Kitchari is the essence of Ayurvedic nutritional healing, and the gentlest way to cleanse your body and improve overall health from the inside out. Kitchari has been used for centuries to rejuvenate the body, detoxify the cells, and nourish all systems of the body. Kitchari is typically comprised of a grain and a legume combined with specific vegetables and spices to target specific organs or body systems. Kitchadi is considered tridoshic or beneficial for all body-types. Its nutrients are easy to digest and assimilate which restores digestion (Agni) to its optimal function. With strong Agni (digestion), we are vital, energetic, and innately able to heal what ails us. This week, our kitchari recipes optimize pancreatic, liver, spleen, gallbladder, kidney, respiratory, and immune function. Common effects of this cleanse are emotional stability, weight normalization, and a renewed sense of wellbeing.
In Preparation for the Cleanse
For best results:
- Refrain from consuming meat, fish, poultry, refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol for at least 7 days prior to the cleanse. I realize that that some very important holidays fall within this timeframe for this cleanse, so do your best, and know that you will gain benefit from the program no matter what.
- Spend some time clarifying your intention for this experience and summarize it into one phrase or sentence. Write this intention down on paper and put it somewhere easily accessible (such as your bathroom mirror, the steering wheel of your car, as the wallpaper/background of your cell phone) so that you can reference this message to yourself when you need a reminder about why you are doing this cleanse. Even if you have done this before, you may find that you have a new or different intention this time.
During the Cleanse
- It will be most beneficial to your body, mind, and spirit if you consume only kitchadi and recommended beverages during the cleanse.
- The spices are specific and intended for bringing balance to your body mind and spirit. Some of you may find them in need of salt or additional spices. You will receive the most benefit if you enjoy the kitchari just as it is. As your taste buds recover from conditions of excess (salt, sugar, spicy, etc) you will find enjoyment in the subtle tastes of this restorative, simple food.
- It is also valuable for you to eliminate any unnecessary errands, activities, engagements, phone calls, etc. during this week so that the majority of your free-time and energy can be dedicated to self-care. If this is not possible, you will still receive great benefit from the program. Just remember less is more and ask yourself what you can eliminate that is not essential?
- Great practices to integrate into the rest of your day while cleansing include: journaling about how you are feeling, taking a walk, going for a swim, getting a massage, taking a bath, spending time in nature, doing some restorative yoga postures, and oiling your body.
- Do your best to avoid activities and situations that take you away from feeling centered, grounded, and whole. We will talk more about these during our time together.
What to do if you have a Craving?
Try the following steps in this order and wait at least three minutes between each of them to see how you feel before skipping to the next step. You may just find that the feeling has passed!
- 1. Breathe deeply.
- 2. Put it in perspective: Notice that a craving is only a thought and that you have a choice (even though it may not feel like it) whether or not to focus on it, and whether or not to act on it.
- 3. Write about your feelings. Often times, we have an urge for food to distract ourselves from feeling something we want to avoid (sadness, anger, fear, etc.)
- 4. Remember your intention for the cleanse. Read it over and over to yourself like a mantra.
- 5. Drink a glass of water. Many cravings are mistaken cries for hydration from the body.
- 6. Have a cup of herbal (caffeine-free) tea or coconut water.
- 7. Move your body: shake, dance, walk, jump, whatever feels right to you.
- 8. Have some kitchari.
Transitioning Out of the Cleanse
In my opinion as a nutritionist, the transition out is the most important part of any cleansing program. When the body is functioning optimally, we sometimes feel that we can get away with anything, and often we can for a very short period of time. Following which, the consequences of our poor choices greatly increases. So, it is most beneficial for you to slowly integrate back into eating “normally” with whole foods, starting with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of liquids. Choose organic and local options as much as possible for optimal nutrient density. Post-cleansing time is a great opportunity to pay attention to how certain foods and beverages make you feel. Be open to the possibility of eating differently in order to address your body’s needs most appropriately. I do not believe that there is one right way for everyone to eat for optimum health. I do recognize that we each have unique needs that change with the seasons, as we age, and depending on our activity levels. The most important thing you can do is to connect what you do with how you feel.
You will have access to the recipes, so hopefully you’ll be inspired to cook kitchari once a week (or once a month) as a restorative meal for yourself. The beauty of this mini-retreat is that it allows you to continue many aspects of your regular lifestyle. This design is intended for you to easily integrate more healthy ways of living into your daily routine, thereby transforming your whole life health one day at a time.