A few pointers for your January cleanse
At this time of year it’s easy to find yourself feeling a bit out of balance. The combination of Christmas festivities and travelling or being away from home and your normal daily routine means that your health takes a back seat. And for a short time that’s okay – Christmas is a time to relax, catch up with friends and family and indulge a little. However, let is go on too long and the result is often lethargy, susceptibility to coughs and colds and weight gain.
So we hit January and instinctively feel the need to cleanse or detox. As long as you are sensible and thoughtful about how you approach it, a cleanse can be a really powerful aid to good health. It’s a way to reset and recharge your body, to kickstart healthier patterns for the year ahead or come back to them if you’ve gone off track.
A cleanse is not a diet
Let’s get clear on what we are trying to achieve. A sensibly approached cleanse is not the same thing as a diet. It should not be solely or primarily about weight loss. Though – as you ask – for many people a cleanse will help the body move towards its own natural healthy weight and shift excess pounds. Nutritional cleansing is not about counting calories and it’s not about pushing further than feels comfortable. It is about supporting the wonderful and clever detoxification that your body is doing all the time. It also doesn’t need to be labelled a fad if you’re doing it for the right reasons and you’re looking at it as a starting point rather than a quick fix.
Checklist for cleansing
Here are some salient factors to consider before starting a cleanse (by no means an exhaustive list):
- Think about what level of intensity is right for you. There is a spectrum of cleanse approaches, running through, say: cutting back on alcohol, caffeine, sugar and ready meals; transitioning to a plant-based diet; eating a raw food diet; juice cleansing; and many others in between. Try to conduct an honest appraisal of your normal diet and lifestyle. If you rarely touch a vegetable then common sense dictates that switching to a 100% raw food diet overnight would not be kind to your body. You need to decide what is appropriate and manageable. Contact a qualified nutritional therapist if you need advice or use a service such as Which Detox?.
- Make preparation a priority. Know that whatever plan you choose, it’s not a great idea to change everything in one day. For example, at Radiance we offer short nutritional juice cleanse programmes. We set out easy-to-follow pre and post cleanse eating guidelines for a period before and after the cleanse and we consider these days to be as important as the cleanse itself. If you’ve been eating smoothies and salads and soups in the run up to a juice cleanse then it’s an easier transition for your body. Clearly, if you eat steak and chips for dinner the night before you begin then you are absolutely not approaching it responsibly and you won’t get the best results.
- Try to recruit your partner or a friend as a cleanse buddy. It’s much easier to do a cleanse when you have somebody to lean on. Alternatively, sign up for a guided programme with an online community that you can turn to if you have questions or feel your willpower fading.
- Consider whether you are better suited to a DIY approach of having a food or juice programme delivered, at least to get you started. There are convenient delivery companies with a range of different philosophies, such as Detox Kitchen, Honestly Healthy or our own service at Radiance. Alternatively, there are many excellent books setting out detox plans that you can re-create at home, including Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution, The Clean Program by Dr Alejandro Junger, Revive by Dr Frank Lipman or The 3-Day Cleanse by Zoe Sakoutis and Erica Huss (founders of BluePrint Cleanse)
- Check if you be doing a cleanse at all. If you are pregnant or breast feeding it’s not the right time to make major changes to your diet except under supervision from a nutritionist. Similarly, if you take prescription drugs or have a medical condition, or if you are unsure for any other reason, then you should speak to your doctor first.
The bigger picture with cleansing
We always encourage our Radiance clients to widen out their perspective on cleansing. People come back to us excited about how great they feel and keen to take the next step. It’s definitely a case of one step at a time. But, ideally, an effective cleanse has a ripple effect that renews your enthusiasm for eating well and cleans up other aspects of your day-to-day life. For example:
- Get rid of unwanted chemicals in your skincare and make up. Take the phrase “skin food” literally – your skin eats up so much of what you slather over it. Therefore look for products that are formulated with food grade and organic ingredients in their natural state. Start by switching to natural alternatives of the products that you use over your whole body, every day, such as shower gel and body cream. Seek out shops like Content in London that will help you transform your bathroom cabinet so that what you put on your skin is healing and rejuvenating, not refined, bleached, deodorized, heated and the opposite of pure.
- Move your body, more. It’s very beneficial to increase lymphatic circulation, plus it will boost your mood. Start by committing to a weekly exercise class, ideally with a friend to hold you accountable. If you can’t get to the gym there are some brilliant online classes that you can do at home. Barrecore’s ballet fitness is addictive and Tracey Anderson has some short and sharp workouts that you can even do while your baby is having a nap.
- Make it a priority to get enough sleep. We often hear from Radiance clients that they sleep better than usual while on a cleanse. On the other hand, you might find that you feel more tired, especially if you usually rely on stimulants to keep your energy up during the day. If that’s the case then listen to your intelligent body and sleep, sleep, sleep!
- Find a way to reduce stress. Whether your favourite way to relax is to walk the dog, or to take a hot bath, or to practice yoga, make it your mission to do more of it in 2014!