The autumnal equinox is upon us, which means the seasons are officially changing! Tomorrow, September 22, day and night will be exactly the same length, and then night will gradually increase thereafter. Autumn and Spring are traditionally sacred times of renewal and energy shift, so you may find yourself refocusing and looking inward.
Did you indulge in one too many french fries, tequila sodas or late nights this summer, and feel like your body needs a reset? If you’re craving a cleanse, I have good news for you. You DON’T have to do a super restrictive (and expensive) detox like a branded juice only diet to get results. You can eat real, delicious food that’s easy to put together at home or find when you’re out and about!
One of the best things you can do for overall health, beauty and anti-aging is give your digestive system a rest. That’s because when you’re not overloading your body with food that’s difficult to digest, it has the chance to do some cleaning and expel toxins. It will also improve digestion, which will help you absorb more of the nutrients you eat, leading to improved skin clarity, stronger hair, and more energy. While the main point of cleansing is not weight loss, you may see long term benefits for your waist line as a side effect, simply because you’ll be learning just how much your body loves nourishing and whole foods and reducing your cravings for sugar and junk foods.
Here’s a quick and dirty guide to the way I like to cleanse:
Breakfast – Fresh green smoothie
You can put almost any type of veggie or fruit (including half a banana) in these, you just want to make sure you’re getting at least about 70% of it from greens to maximize nutrients and keep the sugar level down. Having vegetables, fruit, and water only tastes great, digests well and will gives you the highest amount of cleansing. However, you can also choose to add 1/4 an avocado and dairy free nut milk such as unsweetened almond or coconut milk if you want a little more substance to it. You can also add supplements for extra nutrition as desired, such as bee pollen, maca power, flax seed powder, chia seeds or spirulina. You may substitute in a green juice for this if desired, just make sure it is fresh pressed without additives. Organic is always preferable to conventional, since we don’t want to take in toxins from pesticides while we’re cleansing.
- Three handfuls spinach, half a banana, a pear, small handful cilantro and parsely.
- Three handfuls frozen kale, one handful berries, half a banana, 1/4 avocado, 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, tablespoon flaxseed powder.
- Three handfuls romaine, half a banana, handful pineapple and/or mango.
Lunch – Either protein with veggies OR complex carbohydrates with veggies.
Separating protein and carbs helps you digest your food more easily – if you’d like to learn more on this topic read my article on food combining.
- Wild salmon with a sweet potato and asparagus
- Quinoa with butternut squash, arugula and olives
- Roast turkey over a salad with spinach, sliced almonds and hummus with some extra virgin olive oil
Snack – Fresh fruit or vegetable
We don’t measure anything or restrict food, and if you’re hungry, you can always eat. Once your body gets used to whole, balancing, nourishing foods, you’ll feel lesss cravings and hunger. Try to stay hydrated with water and herbal tea and eat when actually hungry!
Examples – Grapefruit, apple, carrots or cucumber
Dinner – Green smoothie or soup
Another easily digestible meal sets you up for cleansing and detox throughout the night. Click here for an example of green soup.
Foods ON the cleanse
- Almost any type of veggie, exluding white potatoes
- All types of fresh fruit, excluding dried fruit and canned fruit in syrup
- Organic / wild / grassfed protein including chicken, turkey, fish and eggs. Red meat is excluded.
- Gluten free whole grains, including rice, quinoa, and oats. Beans and legumes are also included.
- Healthy fats, including avocado, olives, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. Nuts, including almonds, walnuts and pecans. Peanuts are excluded.
- Herbal tea
Foods OFF the cleanse
- Refined and artificial sugar (stevia is OK)
- Gluten (wheat, flour, many processed foods)
- Dairy, including cow’s milk and cheese
- Fried food
- Any type of processed food, including crackers, cookies, pasta, etc.
- Vegetable oils, including canola oil
- Red meat
- Coffee and black tea, one cup of green tea is ok if needed
A note on meal timing
Try to allow at least a 12 hour window between when you finish dinner and start breakfast to give your body time to digest your food and then start detoxing. When you wake up in the morning, I reccomend taking probiotics, hydrating with lots of room temperature water and having hot water with lemon. Then, when you’re truly hungry, have breakfast.
Make sure you’re actually getting the toxins out!
If you’re not going to the bathroom at least once a day, you’re not moving things through your digestive system fast enough, which means toxins can be absorbed back into your system. Try magnesium at night, which will calm you as well as help move things along. You can also try Detoxy, (magnesium and oxygen), which works really well and I use regularly. Herbal supplements such as Smooth Move tea with senna can work well for occaisional use, although you don’t want to make too much of a habit of them because senna works by irritating the gut. Regular exercise also helps with circulation, detoxification and bowel movements. Getting a colonic from a local specialist is a great way to make sure you’re not blocked and is healthy to do a few times a year. Infrared especially, but also traditionally heated saunas are great for sweating out toxins. Adding chia seeds and flax seeds to your smoothies is also helpful to add fiber, as is including some olive or coconut oil in your diet to lubricate your digestive tract and drinking lots of water and herbal tea – shoot for 6-8 glasses a day.
You can use this information in the way that it feels right to you. I would follow it for at least three days to start feeling results. You can clear your calendar and do a regimented one, two week or even three week cleanse; the longer you do it, the deeper the detox. Or if you feel like you’ve “gotten off track,” with your normal diet, you can follow the cleanse until you feel better and balanced again. If you want something a little more substantial, you can use the guidelines for lunch for dinner as well – that makes it very doable to follow for a longer term. However you use it, let me know how it goes, and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below! Happy Fall! 🙂