If you are reading this post it is likely that you are considering a cleanse or fast. There are many different types of cleanses and fasts. Likewise, there are numerous reasons that a person would consider a fast or cleanse. I am a firm proponent of wise fasting – why? Because our ability to heal and have vitality comes directly from our digestive health and vibrancy.
Fasting and cleansing are nothing new, we’ve used them for religious and spiritual purposes and healing generations. Sometimes fasts were forced upon people by war or famine. Industrialized nations may not see this much, but it is very present in war torn and poverty stricken nations. Americans actually have quite the opposite problem now. We are faced with more disease of abundance like high cholesterol, heart conditions and diabetes. Many of these disharmonies would benefit from lightening up the diet or fasting. The UK has recently come out with a fantastic study observing the benefits of fasting diets for those with Type 2 Diabetes.
Unfortunately, there are a number of wild and extreme diets and fads which can be confusing. Randomly jumping about with dieting and nutrition can have harmful impact on our system – therefore, I am cautious in what I recommend to whom. This blog is devoted to the general rules that I apply when considering any fast or cleanse for myself and clients.
Planning for a cleanse
To get the most out of any cleanse or fast take a little time to plan and prepare. Jumping right into a juice fast when you don’t having any vegetables or a juicer in the house could defeat your purpose before you even start. Below is the general list of things that I run through as I am preparing a cleanse.
Why am I wanting to cleanse or fast? – Li precedes Qi. Literally, intention precedes manifestation or action. Know why you are planning to fast or cleanse. Personally, I have chosen to cleanse every spring and fall since I’ve became involved in Asian arts and medicine – 1993 or thereabouts. The exception was while I was pregnant or nursing. For me, it’s a part of my health protocol and serves a number of purposes, from physically resetting my digestive system, to mental and spiritual clearing including breaking down harmful emotional connections to food. I may vary the cleanse from year to year or season to season depending on my circumstances. Most commonly I use the 10-12 juice fast, listed below. Whatever your reasoning for fasting or cleansing, know why and what you are doing before you start. Write down your reasoning if that helps, use contemplation or meditation to help firm up your conviction.
Timing – Take a look at the calendar, planning a fast right over the holidays or your best friend’s wedding probably isn’t wise. I recommend cleansing be done in the spring or summer or early fall when the energy of the season is specifically supportive of letting go of excess, rather than in the fall and winter the energy shifts to store up. Personally, I don’t stop working when I cleanse and I live my life as normal. I just have a few extra daily duties that need added in for a time being and I may lighten up my schedule and physical exercise. On the opposite side, I spend less time cooking when I’m cleansing. A big part of cleansing is reassessing your relationship to food and how you nourish yourself. Do you sit down and calmly enjoy food or all you always on the run. Include in your time management space to sit and eat (or drink). This allows the Qi to focus in the digestive system and better transform what you are eating. Eat, taste, enjoy, no matter how humble. Your body will thank you for doing just this one thing!
Know yourself. Can or should you cleanse? Anyone’s diet can use a little cleaning up or specific recommendations to improve health. But we are talking about cleanses here. That means significant changes in foods to possible full fasting for a time. Anyone in relatively good health can cleanse. Those who shouldn’t do strong or unguided fasts or cleanses include those with diabetes, those on heavy medications, or those who are in treatment for serious illness, disease or cancer, or those who have worked many years with extreme toxins or chemicals. In such cases, seek specific nutritional guidance to best treat the condition. Women who are nursing or pregnant should not fast and should seek guidance for a clean menu that specifically benefits pregnancy or nursing.
Have conviction – One thing that cleansing and fasting offers is the chance to discipline your body and mind. We sometimes say that we want to do something but have never truly reached within to the place of “I am doing this!” This choice comes from deep within and we are all capable of making choices from here, but often we choose to stay in place of comfort even if it doesn’t benefit us. If conviction is sometimes difficult for you put in place habits to help you with it like journaling, meditation and group support. Stick with it. The rewards can be amazing.
Okay – You’ve decided it’s time for you to try. What’s next? Choose a cleanse or fast that meets your needs. This can be a plan that offers considerable freedom, and eliminates heavy proteins and all sweets or something as advanced as a full juice fast. Below are the 2 most common cleanses or fasts that I utilize myself or with my clients. Each links to a separate blog that further describes the cleanse and gives specific instructions.
Thirty Day Gentle Cleanse – A 4 week plan that uses vegetables, small amounts of whole grains and small amounts of clean and sustainable animal proteins. No meal skipping. A great place to start.
10-12 Juice Fast – My favorite. You start with reducing the diet down to raw vegetables, then shift to using only vegetable juices and potassium broth. This type of fast allows the digestive system to really rest. You will need to use either enemas or colonics as you cease chewing entirely and the bowels will need help to move out stools.
Always break a fast or cleanse gently and with intention. There is an old saying… “Any fool can fast – but it takes a wise man to break a fast” – be wise.
Cleansing or fasting often releases toxins and can create body odor. Green to the rescue. Liquid chlorophyll can be easily added to your juice or water and will help reduce and neutralize odor. You can purchase liquid chlorophyll at most health food stores.