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It’s day 28 of my eating-only-raw-for-Lent fast and detox and I am so over it! I have been eating dried fruit, whole fruit, avocado, salads, nuts, and drinking smoothies for the length of a Black History month now and I’m really close to chalking it. Okay, I’m being a little dramatic, I know, but it was one of those rough days. Let me give you background: For the Catholic fasting cycle of Lent I am abstaining from cooked food. I say this to people and everyone reacts the same way. Here are the top comments and questions people fire at me:

Why?!
Because the body is in tune with the Earth and as it changes seasons your body changes. It needs a break from things like processed oils, carbs, soy, coffee, alcohol, and other heavy things we eat for warmth in the winter months. By doing this you allow the organs and digestive track to rest and rejuvenate for the retox you will be putting down this summer at BBQ’s, after work cocktails, and on vacations.

You definitely don’t need to lose any weight!
I don’t do it for weight loss, but people have been telling me I look skinny and I noticed on my numerous train rides that I was feeling something sharp and almost uncomfortable under my seat. I would adjust and adjust until I finally figured out it was my now boney bottom digging into the seat—turns out that little cushion made a big difference. Maybe I’ll have to start bringing an inflatable doughnut to sit on?

Are you Catholic?
No, I am not Catholic, but my mother was raised in the faith and my father was raised southern Baptist. They both dropped their respective religions and picked up an amalgamated version of Rastafarianism. So we observed Lent and it was usually 40-50 days of eating raw food. I was nine when we started and I was like, Where is my tofu fried sandwich?

Here are few tips for those new to cleansing:

Discipline
It’s a funny thing to try to pin down because for me, it is equally about will power and conditioning. I was learning about discipline with food before I was in double digits, so when people ask me how do I do it, I just say practice and be patient with yourself.

If you slip up one day, it’s not the end of the world, it’s about the next moment, the next meal, the next day. Can you get yourself back to center? Easier said than done but very rewarding once you achieve it. I do find that it does feel good to stick with something and see it through.

Cheating
I remember one year we in the middle of Lent, my sisters and I were out driving. Fed up with our limited diet, we decided to go to the heath food store, buy a bunch of junk food and gorge ourselves. The stomach ache that came after was punishment enough.

We all cheat. I had a bag of roasted peanuts today. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed either because it’s also about listening to your body. After two bananas and a smoothie my body was saying, “Give me protein now, fool!” So I had a knee-jerk reaction and went for the quick easy fix.

Here are some first steps to a spring cleanse:

  • Consult a nutritionist about your goals before you just jump into some crazy diet craze. Repeat after me, Gwyneth Paltrow is not a nutritionist.
  • If it’s your first time, start slow. A 3-day cleanse is perfect for the beginner, and you can do it over the weekend, which can be an easier way to avoid temptation.
  • Ease into it: Going from hard-core carni to just juices can be jarring. If you are a heavy meat eater, going vegan for just a weekend will be a good fit for you. If you are veggie, go raw. If you are raw, do a juice cleanse, or go really deep: juice, but no sugar at all, including fruit.
  • On any cleanse, remember to drink lots of water.
  • Plan to have extra time in the nights because you will have to adjust your sleeping and social habits. By social, I mean real world social interaction. Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up Facebook!

Have you tried a cleanse? Any tips or thoughts on how it worked? Share them in the comments.

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