Detox, fast, cleanse, master cleanse, fat flush, nutritional cleanse…I’ll bet if you try to follow a fairly clean and healthy lifestyle, that you have run into each of these terms a few times. Some people love trying different approaches to improving their well being, and may have tried all these approaches, yet others see the popularity of a detox as a fad, and in some cases even a scam.
I suppose there are some inferior products out there, and that could lead to poor results, and the impression that one is being scammed. But in general, it is widely believed, and supported, that ridding your body of toxins, resetting your metabolism, and interrupting addictive eating behaviors is a really good idea.
So how do you know who to trust, or which products are not going to leave you feeling “scammed?” I have some basic guidelines that you can easily follow when deciding whether to do a nutritional cleanse, and which product or program is right for you.
Nutritional Cleanse Tips for Beginners
Doing a nutritional cleanse, and other holistic wellness practices are not a cure for disease, or a replacement for medical care. However, you have an opportunity to take a little more responsibility for your health, and do something proactive to create a vibrant, healthy, inner-environment for your body to thrive. With that, before making any substantial changes to your diet, it is a good idea to check with your doctor or licensed health care professional. This is especially important if you are already under a doctor’s supervision for any reason. The best way to do this is to simply show your doctor the protocol and products involved with your cleanse or detox. In most cases, your doctor will support your efforts to improve your health, and if he or she doesn’t, perhaps the particular product or protocol you selected isn’t a good fit for your specific needs. It is okay to be empowered and control your own wellness destiny, but seek advice and guidance from an appropriate professional to make sure you don’t accidentally harm yourself.
Determine Whether You Need to Cleanse
People decide to do a nutritional cleanse for various reasons. Most the time there is a weight loss motive, and other times perhaps a close friend or family member is selling a cleanse program. And then there are deeper and more profound reasons for wanting to cleanse. If weight loss is your goal, then make that the focus, but understand that just because you want to lose weight, doesn’t mean your body wants or even needs to lose weight. Understand that a quality nutritional cleanse should provide an overall improvement in your well being first, and weight loss, if it occurs, is more of a positive byproduct. According to Sarah Gottfried MD, here are twelve signs that may indicate you need to do a cleanse or a detox:
– White or yellow-coated tongue and/or bad breath
– Fluid retention and/or congested sinuses
– Increased belly or visceral fat
– Cravings and/or blood sugar issues
– Gallbladder issues or you had it removed
– Abdominal bloating
– Overheating/excess sweating
– Weight loss resistance
– Acne, rosacea, itchy skin
– Fatigue unrelieved by more sleep, especially in the morning
– Chemical sensitivity – you’re a lightweight when you drink alcohol or smelling fragrances makes you anxious
– Insomnia – especially early morning awakenings such as 1-4 a.m.
In her article, Dr. Gottfried says that if you have at least four of these signs, you may have a congested liver that needs a vacation.
Know What to Look For & Be Prepared to Make an Investment
Buying a bottle of detox pills, or herbal colon cleanse at the store, may have some benefits, but you will cut yourself short of achieving overall, sustainable good results if you just try to piecemeal your cleanse with a few products off the shelf. Think about how much money you spend on, frankly, toxic garbage on an on going basis, like alcoholic beverages, processed junk food, and over sugared coffee drinks. Imagine redirecting all that money for a few weeks into something that supports you and your health, rather than the bottom line of a vodka company or fast food restaurant, and then find a good quality cleanse and make that investment. Here are a few things that might indicate you are on the right track:
– The cleanse is offered by a health and wellness practitioner like your naturopathic doctor, nutritionist, health coach, acupuncturist, or fitness coach.
– The cost is at least $200.00 and even as high as $500.00. You might want to stop and evaluate anything over $500.00 to determine exactly what you are receiving. In my experience, one can experience a high quality, safe, and effective nutritional cleanse for around $250.00-$350.00. Anything less than $200.00 is probably compromising on ingredients, or it is being offered through a sales system that doesn’t offer the kind of professional support I think is necessary.
– The products involved are made of real food and herbs. Be aware of the “best new thing” in the nutrition supplement world. In his best selling book Whole, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Dr. Colin Campbell presents extensive evidence that nutrients are at their best when they are delivered in a whole food form. The best way to determine this is to just read the ingredient deck. If the word “isolate” appears, or if vitamins are listed in words that end in “ate” or “ide” it is possible that the nutrients have been isolated, extracted, or synthetically created, and are therefore not in their whole food form. You can also ask the rep selling you the product. If they can’t give you a direct, informed answer, based on scientific evidence or reason, you may want to keep looking.
Imagine Yourself A Year From Now
Before choosing a nutritional cleanse, imagine yourself a year from now. Will the product, protocol, and people involved support you to be an improved, healthier, more vibrant version of yourself a year from now? Or, will you just do a cleanse and then rebound back to your undesired weight and unhealthy habits? Even if you aren’t looking for substantial lifestyle changes, a good nutritional cleanse package will provide support and education that will enable you to maintain and enjoy your healthier self for an extended period of time, and be there for you should you run into challenges or obstacles.
Be Practical, Be Gentle On Yourself, & Listen to Your Body
A good nutritional cleanse is not extreme fasting, and should not leave you feeling deprived. It is basically what it says it is: a nutritional cleanse, meaning, you clean up your diet, detoxify, and reset your body through clean, nutrient dense, efficient foods. You will undoubtedly experience some discomfort in the beginning, whether it be withdrawals from addictive foods and coffee, or just symptoms of detoxification. But a good nutritional cleanse protocol should only take a few days to adjust to. There are some good, short term cleanses that only last a week or two, but understand that if you aren’t receiving any kind of meal support or education about what your body is actually undergoing, you are less likely to sustain after the cleanse is over.
Some cleanses will incorporate an herbal supplement designed to provide a deeper cleanse, but should also involve a component that involves food, cleaner eating, education, and healthy habit forming. A reasonable, safe cleansing protocol should allow you to eat regularly, even if it is restricted to a few kinds of foods. A good, calorie restricted anabolic fast can deliver great results, but it needs to be nutritionally complete, and after a very brief adjustment period, should not leave you feeling deprived, light headed, or generally ill feeling at all.
If someone tells you “you have to do this because…” without asking you about your wellness goals or objectives, take a minute to check in with yourself. Your body has an amazing ability to innately know what is best, and when you aren’t sure how to access that information, you can always go to a professional for a second opinion.
Pick an Ideal Time
A quality, safe nutritional cleanse can be done any time of the year, and many cleanses are safe to do as often as four times per year. The most important thing is to do it when you aren’t too stressed out and there aren’t a lot of demands on you from your job or life. If you are working long hours, trying to meet a deadline, working on an aggressive fitness goal, training for a marathon, or embarking on a big life transition, it is best to hold off on a nutritional cleanse and do it at a time when you can chill out and take things a little slower.
Our bodies are amazing miracles! Any time you take steps to create a healthier environment for your body to do its own healing and thriving, you move your body into a healthy momentum, whether it be now, a month from now, or in six months.
Now that you have a little more insight on the world of nutritional cleansing, hopefully you can find a program that is a perfect fit for you.
If you enjoyed reading about this, perhaps I can assist you further. In my nutrition practice, I have access to a couple different nutritional cleanse approaches that may be of interest to you:
Available On-Line: I offer a simple, on-line cleanse and clean eating program that is easy to follow, completely accessible through the internet, and can be initiated and followed in the comfort of your own home. We start with a focused, nutrient rich cleanse called the 10-Day Transformation and follow it up with 4 weeks of maintenance to lock in healthy habits and positive results. The program includes products, a book called The Green Food Bible, and membership to our private support group for meal plan support, grocery lists, and virtual coaching for 40 days. You can learn more about that here: http://www.itstartswith10days.com/wholecleanandgreen
Available In Person: I also work with nutritionist and RD Heidi Hoffman at Vibrant Living Wellness Center in Sierra Madre, California, where we offer a more hands-on, clinically supported cleanse called the 21 Day Purification. This approach includes a personal assessment with Heidi at our office, the products, 3 weeks of meal plans and grocery lists, and optional add-ons like a grocery store tour, and meal plan coaching in our office. You can learn more about that here: http://vibrantlivingwc.com/21-day-cleanse-purification-program/
There are a lot of great products and programs out there, and hopefully now you have some tools and isights to help you navigate your way. Happy cleansing!