There are really only a few things that will make you lose your mind — lack of food/water, lack of sleep, and lack of socialization. A typical cleanse involves at least one — no food. I don’t know how long you’ve ever gone without one of these things, but I can tell you the results aren’t pretty. You end up frazzled, crying at the drop of a hat. Anything that requires thought or effort is way beyond your abilities.
Going without food for days also puts your body into starvation mode, so as soon as you start eating again, you pack all those calories on as fat. You know, for backup, in case you decide to starve again. Luckily, there are things you can do to help cleanse your body, without doing more harm than good.
- Don’t Just Drink It
You might be thinking to yourself that this doesn’t apply to all cleanses. After all, what about juicing? That’s basically the same as eating fruits and vegetables, right?
Well, no, not really. The main benefit of juicing is to consume fruits and vegetables you usually wouldn’t. The downside is you’re still getting rid of a lot of the beneficial stuff by only consuming the juice. For a lot of fruits, that’s straight sugar! No wonder you feel good after your drink, you’re on a sugar high!
The fiber you took out and threw away is part of what makes those foods good for you and slows down the sugar absorption to minimize the insulinogenic effect. Learning to prepare the foods is just a YouTube search away.
- Choose the Right Things
The whole idea behind a cleanse is you’re flushing toxins out of your body. But are you really? Maybe, if you’re only using the homemade lemonade made from the lemon trees out back and the maple syrup freshly tapped from your grandma’s house in Canada.
If you aren’t a fairytale character, you’re probably using store-bought items. This is fine! They just aren’t any “cleaner” than they would be if you ate them instead of turning them into juice. Or, like with the Master Cleanse, you’re just drinking a bunch of sugar in your lemonade (i.e., syrup). It’s pretty much the same as living on glucose with some cayenne pepper.
Instead, try eating clean. It’s easy — drink water, eat lots of green and brightly colored things, avoid processed foods, and exercise. Your body will flush the toxins out on its own when you stop putting them in there.
- Give it Time
Ok, so a cleanse might help you lose enough weight to get into that slinky red dress for your anniversary next week. But once you’re out to dinner and start eating actual food again, that weight’s going to come right back on, and then some. Instead of trying for a quick fix for specific events, try just planning it out.
Stop thinking of your life in terms of the next event, and look at the whole thing. Would you rather drop 5 pounds and gain 10 in the process of a month, or would you rather lose 10 pounds permanently in a year? Do it right, do it slow, and it’ll stick.
- Detox Your Mind
Your mental state is a big factor in what you end up putting in your body. An important part of any cleanse should include your mind too. We have plenty of stress in the way we live, but not nearly enough (or any) relaxation time.
Sometimes it takes a day or two of nothing — not going out, not taking care of any errands, just snuggling up at home and being a couch potato. Sometimes it takes some meditation. Sometimes it might take a therapy session.
The key is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. That means eating, exercising, and resting. Make sure to sleep enough — for most adults that’s somewhere between 7 and 9 hours.
- Make it a Lifestyle
If you’re interested in making a real, long-term change in your life, then detox diets aren’t the way to go. Being kind to your body and mind is. Weirdly, the U.S. diet is high in fat and sugar, but low in nutrients. Even though we’re fat people, we’re still starving our bodies of vital nutrients, which makes us hungry all the time.
Feed yourself in a way that satisfies all levels of your body, including your mind. A sudden, drastic switch isn’t likely to stick, but making small changes over the long term will implement changes in a way you hardly even notice. The result will eventually be lifelong health, with no need to cleanse.
So what’s the takeaway here? In general, I’d say it’s more important to detox your life than your body. Keep working toward health and you won’t need fad diets.
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