Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Foods for Cleansing

In this technological age it's easy to forget that we are animal creatures and that our bodies and energetic systems are attuned to the seasons, just like that of the animal and plant creatures around us. We've just largely removed ourselves. But it's worth remembering, here's why:

Winter Foods & Feelings
In the winter, we often crave cooked, hearty soups, carbs, and proteins, originally to bulk up and keep warm. When you look around the farmers' market, you see these hardy and hearty offerings reflected: a huge array of winter squashes (like butternut and kabocha), potatoes, collards, garlic, yams, kale. It's a time many traditions celebrate the season with meats, ostensibly to stock up for winter.

It's natural to gain a little extra weight in the winter (we blame that on holiday parties now, but it's built into our systems as a survival mechanism)! Winter is the time of hibernation, of rest and turning inward. It can be especially challenging for sensitive people to cope with the outgoing, busy holiday energy during the time of year when our natural instinct is to slow down and reflect internally. No wonder January and February can feel like such a come down. We crave that stay home, snuggle up and rest time.

Spring Foods & Feelings
Spring brings the re-awakening of energy. Sprouts come up. We feel our creative juices stirring, a desire to get back out into the world. To see people. To go places. To make things happen! It is a time of natural lightening and expansion, in body and in spirit.

If you're at the farmers' market, you will see this lightness reflected in the tender young vegetables. It's not too surprising that all of the spring vegetables -  sprouts, onions, snap peas, spinach, romaine, arugula, asparagus, beets, chard, spring carrots, radishes, cilantro - are highly alkalizing and cleansing! After a winter of holding onto extra calories, and eating extra rich foods, our bodies are wired to crave these crunchy, juicy veggies. Check in with your body? What's it saying?

Around this time of year, you start to see tons of hype about Spring Cleanses and Detoxes from the health community. While I do believe these can be so important for flushing the body of toxins, I invite you to go into any kind of cleansing from a place of:

  1. Listening to what your body wants and needs, not what your head thinks you "should" be doing.
  2. Self-love, self-care and kindness, not because you're trying to fix yourself.

This is why I invited you to check in with your body. When you think about filling yourself on fresh young vegetables, how does that feel inside? Compare that to the feeling of eating cheeseburgers or just bread for a week (just so you can get a good reading). As women, we've been programmed to follow an outside lead about what kind of diet our bodies need. I invite you to be aware of that energy and influence and choose for yourself.

Ways to Cleanse
There are so many different kinds of cleanses and detoxes, from the Master Cleanse (lemon juice, cayenne
and maple syrup for 10 days) to Ayurvedic cleansing (a yogic tradition based on eating a mung bean and veggie curry) to whole foods-based eating cleanses.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of the latter. Whole foods eating cleansing, baby. Because I love eating, and I love celebrating the seasons. And because my body does not like extremes. It sends my sensitive energy on a roller coaster ride and I don't like having to recover from something that was supposed to make me feel good.

The easiest way to cleanse when spring hits your area? Commit (and that's a big COMMIT) to shopping and eating primarily from the Farmer's Market. Find some new recipes - check out my resources section for ideas - and get cooking. These great foods will crowd out the other "stuff" you're eating otherwise. It can be IMMENSELY helpful to join a group cleanse for the support and accountability, but if you've got a good grasp on cooking and eating healthy already, I say go for it!

In general, when cleansing, it is beneficial to INCREASE your intake of whole foods like greens, the onion and garlic family, non-starchy vegetables of all kinds, whole grains, colorful foods, healthy fats (like avocado and olive oil) and fresh, clean water.

It is beneficial to DECREASE (or temporarily stop) you intake of processed/premade foods with artificial flavors or preservatives, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, sugar, meat, dairy, eggs and all animal products (high in saturated fats, and they often accumulate their own toxic loads that get passed on to you when you eat them). If animal protein is a non-negotiable part of your diet, go for pasture-raised varieties or clean fish that check out on the Monterey Bay Aquarium guide.

The Commitment Piece
I've done enough things half-way to say definitively that it's not worth it. "Do or don't do. There is no try." When we say we want something but don't commit, we don't make it a priority in our minds, in our calendars, and with other people. Then we "fall off the wagon", we feel bad about ourselves. It undermines our core confidence! I don't recommend doing that to yourself. I invite you to commit in these ways, even if you decide to join a structured cleanse - though you will find many pieces already covered.

Ways To Make Your Cleanse Commitment Stick:

  • Find a cleanse accountability buddy who will either do it with you (best!) or be willing to do some sort of daily check in.
  • Write down your intentions and parameters for your cleanse. What are you doing and why are you doing it? What am I committing to eat more of, what am I committing to eat less (or none) of. Your time frame. Your ease-into and exit strategies. Be clear.
  • Research shopping options, recipes and ingredients beforehand. Make a plan. It generally requires extra time in the kitchen. Remember, it's self-love time. Put whatever is necessary into your calendar.
  • Tell your partner (and/or house mates) about the cleanse, and, if appropriate, invite them to eat what you're making for yourself or to be prepared to bring home or ask for what they want (if you are usually the cook for you both).
  • Be gentle with yourself! Sometimes unforseen situations or emotions or opportunities arise. Do the best you can, and remember that one "off" meal doesn't a cleanse ruin.
What do you think? Have you cleansed before? Are there questions or worries you have around doing one? I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below...


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! The part I forgot about cleansing is to make sure to get some body work done ;) Releases and flushes everything out of your body while you're primed.