Watch Out: Why I Won’t be Supporting all Those “Spring Cleanses”
by Kiki Athanas
March 04, 2019
Let’s get ready for it - another month, another marketing field day. It’s just about spring, and that means you’re dirty AF and need to clean up - or at least that’s what the wellness world is going to be shoving in our faces...along with all the green juices down our throats. Okay, I’m usually not this vulgar, and I’m genuinely not “mad” - nor do I aim to write a bitchfest of a post explaining all the wrongs of the health & wellness world.
Instead, I want to share my own learnings after navigating the tempting “spring cleanses” and the somehow extremely appealing “detox regimes” that are about to go on sale. Not only because it’s therapeutic for me to reveal my truth around mindful eating (and why that means saying yes to a bog standard sandwich now and again) - but in hopes that it will save you the physical, emotional, and financial tragedies I’ve found myself in...one cleanse too many.
See, you may be thinking: how could cutting back on all the crap I tend to eat possibly be a bad thing?!
Let’s get one thing straight: I’m definitely not trying to pitch the argument that making nutritious swaps and superfood additions to your diet is inherently dangerous. What I'm actually saying, is that doing it mindlessly, or without enough patience and support for your entire body - inclusive of your mental and spiritual health - well, is.
While nourishing your body with foods that help support detoxification, such as leafy green vegetables, berries, and olive oil, is generally health-promoting and safe, you still need to be mindful of what you’re reducing in your diet. Cutting out entire food groups unnecessarily can be detrimental to your long-term health - and your sanity. For example, while the social media trends of today seem to be #glutenfree this and #ketofriendly that, completely knocking grains out of your diet - especially if you are NOT 1 in 100 that truly has a gluten intolerance - can be health-reducing rather than promoting. Many “gluten-free alternatives” are not only pricey, they are loaded with extra fat and/or sugar. In reality, a fresh slice of sourdough or whole-grain wrap is a heck of a lot better than that fancy gluten-free coconut muffin you can’t wait to Instagram (or just spent $7 on).
Most importantly, labelling food as “good” or “bad” can lead to a life filled with fear and guilt, which certainly isn’t conducive to fostering your utmost health and happiness. I’ll be the first to recognize that setting boundaries and following guidelines can be empowering and freeing in many ways - you just need to be mindful of when your restrictions start to take over. A spring reset in which you reduce some of your trigger foods and beverages (goodbye coffee, hello matcha!) and add in more of the goodness you genuinely enjoy is a safe and sustainable way to go about things - physically and spiritually.
Feeling a little lost? Just think about what you already love that that you know makes you feel great. Incorporate more of goodness that in! If that’s not exciting enough for you, and you’re up for a bit more exploration - get creative in the kitchen! What fruits, vegetables, or other ingredients do you walk by in the grocery store and have no clue what to do with? A spring “cleanse” is the perfect opportunity to bust out your reusable cloth bag and head on over to the farmers market to pick up some items you would have never otherwise tried. Have a conversation with the farmer (seriously, it’s possible at these markets!) and get their top recommendations and suggestions.
The above goes for activities as much as it does for food. Reflect on what makes you feel like your best self and commit to doing more of that. Even if you have to “schedule in” more friend dates and time for evening yoga classes...send yourself the calendar invite and make it happen!
Last but not least: always stay conscious of where you’re at, and be proud of how far you’ve come.
This one can be a life saviour after you’ve just totally “messed up” your entire protocol - you know, the one you’ve been advocating and dishing out for the past few weeks and that you now associate with your identity and value as a human. Eating that piece of non-sugar-free, non-gluten-free, non-dairy-free cake doesn’t negate all of the positive changes and habits you’ve made and are developing - nor does it “cancel out” all of the other healthy food you’ve (hopefully) been enjoying. Oh, and eating more of the cake now that you’ve officially “messed up” won’t help. Just speaking from experience...
Or perhaps where you’re at is the very start. Maybe you’re celebrating simply the decision that you’d like to make some positive changes for the better - it’s indeed something to be proud of! While laser-focused diet plans can be a source of motivation for some, they also leave little room for “error”, and can lead to binging on the extremes. Rather than beating yourself up about not feeling or looking exactly how you want to, embrace your small wins and keep on keeping on! Guilt is a wasted emotion.
So with all that being acknowledged - am I claiming that doing a “spring cleanse” is a bad idea? Absolutely not. In fact, I’m hosting my very own (check it out here) - just in time to get ready for Spring (ha! I couldn’t resist)! The important message here is to be mindful about what you need, supportive and respectful of your body at all times, and incorporate only the parts that fit what health, happiness and success looks like for YOU. Whatever the season, you deserve to be nourishing yourself in a way that fits your reality!