Eating simple, easy to assimilate foods means the digestive organs don't need to work as hard. The excess energy saved while cleansing can now be used for rejuvenation and detoxification. The liver, kidneys and lungs greatly benefit from this process.
The advantages of cleansing include:
- Restoring the nervous system to a calm state
- Improving sleeping patterns and habits
- Encouraging regular and balanced elimination
- Promoting healthy and optimal weight gain/loss according to the bodies needs
- Fostering renewed energy, increasing vitality and mental focus
What to expect
This type of cleanse is generally quite gentle and safe for most people. Even still, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should not undertake this or any cleanse unless suggested by a health care provider. It is advised for those who do want to get pregnant that doing a cleanse approximately 3 months prior to conceiving can be quite beneficial. During a cleanse such as this one, your body begins to restore deep, long standing imbalances and as a result you may go through what is known as a healing phase. This is quite normal and very common. Symptoms of cleansing may include fatigue, emotional swings and physically discomfort. Knowing beforehand the possible side effects of doing a cleanse like this one can make it easier to stay strong when symptoms occur. Benefits may include increased energy, clear mental processes, and greater emotional stability and can be felt anywhere from a few days to a week in to a typical cleanse. It is helpful to have support throughout the cleanse, either someone who is doing it with you, your health care practitioner or another health motivated individual to check in with.
The four phases
This step prepares your body for the cleanse ahead. A time to eliminate aggravating foods and substances
- Active cleansing
This is the heart of the cleanse. At this time you will be eating a mono grain diet of kitchari (mung beans and rice), vegetables and plenty of detoxifying fluids. This stage can also be supported by a number of lifestyle practices as well.
This is the buffer stage. The time to reintroduce simple whole foods (other than kitcharee) and eventually re introduce common allergens such as soy, wheat, dairy and nightshades.
The final stage of the cleanse, this step can be very healing and nourishing for the body. You can be quite detailed or minimal at this point.
Planning for your cleanse
It is ideal to eliminate foods that may temp you to break your cleanse so start thinking about things to eliminate about a week before you start the prep phase of this cleanse. You can make the cleanse as long or as short as you like. This particular cleanse will be approximately 2 weeks with 4 days of prep, 7 days of active cleansing and 4 days of reintroduction but adjust according to your abilities at this time. It is recommended to have the prep and the reintroduction be no less than half of the time you are doing the active cleansing (rounding up when necessary).
As much as possible, clear your schedule and eliminate obligations during this time. When you are cleansing, the energy of the body is directed deep within. We want to encourage this as this allows the body to eliminate, repair, strengthen and renew. When we maintain a hectic pace mentally and physically during our cleanse we are constantly drawing the energy back out, now allowing for the full potential of the cleanse to be reached.
Women should plan the cleanse around their menstrual cycle so as to avoid bleeding during the cleanse. If you suddenly and unexpectedly get a period during the cleanse, you can continue with the kitchari diet but suspend all other practices (abhyanga, nasya, triphala etc)
The prep phase
Begin to eliminate or dramatically reduce aggravating foods and drinks such as caffeine, alcohol, wheat, dairy and soy. Also cut out tobacco, and recreational drugs at this time. It is advised to refrain from heavy, greasy or fast food now as well.
This is the heart of the cleanse. At this time you will adopt the mono diet of Kitchari with the addition of porridge (if desired) and steamed vegetables and occasional fruit. During this time it is recommended to have body work such as abyangha, massage and/or acupuncture, maintain a slow mindful asana practice, meditate for 30 minutes both morning and evening, apply nasal oil (nasya) and take the cleansing herb triphala. Journaling can be quite beneficial as well, as part of your evening routine. If you are looking to target specific organs, such as the liver, kidneys or lungs, other herbs or supplements can be added. Just talk to your health coach about what to use.
Throughout The Day
- Eat kitchari throughout the day, as desired
- Eat at least 3 meals per day
- Have more than 3 meals per day, if desired – allowing at least 3 hours between meals
- It is best to avoid snacking, but if you need a little something extra, you can enjoy some fresh fruit or a few raw nuts
- It is very important not to feel deprived during your cleanse
- Be sure to eat enough food and enough variety that you truly feel satisfied and at peace with this process
- You can garnish your kitchari with Fresh Coriander Chutney or Sesame Seed Chutney
- Try not to eat after 7pm
- Drink at least 12 cups (96 fl. oz.) of room temperature, warm, or hot fluids each day to ensure adequate hydration and to help flush toxins as they are released
- Ideally, most of your fluids should be taken between meals
- Appropriate fluids include water, spring dragon tea, Ginger Turmeric Tea, meltdown tea, and detox tea – drink as much of these as you like
The reintroduction phase
This is such a special time after the cleanse where your body is fresh, open and vulnerable. It is important to not adopt any unhealthy habits you may have been accustomed to before starting this cleanse. You want to introduce everyday foods slowly so as to not overwhelm the system and reverse all the amazing work you just did. Start by bringing foods back in one by one, such as dairy one day, then wheat etcetera. It can be a powerful time to eliminate habits that you were wanting to rid yourself of now.
The rejuvenating phase
This is the time to bolster and strengthen the body from the ground up. After the cleanse your body should be more vital, open and clear. We can build on this by adding foods that encourage a healthy constitution. These would include naturally sweet and building foods. Chyavanprash is an Ayurvedic jam that contains supporting herbs in a honey and cane sugar base that allows the medicines to be delivered deep into the tissues for deep healing, stabilizing and growth.
- ¼ tsp black mustard seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 small pinch asafoetida (hing) powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp rock salt
- 2-3 TBS ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 cup split yellow mung dal, rinsed well, soaked overnight and drained
- 1 cup white basmati rice, rinsed well and drained
- 4-5 thin slices of fresh ginger root
- 6 cups of water
- Using a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the ghee on medium heat.
- Sautee the mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
- Add the drained mung dal, turmeric, and salt and stir until the mix almost starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the rice, water, cumin powder, coriander powder, and ginger.
- Bring the mixture to boil on high heat, then cover the pot and turn the heat down and let it simmer until both the rice and dal are mushy (approximately 30-45 minutes). Add water as needed to prevent scorching. The consistency should be that of a thick vegetable stew.
- You may have to experiment with the amount of water you use to find the right consistency for you (the more water, the thinner the consistency).
- You may also choose to add some of your favourite vegetables half way through the cooking process.
- Serve hot. Enjoy
Fresh Coriander Chutney
- 1 bunch (1/4 lb.) fresh cilantro (Chinese parsley)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup grated coconut
- 2 Tbs. fresh ginger root, chopped
- 1 tsp. barley malt or honey
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Blend lemon juice, water and fresh cilantro until cilantro is chopped. Add remaining ingredients and blend until it is like a paste. Can be stored in covered refrigerator up to one week. Excellent with dals, grains, curries, bread.
Sesame Seed Chutney
- 1 cup roasted and ground sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Blend ingredients together and serve.
Remember that your food will absorb the energy of your mindset and state of being while cooking, so you can assist your healing process by bringing good intentions and a sense of presence to your kitchen.