Your body naturally goes through a cleansing cycle in the springtime. Similar to the process of snow melting in nature, any stagnation that has accumulated during the colder months begins to thaw and circulate throughout the body, looking for a way out.
Since we all have unique constitutions and life circumstances, the cleansing process should look a bit different for each person. Some people need a big burst of lightness and activity to shake off the heaviness of winter while others need continued attention to grounding and nourishing as they cleanse.
Kate Schwabacher’s explanation of how different types of cleanses work best for different mind-body constitutions is one of the most helpful articles I’ve seen on the topic. A week of seasonal, home-cooked, whole food meals and lots of rest will give good results for most people without the side effects of a more austere regimen. As popular as juice cleanses are these days, I agree with Kate that they are often too depleting.
To gently support the body’s natural detoxification process this spring, follow these lifestyle tips:
- Move your body for 30 minutes a day, ideally in the morning. Yes, it will most likely involve getting up earlier, but that’s a good habit to cultivate in the spring anyway. Early morning exercise can significantly increase your all-day energy level and decrease your dependence on stimulants like caffeine.
- Favor the pungent (spicy), bitter and astringent tastes. Experiment with more spices in your cooking, eat lots of seasonal vegetables — especially dark leafy greens, incorporate lighter grains like quinoa or amaranth and more beans and lentils into your meals.
- Minimize the sweet, sour and salty tastes. Ease off the dairy, wheat, desserts and processed foods. Stay away from cold, heavy, wet foods (like ice cream) for the next couple months, especially if you have any health conditions like allergies that tend to worsen in the spring.
- Practice mindful eating. When your body doesn’t have to work so hard to digest each meal, it can direct more energy toward detoxification and repair. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll receive a handout that outlines the top four ways you can improve your digestion by shifting how you eat. These tips may seem too simple to possibly have any effect on your digestion, but I’ve seen over and over what a difference they can make.
- Enjoy a light, early dinner such as soup, greens & lentils, kitchari or veggies & quinoa. Aim to be finished eating by 7 pm if possible. This usually requires some planning and eating a more substantial lunch, but your body will thank you with more restful sleep and less sluggishness in the morning.
- Minimize your screen time after about 8 pm. Blue light emitted from electronics interferes with melatonin production and keeps you alert and awake later into the night. This is a great excuse to read an old fashioned book, do some meditation or journaling, take a bath or engage in any other non-digital activity that helps you wind down from your day.
- Aim to be in bed by 10 pm. Ayurveda teaches that the liver’s peak activity window is approximately 10 pm – 2 am. You know the second wind many people get around that time? It’s connected to liver energy. You can use that energy to stay up late and get stuff done OR to cleanse and repair your body, but not both over the long term. It’s more difficult to wind down once the energy surge begins, which is why Ayurveda recommends being in bed by 10 pm. Say what? You’re not tired at 9:30 or 10? See the bullet above about turning off your electronics (yes, including your phone. Since I use mine for my morning alarm, I put it in airplane mode). I think you’ll be surprised when you try it. :)
Remember that dramatic detox reactions aren’t necessarily signs of cleanse effectiveness; they could just be your body’s way of telling you to slow the process down until it can catch up. Laying the proper groundwork and following a path of moderation can minimize the potential for experiences like major skin breakouts, extreme fatigue, blood sugar instability, mood swings and other symptom flare-ups during a cleanse.
If you would appreciate some one-on-one guidance and support, I’d love to design a customized Ayurvedic cleanse for you. You can find my contact info at the bottom of the About page.
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