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Time for a Thanksgiving cleanse

Posted: November 27, 2013 11:17 a.m.
Updated: November 29, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Since my family is traveling for Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to do a cleanse to celebrate the holidays.

Instead of yummy, yummy turkey and my family’s typical conch, pigeon peas and rice (my two Bahamian favorites) and my grandmother’s homemade coconut bread, I will be sipping on mostly fresh vegetable juice, smoothies, and a small amount of vegetables and fruits, as needed, for the next several days -- 20 days to be exact. Since I’ll get a five-day head start with my family gone, it will be a lot easier to maintain the fast without any temptation when they return; it usually takes me a few days to kick my many daydreams about dessert, so I’m thankful for the time alone.

I’ve done juice fasts before, but I don’t recall doing anything for 20 days. A 10-day juice fast is ideal, according to the crazily-influential documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” by Joe Cross. Cross, who had several health issues cured by juice fasting, documented his journey and the journey of several others while trying to “reboot” their health. Some might consider juice fasting extreme, but when done right juice fasts are pretty effective. “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” is a pretty inspiring movie; it’s a definite call to action, but that’s not the only resource on juice fasting. A simple search on the Internet will allow you to create a variety of cleanse plans that suit your own body, medical conditions and circumstances.

I wouldn’t suggest hopping on one without a good bit of research and a doctor’s permission, if you have any health issues, and I surely wouldn’t suggest going back to what was your normal style of eating right after it ends. But, when done correctly, they can really set you up to change your eating and lifestyle habits. There are lots of other options, however. The infamous Master Cleanse is a doozy, but it’s pretty popular. You drink this lemonade concoction with cayenne pepper and do a gag-worthy salt water flush -- this is what I call extreme. You can also just do a raw food fast, so you are eating and don’t feel deprived in any major way. This is usually what I do, and more or less what I’ll be doing this time around, but I add in the juices. The thing that makes juicing so great is that it goes straight to your blood stream, so your body doesn’t have to work to get vitamins and minerals, like it would if you were eating a salad. I personally advise against any of the juices or smoothies you typically see in the store. One, they aren’t fresh; two, they have a lot of sugar. Even if they claim it’s natural sugar, it’s too much. I would also advise against fruit juice fasts, too, because they spike your blood sugar.  Another good way to cleanse, if you aren’t interested or not ready for the aforementioned cleanses, can be just giving up one ingredient you eat a lot for several days can be just as effective -- sugar, flour or caffeine, for example.

In general, anytime you add more vegetables and fruit to your diet is a good thing. When I start thinking about doing a cleanse, that’s usually a clear sign that I’m that I haven’t been getting the vitamins and minerals that I need and I’m aching for them. Eat as many Thanksgiving leftovers as you possibly can and think about how you can go through the holiday season more mindful of the many unhealthy temptations around this time of year.

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