As Halloween approaches and the bags of candy are lined up awaiting their distribution to the creatures and princesses that arrive at our doors, they are sending out a silent “come hither” signal to the sugar junkie in all of us. The mini Snickers and Milky Way bars, the adorable tricolored pieces of candy corn…all sitting there taunting us. “Betcha can’t eat one.” And we do eat one, and then two, and then–well, you know how that goes. So many of us go on a drastic post-Halloween diet to rid ourselves of all the Halloween candy we overindulge in before, during and the days after Halloween, when the leftover candy is still in the cupboard.
I just attended a seminar about the skinny on what sugar does to us. If everyone knew the truth, it would be easier to steer clear of the “bad” stuff. Today’s candy is not like the candy of days gone by, when it was just plain old sugar. Now it’s loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives, all of which are so unhealthy for us. We try to diet away the extra pounds, but ironically it often doesn’t work. I have found that dieting can be actually harmful for the metabolism because we set our bodies up for starvation, then flood our bodies with food–so we end up gaining, and weighing more than when we started the diet. Also, dieting is simply not sustainable: it is like a sprint, when what we really need is to find an eating plan for the long distance run; something that should be enjoyable and manageable.
I believe that cleansing by juicing in conjunction with “clean” healthy foods is most definitely the perfect antidote to get rid of the cravings. I am biased, of course, because I own a juicing business, but I really believe in the health benefits of cleansing through juicing, and here is why: I believe it is a healthy lifestyle and can both stop the cravings and help women with their menopausal symptoms. I’ve seen it happen more than once.
Samantha, a single, empty nester, was officially inducted into the menopause club in a horrible way. While at the movies on a blind date she broke into a hot flash, which caused her to sweat profusely, turning her silk shirt from light pink to fuschia. The next morning I received a frantic call from her. “Lauri, I’ve been to so many doctors to try to figure this out and nothing is working. I’ve heard so much about that cleansing thing you do. Do you think it can help with my hot flashes?”
My answer to her was, “Yes, it can…if done in the proper way.” The problem is that the words “fasting” and “cleansing” have been thrown around these days -and there’s a lot of confusion as to what they mean. Cleansing is a broad term that sometimes is defined as simply incorporating a “clean” diet and eliminating high sensitivity/allergen foods. It is NOT to be confused with fasting, which is a withdrawal from eating all solid foods.
Many people think that cleansings are distasteful and they conjure up images of enemas and bowels, but a cleansing is really about cleaning our slate and starting fresh. It’s a way to kick-start healthy, sustainable eating habits and put our bodies back on track so that we can live vital, fulfilling lives at our desired weight. I started cleansing nine years ago, when I moved back to Boston following an ugly and painful divorce. I needed a place to turn for relief, and I needed a change of lifestyle. I tried many different types of cleanses for over a year. Initially, I began to simply eliminate high allergen foods, but I didn’t feel any meaningful results, and fasting without any food left me feeling depleted. Just think about what happens when we fast for even a day and then binge afterwards. I grew up doing a 24-hour, yearly fast on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. After starving myself all day long, we would then go to “break fast” get-togethers where I would gorge and end up feeling bloated and lethargic.
The reason cleansing through combining clean foods with fresh-pressed organic juices is so powerful is that we are feeding each one of our cells with the highest quality nutrients we can possibly consume, while not compromising our metabolism. This is why we feel so rejuvenated and balanced, and why it can be so healing, physically and emotionally. I believe this concentration of the highest quality nutrients is why I had absolutely no symptoms of menopause. No hot flashes. No irritability. No embarrassing experiences on dates. The fact that I had stopped menstruating was the only indication I had that I was even going through menopause.
Cleansing is often looked upon as the latest trend for weight loss. While it’s true that we can lose weight, most people first have to get their cortisol levels, those stress hormones, on track before they can lose weight permanently. This will happen, but it requires patience.
Wendy wanted to lose 35 pounds. She did a three-week cleanse and lost only three pounds, but she also felt energetic and in control of her life. After the cleanse, she continued to drink a fresh-pressed organic juice daily. She also consumed approximately 60% of her diet in fruits and vegetables, 30% in legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish and 10% in whatever she wanted because, after all, you have to live life.
She called me approximately six months later and said, “I don’t know what happened, but I just got on the scale and lost 18 pounds!” Over the next year, she lost another 15 pounds following the same diet. Now, three years later, Wendy has still kept the weight off.
That’s what juicing/cleansing does. If done in an intelligent way, it enables us to jump start healthy sustainable eating habits so that we get on track. It also shows us how unbelievably invigorated and balanced we feel when we consume a plant-rich diet.
Today, thanks to juicing/cleansing, I’m so much Better After 50: running injury free, toned, at the same weight I was when I graduated high school…and so much wiser.