What’s been your experience with cleanses? I feel like every day we’re bombarded with messages that we need to detox our bodies, and cleanses tend to rely on juices, only water, or lemon/maple concoctions.
As someone that has suffered in the past from low blood sugar and all of the uncomfortable dizziness, sweating, and palpitations that comes with it, the idea of not eating any solid food for days on end seems daunting at best and harmful at worst. When I was learning more about Ayurveda and realized that I have a Vata dosha, it suddenly made sense why not eating for 24 or 48 hours would do more harm then good.
But as I dove deeper into Ayurveda, I learned about Panchakarma, which is the Ayurvedic detoxification program. Ayurveda stresses the importance of clearing out toxins from your body that accumulate from poor food choices, daily stress, and missed bedtimes. The negative effects of these daily choices add up in our body, creating toxins called ama, which interrupt normal, healthy functioning of our bodies.
Kitchari is the diet used to accompany Pachakarma, which can include oil massages and more intense therapies. Even if you’re not doing a full Panchakarma routine (which can take anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks), a 3-day kitchari cleanse is a powerful reset button for your digestive system, which Ayurveda sees as the center of your bodies function (and the root of most diseases).
I’ve partnered with Renee of Laurel Street Kitchen to do a 3-Day Kitchari Cleanse on March 5-8th. You can join us for free! Sign up here for more information!
Your 3-Day Kitchari Cleanse Guide
(Get a PDF of this guide, including a shopping list, recipes, and tips for a successful cleanse emailed right to you: sign up here!)
What is Kitchari?
Kitchari is a simple meal made of split lentils, rice, spices, and vegetables. It’s a delicious porridge that is also nourishing and warming for the body.
Kitchari is used for Ayurvedic cleansing because there are enough calories to support your body and it’s essential functions. This keeps your body out of stress/starvation mode and powered to do the powerful cleansing that it has to do. At the same time, kitchari is a food that’s very easy to digest. The cooked lentils and vegetables are paired with digestive spices so the food doesn’t feel too heavy in your body. Rice and lentils together provide a complete protein, so you’re not harming your muscle tissue as you go through the cleanse.
All together, eating kitchari provides you with the best rest for your digestive system while still allowing it to function properly.
The Benefits of a Kitchari Cleanse
Doing a kitchari cleanse has the following benefits for your body:
- It reduces the stress on your digestive system, allowing your body to focus on healing elsewhere.
- The cleansing kitchari includes astringent beans, which help to break up toxic ama in your body so it can be released.
- With the balancing to your digestive system, you experience better sleep and more balanced energy.
- It’s a perfect reset for your taste buds and preferences so that adopting healthier habits becomes easier.
- When done at seasonal transitions, it can help your body assimilate and adjust faster, protecting you from colds and other sickness at seasonal transitions.
How do you do a Kitchari Cleanse?
3 days is a great timeframe for a kitchari cleanse because it gives your body enough time to truly rest.
However, there are several days of preparation for your kitchari cleanse so it can go as smoothly as possible.
Before the Cleanse:
About 4-5 days before your kitchari cleanse, start to reduce the following foods from your diet to make your transition to kitchari easier:
- Processed foods
- Refined sugar
Starting to remove these foods before the cleanse starts will prevent headaches, nausea, and constipation throughout your cleanse.
During your Cleanse:
During your cleanse, stick to low-impact and gentler forms of exercise like hatha or yin yoga and walks.
As much as possible, reduce obligations and travel during your cleanse. This is a time to retreat, focus on your internal well-being, and renew.
While you do have to soak your beans overnight, actually making kitchari takes less than 30 minutes. That means you can make your kitchari every morning (and simply reheat throughout the day). If this isn’t possible for you, you can choose to cook all of your kitchari before the cleanse begins. As much as possible, reheat this food on stovetop (or eat at room temperature) rather than using the microwave. Allow your cooking time to be a ritual. Play music you like, chop your food slowly, and get into a rhythm. Imbibing your food with good vibes leads to a healthier meal.
During your cleanse, you’ll want to drink tons of room temperature or warm water and tea. Ginger tea (for vata and kapha dosha) or mint or fennel tea (for pitta dosha) are great choices. If you do suffer from caffeine headaches, you can include some green or black tea.
A last note: the purpose of this cleanse is not to under or overeat. You want to feel full (but not overly so).
A typical day:
- Wake up and put kitchari on the stove.
- Do some meditation or journaling while drinking a cup of tea and the kitchari cooks.
- Eat your kitchari.
- Do abhyanga (Ayurvedic self-massage), yoga, reading, and some light work.
- Keep drinking water/tea throughout the day.
- Around noon, reheat kitchari and eat.
- Work, take a walk, read through the afternoon.
- Eat your dinner kitchari around 5-6 pm.
- Finish eating by 7pm.
- Drink more tea through the evening, and get to bed before 10pm.
If you do find yourself overly hungry between meals, you can include some raw nuts or fruit. Also, learn from my rookie mistake and don’t skimp on oil! The oil is your main source of fat in your diet, and if you don’t put a healthy dose of olive or coconut oil in your dishes, you *will* get hungry and unhappy.
After the Cleanse:
After you finish your cleanse, you’ll want to reintroduce foods slowly as well. Stick to simple meals made with whole foods, avoiding anything too high in fat or sugar until your digestion returns to normal.
For women, do not schedule a cleanse while you are menstruating, as your body needs extra nourishment and care during this time.
There are many kitchari recipes out there, but I’m so excited to have partnered with Renee of Laurel Street Kitchen on recipes for this cleanse. She created three kitchari recipes, one for breakfast lunch and dinner, so that you’ll have a little variety during your cleanse.
Kitchari Cleanse Shopping List:
- 2 cups rice
- 1 cup mung beans
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 4-5 tbsp olive oil or ghee
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 cloves
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- Honey (optional)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 orange or red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 4 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup spinach, chopped
- 1 cup Swiss chard, chopped
- ¼ cup yogurt (optional)
- Small bunch cilantro (optional)
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 pinch asafoetida
Here are three days worth of intentions and journaling questions to get you in the right frame of mind during your cleanse. These intentions will help you get the best benefits from your cleanse.
Day 1: What do I no longer need?
On day 1 of your cleanse, get ready to simplify and clarify. So often we carry old baggage: old relationships, old patterns and habits, old beliefs about ourselves and others. On this first day of the cleanse, let’s set the intention of setting aside the things we no longer need.
Mantra: I travel lightly through my day and through my life.
- Which beliefs or thoughts do I have often that cause stress?
- What situations or experiences make me feel anxious or do I dread?
- What’s a way that I’ve defined myself in the past that I no longer believe is true?
Day 2: Who am I at my core?
On day 2, you’ve already stripped some of the old beliefs and relationships that weren’t serving you. So what is left? Who are you at your best? What is the most true version of you? Let’s set the intention of defining ourselves as we want to be at our best.
Mantra: All that I am is enough. I love myself.
- What qualities do people praise you for most often?
- What accomplishments are you most proud of? What skills or talents did you use to accomplish them?
- Write your eulogy. What do you want people to say about you at your funeral (this sounds dark, but it’s powerful, my friends).
Day 3: What do I want to build?
Having cleaned away the unneeded beliefs and realized what we do want to hold on to, what can you build from here? What would be the highest expression of your talents and skills? Let’s set a target for a future that allows you to serve most powerfully for your family and community.
Mantra: My power is limitless. I commit to growing it one day at a time.
- What are you really great at?
- What do you love to do?
- What does the world need most?
- Where do the three previous questions intersect? How can you make more of that happen in your life?
Well, there you have it! You’re ready for your own 3 Day Kitchari Cleanse! To get a PDF of this guide, including a shopping list, recipes, and daily support emailed to you, sign up here!
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,
Samantha Attard, PhD, is the founder of Happy Healthy Human. Sam is a performance coach and yoga instructor who helps people eat, move, and live with intention. Learn more here.