Is a 3 day cleanse a good idea, or is it better to just start eating healthy again? I’m not trying to lose weight, just be healthy.

Yes, and yes. Both are great ideas. The moment you choose to improve your diet is the same moment you can begin to feel better in your body, even if it begins with a single meal. The effect of a healthy, well combined meal is immediate the same way that poor food combining also immediately produces discomfort and indigestion. Have you ever eaten something that made you feel crappy and bloated? We’ve all done it, and these experiences can provide great moments of insight. If you’re able to pay attention to the cues your indigestion is giving you, you can gather valuable intel from a terrible meal. And when I say “terrible,” I’m speaking purely from the standpoint of digestion — not taste. Some of the best tasting meals digest very poorly!

To that end, any meal that gives you cramps, bloating, gas, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, headache, nightmares, lethargy, or itching (4–5 hours later) should be evaluated. The lesson here is to not punish yourself by eating the same disagreeable thing again, that is unless you want to punish yourself again — which plenty of us love to do, so know you are not alone :)

In the instance that you have the motivation to make good food choices moving forward, start with your very next meal! If you’re feeling sluggish, a big leafy green salad with a light dressing is a great place to start.

However, some of us have a hard time with instituting a moderate lifestyle change like this, especially if we have very ingrained habits around food. In these situations, it’s almost like we need a period of austerity to help us make the mental shift — so a cleanse can be a terrific means to firm your resolve and kick-off the implementation of healthier dietary habits.

And yes, in more chronic cases, a cleanse may be exactly what’s called for if the digestive system needs an immediate rest and reboot. Sometimes we even come to a short cleansing period quite naturally, as a feeling of “not being hungry” and choosing to eat lighter foods. Animals in nature will often have periods of fasting like this as a means of regeneration.

Your body wants to heal itself — your cells are programmed for growth and repair. If you’ve been creating extra work for your body by feeding it too much sugar, fried foods, heavy carbohydrates, meats, and dairy; then stopping the supply of chaos may be just what the doctor ordered. In this instance, give your system a chance to process through the excess and rest. A 3-day cleanse can be like an internal “staycation.” Three days worth of herbal teas and tonics, green smoothies, blended vegetable soups, broths, and green juices generally constitutes an excellent antidote for digestive malaise.