HAPPY SPRING! It's a time to clean out the sludge, get rid of the winter heaviness, and lighten up. The word "DETOX" is all the rage right now. Everyone is marketing all sorts of detox plans with big claims!
From a Yoga and Ayurvedic perspective, Spring is an excellent time to do a detox. However, not everyone will benefit from the same detox. They can be very extreme, leaving you feeling depleted and with less energy than before. For example, if someone is already feeling weak and tired, and they go on a cold, raw juice cleanse for a week, what do you think will happen? Think about it from a practical perspective. Just because the product is good, it doesn't mean its good for you.
A detox doesn't have to knock you out or be so extreme. Are there cases where an intense detox is necessary? ABSOLUTLY YES, but definitely under the supervision of a trained practitioner. Even in these cases, it sometimes takes 1-3 months to prepare the person for that type of detox. It's very dangerous to jump into that cold turkey. The body can't handle it. You want to make sure you pull toxins out, instead of driving them deeper into the tissues.
With that said, here's some practical things to keep in mind if you want to do a detox. Decide what is realistic for you. I can't STRESS this enough! Keep it real!! Doing something small and completing it, is far more practical than trying to tackle 100 things and hitting the wall from burnout.
I posted a recipe for CCF tea in a previous blog. Drinking warm CCF tea all day long for a week is a wonderful detox all on it's own. During that week, think about what harmful foods you can eliminate from your diet. Again, from a practical perspective, if you are committed to CCF tea for a week to reduce bloating and toxicity in the body, and you eat doughnuts and hotdogs everyday, how successful is that detox going to be? We play this game with ourselves, and say, "I'm drinking this tea, so I can eat whatever I want." Yes, drinking CCF tea will help balance out what we eat and drink, but doing it this way is not a detox. The attitude and intention that you have around this is more important than people realize.
So, to keep things very practical, a detox helps clean out the build up of toxins in the body. What are the basic culprits? Excess of heavy and rich foods, cold food, old food, fried food, processed food, over consumption of caffeine and alcohol, processed bakery items, artificial sweeteners and excess sugar, and ice. All of these things decrease or put out your digestive fire. When the digestive fire is weakened, it isn't able to fully breakdown, digest and absorb food. This is the beginning of toxicity build up in the body. Too much of anything becomes tricky for the body to process. WE ARE WHAT WE DIGEST, in every way! Anything that isn't properly digested becomes toxic to the body, and gets carried into the tissues. This is how the disease process starts. So, why not keep it simple and cut these things out for a week or 2 and see how you feel. Giving your body a break from overindulging will have a big impact.
Juice detoxes are also really popular right now. Keep in mind that juice is not a bad thing, it definitely serves a purpose, but it's not food. Too many days of juicing and not eating food can potentially put the body in distress, without you realizing it. Having just juice for lunch every day, is counter intuitive for the body. The body's ability to digest food is at it's peak between the hours of 10am-2pm. That's when we should consume the bulk of our daily food intake. Giving the body juice when the digestive fire is at it's peak will weaken the fire. There's a time and place for everything! Juice is not a hard NO but the question is how much, how often, what 's in it, and when to have it.
Again, it's all about keeping it realistic so it's manageable to accomplish, yet effective enough too feel a noticeable difference. Kitchari is an Ayurvedic staple. It nourishes the body, while re-calibrating the digestive system. It's a simple way to reset the body. Here's a Spring Kitchari Recipe and a spring juice recipe. Have fun trying it out!
If you have any questions on what might be suitable for you, feel free to reach out!
Spring Kitchari Recipe
Prep time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30-40 min
1/2 cup basmati rice 1 tsp mustard seeds
1 cup split mung beans 1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ghee 1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground black pepper 1 tsp ground turmeric
4 cups water
2 cups chopped spring vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, kale, snow peas, dandelion, spinach
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
You can add a drop of ghee on top and garnish with a fresh basil leaf, if you'd like
I personally love garnishing with parsley or cilantro.
Rinse/drain the mung beans or lentils and set them aside.
Melt the ghee in a medium/large pot and add the mustard seeds
Once the mustard seeds start to pop, stir in the other spices and blend them together.
add the rice, then the beans and stir to coat them with the base
Add the water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes or so.
Stir in the vegetables. Cover and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
When everything looks blended and tastes creamy and light, it's done.
Garnish to your liking.
NOTE: You can swap the mung beans out for a split lentil, preferably yellow or red. Split is easier to digest. Also, you can play around with the spices, quantity and what you'd like to add. A traditional Kitchari spices are turmeric, ginger, cumin seeds, coriander, and mustard seeds, black pepper corns. Fennel seeds can also be added. The spices can be adjusted according to the season and the person/people eating it. Sometimes I add vegetables and sometimes I don't.
Eating just Kitchari at each meal for ONE full day will help restore our digestive system.
Kitchari is good for all doshas, and all seasons. You may want to adjust the spices according to the season.
If you are into the Juicing thing, here's my staple juice that I make during the spring months. Drink this at room temperature. Don't blend with ice or add ice to it. It changes how it is absorbed in your body. Not recommended during the winter months.