There are just a few general principles behind cleansing diets. Understanding these will help you in your efforts toward greater health and healing.
There are many particular "cleansing diets", complete with rigid meal plans for every day, but if you understand the concepts behind them, you can allow more flexibility in your choices while still "cleansing" and enjoying all the benefits fasting provides.
We don't cleanse because the body is "dirty", but to help it in its natural process of elimination of inferior cells and tissues, rather than getting in the way. Overeating and poor food choices do "get in the way" of these healing processes, and cleansing diets act as a remedy.
The main principles to follow during cleansing diets are:
Start by eliminating any and all problematic foods, including first and foremost, highly processed foods, any "junk food", difficult to digest foods, as well as meat and dairy, both of which are highly mucoid-forming and contain toxins and chemicals from the animal. (This applies to meat and pasteurized dairy available en masse from our popular retail food chains, and not to organically raised animal products nor to quality raw milk.)
Eliminate the "Sensitive Seven": eggs, wheat, cow's milk, peanuts, corn, soy, and sugar. Coined by Dr. Elson Haas, known as the "Detox Doc", these seven foods are the most common food allergens.
Many of us have negative reactions to these foods and don't even know it. Eliminating them from your diet can often ease a host of minor undiagnosed problems like headaches, digestive discomfort, bodily aches and pains, and skin irritations.
If, indeed, any of these foods is causing a mild allergic reaction in you, it means your body has been having to fight against the annoying element every time you ingest it, perhaps storing it to deal with later. Later is now.
So what does this leave you to eat? Fresh fruit, raw and cooked vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, sprouts, and fresh juices. Use natural herbs and spices for added flavor.
Don't eat complex meals, keep it simple. The less you mix up a variety of foods in one meal, the less work it is for your digestive system. Remind yourself that you're cleansing, not merely dieting.
With a cleansing diet, the point is not about being hungry. If you're hungry, eat. But eat the right food or foods, eat them slowly while paying attention, and stop when you feel satisfied. While we are trying to lessen our portions if possible, don't lessen them so much that you're hungry all the time. But, If you want, you can always step it up a notch and allow the feeling of hunger.
This diet makes for a great 10-day cleanse, but since the foods allowed would make for a great permanent diet, you can stay on it as long as you like. Or, after the initial cleansing, you can begin to mix up the foods more.
One of my favorite cleansing diets is a combination fruit and rice fast. Eating apples for breakfast and lunch, and then making a simple rice and bean dish, like kitchari, or a simple rice and vegetable dish, for dinner. The apples give me energy throughout the active part of the day, and the rice dish gives me something warm and "solid" to eat in the evening.
The two make a good balance: the apples are raw and expansive, the rice is warming and contractive. Both have good fiber and plenty of vitamins and minerals to support tissue repair. The rice is soaked before cooking to make it the most nutritious. Each meal is simple and easily digestible, requiring fewer digestive enzymes.
Living with others presents its own challenges when we attempt to make changes in our diet. For me, this method integrates with my lifestyle well. I can heat up some leftover for my husband's entree and serve him the rice dish on the side, while I just eat the rice dish. That way, we're still eating together, which is so important, but I'm sticking to a cleansing meal.
You can tailor this sort of plan around your own tastes. Pick 2-3 of your favorite healthy, easy-to-digest foods, and stick to them for a few days. Don't like apples or rice? Try oranges and quinoa. Or perhaps carrot juice and salad?
To help you get the best produce and begin eating more in line with the seasons, use this chart and local produce search tool.
Follow the basic guidelines for fasting by drinking plenty of fluids. Water or fresh juice is best. Cut down or eliminate your coffee consumption. Facilitate bowel movements if you want by drinking a glass of water with natural psyllium husks added every day, or use this colon cleanse recipe, or another of the colon cleansing methods.
Allow yourself rest and quiet. Use dry skin brushing to enhance the elimination of toxins and begin doing breathing exercises every day. Return to more complex foods gradually, taking note of any adverse reactions.
You can utilize the natural nightly fast to your advantage by finishing your last meal of the day as early in the evening as you can. And cleansing diets can be combined with intermittent fasting.
Use cleansing diets to prepare for fasting or use them as your sole method of cleansing and detox. Use them too, whenever you can, to create a break in your normal eating patterns, to shed light on those old behaviors that aren't serving you well.
Used in this way, cleansing diets can help you create a short-term environment in which better food choices become more achievable. A day here and three days there, it's enough to begin to steer us toward our goals of better eating and more vibrant health and well being.
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