Going Raw: Rid your Body of Toxins with the Raw Renewal 7-Day Cleanse
I’m a pretty healthy person—I like to eat well and I exercise on a semi-regular basis—but I have an unrequited love of carbohydrates. Give me a freshly-baked baguette and a creamy Brie and I’m happy. Take away bread and cheese? And, as it turns out, I’m still relatively happy.
That’s what I learned following a seven-day raw food cleanse that my managing editor and I embarked on in early August. No carbs. No sugar. No meat or fish. No alcohol. Not even a single cup o’ morning Joe.
It’s called the Raw Renewal 7-Day Cleanse created by Annapolis-based health coach Lisa Consiglio Ryan, owner of Whole Health Designs LLC. The basic pitch? Stick to raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds for one week to effectively rid your body of “toxins,” inevitably leading to a happier, healthier, better you.
What does cleansing do?Cleansing helps to remove toxins from the body. It might not necessarily result in any drastic weight loss, particularly for those who already follow a healthy, balanced diet—minimal amounts of refined carbohydrates, starchy vegetables, saturated fats, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods; plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, and nuts. But if you’re looking to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle, a cleanse can be effective.
—Josh Slacum — Fitness Manager-Facility & Staff at Hearthstone Health & Fitness, Easton
In short, it was a refreshingly satisfying experience with a meal plan that didn’t deviate too much from foods I consume on a regular basis. Still, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed a week of completely uncooked meals and it was nice to not turn on the oven or use the stovetop, save for making quinoa a few times!
Although I never really felt the urge to grab a cookie or savor a nice glass of rosé—it was summer, after all—the personalized support from Lisa was encouraging in any moment of weakness. The daily emails inspired me to see through to the cleanse’s end, even if I felt more inclined toward a grab-and-go dinner rather than a homemade, raw one.
There were two days during the cleanse where meals were replaced by fresh-pressed juice, provided by Consiglio Ryan. For me, these liquid fares were the highlight of the week. Perhaps it’s a tell-tale sign of my apathetic tendencies in the kitchen—Step One: open cap. Step Two: breakfast is served!—but I believe my fondness of these libations stemmed from their tastiness.
What are toxins?From a dietary perspective, toxins come from heavily processed foods that are more likely to contain high amounts of trans-fats, saturated fats, added sugars and/or preservatives, dyes, and other types of additives. High intakes of toxins can tax the digestive system and lead to higher amounts of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable particles that can cause cellular damage to multiple tissue types.
—Kelly McGrath, MS, RD, CSG, LDN—
Clinical Dietitian, FutureCare Health & Management; Adjunct Faculty, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold
With a lovely little juice bar near my home (Hill's Cafe & Juice Bar in Easton), I couldn’t help, but add a couple of extra juices to the week-long plan. A particularly tasty green concoction got me through a wedding where cupcakes and pasta dishes taunted me; another helped me survive a girls’ night, in which my friends enjoyed copious amounts of wine, while I sat nursing a bottle of pressed mixed berries. I can now say with a smile: as delicious as the juice was, the experience of being the sober one, also unable to relish in the charcuterie and cheese platter, was as miserable as it sounds.
Besides that, and an unpleasant headache on the second day of the cleanse, I felt great throughout the week. Surprisingly, I was never hungry and I felt much healthier and energetic; even my skin appeared to be brighter. I also gained some great new recipes for snacks and smoothies that I’m excited to incorporate into “normal life.”
How is juicing beneficial?Juicing is one of the easiest ways to consume the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables. It’s also the most effective. Since the body doesn’t need to digest food particles, enzymes and nutrients are absorbed immediately into the bloodstream and directed into cells to help repair and heal them. Drinking juice on an empty stomach enables these micronutrients to work faster. Additionally, juice begins to lose its potency within 24 hours of being pressed, as enzymes and nutrients begin to break down, so it’s best to drink up as soon as it’s made. Unfortunately, even freezing juice doesn’t help in retaining nutritional benefits.
—Jennifer McCrea — Owner at Hill’s Juice Bar & Cafe, Easton
My editor, James, followed a similar journey—although, for the sake of full disclosure (and a little petty competitiveness!), he didn’t quite make it through seven days. Weekend life, he says, got in the way of abstaining from meats, sweets, and treats.
Beyond forgoing some indulgences, the hardest part of the cleanse was the prep, which Consiglio Ryan details in the pre-cleanse materials. Stocking the fridge and pantry with cleanse-approved items is a big must, as is advanced planning for each meal. Perhaps part of the reason I grew weary of the kitchen was due to lack of ample preparation. In hindsight, had I chopped the veggies and fruit earlier in the week, it would’ve made mealtimes less tedious and more enjoyable.
Should you exercise while cleansing?Healthy eating and exercise go hand-in-hand. You can’t out-train a bad diet; no matter how much you exercise, if you’re eating poorly, you won’t see any changes in your body. When you’re on a restricted diet, it’s good to continue your typical workout routine, however, be sure to stop if you become light-headed or dizzy. Take a second to sit down and relax, then get back into it. If those symptoms return, it’s best to nix exercise for the day or until the cleanse is over. If you’re just beginning a workout regimen, daily low-intensity aerobic exercise, like walking for 30 to 45 minutes, is always a good way to increase your heart rate without over-exerting yourself.
—Danny Lee — director of personal training at Gold’s Gym, Crofton
While I’m not so sure I’d partake in another week-long cleanse, I wouldn’t be opposed to a three-day program or weekend-after detox, also offered by Consiglio Ryan. Until then, I’ll maintain the relatively healthy eating habits I held long before the cleanse, adding a few new favorites to the mix—Pina Colada Nada Smoothie, Yogi Cereal, Watermelon Soup, and Avocado Tomato Salad, to name a few—along with the occasional crusty loaf and slice of cheddar.
When to detox?The idea is to gradually make some changes that you are able to maintain long term, such as eating a little less and adding in more fruits, vegetables, water and foods higher in fiber—it’ll make a world of difference no matter when you start. The point is, you have to start sometime!
—Kelly McGrath, MS, RD, CSG, LDN—Clinical Dietitian, FutureCare Health & Management; Adjunct Faculty, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold
Visit www.whatsupmag.com to check out a few sample recipes from the Raw Renewal 7-Day Cleanse. To learn more about Consiglio Ryan, her detoxes, and advice for clean living, visit www.wholehealthdesigns.com.
Avocado Tomato Salad with Hot Stuff DressingServes 1-2
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch spinach (1 cup leaves)
½ avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup cashews
½ red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (½ cup)
1 Tsp. paprika
½ onion, chopped (¼ cup)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
To make dressing, soak cashews in bowl of cold water for 30 minutes, then drain and put in blender or food processor. Add rest of dressing ingredients and blend until creamy. Combine tomatoes, spinach, avocado, cilantro, and parsley in a bowl and toss with dressing. Top with pumpkin seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.