Meatless Monday Inspiration: Have You Ever Done a Cleanse?

Maybe it was the picklebacks my boyfriend made me drink last night at the Super Bowl party,* or the fact that my horoscope told me it was a good time for a detox,** but I woke up today contemplating cleanses.

Truth be told, I’m not a fan. I’m of the (well-researched) mind that our bodies, properly treated, do a very good job ridding themselves of “toxins,” and that good nutrition means eating three squares and snacking—not starving yourself with expensive juices, raw foods, or packets of mysterious powder.

It’s not to say I don’t like expensive juice and raw food, and back when Alexandra and I lived together in our little bachelorette pad in Montreal, we would occasionally do juice cleanses with our two other roommates. The four of us would loll about reading magazines and talking about how hungry we were, and when the three days were up, we’d feast on vegetarian food. I did it because they were doing it, but I’ve not done one since, and that was more than 10 years ago.

Forgetting for a second that some cleanses are downright dangerous, am I missing something here?

It’s not that I don’t get the impulse. Like finally donating that pile of jeans you don’t wear or deleting exes from your phone, the urge to purge can be a healthy one. It’s a way of saying to yourself I’m done with that, it’s time to start fresh. I’m not really in that headspace right now, but since we’ve been talking a lot about what it takes for us to feel our best, I’m going to start my version of a cleanse: Committing to doing the things that make me feel my best—and actively avoiding the crap that doesn’t.

Because let’s get cheesy for a second: It’s not just about feeling your best, but also acting your best out there in the world. For me to do my best work, to be kind and patient with myself and others, to write blog posts that don’t suck and be present and happy in my day to day life, I need to take care of number one. Probably, I’m thinking, so do you.

So here’s my cleanse idea: A plant-based diet with a little fish (but definitely not this one), lemon water, lots of sleep, consistent meditation (tips, as always, are here), dark chocolate, as well as three whole pieces of fruit, daily—but also I’m going to do things that I find fun—because that’s a big part of it, too. I’m going to do this for a week, maybe two, and see what happens.

See what I did there? I came up with a cleanse where I get to eat a lot and have a ball. What about you? Do you do cleanses?
Do you like them? Tell, tell.

* If you have never had one and you do drink alcohol, do yourself a favor and get on that. Also, he didn’t really make me.

** Obviously this is the real reason.

image via

21 Responses to “Meatless Monday Inspiration: Have You Ever Done a Cleanse?”
  1. Lauren says:

    I’m about a week into my version of a cleanse: the whole30. No grains, legumes, sugar, soy, booze, or dairy. It feels great! Also I’m never hungry and my energy levels are rockin’. Also I’m sleeping much better. I highly recommend checking it out and giving it a try yourself!
    xoxo Lauren

  2. Guilly says:

    I’ve tried doing cleanses and green drinks, but I have a very sensitive stomach and the green
    drinks give me a stomach ache. I like your version much better. Balanced. thanks.

  3. Ariel says:

    I’m not a fan of drastic cleanses. I’ve never done one, but the idea of it doesn’t seem healthy to me. I like your plan better. :) My idea of a realistic cleanse is a vegetarian diet without caffeine or desserts. Wholesome oatmeal with nuts and fresh fruit in the morning, a salad for lunch, and a dinner containing protein and veggies. Lots of herbal tea.

  4. Dylan says:

    I’ve also been recently contemplating trying to do a cleanse, or at least a temporary raw food diet. But I’m a little lazy when it comes to preparing food and can’t really afford to do one that you buy. I like your plan though, and may just follow your lead!

  5. Natalie Soud says:

    COULD NOT AGREE MORE! I think cleanses aren’t any better for you than eating the fruits and vegetables that have been pureed into these expensive & wastefully packaged little juices. If you want to keep your system clean, then eat super clean for several days!

  6. Rebecca says:

    I have jars in my fridge right now that look just like the pic! I am a big cleanse fan, and I’m doing one right now. There are all types of cleanses, and my personal opinion is that some are insane (that lemon/cayenne/maple syrup thing) and some are great (eliminating all processed foods, meat and dairy). Lots of people do really well with a raw foods cleanse (and there is no reason to ever be hungry on raw foods – you just need to plan and eat more often than you might usually). Recently I’ve gotten a bit away from my personal optimal diet of nearly 100% raw. I really felt like I needed something more drastic than just raw, so I’m doing all liquids for a while. This does not mean only juicing, although I am having juice. I make almond milk/fruit/greens smoothies, raw soups in my Vitamix, almond milk in tea – that sort of thing. And kombucha is a standard every day. I am feeling great, and have been complimented on looking good several times the last few days. My yoga and running feel much better – more flexible and more energy. And I’m moving back toward my optimal weight. I tried to do this a while back but was having trouble committing. I’m glad I’m on it now, and I’ve incorporated aromatherapy/flower essences to help keep me on track. I think a good cleanse is something everyone could try if they are not feeling their best, you just need to figure out the right method for you, and don’t go to drastic your first time out.

  7. Rebecca says:

    ugh…I meant “too” drastic, of course

  8. christina says:

    I’m on day 36 of the Whole30!! I started earlier than the folks at my gym did, so mine is a Whole42.

    Really loving how I feel and how great my skin looks in the absence of dairy, sugar, and grains. I’m beyond surprised at myself as I usually have zero follow-through.

  9. comagirl says:

    I feel I already have a healthy diet and lifestyle. A cleanse seems unnaturally drastic to me.

  10. Mimi says:

    I do my own version of a “cleanse” twice a year, spring & fall. For me, it’s more about what I’m putting *in* my body as opposed to what I’m *not*. I focus on fresh veggies, either juiced, raw or braised, and a few select fruits, and that is all, for 10-14 days. I generally feel sluggish on day 3 or 4 and then my energy levels go through the roof, and my sleep is like that of a child. My workouts become much calmer, more focused and less about feeling like I need or have to, but more like I generally want to. There is this whole other level of awareness that happens for me as well; I connect with people more intimately, I appreciate nature more, I’m more grateful….I call it my conscious consuming cleanse, as it really puts me back in touch with my relationship with food, on so many different levels. The best part for me is I find the experience resonates with me for months afterwards, so a couple weeks seems like nothing in the interim.

  11. Alix says:

    I’ve never done a cleanse, but I was flipping through some delicious-looking recipes in January’s issue of Whole Living and was surprised to realize all the recipes were part of their 26-day cleanse. It looks substantial enough to feel full-ish, but still healthy enough to make a difference in how you feel.

  12. Steffie says:

    I’ve been dragged along on several of my mother’s “binge cleanse” phases. I am not really inclined to do them myself, but I think if you’re just waking up to the idea of eating right, a cleanse could help you purge the bad stuff, and the good feeling that comes along later can help keep you committed to the new diet. In theory. It would have to be the right cleanse for the right person. However, my mother did see good results from a candida cleanse, so perhaps they aren’t all bad.

    Lately, I’ve been moving towards the blood type diet idea. Unlike my mom, I’m not jumping on it whole hog immediately, but I’ve been cutting down on the “bad” foods and upping the “good foods.” So far, it’s not so bad. Except that I’m an O type, and I do love me some dairy. Cream and berries, cheese, whole milk…. *sigh* I’ve just been savoring them in small amounts. Makes me appreciate them more.

  13. a says:

    After going off the pill, my naturopathic doctor recommended I do a liver clease. It basically involves some liver support supplements and lots of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and beets. Doesn’t seem too extreme for me…

    I’ve also been trying out the Engine 2 Diet which is based on the findings of the China Study. It’s vegan with no added oils and no added sugar (except for fruit). I’ve found that the no added oils part really just cuts out most processed foods. I’m really liking it so far – the sugar was difficult to give up (and I slipped over the weekend, so I have to get back to it), but I feel great! Has anyone else tried this? It’s not really a cleanse, per day, but more of a healthy way of eating to ward off disease and feel great.

  14. Rebecca W says:

    I’ve never done one but will be doing a cleanse in March for health reasons. It’s not one of those pre-packaged, advertised cleanses although I’m not entirely sure what it will entail yet. I’m doing it on the advice of my Chinese Medicine practitioner. My liver is toxic because it is clogged (probably with a few things but mostly protein from cow’s milk) and it’s causing a wide range of issues. I’m planning to use it to reset my lifestyle although I’m not sure how my boyfriend is going to adapt. :P

  15. Holly says:

    Do any of you cleansing queens have tips on WILLPOWER?! I am trying to cut out dairy, sugar and a few other things for the sake of my skin, on the advice of my acupuncturist. I eat super healthy at home (mostly veggie, some fish and occasional meat, plenty of fruit, healthy proteins, not much booze). But at work it goes totally out of the window – everyone is still bringing in their Christmas chocolates and as soon as my boss starts being mean (quite often) I’m reaching for the sweets, biscuits, whatever.
    Any tips on willpower / things to say when someone offers you unhealthy junk much appreciated! x

  16. a says:

    @ Holly: Just say “No, thank you.” If you don’t like the effect they have on you, you don’t really even want them, so it’s not a misstatement (and you’ll feel good about it). I also always make sure I have whole fruits and veggies around (like oranges, apples, cucumber, sugar snap peas, raisins, figs(!), bananas, etc.). There is a detox period, though, that itsn’t that fun (cravings and the like).

    For me (I gave up dairy and sugar to help my skin, too) it was the difference between having breakouts and not having breakouts. Once I experienced not having breakouts (it took about 3-4 weeks of cutting it out) and then having a weak moment and eating some cheese, I will never go back. It was so good and then to see how bad it got was horrifying (and painful) to me. Now, I am actually afraid of ingesting any accidentally.

  17. Rebecca says:

    @Holly, try reminding yourself you are worth the effort. @a’s advice is excellent. Make sure you are prepared with acceptable snacks, delicious tea, or my favorite: kombucha. If someone offers something tempting a \no thanks\ is appropriate, and if they inquire why you can just say whatever you are comfortable with like \I’m doing a cleanse in an effort to improve my health.\ I’ve been using a mantra for meditation or any time I’m tempted to do something or act in a way I know isn’t healthy: Om Namah Shivaya, the concept is \om and salutations to that which I am capable of becoming\ and it reminds me to work on being my best self.

    I know Kate Moss took a lot of heat for saying \Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.\ But, I’m totally on board with that. It is true for me, except chocolate of course. And I could change \thin\ to \clean\ \healthy,\ whatever – if you really want to make a change, the results you get will motivate you, just give yourself a chance to see some results.

  18. Alex says:

    SO funny that you posted this now, because I am in the middle of a self-designed cleanse right now too, that is very similar to what you described! It is the second year I have done this in January, and I am loving it!

    The philosophy behind it is that it is all about simplicity and consistency, while being kind to my body. I teach yoga full-time for a living, many of the classes in a 100 degree room, so I cannot be of service if I am physically drained. So my “cleanse” consists of highly nutritious foods that I know my body likes, and that is all I eat for two weeks. For breakfast: lemon water, followed by quinoa with almond milk and blueberries. For lunch and dinner: plain quinoa, grilled chicken breast, and steamed kale. The only snacks are raw almonds and oranges. All organic and local when possible. But I still eat plenty of food, and never go hungry.

    People always ask me: why those foods? And the answer is: there isn’t any real reason! I just picked foods that are good for me, that I enjoy eating, and stick with them- and cut out the rest of the crap (sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol, refined flour) in the meantime. (Although, I do still have coffee. Part of the “being kind to myself and others” aspect, lol) And the awesome part is that this could be different for a different person- if your body loves dairy, then eat dairy! Mine just doesn’t, so I don’t.

    I end of feeling great when I do this, not just physically, but mentally too, because it helps to get my mind off FOOD, FOOD, ALL THE TIME FOOD, like it usually is. It’s nice to not think about what I am going to eat for a while; to just use it as fuel for a while, instead of something that rules my life and gives me so much pleasure. It’s nice to focus on finding pleasure from other things for a while!

    Thanks for backing me up on my crazy idea! :)

  19. Melisse says:

    An Ayurvedic physician told me years ago that my dosha (constitution) would be suited for mini fasts, ie: not eating after noon every other Friday just until breakfast the next day. And maybe sipping a Smoothe Move tea. I have to say, it was highly do-able, and at the time I was experiencing way too many corporate dinners and lunches.

    Now, I’m a fan of 3-day meal-based cleanses like Joulebody or Blueprint Cleanse’s Juice Till Dinner. I eat really well, but even so, this is New York, I’m really busy. And it’s great to have a plan for eating clean (vegan, raw) food and great juices three days in a row.

  20. Holly says:

    @Rebecca and a – thanks so much for your tips, I will definitely be trying to put them into action :)
    Also just read this article on willpower and thought I would share it in case anyone else might find it helpful:

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  1. […] kick, which is something I have a weirdly hard time admitting in public. I’ve already gone on the record saying I’m not into cleanses, and as a food lover who adores cooking, I prefer to get my nutrients from whole foods—not ones […]

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