What You Need to Know Before Cleansing

By Aarti Sanan, REDBOOK

I love summer. What I love more than anything, though, is summer fashion, which means it's time to get serious about fitness and eating right. I've been dabbling with the idea of a juice cleanse for a while, but I wasn't sure it's for me. I turned to nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg for some guidance on going about it the right way. Remember, a cleanse is not a good weight loss tool, and it's not for everyone. Consider these points before you start.

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1. Set Goals. You don't need a cleanse to feel healthy, but it is an opportunity to give your digestive system a mini-break, jumpstart healthy eating, check portion sizes, and eliminate possible allergens.

2. Avoid: Artificial sweeteners, dairy, gluten, soy, alcohol, and most caffeine. Red meat should go, too, and make sure any protein consumed is organic.

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3. Include: Fats! Be sure to include one or two nutritious fats with every meal. These include nuts, seeds, nut butter, avocado, and oils such as flax, olive oil or grapeseed. Go for natural sweeteners like maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey.

4. Hydrate. 64 ounces of water a day is ideal, and to make things more festive try a cocktail of 100% pomegranate juice, coconut water and seltzer-it's filled with antioxidants and vitamin D. Plus, coconut water has a lot of potassium, which helps rid the body of sodium.

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5. Relax. While a brisk workout is a great way to kick the blahs, minimize your exercise for the first three days of your cleanse. Spend time at home, get plenty of sleep, and rejuvenate.

You will also need to invest in a juicer (juice fanatics swear by the Breville; Stephanie recommends the Magic Bullet). If this weather doesn't motivate you to juice, maybe the coming summer season will!

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