Last week I was speaking with my friend, Sara, who confided that she was secretly considering a 7-day juice cleanse. She had been feeling out of control with respect to her eating, had been steadily gaining weight, felt uncomfortable in her clothes, was feeling sluggish and was suffering from brain fog. Knowing what I do and how I live, she asked me to help her get a “jump start” on regaining control. 

At first, because she is a close friend, I was tempted to say “ok.” But then, because I think it’s a bad idea, I had to say no. I wanted to help her, and if you know me, you know that I live to help other people! But I had to be honest and say that for most of us, a “jump start” is just not what you think. 

The truth is … I am dead set against extreme diets and cleanses without properly preparing your body first. I think they can be dangerous and leave many people feeling so sick, or so relieved when it’s over (if they even finish it), that they never want to do that again. And for the most part, it does not give anyone a jump start. 

If Sara wanted to run a marathon but had not yet started running, she would not be wise to go out the first day and try to run 26 miles… or even 13 miles. If she started slowly and built up her skills and fitness over time, her body would become used to running and she would have a much better chance of succeeding at running a marathon without injury, and with a genuine sense of achievement.

The same principles apply to your diet.

Here are 5 steps you can take to start yourself on a healthy path and get your body healthy and even ready for a cleanse when appropriate.

Drink plenty of water.

Aim for ½ your body weight in ounces every day. This will help curb your appetite and help keep things moving (ehhem…). For more tips on how to stay hydrated click here:

Eat whole foods. 

As in foods that come as they grow, not packaged foods with other additives…think creamy avocados, sweet bananas, juicy strawberries. Try to add as many whole foods as you can to your meals and if possible, build your meals around them. Avoid heavily processed foods (those that are filled with chemicals, preservatives, dyes and so on… especially if you cannot pronounce or don’t know what the ingredients are!!!)

Prepare ahead.

Having healthy choices ready when you are hungry makes it easier to stay on track. When hunger strikes, you want to be ready, otherwise it’s too easy to make a bad choice. When you return from food shopping, try to wash and prep veggies like celery, carrots and peppers for snacks . Here are a few of my family’s favorite make-ahead foods: 

This chia pudding is loaded with goodies and will keep your blood sugar even and your appetite sated: 

OR try our favorite chickpea salad, great for an easy lunch (just add greens), roll it up in a wrap, or just a have it on its own

Eat consciously.

Most of us have had the experience of taking a bag of chips or popcorn with us to watch TV or a movie and suddenly the bag is empty. How did that happen? It’s usually because we weren’t paying attention. So it’s important to be aware of what you are eating. Try not to do anything else while you eat so that you will realize what and how much you are eating and will know when you have had enough.

 Stop eating BEFOREyou are stuffed!

Aim for about 75-80% full. It might feel funny at first. Brain fog and food comas occur because your body is working so hard to digest that it leaves no energy for anything else. And it takes time for the message to get from your belly to your brain that you are, in fact, sated. So, plate your food, eat and enjoy, and then stop and wait. Give your body a little time.

Only once you have been eating and drinking this way for a while, and you feel comfortable with a clean diet, might it be a good time to try a cleanse. I highly recommend working with someone who can guide you, either a coach, a doctor or a reputable program.  There are no magic bullets, my friends, and if someone tells you they have one, I strongly recommend you walk swiftly away. Clean eating takes time, but the benefits are outstanding. Some likely results are: increased energy, weight loss, glowing skin, healthier hair and nails, diminishing aches and pains and a more focused mind. Sound good to you?

I’d love to hear from you, are you ready to make some changes? 

Crunching on a carrot as I write,

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