Now that we are getting deeper into the new year and all the busyness of the holidays is over, it's a good time to begin setting realistic goals for the year and to clarify our intentions. Why? Because the majority of us end up setting goals and making resolutions that are so big that we often end up giving up before we even start! And that's a fact! I know from my own experience that if there is no accountability and support, what started with enthusiasm will end up dwindling away. This year I am taking a different approach! Instead of trying to achieve big goals and climbing the steep mountain of massive resolutions, I am developing micro-habits which will help me achieve bigger goals for the year! Instead of climbing a steep mountain, risking getting tired and giving up before I reach the finish line, I am choosing a steady terrain. And I am starting my year with an Ayurvedic cleanse!
So, why is it important to start a year with a cleanse? Well, first of all, it helps us get rid of the extra pounds that we might have accumulated during the Christmas period. I don't know about you but I always end up going overboard! I have this thing in my brain that tells me that I have to treat myself and have the 'best food' at Christmas, but what ends up happening is that I begin to overindulge on things that perhaps are not good for me. I am talking about chockies and cakes and all other lovely 'treats'. Now, there is nothing wrong with spoiling ourselves with rich and sweet foods - occasionally, in small amounts they are OK. It is when we begin to attach emotions, like happiness and the feeling of wellbeing to the act of eating, that it becomes a problem.
When we begin to eat to fill a gap in our emotional world or eat to feel good or better about ourselves, the food we consume turn into an emotional crutch that can become a true addiction more akin to drugs, tobacco and alcohol. We begin to over-eat or eat food that we know we shouldn't and this changes the metabolic process in our body, causing accumulation of toxins, blockages and imbalances in the whole system; characterised by weight gain, general heaviness, fatigue, indigestion, brain fog, congestion, bad breath and skin breakouts. This is usually the time when we start to panic and begin to clean our diet and/or introduce supplements to elevate the symptoms.
However, although we might begin to feel better in a short term, because of the toxins that are already circulating in our system, and obstructions that they create, it is unlikely that we will gain the full benefit from these changes. Moreover, if not addressed properly, these obstructions and imbalances have the potential to turn into a serious disease.
This is why a short detox and/or cleanse is so beneficial to get us back on track and break this unhealthy emotional connection related to food. Ayurveda has an excellent system to address this, a five step cleansing program called Panchakarma. It is designed to detoxify the body, target the imbalances and flush them out the body. You can learn more about the Panchakarma treatment in my blog here. Panchakarma is an excellent way to maintain good health but quite often it requires taking time off and even travelling to another country, which can be costly. However, there are other, more accessible ways to detoxify and cleanse without even leaving your home.
Just one week of cutting out foods like sweets, coffee, alcohol, meat, bread and what Ayurveda considers to be bad food combinations, such as dairy + fruit or meat + dairy, can do wonders for our health. Ayurveda has a great strategy for giving our digestion a break by simplifying our diet. By adapting a mono-diet of kitchari, the ayurvedic superfood meal consisting of mung dal and rice, not only do we help the body to focus on the detoxification process, but we also lay a foundation for adapting better, healthier eating habits. A well planned 7-day detox and cleanse program can get us to feel much heathier and more balanced and, if you utilise other Ayurvedic hacks such as herbs, self-care practices and use simple kitchen cupboard spices in right combinations and correct proportions, the results will go a long way to improve your overall wellbeing and elevate your mood! What I love about Ayurvedic cleansing is that not only does it help to alleviate the symptoms, but it also addresses the root causes of internal imbalances in the body and mind.
One last thing. I really believe that embarking on a cleansing program can be a great opportunity to do inner-work and to detox and cleanse our mind, as well as our physical body. A cleanse can be a perfect time to get back to carving out some quiet 'me' time for reflection, meditation, gentle yoga practice and journal writing. It can also be an excellent time to introduce and begin to develop daily routine. Simply getting up at the same time each morning and allocating time for self-care practices that nurture us from inside out, like tongue scraping, oil pulling and self-massage can go a long way to balance our nervous and endocrine system. Just these practices alone can have a profound effect on our levels of motivation and our sense of wellbeing.
Remember, it is micro-habits that can really help us achieve bigger goals.