Lent, and the detox

detox smoothie recipe

This is my current favorite detox smoothie recipe. Find the recipe here.

It’s almost a week into March, and yesterday, it was Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the Lenten season (at least if you’re a Christian, like me). During this time of year, I’m usually thinking about my “Lenten sacrifice,” that thing or practice or activity that I’m going to fast from for the next forty days. I look at the updates of my friends, and many of them have said sayonara on Facebook and “see you on Easter,” which tells me, of course, that they’ll not be “liking” and sharing and PM-ing me any time soon. Others are saying farewell to desserts, posting photos on their feeds mourning their cupcake deprivations or whatever.

It’s like everyone’s doing a detox of their habits, their appetites, their cravings. Kind of like these popular detoxes that I see all over my Instagram feed. Everyone wants to eliminate the “toxins” in their lives, both in a physical and spiritual sense.

In detoxing (which is something I’ve been trying to do more of), the “cleanse” or the detoxification process is described by practitioners as a “reset” of our bodies. To put it simply: By taking our bodies off of solids and replacing it with a juicing system or liquid diet that is nutrient-dense, we “reset” our bodies to flush out toxins. The result? Apparently a more “aware” sense of health, a clean feeling of wellness. I agree, to some extent, though I’ve yet to experience a full detox. (I only do moderate ones.)


When it comes to detoxing myself from habits, appetites and other indulgences, I can see how it’s kind of a “reset” for my lifestyle, my way of thinking. In fact, I know I could use a good detox from a couple of things, especially bad eating habits, my tendency to work too much, and other “addictions” of the sort. (I wish I could detox from social media, except that it’s core to my work. Oh well!)

Since it’s Lent, I’m being practical about it and choosing one thing to set aside for this short period. It’s no holy task; I don’t want to make some big declaration about my form of fasting. I simply want to make a concrete effort to connect a bit more deeply with my soul.

So what’s my practical application of this spiritual fast?

Behold, my weakness, my indulgence, and the one thing I’ve had too much of:


Yes, that’s it. A latte.

I love lattes. Comfortingly warm or poured over ice; cold brewed then swirled with milk and sugar… sigh. I’m hooked on the stuff.

So what does giving up lattes for forty days have to do with the betterment of my soul?

A lot more than I actually thought at first.

See, I used to think lattes meant little to me, until I decided to start taking my coffee black once in a while. Now when I think about forty days of black coffee (and some days, no coffee at all), I kind of feel a bit stupid that it is such a big adjustment for me. But it is, because for someone who’s always added milk to their coffee, all black is not an easy transition!

At this point maybe you’re thinking, “Martine, really? Isn’t there something ‘bigger’ that you could give up or fast on for the next forty days?”

Well, I know me, and I know I like my coffee creamy. It’s a seemingly little matter, but really, it is a big deal for me. Why? Well, it makes me admit a lot of truths about myself, like —

(1) I like my coffee fatty (or maybe more correctly, I like milk that tastes like coffee), and

(2) it’s hard for me to let go of things I’ve gotten used to.

Giving up lattes this Lent is going to give me space to think, to reflect on my “crutches” and dependencies.

Indulging myself in what I’ve been used to has made it difficult for me to, say, keep my weight and health in check. I know to some people, denying themselves a latte will probably do nothing for their spiritual well-being, but that’s them.

With me, it’s going to be a real struggle. And that’s good, because then I’ll have the space I need to grow.

The important thing when fasting or delaying gratification is to fill up that void with something else, and something that will be better for my soul. For me, that means healthy habits, because I have to start there! I don’t know what my soul will look like or what my appetite for coffee will be by the time Easter chimes in. Still, I know it will be good. I hope I’ll be healthier, more energetic, and hey, maybe I’ll look better, too. A little deprivation has always been good for me.

In the end, I hope to be a bit more aware and conscious, mindful of the way I live.

Are you like me, doing exercises at this time in “delayed gratification”? Are you going through Lent (if you’re a Christian)? How has deferring enjoyment and sacrifice been “good for your soul,” or have you ever thought about it being good for you? Let’s chat, shall we?


  1. says

    Hey Marts! I really enjoyed this post. You know the last time I actually sacrificed anything significant was during the pre-GenRev Camp detox I did back in 2004! I gave up TV, and man, it was no joke! Simple things like giving up the TV or, in your case, a latte, is I think what makes it a more successful and more meaningful detox. In your words, it’s a real struggle–and that’s good!

    This Lent, I’ve decided to give up desserts. It might sound silly to most people, but giving up the cupcakes and candy bars and chocolates is a BIG deal for me. I honestly think I am addicted to these things, which is the reason why I chose to detox from it in the first place. Aside from the health benefits, I’m hoping the same thing you are hoping to get out of your detox from latte, which is spiritual wellbeing. You are spot on about dependencies, because I know I’ve grown very dependent on sweets to feel more relaxed or fill an emotional void. Abstaining from these dependencies is going to be quite a challenge, I’m actually terrified and feel like I’m not going to make the entire 40 days :(

    • Martine says

      Roniiiii! Ako rin, come to think of it. Last time I really committed to a spiritual fast was some years ago. I mean, the Lenten sacrifice has sort of become a habit, but I’ve been doing “small deal” fasts lately. I know, it sounds silly coming from a mom and woman in her 30s, but hey, a weakness IS a weakness. I’ve been feeling good after not having sweets since last Sunday! It will be hard for us both, I’m sure! But I am also for moderation, especially if cold turkey will be worse for us, ya know? I read an article in Women’s Health recently that small morsels of sweets and desserts is actually OK once a day, as long as for the rest of the day we’re eating low sodium, low sugar, and nutrient dense foods.

      Good luck to us! This detox will be good for us, and hopefully, help us manage our sugar dependency for the BETTER. (On the physical side, I’m looking forward to better weight management! I miss my abs!)

  2. says

    Interesting how little things like drinking black coffee instead of a latte (something I, the latte addict, have been doing too, btw) can make you reflect about the crutches that we sometimes take for granted, no? Still on the subject of black coffee, though: Leo Babauta said something about how his tastebuds changed with a vegan diet, meaning he doesn’t crave for food he was used to (chips, milk, soda, meat, coffee) after eating veggies and drinking tea for so long. So maybe if we keep at it, one day our milk and sugar cravings will disappear, too, and black coffee won’t be a sacrifice anymore? *wishful thinking*

    • Martine says

      Exactly, Van. I’ve been feeling the effects of the no-dairy, no-sugar diet, and I’m liking them, actually. I had to admit to myself that I was addicted to sugar (am addicted), knowing that it’s such a basic thing. I never thought of it as a crutch or addiction before, but it really is. I’m OK with having treats and sweets once in a while — pwede naman, eh. But I DO want to cut down on sugar and dairy, for my health’s sake, and also to train myself NOT to always give into my weaknesses, both in the physical and spiritual sense. (I suppose I’m just very into similes and metaphors, too. Haha!)

      • says

        Everything in moderation, including moderation! As for the similes, metaphors, hyperboles – bring them on! Essential tricks of a writer’s trade!

  3. says

    I’ve never really thought of the physical cleansing much in fasting until I read this which got me thinking that perhaps I should look into this further.

    Liquid fasting takes a lot of preparation especially when you’re doing a 40-day one. I honor you for that. The last time I’ve tried liquid fasting for 7 days, I don’t think my preparation was enough that at a gig in the middle of that week, I was going black in the middle of a song, haha.

    Thanks for sharing your smoothie recipe. I hope to try it soon.

    • Martine says

      Oh, NO, I’m not doing a forty day liquid fast!!! I’m just fasting from COFFEE with milk and sugar. Haha!! This is more a spiritual exercise for me. By eliminating something so routine, I want to make a point that it’s the small things that we take for granted — like milk and sugar — which can ultimately test WHO we are. Gosh, I can’t do an all-liquid fast. I’d have to be on another level of holiness for that, LOL.

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