Cleanses can help clear mind, body

Published On: Jul 18 2012 12:34:04 PM EDT

By Koren, Pure Matters

Day 4 has always been the worst, and today is Day 4. Headache, low energy, hunger, irritability … and I've done this all to myself? Yep. Twice a year, I put myself through a 3-week program. Call it what you will -- a cleanse, detox, purification -- but it is my way of resetting my physical and mental state.  

Many of us clean out our closets, garage and cupboards, but overlook the most important space we own: our bodies. We blindly eat the same processed junk, go to work sleep-deprived and then accept pimples, drippy noses, backed-up GI tracts and gummy bear cravings as normal. Taking a 21-day break from "normal" eating and the daily routine helps me get a clear assessment of my body's fundamental state and its potential.

Past cleanses have focused on weight loss, caffeine dependence, and breaking a diet soda and sugarless gum habit. My fall cleanse is much more mental and spiritual. I had a very stressful summer, culminating with the loss of my mom to gall bladder cancer in August. My sleep has been off, my diet has been haphazard, and my mind has been the farthest thing from clear. My primary goal is to rid myself of leftover toxic thoughts and prepare myself for the upcoming holiday season.

A secondary goal is to get my diet back on track. Overall, I eat pretty well, but over time crappy foods have snuck their way in. I've been using more honey, more salt and more truvia. Rice cakes and Jif peanut butter are all too often in my food journal. During these three weeks, I'm stripping my diet back to the basics and resetting my taste buds. It's amazing how when you pull out the fake stuff, the real stuff starts tasting really great. Toasted walnuts are actually a little sweet -- who knew?

Lastly, I'm taking a break from the gym. I've been dealing with plantar fasciitis for the past few months, brought on by increased running that I used as stress relief. My body is telling me to slow down. So instead of pushing myself in spin class, I'm taking Ashtanga and Bikram yoga. Instead of running, I am walking. My heart rate monitor is staying in the dresser drawer. If the past is any indication, after these three weeks are over I will be dying to get back into the gym, with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Lots of folks ask about the specific food "rules" involved in what I'm doing. First of all, this is NOT a juice cleanse. The focus is on whole foods: fruit, vegetables, nuts and oils. I also take in one serving of lentils and 1-2 servings of lean, organic protein every day. I drink plenty of water and herbal teas. The hard part is what I don't eat/drink -- essentially anything in a box, bag, jar or can. I'm avoiding caffeine, dairy, sugar, juice (unless I make it fresh), sweeteners, sodas, crackers, bread, cookies and candy.