The Fall Group Cleanse: FAQs

Post by Olivia Martino, Registered Dietitian and Owner, Nourish Northwest


I have been getting a lot of questions about the upcoming group cleanse, meeting on November 5th, so I thought it would be best to address them all here.  If you are curious about the cleanse and what to expect, everything you need to know should be explained her and if you still have questions, feel free to contact me at

What is a cleanse?  Is it the same thing as a detox?

Both of these terms have very loose definitions and I use them both interchangeably.  Cleanses/detoxes are now big buzz words and can mean anything from going on a complete fast, to consuming liver supportive supplements and many things in between.  My definition of a cleanse is giving your body a break from harmful toxins and providing your liver with a lot of supportive nutrients from food to efficiently remove them from  your body.

Why should I do a cleanse?

We are exposed to so many harmful toxins daily.  They come from the environment, technology, the air, water and food to name a few sources.  Toxins have a cumulative effect and can build up in your system over time and lead to metabolic disturbances, such as chronic fatigue, inflammatory and autoimmune disorders and cancer. Your liver does a good job of removing these harmful substances from your system, but requires certain nutrients to do so.  The cleanse meal plan I design is intended to give your body a break from harmful food toxins and provide it with extra liver supportive nutrients.

That being said, the main reason most of my clients chose to do a cleanse is simply to get on track with eating healthy, and that is a wonderful benefit of doing a cleanse.  Some common additional benefits people experience are: learning how to incorporate more vegetables into their day, eliminating their reliance of sugar and caffeine, reducing cravings, feeling more energetic, experiencing less allergy symptoms (both food and environmental), feeling satisfied on less food, incorporating meal planning into their routines and having clearer skin.

What does this cleanse plan involve?

We follow a basic elimination and re-introduction format.  On day 1, we eliminate caffeine, alcohol, red meat, refined carbohydrates and dairy.  Each day we eliminate more types of foods until the middle portion of the cleanse, where were are eating mostly fruits and vegetables and also beans and nuts.  Then we re-introduce foods in the same fashion.

Do I have to eliminate caffeine?

Yes. And no.  It’s a really good idea to give it a try and I used to make it mandatory.  The main reason is that so many of us are dependent on caffeine for energy and we have completely lost our ability to manage our day without it.  Being addicted to anything is not good.  However, I have had several clients that said they would not be able to do the cleanse at all if it means eliminating caffeine. Caffeine withdrawal is real and can be debilitating.  Because of the lack of evidence of caffeine having a negative effect on our overall health, I now tell people if they absolutely must have a little, then that’s ok.  I do firmly believe you should try to reduce or maybe eliminate it for the reasons discussed but the most important part of the cleanse is eating healthy food.  If you do chose to eliminate caffeine, you will want to start gradually weening yourself off a few days before the cleanse.  Trying to detox from sugar and caffeine at the same time is very difficult.

What will I be eating?

This is the good part.  You will be eating a ton of delicious, nourishing, seasonal food.  The focus will be vegetables, with some whole grains, fruit, nuts and legumes.  I develop a new meal plan every season that I lead a cleanse and the recipes keep getting better and better.  Pictures are better than words, so here are a few from past cleanses.

Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Bowls


Good Morning Green Smoothie
Good Morning Green Smoothie



Massaged Kale and Butternut Squash Salad
Massaged Kale and Butternut Squash Salad




Chana Masala Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Chana Masala Stuffed Sweet Potatoes


What if I am vegetarian/vegan/gluten free?

The meal plan is vegetarian, vegan and gluten free with the option of adding on some sources of animal protein and the first two days and the last two days.

Is it a lot of work?

It’s up to you.  Some people chose to follow the meal plan strictly, which does involve a lot of cooking.  If you are following the meal plan, you are not eating out at all or relying on any convenience type foods.  You are preparing your own breakfast, lunch and dinner for 12 days, so there is a bit of effort that goes into that.  I have created a meal plan  that utilizes leftovers so that you are not cooking an entirely new meal every time.  I provide you with a suggested meal prep schedule that can help you get ahead before you start so that there isn’t much prep on the weekdays.  My hope is that you learn to enjoy this important part of nourishing yourself.

Some people decide to pick and chose recipes from the meal plan and then supplement by getting a meal out at any of the healthy restaurants we are so lucky to have in Portland. Whatever you want to eat during this time is up to you, as long as you follow the elimination and re-introduction schedule.  The meal plan is meant to be a resource.

Do I need any special kitchen equipment?

A blender, food processor and/or immersion blender is necessary for some of the recipes.

Will I be able to find all of the ingredients I need?

Yes.  I try not to include any ingredients that are hard to find. You should be able to find everything at Fred Meyer, New Seasons or any other store.  If you are unable to find a particular ingredient, let me know and I can tell you how to make a modification.

Will I be hungry?

It depends on what/how much you are used to eating but most people are surprised how full they are throughout.  The intent is not to be starving, but to feel satisfied.

What is the calorie count on the days?

You may not like this answer, but I don’t know and it’s not important.  The idea here is to tap into your own feelings of hunger and satiety and learn how to tell if you are giving your body what it needs.  Paying attention to numbers takes the focus away from intuitive eating and the joy of nourishing your body.

Will I lose weight?

Maybe.  Some people lose quite a bit and some people gain weight.  It all depends again on how different you were eating prior to the cleanse.  Weight loss may be an added benefit for you, but is not the main intent.

Can I work out?

Yes.  I encourage you to be active during this time and the meal plan should provide you with enough energy to do so.  Some people find that they have an increased level of energy and are more motivated to work out.  It is really nice to incorporate some slower, more mindful forms of physical activity into your schedule, such as walking and yoga.

The protein intake is fairly low in the middle section of the cleanse, so I don’t recommend a lot of heavy weight training during that time.

Will I be taking any supplements?

This cleanse plan does not involve supplements.

How much will my groceries cost?

I usually spend about $130 on the first week of groceries and $60 on the second week but this will vary on where you shop and what kid of kitchen staples you already have.  It may sound like a lot upfront but keep in mind this covers absolutely everything you are eating and drinking for almost two weeks.  There will be no money spent on alcohol, Starbucks etc.  This works out to an average of $5.27 per meal.

What if I can’t make the meeting time?

If you can’t make the meeting time or need to do the cleanse at a different time, you can set up an individual appointment with me.  The cost is a $120 to accommodate for the extra time I am taking.  Please understand that I cannot make exceptions to this, as many people ask to meet at a different time. I am able to keep the cost lower for the group by meeting with several people at once.

What were some other people’s experiences?

I have been leading group cleanses for about 6 years now, 2-4 times each year and have had tons of repeat clients.  Because I change the meal plan each time, you can do it over and over.  Here a few responses from past clients when asked what they gained from doing this cleanse:

“I have more will power than I thought! I have been putting this off because I thought it was too hard socially, but I have learned to just drink water or sparkling water and be ok with it! I don’t have to go to a bar and order a drink every time!  I lost a few pounds and I feel great. I also think my skin is more clear.”

“Overall, my body seems thrilled with the increase and variety of vegetables and fruit. I’ve maintained my workout schedule and in some ways have been able to push myself harder than ever. I feel strong and healthy. This experience has altered my lifestyle. I definitely got what I was hoping for.”

“What I have gained is more consciousness about the food I am eating.  I also gained in finding that I can eat this kind of diet and feel full, that I don’t need bread or pasta to make a meal, that cheese is not necessary on everything, and that we eat a lot of unnecessary junk for the sake of convenience. ”

“I really loved being inspired to get in my kitchen with new and delicious recipes. That was one of my motivations to take part in the cleanse, and I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed it. Not only that, now I have the confidence that I CAN cook healthy and yummy meals!”

“I climbed Mt. St. Helens for the first time on Saturday, and both the energy I had from the cleanse and the physical training I’ve received from the instructors at Nourish were crucial in this summit. Never once did I have an internal struggle about whether I could make it to the top or not! ”


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