The Cleanse Craze: miracle cure, or load of crap?


Dear Kendra,
With summer parties coming up, my friends suggested doing “a cleanse” for fast weight loss. We started drinking lemon water with cayenne pepper, honey, and a bunch of other stuff. It tasted OK, and at first I felt good. Then I became supercranky, then depressed, and then I just couldn’t take it anymore and stopped. I know that doesn’t make me a failure, but it sucked seeing my friends lose weight and me stay at my usual plateau. So what’s the deal with cleanses?
Dave, West Hollywood

Some people love the high they get when they shift from their daily standard American diet to a hard-core cleanse, which may include fasting, herbs, and juices. If this type of process works for you, fabulous! However, I am not a huge fan of intense cleanses myself, unless they are supervised by a professional and you are in a supportive environment that allows you the freedom to experience the symptoms, emotions, and potential healing crisis that can occur as a result.

Now if you are looking for more than a quick “tune-up” and want to establish long-term, healthier patterns based on a knowledge of what specific foods work for your body, then a more gradual method may suit you better.

Like a cleanse, this will help you rid yourself of toxic buildup, which can cause skin breakouts, constipation, headaches, other aches and pains, low immunity, allergies, food sensitivities, and more. I encourage a gentle and mindful approach broken down into stages so that the body doesn’t freak out from too many changes all at once.



Start to “eat clean” by removing or greatly reducing refined grains and sugar (the white stuff); alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, or other chemicals; and processed foods from your diet. Wean yourself off junk food, because when unhealthy snacks are not immediately accessible you’ll be less likely to eat them. In exchange, ramp up your water intake and increase your consumption of greens and other vegetables, as they support natural detoxification of the kidneys and liver.



The lymphatic system (which defends the body against disease) relies on your movement to help rid the system of toxins. Even a brisk walk will help if you are short on time. Get outdoors for fresh air and breathe deeply; five minutes breathing mindfully and connecting with nature can give you a stress-reducing perspective on life and positively affect the food choices you make for the remainder of the day!

An important part of learning what foods work for you is keeping a journal what you eat. Take note of everything, including beverages and supplements. Note the what, when, why (the emotional triggers to your behavior), and how (your feelings afterward, physically, mentally, emotionally). Consider journaling what you eat for a week before you make any changes at all so you have an experience of the difference.

Once you are acclimated to these dietary and behavioral adjustments, you can take it to the next stage if you wish. This could involve fasting and/or detoxifying your organs with herbs and specific recipes and juices. I strongly recommend that you do some research and check in with a qualified health care professional to rule out any health issues before you embark on a detoxifying or fasting program.

Pay attention to the process. You will notice that as you cleanse the temple of your body, other important areas of your life start to de-clutter as well—either because you are feeling more energetic and inspired or because the new lifestyle causes you to let go of certain people or behaviors that no longer serve your highest good. It’s all connected, so be ready!

I witness more transformation and success when people come together with a shared goal in mind and a plan to hold each other accountable. So get a few friends together to join you on this clean eating/pre-detoxifying program and enjoy the feeling of supporting others and being supported! Set yourself up for success.

Learn more about clean eating.

Check out the Eat Clean Diet for Men by Tosca Reno

Download this article on food journaling:



Fried is dedicated to empowering you to live a radiant life as a strong
and successful LGBT individual. Her wellness programs are a powerful,
transformational experience of discovering your authentic self
in order to express optimal health and well-being. Kendra is a
board-certified holistic health and nutrition counselor,
hypnotherapist, Reiki Master Teacher, massage therapist, and yoga
instructor. She brings the utmost enthusiasm along with 14 years of
experience to create a new resource for Planet Out readers.

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