Tomorrow’s my last day on the cleanse and to celebrate, I thought I’d write a little about my experiences on the cleanse, especially for those who are considering giving it a try. Even if you’re not interested in taking the herbal supplements, the suggested diet is worth giving a try for at least 12 days. The diet is a great way to introduce whole food eating into your diet and it will open you up to a world of fresh, wholesome food from the source. While I initially thought I’d go to town with all the foods I had been denied during the past two weeks, I actually find that I’m not craving the same things that I used to. I feel a lot less bloated and clean on the inside and out. Totally worth the effort if you ask me!
Interested in trying out the cleanse but don’t know where to start? Planning is the key to success here, and I have written out a few tips that helped me successfully get through the past two weeks.
- Go grocery shopping beforehand. Ready to get started? The best thing to do is plan and be prepared. If you work full time during the week like me, having an abundance of fresh produce in your fridge is crucial to getting through the week. The kit comes with a list of foods that you can and cannot eat. While there are a lot of things that weren’t included on it and I felt sure that they would be fine, I decided to just play it safe and eat using the list. Remember, it’s only 12 days and it’s better to be safe, rather than sorry.
- Be prepared with snacks. I didn’t realize how often I was reaching for a nibble of a granola bar or some crackers in the middle of the afternoon instead of eating a ‘whole foods snack’. On Sunday before the upcoming week, I made a big batch of hummus and each night I’d chop some carrot sticks to eat in the middle of the day. I also stocked up on brown rice cakes and raw almonds which allowed me to exercise and stay full throughout the day. Other spread ideas for your rice cakes? Smashed avocado, almond butter, tahini and baba ghanoush.
- Herbal tea is your friend. Although one cup of coffee is allowed per day, you can’t put any sweetener in it or milk (unless you want to make almond milk at home – I checked several brands and the ingredient lists on store-bought almond milk were suspect). In my humble opinion though, caffeine is a stimulant and the point of the cleanse is to, well, cleanse your body of all its toxins. I prefer to just stay away from coffee completely. Remember, it’s only 12 days and I guarantee if you stay away from it, you’ll marvel at how your dependence on it will plummet. Since fermented products are not allowed on the cleanse, that means black tea is out too. Green tea and herbal teas will become your best friends. Green tea will do the trick if you really need that caffeine kick in the morning, and herbal teas are a really nice way to cap off your evening.
- Hot cereal is the breakfast of champions. Eating hot cereal is the best way to get a hearty breakfast that will start your day off on the right foot. If you’re anything like me though, taking the time to cook a bowl of oatmeal (experiment with other options too like millet, quinoa, or even leftover brown rice!) just isn’t an option during the week. One option is to cook up a week’s worth of hot cereal and leave it in the fridge. The next morning, add some water, your favourite mix-ins and reheat either on the stove or in the microwave. I personally like having “fresh” batches of my oatmeal, so I used my Hot Overnight Oats in a Pot method by combining 1:4 portions of oats and water each night. The next morning I added my spices and sometimes snuck in some pumpkin or butternut squash. Topped with a generous dollop of your favourite nut butter (except peanut butter) and I had a breakfast that would keep me full until lunch time.
- Spice it up. With the absence of sugar, you may wonder if everything will now taste incredibly bland. I found that the longer I was on the cleanse, the less I actually craved sugar. Some mornings I would crush up some cardamom pods and add it, along with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into my oatmeal and it would be perfect. Especially with some organic blueberries, sunflower seed butter and almond butter. Savoury spices like oregano, parsley, mint, thyme, etc are excellent ways to spice up your vegetables, proteins (lean meats, fish), and even grains like rice.
- Respect the salad. Homemade salads are a great way to get your vegetable servings each day and are perfect to bring to work. Sub your croutons and cheese with creamy avocado, berries and chopped apples, hard boiled egg slices, and chopped nuts. Use hearty dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard, or collard greens. Most commercial dressings use vinegar which you can’t use while on the cleanse, so I found that a simple mix of flaxseed oil (olive oil works too), lemon juice, lemon zest, chopped garlic, salt and pepper worked fabulously. Occasionally, I’d throw in a few more spices here and there. Don’t have time to whip up dressing every night? Pre-mix a larger batch in a glass bottle at the beginning of the week to save time! Tip: if you’re using kale, massage it with the salad dressing – it softens up the kale a bit and makes it slightly easier to chew on.
- Clear your schedule, eating out is hard. Last year when I did the cleanse, I cooked and ate in every single day. I purposely cleared out my schedule so that I could focus on the cleanse and not worry about the foods that I was eating. This time around, I had only one opportunity to see a friend that I couldn’t pass up, so I carefully chose a restaurant in Toronto that I felt would be cleanse friendly. I chose it because they’re completely upfront and honest about the food they prepare and are even willing to show you a full ingredient list for their entire menu if you ask. They were also incredibly understanding and willing to hear me out and customize my order if need be. In case you live in Toronto, I went to Fresh. Although I didn’t go there myself during the cleanse, I have a feeling Camros Organic Eatery would also be a great option to go to. Another option is to hold a cleanse-friendly potluck – a few of my friends are starting the cleanse for the first time this Monday but a big group of us wanted to get together to see each other. Our solution? To have a cleanse-friendly potluck. Since many of us have already been on the cleanse before, we’re all going to bring cleanse-friendly dishes to feast on. Yes, I said feast, because once again, being on the cleanse doesn’t mean that you’ll be starving in any way.
- You don’t have to cook – too much. Don’t have time to cook every night? Join the club. In an ideal world I’d cook my breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Unfortunately, this just wasn’t an option for me. Preparing big dishes in advance is key to being able to portion out smaller servings to enjoy throughout the week. Salads are also a great no-cook option if you’re really strapped for time. Need some food ideas? I’ve listed a few cleanse-friendly recipes below:
- Easy Lentil Stew (use real tomatoes and water instead of canned)
- Lentil and Vegetable Curry
- Comforting Chickpea Curry (use real tomatoes and water instead of canned)
- Soul Soothing Split Pea Soup
- Sweet Potato, Leek and Eggplant “Frittata”
- Quinoa Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers (choose cleanse-friendly salsa or make your own)
- Baked falafels, curried cauliflower, kale salad (all cleanse friendly!!!)
- Chai-spiced roasted sweet potatoes*
- Dill Rice
- Curry Rice with Peas
- Millet Mash
- Kale chips (instead of soy sauce or vinegar, just use olive oil)
- 3-Step Almond Milk
Can I exercise?
A common question/worry is whether you will be able to continue your regular activity while on the cleanse. Last year, I picked up a cold just as I was starting the cleanse and it lasted about a week, and because of that, I didn’t work out as much. This time around, I was able to maintain a business as usual approach for the first week until I hit Sunday. After several challenging work outs, I felt extremely fatigued and ran out of steam during my long run on Sunday morning. That was the first and only time during the cleanse that I really felt depleted and unable to exercise in the same way as I normally do. I’ve felt fine the second week and was able to resume all of my activities. In fact, I have even more energy right now. I’m sure the cleanse has different effects depending on the person. I try to maintain a pretty clean diet throughout the year, so I didn’t notice any significant changes while on the cleanse, but that’s not necessarily the case for others.
My final thoughts are that if you are interested in giving your body a tune-up and riding it of toxins, I’d give this cleanse a try for sure. It’s great because you don’t have to drink funky juices or do anything too crazy. Just avoid certain foods, and open yourself up to giving a whole foods diet a try. There were many habits that I picked up on the cleanse last year that I continued throughout the year. Starting my day with warm water and fresh lemon is one of the best habits that I picked up and I highly recommend you giving it a try whether you’re on the cleanse or not.
Note, I didn’t link the cleanse because I don’t want this to seem like a giant ad for the cleanse I did. I reference the Wild Rose cleanse because it was recommended to me by friends and I have personally had success with it. Having said that, there are other cleanse programs out there which are probably just as effective, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never tried them. If you’re interested in trying out the Wild Rose D-tox specifically, you will find a variety of sites that offer more information on where to get it.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve written or the cleanse itself, just leave a comment or send me an email!