The background- I’m getting married at the end of the year, and like every bride I want to feel and look my best for the events (I am Indian so it will go on for weeks!). I’ve started a new job and sitting at a desk all day, coupled with less exercise and more takeaway has seen some kilos creep on.
Not only that, I feel like my sleep patterns are a little out of whack and my body is feeling tired and sluggish. The onslaught of winter is not helping the cause- sitting in heated rooms and the longer hotter showers is not doing any favours for my skin/hair either.
I’m not freaking out, but I’d like to put a stop to it. Most importantly, I want to feel energetic and positive- traits that are essential to happy wedding planning and a happy bride (and groom!).
I’ve done my fair share of detoxes and diets. The toughest being the Dr Joshi’s Holistic Detox- a 21 day detox that completely cuts out all gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol, caffeine and red meat (which most detox’s do) along with ALL fruit and many vegetables. I must admit, it was hard especially for the first few days. The caffeine and sugar cravings were bad! However about 6 days in I started feeling great.. like amazing! My skin was clearer, my eyes brighter, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and woke up full of energy.
Even though following such a restrictive and limited diet is hard- socially, mentally, physically- it is also quite rewarding. Not to mention the time and effort it takes to prepare all your meals makes you appreciate them a lot more.
I’ve decided to do a similar, but not as strict cleanse – this one will be called the “Bloom Body Mind Cleanse”.
What to cut out
There are seven things you must cut out:
- No gluten: including bread, wheat-based breakfast cereals, pasta, flour, noodles (except rice noodles), couscous, cakes, biscuits and pizza
- No processed foods: including take away, ready meals, ready-made sauces, condiments, stock cubes (unless organic), potato chips, desserts, spreads, and anything that contains artificial additives. Always check the labels if you are unsure- if there is something on the ingredients list that has numbers or is more than about 10 letters long, you can be pretty sure it’s an artificial additive
- No dairy products: such as milk, cow’s cheese, cream, butter and sweetened/flavoured yogurt (natural yogurt is the exception)
- No meat, poultry, games and non-organic fish
- No caffeine: including black tea (flexible- see my note*), coffee, chocolate, colas and other fizzy drinks etc. The exception is green tea- drink as much as you want!
- No refined sugars: brown sugar, corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose etc. This also includes artificial sweeteners. If you must have something to satisfy your sweet tooth, there is an herb you can safely use without any harmful effects and that is Stevia. It comes in powdered form or as an extract. Any health food store should carry it. Note: Stevia is extremely sweet so a very little goes a long way. Sugary foods to avoid include: including sweets, cakes (this breaks the wheat/dairy/processed bit anyway), cordials and any fruit juices (even if they are freshly squeezed)
- No alcohol: this central nervous system depressant is full of empty calories. Plus for me, alcohol tends to lead to eating bad foods
*Black tea- when I detoxed in the past I cut out black tea. However this time I am going to allow 1 black tea in the morning with no sugar or milk for the first week. This is because I want this cleanse to be relatively easy to do. Cutting out everything else is hard enough, so I’m taking a staged approach to caffeine (can you tell- this is the hardest thing for me to give up!!).
What to Reduce
Along with these items to cut out, there are a few items to reduce but not give up completely:
- Fruit: you don’t need to cut it out, but limit intake to 1 piece of fruit per day. Total should be no more than 1 cup. Fruit should be fresh (not dried/juiced/processed/canned etc). Cut out dried fruits including dates, raisins and dried mango etc. Try and avoid the following fruits: apples, mangos, pears, honeydew melons, sweet cherries, grapes and watermelon.
- High fat foods: the reason this is in “reduce” rather than “cut out” is because there are so many exceptions. Cut out anything deep fried. Period. However you may enjoy natural fats found in nuts, avocados etc. Also, I encourage natural healthy oils such as coconut oil and olive oil (a detox staple for me is pesto made with olive oil and walnuts). The right fats will actually help you cleanse.
- White rice: really this should be in the cut out section too. However it’s really hard to give up white rice completely and still have something resembling a social life. Try and replace white rice with brown rice wherever possible (i.e. if you are home then white rice is banned!), however let yourself have white rice if you are out and there is NOTHING else you can eat. In this case, try and limit consumption to no more than ½ cup!
- Salt: It’s good to try and limit excessive salt (most of this will be gone if you stay away from processed food anyway), but off course you need seasoning to enjoy your food. Don’t go crazy with the salt shaker- salt is ultimately going to hinder your cleanse, but let yourself add a little to meals if needed.
- Readymade condiments: another item that should really be in the “banned” section but I think the cleanse is too hard with out. Cut out condiments that have any of the ingredients in the banned section- mainly gluten, dairy and refines sugars. But you may include condiments that are fairly cleanse compatible. These include organic pesto, organic salad dressing (not the fat free varieties that are filled with sugar and preservatives), pasta sauces etc.
What to Include
It’s not all doom and gloom! Through my previous cleanses, I have realised just how much more healthy, delicious, soothing food there is to choose from. I’ve given a few suggestions, but there are so many more! Once you start looking into it, you’ll find there are endless things you can create a meal from!
- Brown rice
- Potato flour/starch
- Bean flours (garbanzo, fava)
- Tapioca (manioc, cassava)
- Legumes including: Adzuki Beans, Black Beans, Black-eyed peas, Broad Beans (Fava Beans), Butter Beans, Calico Beans, Cannellini Beans, Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), Kidney Beans, Lentils, Lima Beans, Mung Beans, Navy Beans, Pinto Beans, Soy Beans, including black soy beans, Split Peas, White Beans
- Natural yoghurt
- Proteins are also contained in nuts/seeds as well as some fruits and vegetables
- Soy milk
- Nut milk (e.g almond/coconut)
- Rice milk
- Hemp milk
- Oat milk
Note: when choosing a dairy alternative check the sugar content as some of these can contain huge amounts of sugar.
The only vegetable I recommend to cut out is potato. Whilst no other vegetables are off limits, I would recommend non starchy leafy vegies over starchy vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are the best as the chlorophyll helps flush out environmental toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, and air pollution. Load up on parsley, spinach, kale, chard, mustard greens, and wheatgrass. Research shows that chlorophyll may also block genetic changes that cause the production of carcinogenic substances in cells.
In general you should aim to have half your lunch and half your dinner made up of vegetables, and the more colours the better. Here’s a few to inspire you:
Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergene/Eggplant, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Corn, Cress, Cucumbers, Gourds, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Pak Choi, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers/capsicums, Pumpkins, Radicchio, Radish, Rhubarb, Shallots, Spinach, Squash, Swede, Sweetcorn, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress, Zucchini
I recommend no more than 1 piece of fruit (or 1 cup) per day while you cleanse. This is for 2 reasons. Firstly, I am trying to reduce the amount of sugar consumed. Whilst fruit has “natural sugar” it is still sugar- hence I recommend we reduce fruit. Secondly, I want to rude fructose, the sugar that occurs naturally in fruit. Fructose is metabolised to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar, and has also been shown to contribute to a multitude of digestive issues. Hence, it would be good to limit fructose during the cleanse.
When choosing fruit, go for any you like, but here are a few that are higher in sugar and should be limited: apples, mangos, pears, honeydew melons, sweet cherries, grapes and watermelon.
Try instead: cranberries, grapefruit, figs, melons, bananas, grapefruit, guava, papaya, peaches, oranges, mandarins, plums, nectarines, apricots, cantaloupe, coconut, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, goji berries, and any other berries.I would also recommend trying to start the day with some freshly squeezed lemon in warm water (if you don’t prefer the lemon first thing, try having only the warm water). If having lemon and water, remember to have a little plain water after so the acid from the lemon doesn’t damage your teeth.Try and stick to organic/pesticide free fruit where possible. Also, if you are having a sugar craving, I would definitely recommend you cave to an extra servicing of fruit rather than a chocolate bar!
Eating nuts and seeds are a great way to add vitamins, minerals, fibre, and essential fatty acids (like omega 3 and omega 6), to your cleansing diet.
Some nut & seed choices include: almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, flaxseeds/linseeds (these must be ground), pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Try and stick to no more than a small handful of nuts per day due to the high fat and calorie content.
Activated nuts & seeds are best- these are nuts that have been made bio-active through a process of soaking and partial fermentation. Soaking raw nuts and seeds stimulates the process of germination, which increases the vitamin C, B, and carotenes (pre-vitamin A) content. It also helps to neutralise phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all grains and seeds that can inhibit some absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Raw nuts and seeds also contain enzyme inhibitors that are neutralised by germination.
To activate nuts & seeds: simple rinse your nuts or seeds and place them in a bowl or jar and cover it with something breathable, like a towel tissue. Let them soak at room temperature as follows:
- Almonds: 8 – 12 hours
- Cashews: 2 – 2 ½ hours
- Sesame seeds: 8 hours
- Sunflower seeds: 2 hours
- Walnuts: 4 hours
- All other nuts/seeds: 6-24 hours
Once soaked simple rinse nuts & seeds and enjoy! If you don’t like the softer texture, try dry roasting them once they are activated. Don’t make too make as these will only keep for 3 days in the fridge.
I could write a whole book about the health and cleansing benefits of herbs and spices. Herbs and spices have more disease-fighting antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables, not to mention they add wonderful flavour to food without the calories – a must when you are cleansing! There are just so many herbs and spices, but here are a few and their benefits:
- Anise Seed: Alleviates symptoms of asthma and congestion; laxative
- Anise Star: Diuretic, reduces gas
- Basil: Anti-inflammatory; antioxidant, strengthens defences against asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Bay Leaf: Balances blood sugar and retards weight gain; sedative; may help reduce high blood pressure
- Cardamom: Reduces heartburn and helps digest grains
- Cayenne: Anti-inflammatory; improves circulation; enhances memory; opens respiratory passages
- Celery Seed: Helps relieve symptoms of gout, insomnia, and kidney stones
- Chili: Anti-inflammatory; provides pain relief; improves circulation; enhances memory; opens respiratory passages; may fight prostate cancer and ulcers
- Chives: May decrease risk of prostate cancer, and reduce cholesterol
- Cilantro: Used to regulate digestion and remedy bladder problems; antibacterial that may be an effective natural means of combating salmonella
- Cinnamon: Antibacterial; balances blood sugar; lowers cholesterol; alleviates congestion; sedative
- Cloves: Painkiller; alleviates diarrhoea and nausea
- Coriander: Anti-inflammatory; reduces cholesterol; prevents gas; alleviates cramps and gout
- Cumin: Antiviral; anti-inflammatory; memory enhancer
- Dill Weed: Antioxidant; helps prevent growth of bacteria
- Fennel: Relieves congestion, stomach cramps and headaches
- Fenugreek: Lowers cholesterol; prevents gas; relieves sore throat and congestion; laxative
- Garlic: Antibacterial; antifungal; antiviral; lowers cholesterol and blood pressure; reduces water retention
- Ginger: Antibacterial; improves circulation; stimulates lymph glands; alleviates motion sickness and nausea
- Lavender: Used to treat burns, insomnia, anxiety, migraines, symptoms of menopause and to balance blood sugars
- Lemon Grass: Promotes digestion of fats, alleviates fevers and menstrual cramps
- Lemon/orange Peel: Alleviates congestion; cleaning agent; high in vitamin C
- Marjoram: Antibacterial; antioxidant
- Mustard: Alleviates congestion, bronchitis, sore throat and arthritis
- Onion: Antiseptic, reduces high blood pressure, alleviates symptoms of asthma and colds
- Oregano: Antibacterial, antioxidant
- Paprika: Helps heal canker sores; improves circulation; alleviates symptoms of colds and kidney infections
- Parsley: Antioxidant; helps neutralize certain carcinogens; improves eyesight; promotes kidney and liver health; prevents build up in arteries
- Peppercorns: Improves digestion and promotes intestinal health; anti-inflammatory; antioxidant and antibacterial; stimulates the breakdown of fat cells
- Peppermint: Muscle relaxant; digestive aide; antibacterial; antioxidant; anti-inflammatory
- Poppy Seed: Stimulates appetite
- Red Pepper: Anti-inflammatory; improves circulation; enhances memory; opens respiratory passages
- Rosemary: Stimulates the immune system; improves circulation; improves digestion
- Sage: Aids digestion of oily and fatty foods; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, improves brain function
- Sea Salt: Slows bacterial growth; alleviates sore muscles and sore throats
- Tarragon: Anti-fungal; anti-oxidant; sedative
- Thyme: Antioxidant; anti-inflammatory; antimicrobial; helps digest fatty foods; can kill MRSA infections (staph bacteria)
- Turmeric: Antioxidant; reduces cholesterol, inflammation, and indigestion; may block the formation of some cancers
Detoxing can cause a strong physical as well as mental reaction. The best way to succeed on a cleanse and not give in to temptation is to plan your detox diet well ahead.
The best way to “pretox” or prepare for your cleanse is to:
- Hide/give/throw away any tempting processed, fatty and sugary foods
- Start to reduce/cut out tea, coffee, sugar, bread, meat, alcohol a week before you begin the cleanse
- Introduce more and more fresh, organic fruit, vegetables and juices in the week leading to the cleanse
- Buy food that you know will be consumed on the cleanse- e.g. gluten free cereals / milk alternatives etc
- Start your day with warm water and lemon, or just warm water
- If you have any health problems always consult you’re a naturopath or your GP first
A cleanse can be daunting, so here are a few meal ideas to get you started:
Upon waking: Warm water with lemon (or just warm water). I recommend 500mls
- Freshly squeezed vegetable juice (if you find it hard to eat a full breakfast)
- Millet, quinoa or buckwheat porridge with fruit (try banana or some berries) and soy milk. Add cinnamon for flavour and some seeds (such as pumpkin and sunflower) for crunch
- Gluten free bread toasted and served with nut or seed butter
- Gluten free bread toasted and served with avocados/tomatoes
- Poached organic eggs and steamed spinach on gluten free bread
- Natural yogurt with gluten free muesli/puffed brown rice or puffed corn. Serve with some fruit for sweetness
- Sandwhich made with gluten free bread
- Soup made from fresh vegies (not the store bought ones which are packed with preservatives and salt/sugar)
- Salads with lots of fresh greens. Add legumes or tofu to make it more filling
- Brown rice with a healthy vegetable curry
- Gluten free pasta with steamed vegetables and a simple homemade tomato sauce or pesto
- Your choice of organic oily fish served with heaps of seasonal vegetables and a squeeze of lemon juice
- Baked salmon with your vegetable accompaniment of choice
- Polenta with your vegetable accompaniment of choice (try with pesto- delicious!)
- Quinoa paella
- Wild rice pilaf
- Natural yogurt sweetened with stevia or a dab of honey (honey is very high in fructose so stick to ½ teaspoon)
- Warmed or chilled almond milk (its surprisingly sweet)
- Soy or rice milk with pure cacao powder and sweetened with stevia
- Rice cakes (unsalted, plain or sesame seed), with hummus, tahini, guacamole, goat’s cheese or nut butter
- Simple salads
- Half an avocado sprinkled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Handful of nuts and seeds
- Raw vegetables sticks (try carrot, celery, cucumber or capsicum) served with tahini, hummus or guacamole
- Fresh vegetable juice
- Smoothie made from dairy alternative or natural yogurt, sweetened with some fruit or stevia. Add seeds for crunch and texture.
The choices are really endless. Once you start doing some research and discovering what you like/don’t you’ll realise that there are so many delicious and healthy foods that you haven’t been eating.
For inspiration, here are a few website that I found really useful when detoxing. Some of the recipes don’t fit into our cleanse exactly so try and modify them where possible and avoid the ones that are hard to fit in to this cleanse:
http://gluten-dairy-sugarfree.com/ (perfect for the Bloom Body Mind Cleanse)
Now that you are fully equipped to change your body by doing the Bloom Body Mind Cleanse you are probably wondering how long you should do it for.
My recommendation is that you stick to it for 3 full weeks, and then slowly introduce dairy/gluten etc back into your diet. If you work from Monday to Friday, try to begin on a Friday so you have the first few days to relax at home. These are usually the most difficult days. During the first weeks you may experience headaches, bloating, cramping, flatulence, nausea, diarrhoea and lethargy. Unless these are severe- try and power through. These symptoms are usually a result of your body experiencing withdrawal symptoms from all the junk it’s addicted to!
I recommend 3 weeks as this is the time needed for your body to really cleanse. The first week is normally taken up by your body (and you) becoming accustomed to the new foods and the lack of gluten/dairy/sugar etc. The main cleansing- the part where you really begin to feel the benefits happen in the subsequent 2 weeks.
Trying the forbidden foods is always an interesting experience- you may find that your body does not react so well to certain foods, but you never noticed it prior to the cleanse.
Don’t forget that the Bloom Body Mind Cleanse will help rid your bodies of toxins, kick start a weight loss plan, improve skin conditions, help digestive issues and strengthen overall energy and health. On top of these physical benefits you will find that the cleanse helps improve your sleeping patterns, combat fatigue and improve concentration.