Here’s some unsolicited advice.

Cleansing, detoxing, juicing or whatever is being promoted this time of year, ones that don’t allow you to tailor them to your own specific needs, are probably not going to give you the results you seek.

The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for everyone, and mostly no one. So, if you bought your Groupon Juice Cleanse touting the banishment of toxins and other undesirables from your body, there is a better way.

Why?

Let me illustrate my point with a recent patient.  The very day she started her juice cleanse, warning bell number rang. Remember, we are in Winter. In cold climates, nourishment comes from hearty, heavy foods – sustinence that helps to retain warmth in the body. When I inquired about the specifics of the juices, she listed fruits and vegetables.  Warning bell number two.  She listed the ones that are energetically “cold”.

In Chinese Medicine, all food has an energetic – cold, hot, foods that create or resolve damp/phlegm, or support Yin or Yang, and nourishing of the blood, etc.  Her juicing was a double whammy, as not only were the foods energetically cold, but they were also being consumed in their raw form.  Cold and/or raw foods promote internal cold, which hurts the Kidney, Stomach and Spleen systems in particular.  Sluggish digestion, sensation of cold, aching kidney, and all sorts of other uncomfortable symptoms can arise.

I explained my understanding of the cleanse through the Chinese Medicine lens, and instead of asking her to consider stopping, I asked her to observe how she felt during the process. Words don’t teach, experience does.

Twenty-four hours passed and I received a text about a variety of cold symptoms she was experiencing. She was wearing a heating pad and three layers of clothes!

Other than these symptoms, she wasn’t feeling ill, so she wanted to stick with it. I advised adding warm liquids, ginger, anything to get the body warmer.

Thirty-six hours later, I get another text that she has stopped the juicing completely, as she was having trouble sleeping, and her kidneys and chest were feeling heavy.  She messaged that as soon as she stopped the cleanse, she felt warmer, and overall much better. Words don’t teach, experience does.

I know that cleansing is often a way to jump start into better eating – a “New Year, New You!” is one of the over-used slogans.  Many people report over-indulging through New Year’s Day, and are likely overwhelmed, inspired, or feeling guilty from the deluge of marketing efforts urging you to purge your holiday debauchery.  Cleansing can be a good practice, but it’s not generally done with a lot of research or thoughtfulness. Much like the choices around the holidays that may not have served you, this same line of thinking, perhaps impulsive, also got you to do a cleanse right in the middle of Winter when your body needs to build and store energy.  The season you choose to cleanse should be a consideration, i.e., Spring and Fall. It should be an energetic match to support you in your (long-lasting) results. After all, isn’t that why you started detoxing in the first place?

Another aspect of cleansing that is rarely mentioned involves being prepared for some emotional upheaval. I whole-heartedly agree with my friend and colleague Holly Harmon who says that cleanses bring up buried (or not so buried) emotions we keep at arms length with the food.  I recall my last cleanse I was super angry-I knew how to deal with it, but are you (and others around you) prepared for the likely upheaval?

The good news is that cleansing doesn’t have to be a shock to the system. I admit to gravitating toward intensity, of strict and pure ways of detoxing. It’s a challenge to see if I can do it.  But, after a decade of playing with all types, and coming to an understanding between making choices from the mind at exclusion from the rest of me, I now do things that are just as effective but don’t leave me at the mercy of my body’s rebellion.

Just as the body directs you away from what to not consume, it also summons you to eat/drink what it needs to keep in balance.  This is a conversation it has with you every day.

So here is what I’m doing this year, and you can too.  I won’t begin the whole food cleanse until it’s consistently warmer outside, perhaps in March.  As for what you can do now, you can remove the high sugar, processed food like substances from your kitchen, and replace with real food (the type you can pronounce).  If you’re like me and need a plan, Standard Process 21 day program to add nutrients into the body along with introducing whole foods that comes complete with the why and how to prepare them. There is a 100-page, full-color, easy to read document on why whole food detoxing is the way to go.

Their whole food supplements have been tried and true for decades, and they allow you to minimize the rebound and yo-yo effect of any cleanse. If you want to make your food palette cleaner, trim up and shed a few pounds, let’s talk about if this is right for you.

The best type of cleanse is listening to your body. Words don’t teach, experience does.