5-day purifying and nourishing cleanse
We are an integral part of Nature. The cold, dark, damp days of winter paired with the artificial lights and heating systems impact our body-mind. Heaviness, darkness, sluggishness, tendency to become depressed, sad, unmotivated are distinctive traits of Winter. This ‘Kapha’ qualities develop outside in Nature and can also build up inside of us, which sometimes translates as increased mucus in the body, giving place to illnesses such as colds, flus, sinus or chest infections. Digestive impurities such as mucus and metabolic toxins pile up in the intestines, blood veins and skin. They circulate throughout the entire body and clog up the body before affecting the mind!
Continuous build-up of these impurities causes disorders and disease such as digestive disturbances and intolerances, nervous system disorders such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, poor immune function, joint pain and more conditions. Plus, the overall feeling of being unwell, fatigued, unmotivated, and not having the energy or vitality to chase your dreams!
Oh but fear not! Follow this simple 5-day ayurvedic cleanse to balance your body-mind and live winter in optimal health!
A gentle seasonal detox can help:
Improve digestion and metabolic function
Promote regular and balanced elimination
Purify the body of toxins, preventing illness and boosting immune system
Support the maintenance of a healthy body weight
Renew energy, vitality, and motivation
Clear the mind and get out of stagnation (on mental, spiritual, and emotional levels)
Encourage healthy sleep cycles
Give your skin a new glow, your eyes more brightness
How does it work?
The gentle detox is based on eating plenty of comforting, yet light and easily digestible food with plenty of warming herbs and spices to kick start digestion (agni – our metabolic fire, is essential to optimal health), boost metabolism and clear toxins from the body by supporting the body’s natural elimination pathways. This gives the body a chance to heal and repair while encouraging the body’s natural mechanisms of detoxification. Each day is balanced with holistic food and macronutrients to ensure you are still getting your nutrients, vitamins, protein and complex carbohydrates so you can still function at work, at home and on the mat!
This cleanse is based on eating a monodiet of whole grains and kitchari (complete protein), drinking plenty of detoxifying fluids, to reset the digestive system. Kitchari is a stew-type meal that is prepared from basmati rice (traditionally but I like to use quinoa) and split yellow mung dal. The quantities in the recipe below provide a good starting point for a day’s supply of kitchari, but listen to your body’s wisdom and eat to appetite.
Because the body only processes one type of food (monodiet), it assimilates all nutrients instead of working hard to break down foods, giving an important opportunity for the body-mind to rest, recuperate, and repair itself.
Ready? Let’s do it! Follow the 5-day detox plan with recipes below.
Day 1 – prepare your body-mind
Ease your way into the cleanse by eliminating inflammatory and reactive foods/beverages like coffee, black tea, dairy (especially pasteurised milk), alcohol, cigarette, meat, processed foods, refined sugar and wheat.
How? Eat plenty of freshly cooked vegetables, choose plant protein (beans, tempeh, tofu – no eggs) and prefer herbal tea instead of caffeinated beverages (coffee, coke, black or green tea). Add 3 big glasses of warm water to the amount of water you would normally drink.
Prepare the one-pot meal kitchari you will eat during the cleanse (recipe below).
Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 – cleanse and hydrate
Start your morning with 30-45min dedicated to yourself (that often means going to bed earlier the night before). Get up with (or before!) the sunrise. Scrape your tongue (ancient practice that facilitates detoxification by removing toxins accumulated overnight on the tongue – you can find U-shaped tongue scrapers online and in health food shops). Brush your teeth. Drink warm ginger water (recipe below).
Find a quiet space to meditate. If meditating is too difficult, journal. 20min is optimal, but 10min is already great!
If time allows, move gently and mindfully, until you break a sweat but don’t exhaust yourself (you want to keep good levels of energy) ie. yoga class, walk, jog, swim, gentle stretching at home…
For breakfast, eat warming porridge or kitchari (recipes below).
Drink plenty of warm ginger water! Do not eat for at least 3-4 hours so your digestive system experiences a mini-fast, that means it can process food efficiently and repair.
Pause. Move away from your desk/car/phone/computer. Find a peaceful environment to relax. If you are calm, you will process your food much better (when relaxed and breathing smoothly, the nervous system activates the ‘rest & digest mode’).
Eat warm kitchari slowly. Rest for a few minutes right after eating.
To help kick out digestion, go for a gentle walk around the block/park.
Drink plenty of warm ginger water! Respect a 3-4 hours break between meals.
When the 3pm sweet craving kicks in, drink ginger water. Give your body and mind a break! How? Do a few stretches at your desk, take a walk, concentrate on deepening and smoothing out your breath, turn up the music and dance, or squeeze in a meditation! If you are still hungry after that, eat kitchari.
At least 4 hours after the last meal and 2 hours before going to bed.
Eat warm kitchari slowly in a comfortable space.
Rest, do activities that nourish your mind, heart and spirit (ie. Reading, listening to soft music, going out to a movie, watching the moon, talking to a loved one).
Prepare yourself for the following day (get your kitchari ready, pack your bags, choose your clothes, etc.) Scrap your tongue, brush your teeth and (if not showering at night) clean your face, hands and feet.
Go to bed before 10pm.
Day 5 and beyond - keep the balance
After you complete this simple detox, your body may continue to process toxicity for a few days, it may actually be used to a diet easier to digest. To preserve the benefits of your cleanse, eat wholefoods, and avoid aggravating foods/beverages like dairy, wheat, transformed soy, coffee, alcohol. Your body may have some new information to offer you about your relationship with specific foods, pay attention!
Drink 2/3 litres of water at room temperature each day but try to leave 30min before/after meals for the digestive system to function best.
Do things you love, with love! Don’t entertain negativity, and believe in yourself!
**Please note, cleansing can have side effects including mild constipation, fatigue, mood swings. Accept whatever comes up, knowing that it’s your body getting rid of toxins, and that it will pass.
If your bowel movements slow in frequency or volume, or if your stools become more difficult to pass, you can take an Ayurvedic herbal supplement called Triphala. Or 1 teaspoon of Castor oil at bedtime. Healthy elimination is critical to the detoxification process, so it is best to be proactive about relieving any discomfort as soon as you are aware of it.
Ginger water (drink about 2L of water/day)
1 cup of hot water
½ tbs of dry ginger
Add ginger to hot water and stir well. Add raw honey in the morning.
(for Melbourne peeps, Terra Madre makes Ginger Tea, it is ready-made dried ginger flakes).
Oatmeal porridge (1 serve)
½ cup dry rolled oats
1½ cups water
¼ cups non-sweetened sultanas or goji berries
½–1 small fresh apple, or pear (cut into small pieces)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon cardamon powder
⅛ teaspoon ginger powder
Combine the raisins/berries, and fresh fruit(s) with 1 cup water, and spices in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the fruits are tender and well-cooked. Add the oats, the remaining ½ cup of water, stir, and return to a boil. When the mixture boils, stir thoroughly, remove from heat, cover, and let stand for five to ten minutes, until the oats are soft and the water is absorbed. Cool and serve.
Make a batch for a day or 2. Ayurveda recommends eating freshly made food, but we live a modern life, so do what you can with the time you have! Re-heat on stove. Pack it in a thermos for lunches (avoid microwaving your food, it kills the ‘prana’, the life-force energy that is in the food).
Ingredients (prefer organic)
2 cups basmati rice or quinoa
1 cup yellow mung dal
2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) ** Important to use. Can make it Vegan by using coconut oil instead
1⁄2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon fennel powder
1 pinch – 1⁄4 tsp of Hing (asafoetida) powder ** Important for improving the digestibility of beans
4 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon natural mineral salt
10/12 cups water
4 cups cooling vegetables (easy to digest vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, squash, spinach, kale – no starchy vegetables)
Soak the split mung dal overnight (or for at least four hours). Strain the soaking water, combine with the rice/quinoa and rinse the mixture at least twice, or until the water runs clear, and set aside.
In a medium saucepan or soup pot, warm the ghee over medium heat.
Add the black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and sauté for a couple of minutes, until the mustard
seeds begin to pop.
Add the turmeric, coriander, fennel, hing, and fresh ginger. Stir briefly, until aromatic. Stir the rice/quinoa and dal mixture into the spices and sauté for a few moments, stirring constantly.
Add the 6 cups of water, turn heat to high, and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, stir in the salt, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about forty minutes. Remove any foam that forms on top.
Meanwhile, cut your vegetables into small, bite-sized pieces. About halfway through the kitchari’s cooking process, stir in the vegetables and allow the stew to return to a boil.
Continue to simmer until everything is fully cooked. Should have a porridge consistency. Remove from heat, cool, and serve. You may need to add more water as you go. Aim to have very little water remaining when finished. The consistency should be that of a vegetable stew/porridge as opposed to a broth.
Add a little ghee and a few leafs of parsley or coriander, enjoy!