While summer is already halfway through, it’s not too late to still work on our beach bodies and benefit from a summer cleanse. Besides looking fit, we can all use a break from the foods and drinks we consume regularly (that may not be so healthy). I personally think a cleansing should be something we partake in whenever we feel like we’re not performing optimally. We may know the reason behind weight gain but don’t always associate symptoms like impaired immunity, fatigue, poor digestion, headaches, and even skin disorders with our diets.
The goal of this summer cleanse is to eliminate potentially toxic foods or those foods you consider to be suspect from your diet for a period of weeks.
Included in this not so fun (but well worth it) experience are the following foods:
- Processed foods: Anything in a box, bag, can, or frozen (with the exclusion of plain frozen fruits and vegetables)
- Nightshade vegetables: Potato, tomato, eggplant and peppers (since they are inflammatory)
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners: Stevia™ is okay
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, whey, yogurt, cottage cheese)
- Wheat and gluten: Stay away from gluten-free versions if trying to lose weight (i.e., bread, pasta or pastries made from rice or potato flour)
- Soy (tofu, tempeh, soybeans, edamame)
- Coffee: It creates inflammation which contributes to weight gain. (switch over to green tea)
- Alcohol (wine, beer and mixed drinks are loaded with sugar and yeast)
Rather than feel deprived and hungry by simply fasting with lemon water or green juices, I recommend using a medically formulated shake that aides detoxification and replenishes important nutrients, amino acids, and anti-oxidants that you wouldn’t otherwise get. Symptoms like hunger and headaches can be significantly reduced with the right meal replacement.
Summer Cleanse Program
I’ve designed a vegan protein detoxification shake called CLEAR that can work easily into your lifestyle whether you are at home or on the go. Below I’ve outlined how to do the program…
Mix CLEAR with purified water. You can add ½ cup berries as long as they are organic.
Have another shake and you can add large servings of organic vegetables with the exception of “Nightshade Vegetables” (remember they can cause inflammation). Additionally, no corn or peas since they are very starchy and will not help if you are trying to lose weight. Don’t be afraid to use healthy oils such as olive oil or flaxseed oil. They will actually lubricate the system and aid in the elimination process.
This is the meal that you don’t have to use the shake. Organic chicken, turkey, or wild-caught fish should be your main protein. Just watch eating tuna more than once per week due to the high mercury content. Shrimp, lobster, crab and shellfish may contain sulfites and should be avoided. In fact, any shellfish is general could be a problem so leave it alone for the time being. Lean cuts of lamb or beef are okay once per week (preferably grass-fed and organic). Vegetarians can eat beans or lentils that have been soaked overnight. Pour out the water and rinse before cooking.
Every meal including dinner should have sufficient amounts of organic vegetables either drizzled in oil or steamed. The same rules apply to when you eat them at lunchtime.
What about starches and grains with meals?
Non-gluten containing grains such as quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, or amaranth can go with any meal. Butternut squash makes a great side too. Yet if you are doing this program to lose weight in addition to eliminate food sensitivities, make sure to eat grains or any starch in modest amounts and early in the day.
When to reintroduce foods back into the diet:
For the summer cleanse, the first few days of eliminating most of the foods you are addicted to will most likely be rough. It’s normal to have cravings, feel a little tired, perhaps even experience a break out. That all can be part of the detoxification process. After a week, most people feel more energized, have better digestion, their skin clears up, headaches come on less frequently and they just look better. The body gets a break from being inflamed and, as a result, weight loss can even occur.
Since it’s not realistic to stay on a restricted program for a prolonged period of time, you will eventually start reintroducing foods back in the diet. The best way to do this is to start a journal. Do each food one by one. Don’t just go back to your old ways and add everything back all at once since you won’t know what is making you sensitive if you have a reaction. For the first week you may reintroduce eggs. If you feel okay with them, week two you may decide to bring back yogurt. Then week three you may want to have some tomatoes (which are part of the nightshade family) with your eggs. If at that point you feel sensitive, you can then determine that the tomatoes are bothering you and not the eggs so much. Keep doing this slowly and work to be in tune with your body.
For long-term prevention:
As a lifestyle, it’s best to add variety to your meals. If you are susceptible to food intolerance and eat the same foods every day, it’s likely you will develop a sensitivity to them – even if they are healthy. The way to prevent reactions is by rotating your foods. If you like oatmeal for breakfast, then have it two days in a row a week and then no oatmeal again for the next four days. The same rotation method goes for eating chicken at lunch or salmon at dinner. Having these “off” days in-between can help you tolerate foods that were once troublesome. Yet if you continue to eat them daily, your issues may arise again.
Get creative with your meal planning and even seek out a nutritionist if you need some guidance along the way. It takes some preparation and planning ahead, but with the right maintenance you can continue to feel great and keep the weight off.