I’ve mentioned a few times on this here blog that I will occasionally do a cleanse for a week at a time. Before we get started, let me make one thing clear; I’m not a dietician or a nutritionist. Just someone who knows what foods make my system feel better and run at top speed.
I’d also like to point out that the intent of my cleanse is never to lose weight. I usually start a cleanse once my clothes feel tight, because that is generally a sign that my eating has not been on track lately. Most of the time my clothes fit a little bit better afterwards, but again, the point is NOT to lose weight. The intent for me is to reset my eating habits, and I’ve found that one week of getting myself refocused is like hitting “control, alt, delete”.
My whole life, I’ve naturally been a follower of intuitive eating. I never been the person to eat until it hurts, Thanksgiving has never been a holiday to make myself sick, and I’m more than happy to leave uneaten food on my plate if I am full.
But, there are times my friends, when I am so stressed out, or bored, or annoyed, and somehow, before I know it, a whole packet of peanut M&M’s are in my mouth and I recall none of the actions that lead up to it. When those moments happen, a cleanse is in the cards.
Ready? Here we go.
1) No sugar. I cut it out completely for a whole week. I never lose my love for sweets, but my craving for them tends to dissipate after I avoid it for a week.
2) Protein and fat. I get ugly if I am hungry; you might call it “hangry”. And no matter what I eat, if it doesn’t contain protein, I turn green, rip off my shirt, and start smashing everything in sight. I learned this once I had to give up wheat and dairy when breastfeeding (Jack had an allergy to both). It was then I realized how much of my daily protein comes from dairy products. I went from being a normal weight, down to 134 pounds. At 6 ft tall, 134 pounds is freaking nasty. I looked like I was sick, and I felt gross and I was very unhappy in my body…except for my “new to me” big nursing boobs.
So protein and fat are key (for me), and I always make sure each meal and snack contains enough to fill me up. Things like hard boiled eggs, almonds, smoothies with almond or peanut butter, a few slices of cheese, adding avocado to things, etc.
3) Filler’ up: fruits and veggies. I do a really decent job of eating fruits and veggies normally, but while I’m on a cleanse, I amp it up. With cutting out the sugar, I crave a snack in the evening, so having fruit on hand to kill that desire helps a ton.
Before starting the week of clean eating, I cut up a ton of carrots, celery, watermelon, or whatever I want to have on hand when the snack attacks strike. Having health choices immediately available is key. If I’m hungry, and have to cut up a watermelon right then and there, it ain’t happening; I’m totally eating a bag of tortilla chips.
I also make a big salad that keeps well in the fridge so there is always a meal component ready to eat.
4) Hydrate. Drinking enough water has never been an issue for me, but if it is something you struggle with, have a plan that does not rhyme with Mystal Bight. If you’re cutting out soda, try replacing it with sparkling water. In our house we’ve found that yeah soda tastes good, but what really hooked us was the bubbles. So, we replaced pop with a machine that makes sparkling water (cheaper, and eliminates the plastic bottle waste we’d be recycling). Troy went from a guy who drank like one glass of water (oh man, the amount of nagging I did on this one was astounding), to someone who knocks back liters on the daily.
If sparkling water is not your bag, try flavoring the water with fruits. Plain water doesn’t excite too many people, but a “watermelon, lime, mint hydrating flavor explosion” might be just the thing to keep you chugging.
4) Snack your ass off. Seems counterproductive, but if you restrict yourself to just three meals a day, you’ll probably cheat. I know I would. And have. And will. So, I keep snacks on hand at all times to make sure I don’t slap a bitch in the middle of the day. A few of my favorites:
- Hummus (with veggies, not pita chips)
- Healthy fruit dip
- Lara Balls
- Kale chips. I swear, they’re actually delicious.
5) Don’t do anything stupid. This is not a time to start drinking cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Replacing honest to god food with liquid crap will not make you happy, nor will it accomplish much other than a sudden weightloss (that will come right back), an angry disposition, and I’m going to go ahead and guess some fairly nasty intestinal issues.
Juice cleanses involve removing the fiber from fruits and vegetables, and basically you’re drinking the sugar and carbs. Again, I’m not a dietician, but drinking sugar and carbs without any fats leads to crazy blood sugar spikes, hunger, and cleanse exhaustion. If I had to choose between a delicious caprese salad, and drinking my dinner, I’m going to choose the ripe tomatoes, and creamy mozzarella loaded with good fats and protein that will keep me satisfied.
6) Have a buddy. Don’t go it alone. Having someone to talk with, text with, and commiserate with will help the time pass more quickly, and is an insurance policy that this will all work out.
A short-term cleanse is a great way to reset your eating to help you get back on track. Short term sacrifice for a long term return to healthy eating.
Have you ever done a cleanse before? Was it a success? What is your favorite way to hit “control, alt, delete” on your diet?