Have you ever puzzled over what "chewing" juice was—but tried to do it anyway? Or gone to bed at 7PM because life didn't feel like living without dinner? Then you have probably been on a juice fast and didn't enjoy it very much. Here's some good news: you don't have to give up food to do a spring cleanse, and moreover, that might not be good for you anyway.
"The reason people do cleanses is that they want to get a jump-start on weight loss or they want to rid their body of toxins," Caroline Cederquist, a physician specializing in nutrition and founder of the food delivery service bistroMD, told US News and World Reports. "But most cleanses have people severely restricting their calories by drinking only juice. These types of cleanses are neither effective nor safe." She points out that fruit juice spikes your blood sugar in much the same way as soda does. Most juice fasts are also low in protein so force the body to burn muscle instead of fat for. In general, they are super low calorie so may slow down your metabolism, even after you go back to eating regularly. Despite some juice company's claims of "feeling extra alert" or "brimming with energy," if you have ever tried a juice fast, the more common states of being are "tired" and "hangry."
The body has its own system for flushing out toxins: the liver and kidneys. Eating a variety of whole foods and avoiding processed foods is the simplest way to maintain a healthy balance. If you feel you need to reboot your system after a sluggish winter of eating junk, there are many food-based cleanses that will support your body's ability to renew itself. You won't deplete yourself of nourishment or mess with your metabolism, and you'll feel fantastic both during and after the cleanse.
If you have a weekend
Dr. Oz has developed plans for two and three days that revolve around lots of enzyme-rich fruits and vegetables. On the two-day plan, you get to eat a bowl of quinoa porridge for breakfast, a smoothie for lunch, and vegetable soup for dinner, plus a snack. Find recipes and instructions here.
The three-day plan is even simpler: a smoothie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, each one packed with fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Find recipes here.
If you have a week
Cleansing is about more than weight loss. Most traditional cultures practice some kind of fast as a ritual of thanks, contemplation, or renewal. A kitchari mono-fast (meaning: eating one food) is a cornerstone of Ayurvedic cleansing. The basic components of kitchari are grains, mung dal (yellow split peas), and vegetables and spices geared to your constitution. The inspired nutritional blog My New Roots has a simplified version that even the most basic cook can master. You'll find recipes and instructions here.
If you have two weeks
The link between microflora and vibrant health is an exciting area of research [ADD LINK TO OBESITY AND GUT BACTERIA]. The typical American diet does not support healthy gut bacteria. Scientists postulate that our individual microbiomes (the bacteria that live in our intestine) have a powerful influence on obesity levels, our immune system, even our mood. If you have been subsisting on processed foods, you might want to consider a gut bacteria makeover.
Nutritionist Teresa Boyce offers a detailed plan which she says can help reduce inflammation, improve digestion, fight fatigue, and eliminate joint plan. She emphasizes that before embarking on a rigorous food and supplements regime, you should consult your doctor. Find instructions and recommendations here.
If you don't want to commit
Maybe, like many of us, you are already feel stressed, overcommitted and don't have the bandwidth to stick to any type of cleansing plan, even for twenty-four hours. Just by including readily available and delicious detoxifying foods as in your day-to-day diet such as apples, ginger, and pineapple, you'll be giving your hard working liver and kidneys some love (find the complete list here). If you do that plus drink plenty water and avoid smoking, excessive alcohol, drinking more than a cup of two of coffee a day, and processed foods you can consider yourself spring cleansed.