? Please share your experiences.