It’s the beginning of the new year and after indulging over the holidays, you’re ready to get on track with your health goals. Right? Right. We’re going to ease you back into your healthy diet and lifestyle with a gentle three day cleanse.
Cleansing can be intimidating because you might think that in order to detox, you have to starve yourself by drinking only green juice for weeks on end. Lucky for you, that’s not the case at all! You can effectively detox while eating wholesome, nourishing foods. During this cleanse, we’re gently resetting the digestive system and supporting the elimination of toxins by removing inflammatory and processed foods that create toxic buildup in the body and emphasizing clean, easy-to-digest, whole foods.
January is the middle of winter for most of us here in the Northern Hemisphere so the cleanse recipes below include mostly warm, cooked foods, making your meals feel nourishing and comforting instead of depleting.
This cleanse is only three days long so it’s manageable to do during the work week as long as you get prepped and organized the weekend before. Although this cleanse is gentle, any cleanse can be taxing physically and emotionally due to the nature of the detoxification process. I recommend choosing a week that’s not super busy and hectic. That way, you can focus your energy on rejuvenating your mind and body.
For three days, you will have a warming smoothie or porridge for breakfast, kitchari for lunch and a pureed vegetable soup for dinner. In general, eat as much as desired at each meal–enough to feel satisfied until your next meal. If possible, avoid snacking between meals. If you’re feeling hangry, dizzy, moody, nauseous or uncomfortable during this cleanse, it may be due to low blood sugar.
Dips in blood sugar are stressful for the body, which is something we want to avoid as much as possible while cleansing, so feel free to add additional protein to your meals, such as a small amount of plain, organic chicken or turkey. If you need a snack between meals, try ½ an avocado with lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt.
Make lunch your largest meal of the day. A warm bowl of kitchari is on the menu all three days during the cleanse. Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic detox food containing a mixture of rice, beans and spices. It’s high in protein, very easy to digest and healing for the digestive tract. I recommend using split yellow mung dal beans as they are much more digestible and detoxifying than other beans, like lentils, whole mung beans, etc.
Even if you’re at work during lunch, make an effort to sit down at a table (ideally not at your desk), relax and enjoy your meal, distraction-free. This will help you finish the meal feeling satisfied instead of thinking about if you have any chocolate stashed in the back of your desk drawer!
Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of plain, filtered water each day to ensure proper hydration and help flush toxins from your system. If you can, sip warm to hot water. Warm water softens the intestinal tract, moves the lymph and hydrates the cells much more effectively than cold water. To mix it up, you can also drink CCF Tea (recipe below).
Proper waste elimination is critical to the detoxification progress, so for those of you who are prone to constipation, I recommend being proactive and taking the Ayurvedic herbal remedy called Triphala during the cleanse. Take 1000 mg with a glass of water in the evening before bed.
Although you have the recipes provided for all of your meals, below is the list of foods to avoid during the three days:
- Gluten – bread, crackers, baked goods, etc.
- Dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.
- Sugar – white sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar, etc.
- Soy – including tofu, tempeh, miso, edamame, soy sauce, tamari, etc.
- Caffeine – coffee, black tea, green tea, energy drinks
- Anything processed
- Wake up early enough to give yourself time and space for a relaxed morning
- Optional: Upon waking, do oil pulling with coconut or sesame oil
- Scrape your tongue using a tongue scraper – to learn why check out this post
- Brush your teeth
- Drink 8 to 12 ounces of hot water with the juice of half a lemon to gently cleanse the digestive tract and kick-start the metabolism
- Eat porridge or a smoothie for breakfast, ideally between 7 and 9am
- Eat kitchari for lunch, ideally between 12 and 2pm
- Eat soup for dinner, ideally between 6 and 7pm
- After dinner, engage in stress-relieving practices, such as taking a warm bath, meditating, reading a book, drinking a cup of chamomile tea, putting your legs up the wall, etc. Try to avoid stimulating activities like working on your computer or watching TV.
- Start winding down for bed around 9pm
- Optional: Take Triphala with a glass of water
- Lights off by 10pm. Sleep is when your body rests, repairs and detoxifies so be sure to get plenty of rest throughout the cleanse.
Optional Stress-Relief Practices
These practices will help to calm your nervous system, quiet your mind, de-stagnate your lymphatic system and increase the benefit of your detox.
Dry Skin Brushing
Before showering/bathing, use a dry skin brush with natural bristles to stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage. Learn how here.
Relaxation Detox Bath
Add 2 cups of Epsom Salt + 10 drops of lavender essential oil to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.
Engage in light exercise while cleansing. This is not the time to push yourself physically with hardcore boot camp-style workouts or high intensity cardio. Instead, engage in gentle daily movement such as walking, hiking, swimming, yoga, etc.
The benefits of meditation are endless. If you have an established meditation practice, keep on keeping on! If you’re a newbie, check out the app OMG! I Can Meditate! for a variety of short, guided meditations to get you started.
After Your Cleanse
One of the most common ways of undermining a good cleanse is to binge on hard-to-digest, overly stimulating or processed foods upon completion. So hold off on pizza-and-beer-night as long as you can! Putting some thought into how you integrate back into your normal routine is important and key to maintaining the benefits of the detox. I recommend a slow transition into a more diverse diet, gradually adding in more simple whole foods, free of gluten, dairy and sugar, as long as you’re comfortable.
There are three options for breakfast, one for lunch, and two options for dinner. Feel free to pick one breakfast and one dinner and eat the same meals all three days if that makes it easier for you, otherwise mix it up! Follow the links below to get the recipes: