I wouldn't recommend that someone embark on a particular program without first having done it myself. I’ve participated in the Colorado Cleanse (14 day) program before, but wanted to give this shortened version a shot. Ayurveda is a form of traditional medicine dating back to 2,500 BC. It’s described as “the knowledge for long life.” For the purposes of this cleanse, however, the most important things to understand are that Ayurveda advocates for creating an environment for the body to heal itself and detoxify naturally, eating only meals (no snacking), and eating seasonally. In these four short days, I gained a newfound appreciation for those things.
Benefits of Natural Healing & Detoxifcation
- Feeling light (and actually achieving some weight loss)- I’m more of a girl that goes by how I feel verses what the scale says. I do feel lighter and leaner, but for those of you that measure success on the scale, yes, I did lose a few pounds. Although you can also lose weight on the Diet Mountain Dew and Twizzler diet (I know this from my crappy-eating-but-looking-good-diet days), this is a healthy approach to feel leaner and lose a bit of weight. You aren’t starving yourself, you aren’t eating anything fake. You are eating warm, balanced, wholesome meals. . . my kinda "diet"!
- Increased mental clarity and focus- By day two I experienced a stronger mental clarity than I had in a long time. I felt like a fog had been lifted and was able to concentrate and get work done more quickly than otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, I still get lost in thought and pass up my exit or accidentally put frozen food away in the fridge, but that’s a personality trait that I cannot detox away, unfortunately.
- Stress Reduction- For one, I do sometimes stress about food. What are all the ingredients, are there any animal products, I don’t wanna clean the flippin’ mess in the kitchen, etc. How fabulous was it to eat just one thing for four days and not worry about anything else. Reminding myself to incorporate the other detoxifying strategies into daily living were also a nice plus. “Um, kids, don’t bother mommy while I soak in the bath for awhile as an integral part of my detoxification.” Okay, so I didn’t say that, but it’s funny how we think we need an excuse for any sort of self care.
Eating Only Meals / No Snacking
During the cleanse, I had to stop myself frequently from snacking on things. Now, they were not necessarily things that I needed to avoid since my home is pretty much a haven for healthy food (almost everything is something you should be eating, not something that you should be avoiding), but I was now cognizant of how often I just snack on stuff. I was about to grab a handful of nuts, eat up that last piece of mango that my daughter didn’t finish, fill up ANOTHER cup of coffee, without even really a second thought, mindlessly eating when I wasn’t really actually hungry. So what happens when you don’t give your body a break? Yeah, yeah, I know, you all have heard that you should eat small frequent meals to keep your metabolism up. Is that working for you? Maybe it works for some people, but there are also some dangers: you eat too much, your mindlessly eat, you lose your ability to understand true hunger, you don’t appreciate food! Dr. Douillard suggests that you might not even be burning fat as efficiently as you could or that you might be conditioning yourself to need frequent meals.
When you eat every 2-3 hours, your body becomes dependent on a constant supply of food. The body will lose its built-in ability to tolerate missing a meal, and the blood sugar will crash and often crash hard. ~ Dr. John Douillard
So, this may sound contrary to what you typically do and what you hear touted by, well, just about everyone. Maybe it’s not right for you, but one thing I love about cleanses in general is the ability to try new things out. Don’t knock it until you try it. You can always make a decision that eating small frequent meals is right for you OR you may discover that snacking is not working after all. But, by all means, please make an INFORMED decision.
When being fed every 2-3 hours the body will not be encouraged to burn any of its stored fat for energy, either. Why should it bother digging out the fat stores for energy when it is being spoon fed all day long? When you eat 3 meals a day and have ample time between meals, the body is forced to burn that stored fat. Once the fat is restored as an active fuel supply you will see better energy, more stable moods, greater mental clarity, better sleep, less cravings and of course, natural and permanent weight management. ~ Dr. John Douillard
For more information, see Dr. Douillard's "Dangers of Frequent Eating"
Eating Seasonally As much as I looooove juicing, blending, and eating raw for detoxification, energy, and overall health, those things do not feel right for me in the colder months, nor are they recommended according to Ayurveda. Think about the foods normally associated with the colder months. . . soups, stews, root vegetables, etc. Think also what is locally available to you in the colder months. Now, while we may have once needed to build our fat stores to survive a long, hard winter, we don’t need to do that any longer, but our desire for those heavier, more grounding foods is still innate. Fortunately, you can still enjoy warm, filling meals without fattening yourself up for a winter of hibernation. Eating the khichadi (a mixture of dahl, rice, and detoxifying spices) felt easy and effortless. A juice cleanse right now would have been detoxifying and rewarding, of course, but it wouldn't have seemed natural, nor would it have been effortless.
For more information, see Dr. Douillard's "Winter Grocery List"
Go ahead and download the free ebook so you can see all of the details and here are a few answers to a couple questions or issues that might arise:
- Drinking Ghee (clarified butter)- A plant-based alternative to the ghee is coconut oil (which I used). You could also use flax oil. In general, I am not a proponent of purposely including oil in your diet. In fact, I try to avoid it as much as possible. I try to get my healthy fats from whole plant food sources. (For more information, see President Bill Clinton's Doctor, Caldwell Esselystn's, position on oil). For the purposes of this cleanse, I did, however use the oil for the oleation process. Oleation is a key aspect to Ayurvedic cleansing which uses oil to cleanse internally (via ghee or a vegan substitute) and externally (via lymphatic massage with oil). Consuming the oil first thing in the morning - followed by a NO fat diet -is said to put your body into fat metabolism for the rest of the day, releasing fat and the toxins stored in fatty tissue. Be cautious, you may become sick to your stomach as you increase the amount of oil that you consume upon rising daily. I felt quite sick to my stomach on day three and had to consume less oil on day four. In hindsight, I felt off on the second day and I should not have progressed to consume more. If you feel at all uncomfortable after consuming the oil, I suggest not consuming more on the subsequent day. Don’t be a hero. One goal of this cleanse is to allow your body to rest and work naturally, so you certainly don’t want to be imposing stress.
- Eating- I chose the most cleansing option, eating only khichadi. I made all of my khichadi from scratch, but an easy alternative is to order packets from Lifespa.com. I don’t love it - and I like Indian food. If you aren’t a fan of Indian food, I would suggest going really light on the spices. The spices do help to aid in the detoxification process, but if you are going to quit because you cannot stand the taste, then by all means, it’s much better to cut back. Dry roasting enhances the flavor of the spices, so you could also skip that step. My first batch of khichadi had fennel seeds in it. Not a fan. On a subsequent batch I excluded the fennel. I also tried another batch where I actually used Madras Curry Powder which contains fenugreek (along withe the other suggested spices) that I had not been able to find on its own. One batch of khichadi was more than enough for a full day for me.
- Blood sugar balancing meal plan- Dr. Douillard suggests adding whey or lean protein to this diet, if necessary. Although I am a proponent of a vegan diet, I know that many of you are not be on a plant-based diet. In these four days, I would suggest that you try to avoid animal products entirely. Meat is not a cleansing food, as Dr. Douillard attests.