If you followed Bethenny’s stories on Instagram last week, it was hard to miss the juice cleanse she embarked on, as she shared a few details on the why, what, when and how of the personalized program she puts herself on once in a while.
As a natural food chef, Bethenny understands how to make a cleanse work for her body. We asked her to share with you all what has worked for her over the years. If you are considering a “cleanse” or “detox” program, perhaps you will draw some inspiration from her experience and build a program that will work best for your mind, your body, and your lifestyle.
Watch the video and scroll down to read some of Bethenny’s answers to our questions on her cleanse philosophy and approach. For a specific day by day menu, click here.
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Q: Why do you “cleanse” or “detox”?
That Thanksgiving meal is exhausting because your digestive machine is on overdrive.
BF: It’s a great way to restore and refresh your body and mind. I think about cleansing as a way to put a lot of vitamins into your body while your digestive system isn’t being taxed by heavy or unhealthy foods. It gives your digestive “machine” (which typically starts with chewing) a much needed break – it generally works on overdrive if you have been eating a lot of difficult to digest foods like animal protein and dairy. You know that Thanksgiving exhaustion you feel after the meal? It’s not the tryptophan. It’s your digestive machine working overtime and trying hard to digest so many types of food.
A cleanse can help you to shut the machine down, and slow and relax the body, and gain mental clarity.
Q: Do you do it to lose weight?
BF: No – you do it to kickstart a clean program. It’s not really to lose weight, although many people approach it with this goal, and sometimes in a very extreme way. While you may lose some water weight, in my experience the cleanse itself is not useful for losing weight – however, it can be a great way to “clear the decks” before trying to lose weight.
Q. When is a good time to start a cleanse?
BF: Personally, I start a cleanse when I feel like things are creeping up on me: not sleeping well, not exercising, not eating particularly well. I often hear “I’ll start tomorrow”. Why wait? I’ll start when I feel it – when I get inspired – it might be in the middle of the day. Might be in the evening before dinner. Also, I find that a change of season is a good time to try a cleanse.
Q. What brand of juices or cleanse program is best?
BF: If you take one thing (or three) away from this, it is:
1. Don’t believe the hype. You will read lots of claims about certain juices working for certain purposes – what you are doing is giving your body a break from heavy digesting, and feeding it vitamins from raw, natural, alive foods in liquid or close to liquid form. I devise my cleanses in a way that works for me – it’s not the same every time and there are no strict rules. I have seen improvements in my sleep, my skin, my hair – even the whites of my eyes.
2. You don’t have to rely on a single brand of juice or brand of cleanse, and you can make your own if you are so inclined. You can certainly purchase juices and it does make it easier, but it is by no means necessary. In addition, if you just do juice all day every day you may get bored and quit early. It’s important that you create a menu that you will stick with. Choose a variety of juices – some sweet, some less sweet, some citrus, some green, etc. Just make sure you have something to look forward to – if that’s a sweeter juice for you, then plan for that. If it’s a nutmilk smoothie, that works too.
3. Don’t be extreme!
Do juices that work for you. Watch the sugar, but a little bit is OK if it keeps you going.
I often do green juice with apple.
Q. How do you come up with your personalized cleanse “menu”?
- Purchase or make: I’m short on time so I typically buy 6 juices a day – and it’s not always juice. Sometimes I’ll have kombucha. Sometimes I’ll have one of those young coconuts, or a nut milk. Sometimes I’ll have an organic smoothie.
- Organic is best: It’s a good idea to get organic juices, because you’re putting them directly into your system – you don’t want to be loading pesticides directly into your system. That said, even if you can’t do organic, high quality juices with raw ingredients will help your body rest.
- Mix it up: When deciding how to tailor your cleanse for your own body, you want to mix it up because otherwise you will get bored and quit. For example:
- I might have a green juice on the first day with apple or with carrot – I pick one sweet element because I don’t personally like drinking all the vegetables all the time
- The second day, that green juice is probably looking pretty unappetizing, so rather than jump ship, have a more fun juice like a citrus juice with pineapple and cucumber.
- If I want something a bit heartier, I might have a pureed soup, or an organic smoothie with nutmilk – just making sure to keep the sugar in check, and nothing too heavy or thick to tax my digestion. That way, I can enjoy the smoothie and know that my body is still not working very hard to digest it – it’s still on a break.
- Gazpacho is another good tip as it is effectively blended vegetables. You can also try pureed cauliflower rice, other pureed cooked vegetables and soups. Sometimes you get chilly on a cleanse and soups can provide something warm, comforting and reasonably filling.
- Educate yourself: Learn about the benefits of various fruits and vegetables, and incorporate them in a balanced way. For example, beets are known to promote liver health. Apples are known to promote gall bladder health. Cayenne pepper is said to be good for cleansing as well. Asparagus and cucumbers are natural diuretics. Carrots are said to be good for eyes. Greens contain good antioxidants and fiber. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.
- Strike a balance: Mix it up, but don’t overdo the sugar. You want to make sure that at least 1/2 your juices or pureed soups are hard core vegetable. Sometimes if I need a treat I’ll have a coconut popsicle – I really try to keep what I eat / drink as close to nature as possible, ideally raw, gentle on your system, not seasoned, not processed, and definitely not out of a box.
Click here for a day-by-day sample menu.
Q. Do I need to give up coffee?
BF: Only you know what it will take to get you through this. In my way of doing this, there are no hard and fast rules. You do your best. If you are someone who needs that coffee or that matcha, then have it, but just have one. If you’re a coffee or tea lover, you might have a hot matcha tea with soymilk or nutmilk. It’s not raw, so some experts would say not to do it – but we’re making the rules and you know what is going to get you through the next several days. If I’m craving coffee, I’ll have a cold brew coffee with nutmilk.
Have a little matcha with nut milk.
Or a cold brew if you need it.
Q. After my cleanse, can I have a cheeseburger and a martini?
BF: Sorry, no. How you break the cleanse is even more important than how you do the cleanse it self. I take 1/2 the number of days I was on the cleanse to break the cleanse. The last thing you should do (even though it’s the first thing you want to do) is to deprive yourself for several days and then walk into a restaurant and have a cheeseburger and a martini – which now puts all those toxins directly into your body.
My tips on breaking your cleanse are:
- First thing to have is fruit – citrus, sauerkraut because acidic – gets your digestive system moving
- Then, move into things like pureed soups, steamed brown rice, raw salads (raw is always the best because it’s alive – cooked soups aren’t but we’re doing the best we can, right?
- On my recent cleanse, my first real day out I had a “use what you have salad” made with baby spinach, chopped baby tomatoes, crumbled firm tofu, and raw corn on a bed of brown rice, seasoned with salt and pepper, and finished with Skinnygirl salad dressing – of course.
- On subsequent days I might have a healthy salad, veggie meatballs and green juice along with other clean, raw, food.
Q. What other words of advice do you have for someone starting a cleanse?
- Take advantage of the reset: Sometimes it can be hard to work while cleansing, but others actually thrive on the structure. It can be a great time to organize your closet, spring clean, and generally reset. It’s also a great time to incorporate some self care into your routine: during my cleanses, I like to do yoga, stretch, lots of dry brushing before a warm epsom bath or a sauna to draw toxins out, and tongue scraping – yep – tongue scraping.
- Don’t obsess: Remember, you shouldn’t be counting the hours until the next juice. If you devise a plan that works for you and incorporates foods that still fit the cleanse but are appetizing to you, the cleanse will be much more sustainable.
- Keep your eye on the prize: This is a gift to yourself – a time to let your body heal, to reset and recalibrate, to do it in a way that is 100% under your control, making it work for you, tailoring it to your body and your needs. You will feel refreshed, reset and reenergized when you come out of it – and you can always weave in and out as you ease up.
Curious about going vegan? Eating raw? Stay tuned…
Take this chance to reset and relax.