To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse?

Cleanses, am I right?! Who needs ‘em.

A colorful tall cake with “2021” on top if it and the words “Happy New Year” above the cake.
A colorful tall cake with “2021” on top if it and the words “Happy New Year” above the cake.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Maybe we all do.

It’s the time of year when you can no longer lazily scroll Instagram, randomly liking holiday food and cocktail posts while visions of prime rib and eggnog dance in your head.

No, we’re way past that. You’ve eaten the prime rib and gone back for seconds. You’ve refilled your eggnog cup three-too-many times and topped it off with wine (both red and white, let’s be honest). You’ve eaten your weight in cookies, rolls with butter, and, let’s not forget pie. Oh, sweet, sweet pie.

Photo by Asya Vlasova from Pexels

You’ve eaten that pie for breakfast. Don’t worry, I won’t tell.

So here you are, smack in the middle of the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. You’re in celebratory limbo — a space for both reflection and preparation. Reflection on what you’ve consumed and preparation for what you will consume, right?

But after the lobster (with butter) is eaten, after the petit four tray is left with nothing but crumbs, after the last bottle of bubbly is poured, where does that leave you? What do you do now?

If you’re like me, you’re already planning your next meal. Back to Instagram, you go. But wait! What’s this? Where are all the butter-laden dishes? Where are all of the baked goods?

Not unlike your arteries, your feed is clogged.

But it’s not clogged with the good stuff. Now it’s clogged with posts touting the latest cleanse you just have to try OR YOUR BODY WILL GIVE UP ON YOU.

Like clockwork, the same accounts telling you to treat yourself and providing the playbook are the same accounts now telling you that you’re already late to the beach body game.

They swapped out the eggnog for a mocktail. Subbed the prime rib out for a watercress salad. What is this feeling you’re experiencing, you ask? Betrayal? Confusion? Guilt?

We all know 2020 was a helluva year. For many of you (like me), cooking, baking, and becoming an armchair bartender were what got us through the year. And now we’re meant to feel bad about it all. LET US HAVE OUR MOMENT! Let us eat cake!

I get it though, everything in moderation — even moderation?

I’ve never been a ‘diet’ kind of person; absolutely no judgment if you are. I’ve never participated in Dry January, though I totally understand it. New Year’s resolutions? Nope, not me. All of that said, I do believe that we owe it to our bodies and ourselves to take it easy, especially since 2020 was a rough one.

Perhaps now is the time to check out a few of those vegetarian or vegan recipes you keep seeing on your feed? Maybe now is a great moment to experiment in your kitchen with a new global cuisine: Thai, Ethiopian, Indian? And if you’re sober-curious, it’s possible there’s no time like the present to limit your alcohol consumption or take a few booze-free drinks for a spin.

Two drinking glasses each filled with clear bubbly liquid, an orange slice, and fresh thyme sprigs.
Two drinking glasses each filled with clear bubbly liquid, an orange slice, and fresh thyme sprigs.
Photo by Leah Rolando from Pexels

As for my version of a New Year cleanse:

  • I plan to return to my habit of reserving alcohol consumption for the weekends.
  • I will maintain my water intake (I aim for 3 quarts each day).
  • I will maintain minimal red meat consumption and increase my sustainable fish consumption.
  • I will maintain my obsession with salads and vegetable-heavy dishes (curries and soups come to mind).
  • I will show my body grace, respect, and gratitude every day.
  • I might eat pie for breakfast.

Whatever you do this New year, make sure you do it for the good of your body and yourself, not because social media says so. If you want that extra cookie, eat it. One more glass of wine on the sofa? Drink it. No sugar, no booze, more veggies? Right on!

So, when the clock strikes midnight and you’re welcoming 2021 with open arms, consider how you might make adjustments to your routines and habits. Call it a cleanse if you must, but whatever you do, don’t feel guilted or pressured by social media to make a full 180 in order to prepare your body for bathing suit weather.

We went through a lot this year; go easy on yourself.

Writer, teacher, avid reader, pug-lover, courageous home cook

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