Every season I encourage doing some kind of nutritional adjustment. This time of year it’s all about “back to routine”, including work, school, sports, hobbies, etc. It’s a natural time to press re-set on our diet in order to fuel an optimal fall.
Cleaning up the diet requires discipline at first, but once the rewards start pouring in, it’s always worth it. On the most basic level a clean diet involves nothing artificial. It’s based around whole, fresh foods, and plenty of plants & water.
Sometimes though we have more deliberate goals and we need a more focused approach. While eating clean should be a regular practice, factors beyond our diet, such as social events or work circumstances, can impact our patterns and behaviours, therefore ultimately our state of balance.
I’ve been working with a few people recently with weight loss, cleansing, and leaning out goals, and I’ve come to realize that despite summer being a time of lightness and freedom, we also tend to accumulate a bit of excess. Our dietary boundaries often are more flexible this time of year.
So if you’re feeling off balance, that you’ve accumulated a bit of excess, or feel a sense of stagnation. It could be a good time to press re-set. I’ve designed the Plant Based Power Cleanse below, with the intention of:
- Boosting digestion & nutrient absorption
- Focusing on real, whole foods that are anti inflammatory, easy to digest, nutrient dense, and help promote stable blood sugar. These foods fuel us with nutrients to regain balance and an optimal weight
- Stimulating liver function to accelerate the pace of toxin removal
Please note: A cleanse is not recommended for conditions of vulnerability (elderly, adolescence, or pregnancy), or those with low body mass/body fat.
If you are highly active: please consider altering the intensity, frequency, or duration of your training during a cleansing period, to allow for additional rest time. Focus on active recovery such as yoga, massage, foam rolling, and low impact core centric workouts to strengthen alignment (pilates, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, med ball/balance ball workouts etc).
PS-All the tantalizing food photos come at the end of this post
The Plant Based Power Cleanse:
Plant Based =Alkaline forming, rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes & fiber. In order of emphasis: vegetables, followed by low glycemic index fruits & those containing healthy monounsaturated whole fats, herbs and seasonings, seeds, nuts and pseudograins.
- Best Vegetables (least inflammatory): Dark leafy greens (cooked & raw), green beans, peas, zuchinni, broccoli, asparagus, radishes, artichokes, sprouts, cabbage, carrots
- Low GI Fruits: Citrus (including kiwi), pomegranate, watermelon, berries, nectarines, green apples & pears. Dried superfruits are okay in moderation (goji, goldenberries, mulberries etc)
- Fruits containing Monounsaturated Fats: Olives, avocados
- Herbs & Seasonings: Garlic, ginger, onions, basil, mint, parsley, oregano, lemongrass, dill, rosemary, tarragon, cinnamon, miso paste, pure mustard, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, pure cranberry juice (to flavour drinking water), raw honey (sparingly)
- Seeds & Nuts: Sesame, hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sacha inchi, brazil, cashew, almond, walnut, coconut (including oil, manna, water and flakes)
- Pseudograins (gluten free): Buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth
These foods are the foundation of your cleanse. Look to consume them in raw juices & smoothies, porridges, soups, salads, and veggie satay’s. Vegetables, fruits, herbs and seasonings should represent 60-75% of your plate (or glass or bowl) at every Plant Based Power Cleanse meal. The other 25-40% will be your seeds, nuts and pseudograins.
Power =Strategies to accelerate your results
The above plant based foods would be an ideal foundation to the diet outside of cleansing, so what takes this program to the next level are a few targeted strategies to boost & accelerate your results.
Because this is a food based cleanse, and not a strict juice fast, The BEST (and more visible) results will come from doing the program for 2-3 weeks. However you will still feel results from a focused 5-7 day period.
- Start with a liver & digestion boosting drink every day. One of: Warm lemon water, 1 tbsp pure cranberry juice in water, a shot of drinkable pure aloe vera juice, or apple cider vinegar and honey (1 tsp each) in warm water.
- Light Mornings: Fresh pressed, pure fruit/veg juices (no additives), smoothies and fresh whole fruit only, consumed as often as you need through out the morning, up until your first main meal of the day (4-6 hours after waking). For this reason I recommend any higher impact or higher intensity exercise be kept for later in the day, during your cleansing period. If you are going to be active in the morning, add in some nuts or seeds (or a clean, plant based protein/meal), but use a digestive enzyme in conjunction.
- Avoid: Packaged foods, unless it contains nothing artificial, no added sugar or sodium, is based from whole food ingredients, and does not come in a can. (Therefore Vega One and Energizing Smoothie nutritional shakes are allowed, trail mixes, energy bites, and kale chips, but read your labels); no added sugar or sodium, alcohol, hydrogenated or trans fats, deep fried oils, or…coffee. Gasp! Time to show your adrenals a little love. You CAN drink yerba mate or green tea, although I would recommend then also adding an adaptogenic herb such as rhodiola or maca root to maintain nourishment to the adrenals.
- Take a plant based digestive enzyme with every main meal & finish the day with a probiotic (i.e. enzymes with meals that include pseudograins, nuts, seeds and fat containing fruits). Also aim to include sprouts as a garnish to most main meals.
- Use a detox tea or drink each evening. Look for a tea that contains one or more of: fennel, liquorice, lemongrass, aloe, marshmallow, dandelion, or burdock root. Or use apple cider vinegar and honey (1 tsp each) in warm water.
- Use a diuretic drink daily to flush out excess water (and toxins). This could include: lemon water, cranberry juice in water (or herbal tea), dandelion tea, or cucumber water.
- Support the liver with a supplement containing alpha lipoic acid and/or milk thistle. Incorporate plenty of liver loving foods: artichoke, radishes, fennel, dandelion, green apples, lemons, apple cider vinegar, and beets.
- Go gluten, soy, dairy & animal protein free. Reduce food sensitivities, digestive difficulties, acidity, inflammation and potential allergens. You may find you are less sensitive to these foods if/when you incorporate them back in.
- Minimize starchy carbs: Most starchy carbs in moderation are beneficial in a balanced diet (whole grains, root vegetables, legumes, and starchy fruits such as banana’s). However reducing starchy carbs during a cleanse can help reduce bloating, and excess glucose in the bloodstream, therefore prompting the body to turn to other sources of fuel, such as excess fat. Ensure you are eating plenty of healthy fats and protein (25-40% of your plate with each Plant Based Power Cleanse meal) for ample energy & to support a lean body composition. Also avoid refined grains such as noodles, bread products and most grain containing breakfast cereals. Stick with your nuts, seeds and pseudograins.
- Eat frequently, but smaller portions: Not just for revving metabolism, this strategy helps boost digestion & assimilation, and promotes stable blood sugar reducing cravings and the potential to binge. Always be prepared with snacks.
Cleanse = Clearing toxins, stagnation and excess.
What you can expect during a cleansing period, is a shift in energy. At first, your body has to adjust to the change in diet. This is perceived as a shock. The parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for digestion, will trigger the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for our reaction to stimulus, and alert it to the changes it’s noticing. In stress mode, the body may initially be anxious, edgy or nervous. This is normal.
Next up, as the body responds to the increase in cleansing nutrients, it will begin to trigger the release of stored toxins. The influx of toxins back into the blood stream will activate the liver to detoxify & excrete the nutrients (which is why it’s important to support the liver).
The increase of toxins in the blood stream, ultimately get removed by our channels of elimination such as the colon, urinary tract (hence the cranberry juice), and skin. These can present uncomfortable symptoms including: headaches, nausea, diarrhoea, flu (as our immune system is activated to counter foreign objects), muscle aches or skin breakouts. These can be minimized with lots of rest, fluids, epsom salt baths, skin brushing, and sticking with your cleansing foods!
Meal & Snack Ideas:
Some of my favorite plant based resources include:
Breakfast/First 4-6 Hours-
Broccoli Smoothie! Yep, and it’s tasty too. Use Vega One in Natural or French Vanilla. Broiled Grapefruit with Cinnamon Going to Brunch? Bring fruit skewers!
Or any fresh pressed juice (think: Whole Foods), low GI whole fruits, or blended plant based smoothie with an added plant based protein/meal (nothing artificial, no soy).
Cucumber, Avocado Salad (swap hemp seeds for feta) Coleslaw with ginger-peanut dressing (swap peas for edamame) Brussel Sprout hash with avocado & lime (swap a nut or hearty seed for bacon)
Beautiful Skin Salad
Quinoa Lettuce Wraps:
Or any salad (unrefined oil & apple cider vinegar dressings), veggie satay’s with nuts/seeds/quinoa (miso, ginger, lemon, garlic sauces), or veggie based soup (with broth or blended, in which case add a nut butter or avocado for a creamy texture).
Baked Artichokes (use nutritional yeast instead of parmesan) Chia Pudding (Option: with Vega Nutritional Shake)
Or veggies & hemp hummus, buckwheat cereal/porridge, olive tapenade on slices of cucumber, olive & roast veggie skewers, trail mix, Vega nutritional shakes.
For those that embark on a Plant Based Power Cleanse this month, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @TheHeartyHeart and let me know if you have questions, or to connect about your progress, I would love to hear from you!