Clean Internally this Spring!

Flowers are blooming, the weather is warming and Spring is in the air.  But instead of just cleaning up at home, why not clean out your own house (aka: your body) with a Spring cleanse?

What is a cleanse and why would you do one?

A cleanse is a limited period during which you eat easier-to-digest food, and less of it, so that your digestive system can take a break and your elimination system has extra energy to move out some of the stuff that’s stuck in your body.  Two of the most compelling facts that inspired me to try my first cleanse were:

  • Standard American Diet (SAD) meals are so time-consuming to digest  (8-12 hours each), that we actually have a back-log of food in our guts[1]
  • Digestion is a very energy-intensive process, which is why you get a “food coma” after a heavy meal.  Your digestive system takes precedence over your elimination system, but if you minimize your food intake your elimination system will get more energy to work.[2]

I started doing cleanses six-years ago to prepare my body for pregnancy, but it’s also a great tool for transitioning to a healthier way of eating since it “resets” your palate.  One of the most noticeable—and unexpected—benefits of my first cleanse was the complete clearing up of the adult onset cystic acne which had plagued me for 5 years.

What kind of cleanse should you do?

All cleanses fall into 2 categories: liquid vs. solid.  Liquid cleanses have zero solid food and include “The Master Cleanse” (the infamous lemon juice/cayenne pepper/maple syrup drink) and vegetable/fruit juicing.  The easier the food is to digest the faster the cleanse will work; and since liquids are easier to digest than solids, these cleanses work faster.

I know it’s hard for many to get past the idea of not eating solid food, however, fasting for a short period, as a method of maintaining health and wellness, has a long and well-documented history.  I believe that it is possible to be so overloaded with toxins and chemicals, that something drastic (like a fast) may be necessary so that your body can eliminate the bad stuff.  Many afflictions that Americans suffer from are diseases of excess.  We are a feast-and-famine animal by design and we weren’t designed for the constant feast that many of us have access to.  You can’t ignore the famine part of that design and expect the body to operate optimally.  It would be like pouring oil down your sink and never putting anything down to move the oil out.  What do you get: a clogged sink.

Many of us have “clogged” bodies, and for me this had manifested itself in inflammation, a body weight and shape that I was not content with and adult onset acne.  While no one would have classified me as unhealthy I was not feeling optimal.  I embarked on my first Master Cleanse and after 10-days I knew that something was different.  I felt light, energetic and clean.  I’ve now done the Master Cleanse a number of times, and each time I’ve been amazed at how high-energy I am throughout, and also how very not hungry I am.

Early last fall, after a particularly arduous and stressful period of my life, I decided I needed a mid-year cleanse.  My overall health was still excellent, but I am a stress eater and had put on 7-pounds in four-months. I decided to try a less intense, and therefore longer (30-days!), cleanse created by nutritionist Natalia Rose in Detox for Women.  The first 5-days of the cleanse were really difficult for me, however, by day 11 I could imagine incorporating many of the concepts into my daily life.  The 7-lbs came off after 6-weeks and has stayed off and the cleanse also helped to reset my palate and get me off the cookie-binging train that I had been riding on all those months!

Cleansing coupled with a mostly raw plant-based diet and regular exercise has “cured” me of the aches, pains, acne, wavy nails, etc. that I had been suffering from and has brought me to a place of optimum health and wellness beyond my imagination.  Keep in mind that you can’t cleanse, and then go back to eating poorly and expect the benefits to still be present.  Cleansing is something that you can do periodically but you must maintain a healthy diet on a daily basis in order to stay healthy.  Good luck on your journey to optimum health!

Tips for Cleansing

1)      Consult a nutritionist or medical professional before embarking on a cleanse.  Be aware of where you are personally and be gentle and kind with yourself.  Achieving optimum mental and physical health are long-term goals, so take it slow.

2)      Set yourself up for success by choosing a time of year when cleansing will be easy for you (traveling is not a good time.)

3)      Keep a cleanse journal to track your progress.  Include “stats” such as weight and measurements, as well as information about what your goals are and what you are feeling mentally and physically.  Try on your smallest article of clothing and take a picture with it on and then try it on every few days to feel your progress (I feel my progress way before I see it.)  Take pictures on a regular basis through your cleanse.

4)      If you are doing a cleanse with food, than find allowable treats that you love.  Some of my favorites: avocado with salt and lemon, kale with hummus, cinnamon tea and dark chocolate.

5)      Reward your progress with non-food related items that keep you motivated such as a piece of work-out clothing, a book or a bar of soap.

Community Resources:

Rawvolution, Santa Monica: Their weekly box makes eating healthy super easy

Juicy Ladies, Woodland Hills: Order up their juice cleansing kit.

Tom Woloshyn : The Complete Master Cleanse (This is hardcore stuff, I wouldn’t recommend unless a medical professional says you are in relatively good health.  Probably no medical professional would recommend this cleanse, but all I can say is that I’ve had great personal results with it.  By the way, if you want something less intense than the Master Cleanse, do a juice cleanse.)

Natalia Rose (Nutritionist): Raw Food Detox Diet and Detox for Women (If you eat pretty healthy, salads aren’t foreign to you and you avoid soda, than this book will take it up a notch for you.)

For California-based nutritionists in her methods visit:

Alejandro Junger (M.D.): Clean (Great solid information written by a cardiologist.  If you want the cleansing opinions of a mainstream medical doctor who is an avid fan of cleansing, yoga and meditation, then this is the book for you!)

Follow his 21-day program here

This article is for information only and no medical advice is given or implied.  Please seek the services of a medical professional for your particular situation.

[1] Woloshyn, Tom, “The Complete Master Cleanse,” Ulysses Press, 2007.

[2] Ibid.

Raising a Kale-Loving Child

On the days when my toddler and I are out and about during lunch time, I usually have our lunch packed with us since I like to eat healthily.  Our “going out” lunch is usually comprised of a large kale-based salad, baked sweet potato, raw hummus and garlic to dip our kale stalks into (the thick center portion of the kale that I remove from the salad leaves) and some sort of fruit.  When people see us eating we usually get a lot of comments.  One of the most common things I hear is “Is your child eating kale?  I could never get my kid to eat kale” as my toddler munches happily on a raw bit of the cruciferous superfood.  Now since I’m just a mother of one and she’s only a toddler (so she hasn’t reached the food rebellion phase), I reached out to my friend Leigh a super-mom of 6-children ranging in age from 20-years-old to 18-months-old.  All of Leigh’s kids are great eaters (and great kids) and she also makes a pretty amazing vegan chocolate mousse.  So here are 4-tips for raising a “kale-loving child” (with valuable input from Leigh)  I hope you find the information useful!  Namaste.

1) Set a good example: if you want your child to eat kale and other healthy foods, then you need to eat those foods as well.  Children are literally born to mimic their parents, and they will be naturally curious about whatever you are eating (especially if you are enjoying it.)  Before my daughter could even eat solids she was shoving her hands into my daily kale-based salads, and as soon as she had teeth she was happily grinding away on them too.  Also, if you are pregnant be sure to eat healthy.  There are LOTS of reasons to do so, but for the purpose of this article I am suggesting it because taste buds are developed in utero.  My daughter eats EXACTLY how I ate when I was pregnant.

2) DO NOT make “separate food” for your child: My child eats almost anything, however, if I happen to make one of the few things she’s not super crazy about, I make it clear that “this is what’s for dinner and if she’s hungry she should eat it.”  I never make her  food that is separate from what my husband and I are eating.  My friend Leigh has a slightly different approach to this.  Leigh makes meals with lots of different options (she does have 8-people to provide for after all versus my 3.) Then if all food is rejected (as sometimes happens), she will allow them to eat “something fresh”.  Those are her exact words and what that means is something raw….an apple, some carrots, celery, orange, fruit, green smoothie, etc that they have to make.  She has found that by providing lots of options it ensures that the children find SOMETHING healthy to eat, and encourages them to experiment and develop their own taste buds.  Both of us agree that if at that point nothing is eaten, then likely they aren’t really hungry and we don’t force them to eat or make something “yummy” that we know they will eat.

3) Grow your own fruits and vegetables: Kids want to put everything that is outside in their mouths anyway, just imagine how their faces will LIGHT UP when you say “go ahead, put that in your mouth.”  This is how my daughter first started eating kale: picking it from our garden.  Most salad items: kale, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs are easy to grow without very much space.  You can even grow them in containers (pots.)  I’ve never met a child who isn’t a born gardener.  Also, there have been studies that show that children who garden eat more veggies. 

4) Get them cooking with you: This tip is from Leigh and I imagine will become even more useful as my child gets older.  She encourages them to find recipes for the family to make, or even for them to make on their own (for the older children.)  She’s found this process to be very successful in getting her kids to eat healthy food since people are naturally more interested in eating something if they’ve been involved in making it.

I’ll be writing more posts about healthy eating for you and your children, so I won’t expand here, but do know that I allow my child the occasional “treat” such as mac and cheese and lollipops (but they have to have no artificial ingredients!)  However, there are lots of super healthy foods that kids love to gobble up like dates and goji berries, so give your child lots of choices and see what they like that also happens to be healthy for them!  Good luck and happy eating!

Why Believe the Worst?

Years ago I was watching a TV show where the hero and heroine parted ways because the hero said “I’m not ready to be as in love with anyone as I am with you.”  Essentially, he had other things to do than be in love, but he DID love her very much.  For some reason that scene really stuck with me because at the time I had just stopped seeing a person who had said things to me such as, “Won’t it be wonderful when we can tell our children…” or “I never thought someone like you would care for  someone like me.”  However, after dating for a handful of months, and making many endearing promises, he stopped calling me cold and wouldn’t return my calls.  After I saw the TV scene described above, I decided that the reason he had stopped calling was because he was madly in love with me and just couldn’t handle it.  After all, what possible purpose could it serve for me question myself because of his inability to tell me why he had stopped calling?  None.

I strive to adopt this attitude of believing the best, in all aspects of my life and I was recently reminded of this lesson in a professional setting.  Last November I did some work for an organization and a couple of people said that they would put me in touch with someone higher up in the organization which would likely mean even more work.  However, the referral never came, and when I emailed the people to remind them, they never got back in touch with me.  Sometimes a dark thought would flit across my brow, but I managed to always keep in mind that silence does not mean forces are working against you!

My optimism was rewarded in January when I was invited back to do some more work with the company, and imagine my surprise when I hardly recognized anybody.  Apparently there had been a huge change in the team the end of last year and the two people who had been my contacts had both left the company.  It was an excellent reminder to me that believing the worst serves absolutely no purpose. After all, if you are never going to know why something happened, why not believe something that builds you up rather than tears you down?  Namaste.