How To: Kill Cravings for Cleanses

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How To: Kill Cravings for Cleanses

I know you.  You’re the one who wants to take charge of your health and do a cleanse, but you’re worried. You don’t know how you’ll survive the hunger, the detox symptoms and the general absence of the familiarity of your standard diet.

Rest assured. Everyone feels like that before their first cleanse. Heck, I feel like that before every cleanse. “Can I really do this again?,” I wonder. Then I remember the reasons I decided to do it in the first place, and my resolve is back.

There are lots of ways to prepare yourself both mentally and physically, so I’m sharing some of my favorite tips, and I’ve also thrown in some natural appetite suppressants and ways to keep yourself going during your cleanse.

These strategies can be applied to any type of cleanse. You just need to adapt them a bit depending on how strict a cleanse you’re undertaking.

As a general rule, those of you new to cleansing should start with something relatively gentle, such as a Daniel fast, to minimize detox symptoms. When your diet improves overall, you may wish to begin a more restrictive fast.

Mental Preparation

1. Circle the date you’ll begin on the calendar in your favorite color. Get excited about it!  You’re about to change your health for the better, and it starts that day.

2. Make a list of all the benefits of cleansing, and keep your eyes on the prize. If you’re more motivated by pictures, make a goal poster. Whatever makes you excited is the way to go.

I’m all about goal posters, and one on the fridge and one on the pantry serve as reminders when I’m feeling my resolve weaken.

3.  Establish a good accountability and support system. Whether you cleanse for three days or three weeks, you’re going to need people to help you along. Online message boards are a great resource if you don’t have anyone in your life who is supportive.

Letting people know that I plan to cleanse is a wonderful method of accountability. If I’ve said I’m going to do something, I’m less likely to cheat.

4. Plan, plan, plan.  Plan your time so you don’t have the luxury of thinking about food. This is a great time for a television fast, since TV time and munching so often go hand in hand.

Go ahead and grab that stack of books you’ve been meaning to read, the knitting project you’ve put off, or the spring cleaning list you need to tackle.

Lucky you, it’s the best time of year to start a cleanse. The abundance of beautiful produce along with the warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours make it so much easier to stick to a short-term diet change.

5. Be prepared for the possible release of toxic emotions. This is something people often dismiss, but when we abstain from food, we are more free to focus on other things.

For some, this may be frightening (trust me). However, you may notice that old attitudes and unforgiving thoughts disappear during your cleanse. This is a common and wonderful side benefit of the cleansing process.

Physical Preparation

The Best of Raw Food suggests you use the following base to create your own green smoothie recipe. You can choose your own fruits and vegetables and adjust the amount used as appropriate to your recipe, but it is suggested that you maintain a 1 to 1 ratio:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Fruit
  • 1-2 bananas or 1 avocado to thicken your smoothie
  • Ginger, lemon, or stevia to taste

Body pH

  • Cells must maintain an alkaline pH to remain healthy and functional. People with unbalanced pH are usually acidic, which can cause a number of unwanted symptoms.
  • According to the Wolfe Clinic, green foods are alkanizing while foods high in phosphates deter calcium absorption, which helps maintain alkalinity.
  • There are a few different test methods available to determine your body’s pH

Chia Facts

  • Chia can be eaten raw, soaked, or added to other foods.
  • Chia is a good source of dietary fiber.
  • Yes–chia is what they use on Chia Pets.

“They” Said

  • Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body
  • The Master Cleanse
  • The Important of Your Body’s pH Balance

1.  First, get clearance from your medical professional, especially if you take prescription medication. It is important to note that pregnant and nursing mothers should not cleanse due to the huge possibility of toxicity to the baby.

2. Increase your water intake in the days leading up to the cleanse. Filtered water with lemon is preferable since it allows tissues to begin to alkalize. I like the taste, so I use one whole lemon in a quart of water. I drink at least a pint an hour before breakfast and a second pint an hour after.

I don’t use lemon in all of my water, preferring plain water at the gym and in the evening. However, any water before dinner has lemon except what I drink during my workout.

3. Begin tapering down to three meals per day by cutting out snacks. The digestive system has to work constantly, and giving it a break will help it work more effectively overall. This will also help you focus less on food and more on feeding yourself. These are two different things.

4.  If you’re an evening snacker, replace those snacks with hot herbal or green tea. It’s soothing and, being liquid, passes through the system with speed and ease. Breaking this one habit will result in conquering cravings and affording you better sleep.

5. Get rid of as much junk as possible to avoid temptation (throw it away instead of eating it, you don’t want to contribute to the problem any longer).  If you’re going it alone and live with others, you may wish to lock up items that you can’t have. Give the key to someone who will not allow you to cheat.

6. Assemble all the ingredients you’ll need for your particular cleanse. I like to buy just enough for the duration of the fast so that I’m not overindulging. The exception to this is juice fasting because you’ll want to have your juice any time you’re feeling the need to “eat.”

From personal experience, I can tell you that nothing makes you want to reach for a doughnut more than not having the food you need readily available.

7. Plan to start your fast on a weekend (or when you have a day or two off from work). Many people, especially those who have never cleansed before, will have detox symptoms.

These may include headaches, backaches, diarrhea or constipation, breakouts and lots of mucus discharge. Most detox symptoms last one to two days, but can last up to two weeks in those with a high level of toxicity (or those on too severe a cleanse for their histories).

Natural Appetite Suppressants

I will tell you this; you will be hungry on a cleanse. That’s ok. That’s part of the deal. When you’re really ready, you’ll roll with the hunger. However, here are some ideas for when your will is faltering and you’re determined to stay on the cleanse.

Depending on what’s allowed on your particular undertaking, you may need to make some modifications to these suggestions.

1. Before the cleanse, assemble a few things that are permissible and nourishing to you. Green tea may be of great comfort, particularly for those doing a juice fast. The temperature change will warm the body and simulate the heat of solid food while still easy on the digestive system.

2. On a juice fast (or “feast”) or the Master Cleanse, you may want to make a green smoothie. It is substantial, making the belly feel full and satisfied. Also, because it is designed to be chewed a bit, you will gain the psychological satisfaction that we often miss on a cleanse.

3. Chia seed is wonderful for appetite control. This tiny seed expands in liquid, filling the stomach with few calories. You may eat it in a spoon with just a bit of water, make an agua fresca (minus the sweetener), or add it to a smoothie or juice. It will also help with elimination, which often becomes sluggish on a liquid-only diet.

4. If your stomach feels perpetually empty without food, have something with a satisfying crunch, like celery or carrots. I keep raw almonds on hand, which I’ve sprouted and dehydrated. Be aware, however, that any food with fat will slow down your detox.

Because it’s generally illegal to buy truly raw almonds, they’re hard to come by. California law states that an individual may purchase up to 100 lbs per day, so there aren’t many places to get ones that will sprout (especially after October, when the harvest occurs).

The nutrition in sprouted almonds is many times those of pasteurized almonds that you buy in stores. I’ve had success buying from Ebay, and greensmoothiegirl.com’s annual group buy in September.

Here’s a recipe for sprouted/dehydrated almonds (adapted from Robyn’s [AKA Green Smoothie Girl’s] recipe for a cleanse):

5 cups raw almonds, soaked for 2 days and dehydrated at 105 F for approximately 12 hours
1/2 cup low-sodium tamari
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp  cayenne pepper

Blend  tamari, garlic and cayenne in blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl, add almonds and mix well. Let the mix sit for an hour or so to allow nuts to absorb liquid and then stir again. Spread nuts on Paraflexx sheets in dehydrator. Dry nuts at 105 F for about 14-16 hours. Place nuts on mesh sheets and dry again until crunchy ( around 10 hours).

During

1.  Keep yourself busy, but don’t allow fatigue to set in. Most cleanses will have you consuming fewer calories than you’re used to. You will want to skip hard exercise. However, you need to sweat to get toxins out, so a 1-2 mile walk each day will occupy the mind and allow the body to release toxins.

During those walks, I like to think about the emotions I’m experiencing so I can deal with them. It’s 30-60 minutes of time to deal with my heart when I’m otherwise too busy to do so. The physical release of exercise makes this process easier.

2. Remember to “HALT:” Don’t let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. These are all diet pitfalls, along with boredom and will get you into an undesirable frame of mind. When you notice that you are hungry, have a “safe” cleanse food.

Your emotions will likely be on edge, so you may find yourself more easily irritated. Be sure to deal with any budding anger so it doesn’t explode.

If you’ve prepared well, you probably won’t be lonely, but it’s possible that you may be isolated if your general excursions with friends involve food. Suggest alternative plans beforehand, or avoid that sort of company for the duration of your fast.

Sleep is critical on a cleanse. It’s when your body accomplishes the most healing, especially because you’re resting your digestive system during the day as well. Plan to be in bed by 10 p.m. at the latest, and allow yourself 1-2 more hours of sleep than you normally require.

3. Keep a journal of how you’re feeling throughout the day. Write out both the physical and the emotional. Share your struggles with hunger, pain and lack of control. This will be super valuable to you on future cleanses, as well as any time you slip off of your cleanse.

When you can see in black and white what caused you to fail briefly, you can be more vigilant about that particular trigger. Also, your documented successes will be great motivators to keep going.

You may want to weigh yourself, and that’s fine. I’d recommend no more than every three days, as weight fluctuates so wildly from person to person and at different times of day.

4. There’s a saying among those recovering from eating disorders, “Slip, but don’t fall.” If you give in to a craving, leave it behind. Write it down, but no dwelling on it. Every meal is a new opportunity to succeed. No punishment; no berating allowed — just move on.

We’re all in different places regarding health and wellness, but every step forward moves you from where you were. Baby steps, indeed.

5. If you’re having too many symptoms of detox, eat some soaked nuts (except macadamias, they don’t soak well), or some cooked quinoa or millet or lima beans. They digest slowly and therefore will slow the process. If you just want the detox part over with, be very strict with yourself and use your mantra to get you through.

6.  Remember that cleansing is really about mastering the appetite and taking control over food. We’ve been led by McDonald’s commercials to believe that we’ve “got to have” their newest concoction, and it just isn’t so. Learn to master your appetite and you will conquer your will. It’s that simple.

When you’ve showed yourself that you can succeed in this area of your life, it becomes easier to release other vices. It’s a decision, your decision. Are you ready?

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