Since the beginning of time food has been a channel to offer love, bring peace and reconnect with the spirit. Religions and philosophies such as Judaism and Buddhism have used foods from dates and honey to noodles and bread as ways to celebrate their connection to a higher being. Of these traditional eating practices fasting, cleansing or more recently named ‘detoxing’ has played a pivotal role in this connection; a practice to clear and energise the body so that the spirit can flourish.
You need only to read the front covers of January’s magazines to understand how our view of these practices has changed. Feature titles include ‘New year, new you’ ‘Detox yourself slim’ and ‘Exercise to bust the fat’. Where did we lose the nourishing, spiritual essence of wholesome food to one that is now synonymous with deprivation & punishment for festive gluttony?
To the contrary, January is a time to rest, restore, replenish and, in pagan traditions, to find the light amongst the dark. In a time when our lives are more hectic and disconnected than they ever have been, our need to return to these practices and turn away from the ‘new year, new you’ philosophy and calorie-counting has never been stronger.
Spring however is a time of blossom and opening up. This is the perfect time to move through into lighter times and implement change, action ideas and rejuvenate our biorhythms.
It is my belief that this month we should embrace a way of eating that celebrates the seasons. Far from being a starvation diet, a spring cleanse is simply a way of lightening the load on the body and although gentle, it can be deeply nourishing and, believe it or not, enjoyable. These are my foundation tips for a spring cleanse; 28 days is the optimum length of time but anything over a week is better than nothing if this is not practical for you.
The following are some gentle guidelines to do just that:
- Try to avoid non-nourishing foods such as sugar, alcohol and white flour products. Replace with organic whole-grains (wholegrain rice, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa), seasonal vegetables, broth, pulses and natural sugars (local or manuka honey).
- Consider supporting your body with natural cleansing supplements such as chlorella or a cleansing complex such as the Total Cleanse Programme.
- Drink warm filtered water with ginger & spices to warm and revive. This encourages the movement of the lymphatic system and supports the ‘flow’ of nutrients.
- Start the day with a mug of hot water and the juice of half a lemon or a capful of apple cider vinegar. This alkalises the body and stimulates digestion for a lighter start to the day.
- Use a body brush before you step into the shower each morning. Use upward strokes until you get the level of your heart and downward strokes from the head down to your heart. Don’t scrub, just gently brush.
- Bathe in magnesium flakes or Epsom bath salts to soothe the body and soul at the end of the day.
- Stew seasonal fruit, apples, pear and berries with warming spices such as ginger and cinnamon and add to cooked millet or quinoa flakes to start the day.
- Bone broths and vegetables soups are rich in healing nutrients and light on the digestion. Use real stock and seasonal green vegetables to deeply nourish the digestive system and liver.
- Begin simple juices or smoothies to boost the rejuvenation of the body. There is no need to buy an expensive juicer, you can simply add a gadget to your magi-mix if you have one or borrow one from a friend for a week. Alternatively there is now much better access to juice bars in shops such as Whole Foods that can meet your needs. Buy a book or use the internet for some recipes but beetroot, cabbage, celery, apple, pear, greens such as broccoli, spinach and chard have fabulous cleansing properties and are prolific at this time of year. As a general rule, as disgusting as it might look when throwing in all the veg, adding apple or pears too will make it delicious. Aim to have a juice at least once per day.
- Tap into the spring energy by cutting down on the heaviness of rich root vegetables and move towards summer with the lighter, high water content of spring produce. Choose seasonal veggies and ideally make simple vegetable soups, salads or stir-fries. See Eat The Seasons for info on what’s ‘in’ this season. Try fruit or veg in the afternoon with a handful or nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds and almonds. Dinner could be some delicious roast vegetables, fish of your choice or organic poultry. See recipes on our website for some nourishing inspiration.
- Take long walks in the light, and use the evenings to rest away from distracting stimuli as much as possible.