Kitchari for Cleansing
Ayurveda considers the practice of cleansing, or regular purifying, a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Clearing accumulated waste and toxicity from the tissues and the mind, encourages optimal health. These days, a periodic cleansing regimen is more vital to our health than ever before. Our bodies are being asked to process a literally endless barrage of harmful inputs such as environmental toxins, processed foods, unresolved emotions, psychological stress and excessive information, stimulation and noise. Over time, these stressors can cause toxicity to build up in the system, deposit in the tissues, and compromise our health. A periodic cleanse helps to clear these accumulations from the body.
A Kitchari Cleanse is based on just eating a mono-diet of Kitchari, drinking plenty of supportive herbal teas, and, if necessary, taking Triphala in the evening, to support digestion, elimination, and the body’s natural detoxification processes. A kitchari cleanse can also be a part of a full Ayurvedic cleanse, or Panchakarma, which involves eating Kitchari, oil massages, herbal steam therapy, herbal enemas and nasal clearing.
Kitchari, which consists of basmati rice, mung beans, vegetables, oil and spices, was specifically created by Ayurvedic sages to be the most balancing, digestible, nourishing, complete meal possible. Ayurveda believes that one could live well entirely on Kitchari, and apparently many do. It is even served in Ayurvedic hospitals, to basically all patients.
Because Kitchari is so simple, balancing and easily digested, a Kitchari diet helps slow the flood of harmful inputs and provides the body, mind and soul with an important opportunity to rest, recuperate, and repair themselves. A Kitchari cleanse can be undertaken at any time of year, whenever you feel the need to re-balance. Ayurveda also believes that a Kitchari Cleanse or full Panchakarma is especially potent at the junctions between seasons—when our bodies are ripe with a sense of transition already.
A simple 3-, 10- or 20- day cleanse can help to:
- Re-gain a sense of balance physically, mentally and spiritually.
- Improve digestion and the strength of agni (the metabolic fire)—which are essential to optimal health.
- Support the maintenance of a healthy body weight and overall health.
- Nurture an improved sense of energy, vitality, and enthusiasm for life.
- Foster clarity and grounded-ness.
- Promote regular and balanced elimination.
- Encourage a balanced sleep cycle.
- Regain the keenness of our senses, which have been dulled by overly stimulating foods and lifestyle.
Planning For Your Cleanse
The more completely you can clear your schedule for your cleanse and allow time for rest, the better. If you are in the habit of taking coffee, caffeine, tobacco products, alcohol, or any recreational drugs on a regular basis, you may find it helpful to gradually reduce or eliminate their use in the days leading up to your cleanse. Similarly, reducing your intake of fast foods, processed foods, meat, refined sugars, and sweets ahead of the start date can be very helpful.
The Cleanse Itself
During the cleanse, you will be eating a mono-diet of Kitchari. This diet is substantive enough that you can maintain your essential responsibilities while resetting the digestive system, supporting the elimination of toxins, and balancing vata, pitta, and kapha. Freshly prepared foods contain the prana, or life force, of the food and the cooking fire, so it is most effective to eat fresh Kitchari and teas each day. Once cooked food becomes cold, Ayurveda believes that it no longer has the original vitality of the plants or the energy of the fire used to cook it — it is this very vitality that we are trying to regain.
It is common to experience constipation during this cleanse, especially in the first five days, as Kitchari is somewhat low in fiber and also as we attempt to hold onto our old emotions, rather than processing and letting them go. You must, however, be very diligent to avoid constipation and to not impede the flow and elimination of waste. It is recommended to take triphala each evening of your Kitchari cleanse. If your bowel movements slow in frequency or volume, or if your stools become more difficult to pass, even for one day, you can take: psyllium husks or seeds or oat bran with warm water, or prune juice until you are regular again.
Reestablishing ones balance, through a completely balancing diet, will look different for everyone. Balance for some, or most, will involve losing weight, perking up and becoming more clear. Balance for some vata types, on the other hand, may involve maintaining weight and slowing way down. For others, the effects of balancing will be seen mostly through the processing of their imbalanced emotions.
In general, eat as much as is desired at each meal—enough to feel satisfied, but not to over eat. Unlike fasting cleanses, a Kitchari cleanse is not a diet. There is no calorie or quantity restriction and there is no restriction of any of the basic ‘macro nutrients’ (protein, fats, carbs.) On the other hand, if your body is telling you not to eat, you are welcome to listen.
- Eat Kitchari for breakfast, lunch and dinner, allowing at least three to four hours between meals. Feel free to skip breakfast if you are not hungry.
- Garnishing your Kitchari with melted ghee helps digestion, supports gut health, and lubricates your digestive system and all of your tissues.
- Drink at least 8 cups of room temperature, warm, or hot fluids each day to ensure adequate hydration and to help flush toxins from the system. Ideally, most of your fluids should be taken between meals. Recommended fluids include warm water, CCF Tea and dosha- balancing tea.
- If you get hungry between meals, feel free to eat more Kitchari.
- Try not to eat anything after 6 p.m.
Supportive Daily Routine
- Rise early enough to give yourself a spacious and relaxed morning.
- Upon waking, scrape your tongue and brush your teeth.
- Sip 8–16 ounces of hot water to cleanse the system and to awaken the digestive capacity.
- Ideally: Do some gentle exercise. Slow, gentle movements and breathing exercises will support cleansing; more than that can be counterproductive.
- Take a bath or shower twice a day, using soap strategically (not all over the body). Oiling yourself before or after your shower with Ayurvedic medicated oils is especially helpful.
- Eat breakfast ideally between 7–8 a.m., eat lunch ideally between 11–1 p.m., eat dinner ideally between 4–6 p.m., but no later than 7 p.m.
- About a half hour before bed, take Triphala in warm water.
- Retire for the night by 9 p.m. Sleep is the body’s best time to detox so be sure to get plenty of rest throughout the cleanse.
A Supportive Lifestyle During Your Cleanse
- Keep your activities as quiet and mindful as possible.
- Minimize stress and exposure to frantic or disturbing environments.
- If intense emotions or dreams arise during or after your cleanse (often most intense around days 3-5), greet your emotions with compassion, observe them with detached awareness, and allow them simply to move through—honoring yourself in the process.
- Rest as much as possible. You can ensure that the bulk of your energy is devoted to cleansing by minimizing the number of resources that your body allocates elsewhere.
After Your Cleanse
After you complete this simple cleanse, your body may continue to process toxicity for a few days. Your digestive system will have become accustomed to a very clean, balanced diet and you may even be somewhat sensitive to overly stimulating or processed foods. A slow transition back into your normal routine and a more diverse diet will help to preserve the benefits of your cleanse. For a couple of days afterwards, eat primarily simple, whole foods, gradually diversifying your menu. Stewed apples for breakfast are a great first food. Also, pay special attention to how you handle potentially aggravating foods like dairy, wheat, soy, and nightshades after your cleanse. Your body may have some new information to offer you about your relationship with specific foods.
A Fresh Start
As you wrap up the cleanse, take some time to reflect on your life so that you can move forward with whatever new intentions feel important to you. This is a potent time to cultivate a deeper level of inner awareness, to listen to your body, and to honor every aspect of your being as you transition out of the cleanse. You might also take some time to appreciate your body for all the ways it serves and supports you. Remember too, that you’ve offered yourself a valuable gift with this cleanse—one that requires a certain level of discipline and commitment. Congratulations on your accomplishment. We hope that it serves you in a multitude of gratifying ways.
Please consult your doctor before beginning any new diet
Nourish Kitchari Details
Things you need:
- Thermoses: it is best to get insulated thermoses for all your food and your CCF tea. Many people use three 16oz thermoses for their breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus another thermos for their tea. Keeping your food hot all day makes a big difference in taste and digestibility. If you do not have a thermos, we will give you our to-go containers.
- Triphala: taking triphala every day for at least the first five days is recommended for balance and to avoid constipation.
- Ghee: if you eat dairy, ghee helps digestion, supports gut health, and lubricates your digestive system and all of your tissues.
- Massage Oil: Taking a shower before bed and putting on dosha-specific oil, before or after the shower, is a very helpful bed time routine.
- Herbal Tea: Dosha-specific or season-specific tea is great to drink during and after the cleanse.
What you get:
Each day Nourish will give you your day’s worth of Kitchari and CCF tea. You are welcome to pick it up in the morning or any time of day, or eat it at the restaurant. If you need to get multiple days worth of food at one time, that is fine too. We do not generally recommend eating food that is more than two or three days old.
Steaming is usually the best way to reheat your food. If you do not have a steamer, stove top works well too. It can be nice to water-down kitchari a bit on a re-heat. Microwave is not really recommended for re-heating food.
Kitchari can generally be left out if you will be eating it that day. If you get food for multiple days, though, it should be put in the refrigerator right away.
We are close on Sundays. Make sure you get your food for Sunday on Saturday.
Please consult your doctor before beginning any new diet