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Should I Do a Cleanse?

Published on: February 27, 2024

Will a seasonal cleanse help you lose weight, clear up your skin, ease stomach troubles, or balance hormones? 

Inherently- no, but can a seasonal “cleanse” in which you reflect on what you’re struggling with and take action to make lasting change make a difference- absolutely! A “cleanse” in which you let go of stale old habits that aren’t serving you and hold on to those habits that do serve you- you betcha! A “cleanse” where you clean out your pantry, cleaning products, and closets of anything that doesn’t feel good or make you happy- yup that will help too. 

In Ayurveda the seasonal cleanse in spring and fall is a cornerstone of wellness. That’s because these two seasons are times of transition between extreme climates, making dosha imbalance more likely. The concept of the cleanse is to shed ama- or the yucky junk & buildup that comes with too  much of a thing. By reducing ama you get your digestion firing again, rejuvenate tired, sluggish tissues, and give new life to your body through balancing habits.  

Consider this: all winter long you are stuck inside, it’s cold and dark, and you ate a lot of holiday treats this year. Once spring arrives you find yourself feeling bloated, sluggish, and retaining water like a champ- that’s the influence of a kapha excess. How does it feel to swap out cookies and breakfast pastries for fruits & veggies as the weather turns warmer? 

Alternately, in the fall you might find yourself feeling moody, irritable, and worn down as the days grow shorter and cooler. You crave a nice cool morning and even start looking for some comfort foods. That is an example of high pitta from a hot & busy summer. How often have you craved getting back to a schedule at the end of August- if for no other reason than you are craving structure. 

All that to say that spring and fall are natural opportunities for you to assess your imbalances and take action to correct them, and ayurveda teaches us that a cleanse is the structure and blueprint to make it happen. 

What a cleanse shouldn’t be:

A cleanse should not be a restrictive diet “kick off” to drop weight fast or set yourself up for a restrictive period of malnutrition. A cleanse is also not a magical solution to “detox” your body. I’m pleased to tell you that your body does its detoxing all day every day and without you even thinking about it. That’s why I prefer the more modern and accurate title of “refresh” over the alternative phrasing of “cleanse” or “detox.” 

The following are some warning signs that a cleanse protocol might not be for you: 

  • The plan calls for decreased nutrition and increased fitness at the same time
  • The plan eliminates more than 60% of your daily energy from food for more than 3 days
  • There are a number of supplements and expensive shakes
  • It promises to solve all of your health issues
  • The warning signs involve frequent BM’s, possible vomiting, and/or disruption to daily activities. 

A seasonal refresh should be energizing, refreshing, and include whole foods, intentional movement, and reflection as meditation or journal writing. 

How to do a seasonal refresh: 

If you’re wondering how to do your own seasonal refresh stay tuned, my 4-Week Refresh will be available around the spring equinox (March 19th), but if you want to get started a little early here are a few tips…

  1. Know where you are starting: take some time to reflect on what feels like it needs to change about your food, fitness, or lifestyle
  2. Let go of something that you no longer need: that might be heavy soups or a daily sweet treat.
  3. Incorporate more plant foods! Take a look at what is in season in your area and start to add more of those fruits and vegetables. 
  4. Get moving. Alternately if you’ve been moving hard core all winter consider slowing down. 
  5. Start writing- or meditating. Get to know yourself again, when was the last time you checked in with yourself to find out your hopes, dreams, and plans for the next season. 

The bottom line is that a seasonal refresh can do wonders for your mind, body, and mood. Making the time to reflect on where you are and decide to keep what’s working and let go of what isn’t is a great way to keep a healthy lifestyle fresh, balance doshas, and notice potential problems before they happen. 

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Dog mom, vata/pitta, virgo.

Someday I’ll have chickens.

My perfect day is spent in the garden with a big-ass cup of coffee and the dog napping in the AZ sunshine.

Routinely found in tree pose while cooking.

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