I’ve had a pretty tough past few years, health wise. Nothing majorly dramatic, but I have been suffering from various health issues which neither seem to have an identifiable cause nor do they warrant a quick fix. For some time, I was experiencing a lot of pain in my abdomen, mostly in the evenings, which usually was accompanied by the appearance of a small lump on the side of my belly. After months and months and several doctor and hospital visits and invasive tests, Western medicine ruled out all the scary diagnoses and told me that it is a medically unexplained inflammation and I should consider seeing a dietician to help me with my diet. I politely declined and went my way; after all, my best friend was a dietician at the same hospital at the time, and I’d much rather pick her brains over coffee instead.
At that point, I realised that I no longer needed to put my body through medicine hell. I realised that what I needed to do was re-evaluate my diet, my habits and my life as a whole. Was I doing the best I could to support myself? Probably not.
Let’s have a look:
∴ I live in London (traffic, pollution, noise, stress, minimum nature exposure).
∴ I eat a diet of everything in moderation. I have fluctuated from high sugar, chocolate addiction, to strict, lose-weight-as-fast-as-possible diets. Scary, when I think about it now.
∴ I had been on the contraceptive pill for many, many years, not knowing what that does to my body.
∴ I used exercise in order to lose weight and/or look good. Maybe that is a good enough motivator for some, but for me it meant it was often a way of punishing myself for enjoying food a little too much.
Fast forward to now. A combination of research, regular yoga practice, and radical amounts of self-love and acceptance are helping me make better choices for my health. What this means is that I am experimenting with what works best for my body and myself as a whole. I’ve found that I am an emotional being (not too surprising to those close to me), and I use food to deal with emotion. I like to celebrate with a nice meal and I turn to the fridge when I need a pick-me-up. But paying attention to my body’s signals has meant that I can choose based on what will truly make me feel good, and not what will temporarily spike my blood sugar, and then sloth me out.
My 24 hour liquid detox cleanse
A few months into 2014, in the middle of major life transitions and re-evaluations, I decided to give my body a break. I felt I needed a health boost, a kick, a spring clean. If I could, I would have gone on a week retreat full of yoga and delicious organic food. As I was not in a position to go on a retreat, I settled for a liquid detox cleanse to remind myself of the goodness of juices, but also to experiment with how my body would feel during. I’ve pretty much been off raw vegetables for the whole winter, as my digestive system could not process them. It was a very painful realisation that I could not rely on salads and raw goodness to get my nutrients, and it took me a while to figure out what was acceptable for my body to eat. With the help of my nutritionist, I cut out most raw vegetables, wheat and dairy last autumn for a period of three months, and it was not until spring this year that I toyed with the idea that I might be ready to experiment. Just to clarify, I could eat a tiny green salad, or a few tomatoes with a main meal, but I literally could not stomach a salad as a meal. Green juices were more often than not a painful mistake, so I opted for fruit based juices or vegetable smoothies. I accepted that my body was trying to tell me something, and I let it do its job.
So when I decided to do a 24 hr liquid detox cleanse a few weeks ago, it was not for the usual detoxifying benefits, but more as an experiment to see how my body would respond, both physically and mentally. I therefore opted for more fruits than normal, and would have more vegetable-based juices otherwise. This is also the reason why I chose to stick to 24 hours, rather than a longer, more effective cleanse.
Ingredients for 24 hours liquid detox cleanse:
2 bags of baby spinach
0,4 kg carrots
maca root powder
Plus 2L of filtered water, and several herbal teas (fennel, mint, cinnamon & liquorice Pukka teas).
I used organic produce as much as possible and made the juices at home.
Add ingredients in the juicer and top with coconut water or filtered water as required.
Green Juice (1L)
Approximately 250gr spinach, 2 cucumbers, 2 lemons, a big bunch of mint, 2 tsp spirulina powder, 1 average sized apple, 1 cup of raw coconut water.
Breakfast juice (800ml)
Carrots (appx 5 small/average sized), 1 average sized apple, ginger, 2 tsp maca root powder
Dessert juice (400ml)
250 gr Spinach, 5 average sized strawberries, 1 cucumber, 0.5 cup of raw coconut water.
I started the day with a glass of warm water and organic apple cider vinegar and lemon (highly recommended and will write about it later). For the first few hours of the day I drank the whole of the Breakfast Juice and about a third of the Green Juice.
In addition, for lunch I had a miso soup (only the liquid) and another third of the Green Juice. After lunch, I had my Dessert Juice. I ended the cleanse with the rest of the Green Juice and with a chilli soup which had rice glass noodles, vegetables and boiled chicken.
How I felt during:
The day went by very quickly. I did not feel hungry, and only had a faint headache in the evening. I had a slight afternoon slump, probably after my blood sugar dropped following the Dessert Juice (which was particularly yummy, but quite sweet). Overall it was a normal day. I went to work and was able to concentrate without any problems. The only challenge was to prepare and carry the juices with me, but with a little pre-planning that was not an issue.
The greatest revelation was that I felt absolutely NO PAIN!
How I felt after:
The next morning I woke up easily and with energy (something that does not happen often as I am a lover of sleep and lie-ins!). I still had a slight headache and on reflection that was most likely the effect of caffeine leaving my body. I had a very enjoyable morning yoga practice and my mind felt clearer during meditation. I had less bloating and no pain. I also felt normal hunger and did not get sugar cravings the next day.
Overall, I am very pleased I completed the cleanse. It officially ended with the chilli soup as I did eat some of the solid vegetables and chicken, so it was slightly less than 24 hours. However, it helped me regain the energy and momentum I needed for what is going on in my life right now. Above all, it reminded me of the importance of respecting my body in its current state and of not letting external expectations interfere. Once again, what I needed to give my body was self love, this time in the form of pure nutrition, to allow it to reboot and recharge. I am sure I will do another cleansing detox at some point, but for now what I am working on is supporting my body day by day. The challenge for me is to resist the quick fix of sugar when I am tired physically or emotionally and to instead opt for the nutritious, whole foods I know are truly healing. And I am learning day in and day out!
Extra little tricks to support your body’s detox process:
∴ Lots and lots of water and herbal teas
∴ Keep busy but don’t overdo it
∴ Yoga (opt for yin or restorative or a gentle hatha class)
∴ Meditation & Pranayama (try alternate nostril breathing)
∴ Schedule awesome things to keep morale high (an evening walk, spend time with people who nourish you, read a good book)
∴ Sleep early to allow your body time to heal
∴ Avoid drama (!)
And finally, a little reminder – this post is simply a reflection on my own journey and should not be considered professional advice in any way. Please ensure you always consider your health condition and circumstances, and seek medical/professional advice, before embarking on a detox. We are all very different and need to consider what is best for us individually.
And now over to you.
Have you done any juice detoxes or cleanses?
Any tips or revelations you’d like to share?