I’m sure many of you know what a cleanse or a detox is. You have probably tried a bunch of different ones or at least heard of tons of them. The options vary from extremes like The Master Cleanse to relatively milder options that target a specific organ like the liver or colon. Usually they all have a few things in common: being hungry, feeling deprived & solely focusing on food. They each have different goals in mind and while some are fabulous, others are downright dangerous (in my opinion) and bad for your body and metabolism unless you really know what you’re doing. I am especially wary of detoxes that come with thousands of pills and require no dietary changes. What’s in those pills anyway? And what does it matter if I’m just dumping more sugar on top of them? I am also wary of extreme cleanses and how they can drain the body, especially the adrenals. Being someone who is recovering from Adrenal Fatigue and Hashimoto’s I have to be aware of how I eat and make sure I’m not doing something that is actually going to set back my healing.
I’ve done my share of cleanses and detoxes. I love cleansing and having a chance to reset the body, recalibrate my taste buds and learn about my body. However, I do not love being cranky because I’m hungry or feeling like there is nothing that I’m “allowed” to eat. My husband doesn’t like that either. So I have gotten picky about the ways that I cleanse and usually I stick to gentle, everyday ways of cleansing. I eat a clean diet, I don’t use harsh chemicals, I use essential oils daily which are great detoxifiers, I eat fermented foods, I eat chlorella, I drink lots of filtered water, I stimulate my lymph with body brushing. The list goes on. I have lots of little ways that add up to keep my body from getting stuffed full of toxins. However, we are constantly taking in more toxins with the air, food, water and environment around us so I’m aware that we need to prioritize detoxifying these toxic elements.
All of my everyday habits aside, I still manage to sneak in more sugar than I really should and I know that no matter how well I eat, there is always room for improvement. That’s where the Conscious Cleanse comes in. This June I decided to do a 14 day, all food based cleanse. The founders of the cleanse are Julie Pelaez and Jo Schaalman who are also alumni of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (which is where I got my Health Coaching certificate). I was really excited to see what they had in store for me, knowing a bit about their background. Food is medicine and I was ready to do some detective work with my body to see what was healing my body and what needed a break. If nothing else, I thought I would learn a thing or two and possibly drop a few of those unwanted pounds for swimsuit season. So I jumped right in.
For two weeks you eliminate all the common food allergens and give your body a chance to rest. Things like sugar, caffeine, gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, yeast, peanuts and strawberries are to be avoided. Instead they guide your awareness to vegetables (lots of veggies!), tahini, fruits and quinoa, foods that are easier on the body and not processed. Basically you get to stop eating “food-like” substances and start eating real food again. And you never starve! There is no caloric restriction here and there are plenty of foods that are encouraged. So you never have to feel deprived or hungry. They provide support while you suffer through the first few days of being caffeine free (headaches anyone?) and they celebrate your wins when things like acne or constipation go away. I had a bit of a head start because I am gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free already. So I thought it would be a breeze and I didn’t expect any drastic results. I was actually pleasantly surprised.
While I chowed down on salads, smoothies, Almond-Butter-Balls (delicious and a must try if you do this cleanse), soups and vegetable stir-fry my body was able to relax a bit. I reduced inflammation and allowed my digestive tract to take a bit of a vacation. Week 1 went by quickly and easily for me. I noticed a happier tummy and hardly felt like I was cleansing. No detox symptoms (thankfully) and I was eating as much as I wanted without a care. It’s tough to gain weight on veggies, ya know? I even made it through the first weekend with smooth sailing. Weekends are a little different because you only eat fruits & veggies. No protein, no grains. At that point I hardly noticed! It was natural to be reaching for veggies and although I ate more frequently I didn’t feel hungry and frustrated at all.
Week 2 I experienced what they call cleanse fatigue. I got tired of cleansing and my sugar cravings were kicking in. I wanted some tomatoes & coconut ice cream (not together, of course). Then my blender needed a part replaced around Day 11! Timing in life is everything, eh? I was lost without my blender. No smoothies for breakfast ( I’m a smoothie queen and even when I’m not cleansing smoothies are a big part of my meal choice). Then Days 13 & 14 were a new level of cleansing. Once again it was two days of nothing but fruits & veggies, but this time they were all liquid! What was I to do? Well, I decided to extend my cleanse a few days. My 14 day cleanse became a 19 day cleanse while I awaited my part for my blender.
I stayed motivated by reminding myself that after 2 days of all liquids, there was a testing period. Basically, you reintroduce the common allergens one by one and see how your body reacts. I had wanted to do this for a long time and now I finally had the perfect chance. So I stuck to it.
My results were better than I anticipated. I did lose a few pounds, though that wasn’t my biggest goal. I felt lighter, my stomach was flatter, my digestion was better and I was eating more mindfully. My sugar cravings decreased and I reset my mentality about food combining. I was able to pinpoint different things that didn’t work for my body. I learned that sugar is something I need to be careful with, even if its just from a fruit. Too much fruit & my body was unhappy. I also learned that I depend a lot on spices to flavor my foods. So I was able to balance my taste buds again & appreciate the flavor of foods without any spices or salt added. The thing that I celebrated the most was being able to take a step back and remove myself from the feeding frenzy that we usually live in. For about 9 months I have been focusing on more mindful eating & trying to understand where my cravings really come from (am I really addicted to sugar? or do I just need more sweetness in my daily routines?). The Conscious Cleanse helped a lot with this and took my “research” on myself to a new level. I say this a lot, but our cravings and lack of satisfaction with food is almost never about the actual food. Jo & Jules nail this.
My favorite parts of the cleanse:
- They address food allergens as being the root cause of many diseases. I wholeheartedly agree. Allergies=inflammation and this causes a host of other issues from milder symptoms like migraines to bigger problems like autoimmune diseases and even cancer.
- You get a free book! They include their book The Conscious Cleanse so you can read through it and get even more insight into the cleanse.
- There are 6 live calls during the cleanse. You get all your questions answered and you get app. 1 hour with Jo & Jules coaching you through the cleanse and educating you on different topics.
- The Conscious Cleanse manual. Its a breakdown of the book & a great reference for quick questions that come up during the cleanse.
- You get a facebook group with other cleansers for support. It also serves as a great place to answer your questions between the live calls.
- They hit on food combining & they make it simple. Food combining is something I learned about years ago & its crucial to be aware of if you want a healthy, happy digestive tract. Too often though, it gets super confusing on what you can eat & when. Jo & Jules break it down nicely.
- Vegans, vegetarians & meat lovers alike can do this cleanse. In fact, I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t be able to do it. It can be modified to fit your needs & you don’t have to eat anything you don’t like.
- Yummy recipes! I cant emphasize this enough. The recipes are great! Normally I sort of opt for the “create your own & hope it tastes good” type of meal but these recipes are easy, fast & don’t require a ton of ingredients. Perfect for me.
- The topic of soul food. You’ll learn more about soul food during the cleanse, but basically it encompasses all the other forms of nourishment that we need aside from actual food. It’s a huge emphasis in my coaching practice & something I feel is essential to discuss whenever the topic of food comes up. This sets Jo & Jules apart from other cleanses & gives them brownie (raw, vegan, sugar free of course) points in my book.
So if you’re considering a cleanse, I recommend the Conscious Cleanse. Don’t rob yourself and your body of the chance to become in tune again. Instead of doing all those other detoxes that mandate certain foods & focus only on what’s going into your mouth, take this chance to look at what’s going on under the food. Food is never just about the food. We use food as a way to distract ourselves. Isn’t it time to uncover what’s really going on?
As a gift for you, I have a $25 off coupon for you for the Conscious Cleanse. Check out more on the Conscious Cleanse & redeem your coupon here. Coupon code: RFCC913
Remember, the way you eat is the way you do everything. Are you eating mindfully? Or are you rushing? Do you savor the tastes and moments? Or charge through them while multitasking? Just some food for thought 😉