After weeks of cocktail parties and cheese plates and holiday meals and travel and generally not caring about calories or a regular workout schedule, January provides a glorious clean slate. It’s cliche, I know. But just like all of the newbies at the gym this month and every food blogger posting favorite wholesome recipes, I like to hit the reset button on my body and get back to a place of healthy habits.
Enter the annual cleanse.
There are TONS of cleanses with varying levels of required discipline. For the past three years, I’ve followed a pretty straightforward regimen: eliminate coffee, alcohol, sugar, meat, dairy and junky carbs. Forget about processed foods (you should probably do that part regardless). Eat lots of fruits, veggies and fish. Drink plenty of water. Get a bit of caffeine from green tea. And take herbal supplements to help push out the junk. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s both sell cleanse kits that do just that. There aren’t specific meal plans, but overall, try to make sure your plate has more veggies on it than anything else. The whole process lasts 14 days and, while the first four days are basically terrible, by day 5, you will feel like a new person. Lighter and more energetic. Your skin will glow. You’ll drop some LBs. You’ll feel really, really GOOD. And when you finish, it’s much easier to keep your healthy habits.
This year, I’m shaking it up. Intensifying. Brian and I are spending the next 21 days practicing the Clean Gut Cleanse. We want to lose some weight and get back on track. We are pescatarians (a really annoying word that basically means we are vegetarians who also eat fish), so it’s a little more challenging since this cleanse also eliminates things that vegetarian diets frequently depend on – beans and soy. The basics are similar to the previous cleanse, but here are the rules to follow:
Eat: Veggies, greens, lentils, quinoa (sparingly), wild fish, grass-fed meats, organic or pasture-raised eggs, fermented foods (like sauerkraut), nuts & nut butters, avocado, coconut, fresh & frozen berries
Don’t Eat: Gluten, dairy, processed sugar, alcohol (sob), caffeine, beans, rice, soy, potatoes, corn, almost all fruits (except berries)
There are also some specifics about combining items. Like you can’t combine animal protein with veggie protein. So no shrimp and quinoa salad. Instead, combine animal proteins with veggies. And veggies with veggie proteins. Confused yet? It’s not that complicated. I promise.
The final step is a lengthy list of supplements we’re taking with each meal.
So. It’s intense. And it’s not for everyone. But the idea behind this cleanse is that eliminating all of these items from your diet and then slowly reintroducing them allows you to determine food sensitivities. Plus this kind of cleanse can also be beneficial in boosting your immune system and fighting disease.
We’re not following it to the letter because I just can’t drink green juice in the morning if it doesn’t have an apple or pear thrown in for a bit of sweetness and, listen, I need soy sauce in my life (though we’ve switched to tamari, which is gluten-free).
And just to show you that you can still eat SUPER delicious meals while doing this whole cleanse thing, here’s my menu for this week:
Grilled cedar plank salmon with grilled asparagus
Southwestern Mahi Mahi salad with Mexican Green Goddess dressing
Poached cod with tomato and saffron
Shrimp lettuce wraps (with some modifications)
Veggie frittata with a mixed greens salad
Spicy Thai shrimp soup (without the rice)
Pan-seared scallops and shrimp salad
(Recipes to come!)
If you’ve ever considered cleansing, give my basic cleanse a try. Or, if you want to take it a step further, order (or download) the book and join us for the Clean Gut Cleanse. It’s going to be a long 21 days free of cheese or wine, but it’s worth it.