Saturday, April 24, 2010
One-Week Cleanse Breakdown
Today is the last day of my week-long cleanse, and I thought I'd go over a few things that people have been asking me. Overall I have been really happy with the way it went, and I would absolutely recommend it to someone who has the discipline to really stick to the diet and use the kit the way that it is intended (aka taking all of the supplements and tinctures as directed). There are three different ways to use the kit- as a more intense one week cleanse, an easier two week cleanse, or an intensive 5 day juice cleanse. These are all options when using the same kit.
I used the Fresh Start Kit from The Herbalist which is a local herbal medicine manufacturer. They have a retail store on NE 65th St. near the Roosevelt/Greenlake area. I actually picked my kit up from Metropolitan Market in Lower Queen Anne, near my office. Their price was a touch higher, but it saved me the pain of a long bus ride so I thought it was worth it. For the record- neither Dandelion Botanical in Ballard, nor Mother Nature's in Lower QA carry the kits. Super Supplements does but they kind of freak me out.
Q: Why are you cleansing?
A: Short answer: Because I feel like crap. Long answer: because my allergies are the worst they've ever been, I'm tired all the time, my digestive system is always out of whack, and I'm having a hard time focusing on pretty much anything. Really- there are a million ways and a million different reasons to cleanse. A lot of people don't believe in the benefits of cleansing at all. I eat a clean, healthy, and balanced diet most of the time and rarely ever have sugar or carb crashes and generally don't feel lethargic or sluggish from overeating. I am physically active and drink plenty of water. Despite all of this- I am still conscious of the fact that my body just doesn't feel quite right. Here is a good list for knowing if it's a good idea to cleanse.
Q: Do you feel any different?
A: I didn't until day two- but when I did it was like "BAM!" My energy level has gone way up, my entire body feels lighter, my thoughts are more clear and it's easier for me to stay focused. The most intense difference has been immediately after taking the three tinctures- which is not surprising. It feels intense for about 20 minutes and then begins to taper off. It isn't like peak highs and lows though- it more or less lasts the entire day. I never felt like I was crashing or "coming down". My body just feels happy.
Q: Is it a fast? What are you eating?
A: No, it's not a fast- and I am eating a lot! It is very heavily based around whole vegetables and fruits, as well as fruit juices- when I first looked through the cleansing guide I was a little panicked by the list of cleanse approved foods. Honestly- I ate a lot of potatoes. But I also ate a lot of other things. The key is to eat large portions so you're still getting enough calories. I also drank juice about 6 times a day. My day in meals usually went something like this:
Breakfast: Brown ricecake with almond butter. Sometimes I'd drizzle it with honey as a treat.
Snacks: Fruit, carrots with hummus or almond butter, and raw nuts.
Lunch: Brothy soup with lots of veggies and grains (amaranth), or potato salad made with Bragg's liquid aminos, olive oil, seaweed, shredded carrot, and black pepper.
Dinner: Huge salad with vegan dressing, herbed potatoes (courtesy of my wonderful boyfriend), fish (cold water and wild- this is technically a "first time cleanse/cheater" food), and more veggies. A lot of my meals crossed over from dinner to lunch and vice-versa. I'd make a big portion of something and save it for another meal.
Beverages: Water, herbal tea, 100% fruit juices (Trader Joe's was a lifesaver for juice), and I did sneak kombucha a few times, but probably shouldn't have.
There were a few days where I had non-cleanse approved foods- and I felt the difference. One day was soup that had a few beans in it, and another was lentils. I felt okay about eating them, knowing that they were still healthy choices regardless- but my digestive system was apparently not in the same mindset. I also snuck a few bites of dark chocolate here and there, and had ceviche with corn chips one night- but it didn't seem to do me any harm. I'd keep yourself in check with that one, though. The idea is the be as gentle on your digestive system as possible.
Q: What can't you have?
A: In short: alcohol, refined sugars, caffeine, gluten, dairy, most meats (free range and organic are considered approved foods for the first-time cleanser), most grains (rice, oats, barley etc.), beans, canned foods, eggs, popcorn, processed foods, iodized salt, vinegar, and artificial sweetners, among a few other things.
Honestly- it looks and sounds like a lot. I had to plan for a few days before I could commit myself to doing this cleanse. Read over their cleansing guide very thoroughly before making up your mind about doing it. Plan meals ahead of time and keep in mind that the better you stick to the approved foods- the better you will feel. Take the time to cook and pack your lunches and snacks. The last thing you want to do in the middle of this is get frustrated and give up halfway through. Remind yourself that it's only temporary if it helps.
There are a few contradictions in the food guide- hummus is okay, but beans aren't; rice cakes are okay but rice is out; quinoa is listed but amaranth isn't, etc. Just use your best judgment and figure out what works best for you and your cleanse.
Q: What are the supplements like? How often/what are you taking?
A: Some of them aren't bad at all and I enjoyed taking them. Some of them... were really foul.
Intestinal Rescue was the worst for me. You mix a tablespoon of powder in a glass of juice or water and drink it twice a day on an empty stomach. Then immediately follow it with an 8oz glass of water. I would do this first thing in the morning when I got up, and then right away when I got home- before eating any snacks or dinner. I always mixed with juice (I tried it with water once and wanted to cry) and would shake the hell out of it in a canning jar and then chug it down as fast as I could. It's gross- but it's worth it. Just trust me. You won't feel very hungry after drinking this and it's okay to eat a light breakfast or snack. Just make sure you don't go all morning without food.
Renew-U, Blubberwack, and New Brain Choice are all liquid tinctures that you take together three times a day. I was also taking these in juice, and found them to be the most pleasant. They have a slightly alcoholic taste, but the herbs themselves are fairly mild tasting. I would take these first in the morning- after Intestinal Rescue and before eating, right before lunch, and then sometime in the evening- after Intestinal Rescue, and before bed.
Renew-U Tea isn't bad, and was easy to drink throughout the day. You need to drink 4 cups of this, so I would make it in a big pot in the morning, and then pour it into a Nalgene to take with me and drink throughout the day. I actually enjoyed it more at room temperature. I know a lot of people aren't tea drinkers- so if you find the taste off-putting just chug it and be done!
LBT Caps aka Lower Bowel Tonic are exactly what you think they are! I'd take 3 caps right before bed with a small glass of water. Seriously- don't take these and then dilly-dally around for half an hour. Take them and then go to bed. You will be thoroughly impressed in the morning. I promise.
Q: Anything else worth knowing?
A: Go to bed when you feel tired. Don't venture too far away from a restroom for an extended period of time. Drink a ton of water. Don't exercise too hard. Don't treat this like a diet- make sure you're eating enough calories. Pay attention to your body and do whatever you feel is best. Don't bother cleansing if you aren't committed to taking better care of yourself in the long run. Do your research. Don't allow yourself to cheat consistently- it's pointless. And lastly- take all of my advice with a grain of salt. This is just what worked for me and how it made me feel. Read the entire cleansing guide, read all of the directions, and pay attention to your body.
Any other questions? Let me know! I'd be happy to answer them, share recipes, and tell you all about my poops.