Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 24 - Preparing to Cleanse

Just five days left! Absolutely heavenly.

But before I go off the cleanse, I'll let you know a couple of the things I do to get ready for one.

1) HIDE YOUR STEMWARE

I usually tuck away my fave wine glasses when I'm on a cleanse. No use seeing them every time I open the cupboard. You might want to do the same thing: tuck your shot glasses, stemware, highballs, or any glasses and utensils that are especially for drinking in a part of the kitchen where you won't see them every time you grab a juice glass.

This cleanse was a bit different for me, however, because I started using stemless wine glasses this year and I continued using them throughout the cleanse. As I said in "The Teatoller" post, I've even been drinking warm or cold tea in the stemless wine glasses. It's been really rewarding and adds another dimension to drinking sodas or juice or teas. And, again, I can't recommend Davidstea.com highly enough. I've mentioned the Organic Detox and Xanadu teas before, but they've really been a lifesaver. Especially the Xanadu which is a nice berry tea that with just a little bit of agave tastes like Kool-Aid on a hot summer day.

Xanadu is a seasonal tea so it may not always be available, but I'm sure any good organic berry concoction with a teaspoon of agave would be great.

2) EMPTY THE LIQUOR CABINET BEFORE

Your last trip to the liquor store before a cleanse is kind of a love/hate experience. You might not be taking your regular nights off during the two weeks before a cleanse, so there might be a few more bottles of wine or liquor in your cabinet.

But when the cleanse starts, make sure that those bottles are out of the way. My husband keeps his scotch and Grand Marnier bottles in the cupboard, but those drinks have never tempted me so it's not a big deal to have them there when I open that door for the spaghetti pot or whatever. But there are no white wines in there, no champagne bottles, and usually not any red wine.

Mark gets in a bottle or two of red wine for himself to sip after I go to sleep, so I've gotten used to that. In fact, seeing bottles doesn't bother me at all anymore. I just empty the cupboard out of habit and because it makes stocking up a few days before the cleanse is over even more fun.

But for your first few cleanses you probably want to keep your favorite bottles out of the way. It just makes things easier on you when you're starting out.

The same goes for the fridge, obvi. If ice-cold pinot grigio or chardonnay is your soft spot, you probably don't want a nice fresh bottle sitting on the fridge door when you reach in for your O.J.

Keeping your fave liquor out of sight not only makes dealing with a cleanse a bit easier, but it also reminds you that you're on a cleanse. That it's a special time of the year. And, as I said, it makes it all the more fun when you stock up after the cleanse.

3) SUBSTITUTE PITCHERS

Before you start a cleanse, especially before the first cleanse weekend, make sure you have plenty of supplemental drinks on hand.

- TEAS: I won't bang the davidstea.com drum again (not really), but I can't stress how important it is to have some yummy organic teas on hand to drink either hot or cold. And try the wine glass idea just for fun. I've loved it and it's a new habit. That's part of the enjoyment of going on a cleanse: every time you do one, you discover something new. About yourself, your health, your house, your world, cleansing itself.

The great thing about a four-week cleanse is that it really does give your liver time to cleanse. (Though, to be honest, there is a school of thought that says it's impossible to cleanse your liver to begin with and a whole other school of thought that says you don't even HAVE to, it's a self-cleaning oven.) But I'm still siding with the idea that even giving my liver a break from metabolizing liquor is a "cleanse," anyway.

If you really want to give your liver an extra boost, davidstea.com has that great Organic Detox I just discovered during this cleanse. But there are lots of organic teas that are reputed to cleanse your liver, including Milk Thistle, Camomile (both of which I drink regularly, cleansing or not), Dandelion Root, Red Clover, and Cascara Sagrada. Drinking a cup of warm water with the juice of a 1/4 lemon first thing in the morning is also said to cleanse your liver and help with blood flow.

The Herbal Encyclopedia at www.naturalark,com/liverc/html has some good recipes for combining teas, including ginger and peppermint to cleanse your liver, as well.

- JUICES: Obviously, my intake of juice goes up during a cleanse. This time I made sure we had plenty of O.J. and apple juice, but I also topped it up with blueberry-acai juice, which is full of anti-oxidants which will help to make up for those you might be losing in your favorite cabernet sauvignon.

Mixing apple juice, lemon juice, olive oil and distilled water is said to be a good gallbladder and liver cleanser as well - if you really want to take this opportunity for a serious cleanse. I discovered this on fishman2002's YouTube channel. It's the Liver & Gall Bladder Body Cleanse Testimony.

- SODA/POP: Listen, if you already drink two gallons of Diet Coke a day, you probably need another whole cleanse altogether. Seriously. Don't you watch Oprah and Dr. Oz? Take it down a notch.

If you already drink a lot of sodas, try not to overdo it on a cleanse. Choose healthier options. There are tons. But if you don't MIND abusing your body with soda every day/all day, then go for it. Who am I to judge? If you're worried about the calories, go for the diet options. I hate recommending all the artificial sweeteners and chemicals, but one problem at a time. If your Diet Dew helps you get through the night, then what the hell? Go for it. Just please take it easy on the carbonated sweet things - for your own good. As I mentioned before, no use curing your alcoholism and ending up with diabetes.

If you're really craving something sweet and want to forgo the sodas, do yourself a huge favor and try a nice fruit-based tea with agave syrup. Experiment until you find something you really enjoy. And keep a variety on hand.

By the way, it's not as if I never drink soda on a cleanse. The last week, I usually end up getting a few bottles just to make that last stretch go by more quickly - and just in case I need an extra boost for the last weekend.

Plus I really feel I deserve to treat myself. If you're not a huge pop drinker, but want to give it a try and see if it helps with your energy, you might want to try your favorite pop from when you were a kid. This week I bought root beer and cream soda. Seriously. Every sip takes me back to some afternoon during the summer vacation when I was, like, ten or something. It's lovely and delicious and fun.

ENERGY DRINKS: No bull - Red Bull helps. I took one can to the wedding I attended on the weekend. Mark kept it tucked in his suit jacket pocket. After the first course was served and my orange juice (and cranberry! I'd had two juices mixed with sparkling water by that point) was gone, I cracked the Red Bull and had it for the rest of my meal and for toasting during speeches.

Plus my glass was always at least a bit full so the server was never tempted to top me up with wine or badger me with requests. In fact, I didn't have to tell the server I wasn't drinking at all. Which was nice. It always seems like such a kill joy thing to do to have to whisper to the server that you're not drinking. Though it's not the end of the world, since designated drivers do it all night.

As for having juice or energy drinks with your meal, I'm sure your sommelier will not approve. Red Bull's chemical sweetness doesn't compliment the flavor of salmon or beef like a good glass of vino. But it's not bad - and the important thing is, if you need it, you have that boost of energy for talking to drunk relatives as the night wears on, you've got energy to listen to speeches, and something to toast with besides water. More importantly, you've got a little extra get-up-n-go when one of those drunk relatives drags you onto the dance floor for the Macarena or whatever. Have an energy drink if you need it. Red Bull works. No bull.

*N.B. Nobody played the Macarena. ;) But you get my point.

- SPARKLING WATER: A little fizz in your drinks always makes it feel a bit special. If you're getting tired of plain juice (or even juice mixed with tap water, just to take the sweetness down), try adding sparkling mineral water. It's not exactly Smirnoff Ice, but it can turn any juice into a feel-good fizzy.

4) NATURALLY SWEET

You might need sweeteners to help make all that tea a little more palatable. I am SUCH an enormous fan of Agave Syrup I don't think I'll ever use another sweetener. It has a sweet, true, sugar taste (unlike honey or maple syrup), but it won't spike your blood sugar like other sweeteners.

There are tons of other natural sweeteners that have their own benefits and will benefit YOU more than refined sugar during a cleanse: brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, evaporated fruit juice, honey, maple syrup and stevia are just a few. Find out which ones you prefer and make sure you have enough on hand for your cleanse - especially that first weekend.

5) SUPPLEMENTAL SUPPLEMENTS

Resveratrol is a good anti-oxidant supplement that will help make up for those you're losing in your red wine.

Vitamin C is always good to take when you're cleansing, whether that's a cleanse diet or an alcohol cleanse.

Vitamin B - Drinking depletes your vitamin B, so you should be taking it normally - even on a cleanse. But B12 especially is a nice extra energy boost when you're cleansing. I prefer the tiny sublingual pills that dissolve beneath your tongue, 100 mg, once or twice a day.

There are also lots of cleansing tonics, mixes, drinks, etc. that you can find at your local health food store. If you're considering a fuller cleanse - not just alcohol - you might want to try one of these.

6) FOOD

Don't deprive yourself too much food-wise when you first start alcohol cleansing. You don't want to get discouraged. Treat yourself every now and again. Especially on the last weekend.

If, on the other hand, you're a health nut and you want to really take advantage of a total body cleanse while you've cut out drinking, that's ideal. As of today, there are literally 101 million hits for "cleansing" on Google. A sign of the times, I guess. Find one that works for you.

Get in lots of fruit. It's so yummy and full of energy when you're cleansing. For some reason - maybe an obvious one - I absolutely crave green grapes when I'm cleansing. The really, cold, crisp ones that break under your teeth. Yum!

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