“The Spring Cleanse” a note on Lent and Fasting

Late Winter Sunset on the Bay
Late Winter Sunset on the Bay

Winter is ending soon. If I keep saying it and really believe it, it will manifest sooner right? Despite the fact that we just had our biggest snowfall of the year here in New Jersey, and there are a few more promises of snow from the weather man, Winter only has two more weeks to rough us up before Spring is officially here.

Lent is always my first glimmer of hope that the days of dreary cold, grey skies, and rampant vitamin D deficiencies will soon be over. I am not a devot Christian, but I am spiritual soul and I believe in the value of all religions. I find guidance in most of them, and often find parallel celebrations, trends, and teachings. Spring fasting is one such practice that occurs through all religions, and was pretty common through human history. (1)

“Lencten”, or simply Spring,  is practiced in honor of Jesus’s 40 day fast and trials in the dessert. This was not an uncommon practice in ancient Rome. Hippocrates, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and Galen all praised the benefits of fasting. (2)

I hope all of you Paleo-Diet buffs practice cleansing and fasting habits. Ancient man would routinely go through periods of fasting, building up the drive and fire to do battle with beasties. I have witnessed that house cats thrive when fed regular lean meals and then occasionally skip a meal, their play gets wild and rambunctious. Followed by deep hedonistic periods of napping after the feast.

Throughout history cleansing in spring was mostly due to lack of refrigeration technology. Growing season in temperate climates runs from Late March – Early November with the first harvests in late April. Our vegetable stores from fall harvest are dwindling and what was left was at the bottom of the barrel, growing roots, getting mushy, and picked over by the rats. The livestock would be skinny and down to the last few needed to breed. Hunting season is sparse due to the animals own lack of plants in the forest. Any meat we had frozen in the barn is thawing out and needs to be eaten soon. There are some cabbages and hearty greens that grow through winter, but even these would be sparse pickins. The ground has begun to soften up, the snow is melting, and we must get out there and turn the ground so that it is ready to be seeded after the last frost. Food will be in short supply until we get our first harvests in late April. Just in time for Easter, or Oestra.

Oddly enough 40 days is the best time to set aside for a proper cleanse. I see a lot of “One Week Juice”, or “Three Day Cleanse!” these are often heavy on deprivation and laxatives. You will loose weight and feel a little better for it. But they are often nothing more then a short and intense diet, and you will not experience actual cleansing of your body’s systems. It would be like spring house cleaning, without dusting the fan blades and blinds, or vacuuming under the furniture. They will do little good long term unless you do a deep cleanse every few years. I am talking about cleaning your colon, liver, teeth, blood. Really detoxifying your system. (3) In my dreams I would get my Ish*t together do a  deep cleanse every spring.

With a quick google search you will see page after page of pseudo science saying that colon cleansing is not necessary. In the fine print they have no sites for any scientific studies, and they repeat over and over just to eat “a well balanced diet full of vegetables” and by my easy 3 day cleanse supplements. I eat better then most, but I also love to have fun and live well. Yesterday I had a Calzone, while lounging over the box on the floor while watching a movie. Two weeks before that I went out with a bunch of friends to the casino buffet and Went To Town! Truth is eating perfectly, means no restaurants, making every meal from scratch, drinking absolutely pure water, and never missing a workout. AKA you become that weird hermit that has no friends and spends all their time fermenting bread while lecturing people about their own food choices. Not Good.

So the perfect 40 days, from Lent to Easter I count 45 days. I am splitting mine into 3, 10 day long sessions, with a 5 day juice, and a 10 ease back into regular eating. Everyone’s body and lifestyles are different. Your own toxicity, and body’s responses to cleansing will be different then everyone else’s. All companies always claim to be the best, and may be for some but don’t work well for everyone. This encompasses the key points of the most successful ones. Successful as in seeing results not best selling, hehe. I suggest keeping a journal that you go back to every-time you cleanse., noting things that do and don’t work for you, along with good recipes et-cetra.

First and foremost, if you are a smoker, you must quit before you start any cleanse. Your body becomes very sensitive and the poisons in cigarettes are extremely dangerous and unhealthy in the best of times. Take your time to quit smoking, the side effects are rough and mixed with the side effects of cleansing would be enough to derail your life. Lozenges are the only supplement that are not carcinogens. Then cleanse the first spring you are free.

Days 1-10 ~ Give it up.

  • Alcohol. Coffee<Black Tea<Green Tea. Pork. Red Meat. Soy.  I prefer to continue green tea through a lot of the cleanse because of it’s strong detoxifying benefits, but many like to give up caffeine all together.
  • Things you should give up for good. Soda. Deep Fired Foods. Hydrogenated Oils/Mono and Diglycerides. High Fructose Corn Syrup. Any shady chemical that you can’t say for sure what it is. Whole foods has a good starter list here. (4)
  • Common Allergens. I frequently have issues with dairy, so that is always a first week goner for me. Some of you may be suffering from GMO wheat, rye, and barley. Or Shellfish.
  • You are going to notice, that we are eliminating a lot of sugar here, that is going to be your first feelings of discomfort. Start getting in the habit of daily smoothies. Eat potatoes, bananas, oatmeal, and chicken. If you are cranky eat more fruit.

Days 11-20 ~ Vegetarian. w/ Pro-Biotics

  • If you have not already. NO Dairy. Shellfish. Wheat/Rye/Barley. Ibuprofen/Aspirin. Potatoes. Poultry. Canned foods in aluminum. Corn. Vinegar.
  • Continue to ease your self off of caffeine. Steep fresh rosemary in hot water for 5 mins, instead of ibuprofen for headaches.
  • Replace one meal with a hearty salad. Really read the ingredients on your dressing. ONLY whole foods allowed. Make your own, use alternatives like hummus, or just a dash of salt and spritz of sesame oil.
  • Smoothies every morning. Eat more nuts, coconut, and avocado if you have achy joints, start experimenting with juice recipes. Introduce a fiber drink like psyllium husk. Pooping is key!

Days 21-30 ~ Vegan Limited.

  • NO Pasta. Grains (except quinoa and millet). Nightshades. Oatmeal.
  • Replace one meal with a smoothie, and one meal with a big salad. Drink fiber shakes, add cayenne/lemon/maple syrup drink.
  • Eat more dried fruits, drink lots of water, and home made juices. your body will start to have trouble keeping warm, ginger tea will help. Keep Pooping. Up your fiber and cayenne if you find your not pooping a least a couple times a day. If you have gas pressure drink tea with senna leaf before bed, and eat more ginger, and pro-biotics.

Days 31-35 ~ Your favorite 5 day Juice Cleanse

  • Juice it! Make sure that you are still getting in good fats by adding peanut butter to your smoothies. And drink your fiber drinks.
  • After you use the juicer, put the juice in a blender with some of the pulp that got kicked out to make sure you are not loosing too much fiber and nutrients.

Days 35-45 ~ Slowly Now

  • Reintroduce solid foods. Starting with lightly steamed veggies, oat meal, fruits, and salads. Vegan first 5 days.
  • On day 40 have eggs, and just a little fish or turkey. Vegetarian for the next 5 days.
  • You body is really sensitive now, and anything you take in could leave you ailing and on the floor. I usually get dizzy and faint. If you started on Lent this is Easter Sunday, So take it easy.

A hardcore tried and true cleansing program is the 28 day cleanse by Arise and Shine. They are really good but I have never been able to totally finish because I get too sick towards the end. If don’t correctly your body is going to go through a lot of changes. You skin may freak out, you might get weird farts, and even stranger poops, you will be colder then usual, you may feel week, get dizzy when doing vigorous activity, or weird cramps here and there. That is all part of the process. If you find your vision gets affected, hair comes out in clumps, finger nails get brittle, or you a too weak and dizzy to function. Pull back ease up out of the cleanse. Anything strange and worrying go to a doctor as you may have an underlying condition.

I started today March 7th. And will be blogging as I go along, giving helpful tips and recipes along the way. Good luck and I hope to see you more often in the produce department at you local super market.

  • It is important that if you get sick that you note what food it was that you eliminated last. It may mean that it is a problem food for you. Or that you are not getting enough of the nutrients that are abundant in it. If you get a cold. Stop the cleanse and start over when you are well.

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