As you may have previously read, I embarked the New Year (Jan 2-Jan 8th) on a 7 Day Detox/Cleanse. For 7 days I ate nothing but fruits and vegetables. I allowed myself 3 servings of fruits, unlimited amounts of veggies. I could drink water and decaffeinated tea. I was not allowed sugar except for what naturally occurs in fruits. I was not allowed oils, butters, dairy, alcohol, candy, not even a stick of gum. What I could have beyond the fruits and veggies was a serving of protein halfway through (salmon for me) and towards the end (fried egg white). I followed this regimen religiously and here are 10 things I learned:
1. Prior to the cleanse, I did not eat enough vegetables....not even close
Day 1 and 2, I ate green smoothies for breakfast. My smoothie consisted of juice from half a lemon, an apple, a cup of frozen strawberries, two cups of fresh spinach, and water. During the cleanse I played around with variations. I will say the chard, kale smoothie was gross and the smoothie with cabbage, spinach, cilantro, and celery leaves had a really pleasant aftertaste.
I digress. I love vegetables. Always have. But I rarely eat enough of them each day. The majority of your "plate" should consist of vegetables and you should eat a variety. During the detox, I ate spinach, celery, peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes (I consider it a vegetable), cucumbers, broccoli, squash, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, eggplant and corn. I got a really good variety and ate probably 125% the amount of veggies I should eat each day. 25% over 100? Not much and I ate A LOT of vegetables.
2. I, as well as many Americans, take food for granted
I have a new found respect for those who go without. While the detox encourages you to eat as many vegetables as you want until your full, it is impossible to be full. I was never satisfied, even after an entire plate of squash and onions and peppers. I'd eat an entire bag of frozen vegetables and still be craving something else. I got a very small sample of what it is like to go hungry. I say small, because I never lived in fear that I did not have enough food and I do not suffer the hardships that much of the poor and homeless suffer.
3. I'm a carb girl
I didn't know what a carbohydrate craving was until I went through with this cleanse. Holy mother of carb cravings. I wanted breads, pastas, crackers, bagels, just one taste of a pretzel....carby carb carbs. I guess the takeaway of the cleanse to the general public is : your body will tell you what it wants, and be mindful when you end the cleanse not to binge on that particular type of food. My body still wants carbs as the cleanse comes to an end.
4. 2 days. Sugar Cravings Gone.
Sugar is probably Americans' worst enemy. You'd think it would be McDonalds but I'm telling you it is sugar. We get dependent on it! Everything has some form of sugar in it. Well, almost everything. We get addicted and then we crave it all the time. Well let me tell you, by day 2 of detox...sugar cravings were gone. That's how long it took. Today a co-worker dangled a chocolate candy under my nose and I didn't even flinch. Another co-worker gave me a donut (yeah work is making me fat haha) and I had no problem sharing half of it and wrapping up the rest to eat post detox. Sugar doesn't do it for me. I'm wondering how much I'll be able to tolerate once I start eating it in small doses again.
5. You can't detox me off coffee
I went 7 days without a sip of coffee and I nearly died. I had caffeine headaches at the beginning and looked longingly at Dunkin Donuts by the end...and I wasn't looking at those donuts. I think if it came between tequila or coffee...and I could only choose one...it would be coffee. Who knew. I can't wait to sip on a celebratory ice coffee tomorrow from Dunkin with skim milk. (just the way I like it!)
6. Smoothies saved my life
I never considered making a green smoothie before, but right before I came back to Philly, I bought a $20 blender from Wal-Mart. I've used that thing nearly 8 times and I've only had it for 10 days. I've finally found a way to eat spinach in the quantity I should. I can make quick and portable/healthy meals using it. AND I am so excited for my peanut butter banana smoothie tomorrow morning! I think it will really come in handy on early workout days at the gym by work. Breakfast in a bottle. They're filling too!
7. More focused
These past few months I feel like I'm in a perpetual brain fog. I don't know if its because of the detox or my improved attitude about the New Year, but I feel more focused than I've ever been. Like, as I'm closing my office door to leave for the day I think to myself "closing my office door. This is my office. I've been in this office for 4 years." It sounds stupid but I feel more aware of myself and the world around me. It is a really clear feeling and I love it. I think that processed junk clogged up my brain!
8. It takes work and mindpower
Detoxing takes work and mind power. You have to be constantly aware of what you're eating. "Did I have 3 servings of fruit yet?" "Oh! Cookies on the work table!" "Wait. No cookies." Also, you have to prepare the fresh vegetables in advance which involves chopping, bagging, freezing, slicing and storing. It cost me $31 for a weeks worth of produce from my farmer's market...(but I splurged and spent a whole $3 on a bag of grapes....) Today I almost absentmindedly took a sample of Trader Joe's black bean soup...I can' t have that today but I almost forgot about the cleanse. I think that may be why you're hungry all the time, you are constantly thinking about the detox.
9. I appreciate food more
Just in general, I appreciate food more. Especially the food I couldn't have for a week. I really love these cheddar penguin crackers from Wal-Mart and I miss them and I can't wait to be reunited with them in a healthy portion. But I'm paying closer attention to labels. I'm savoring food. Its going to be such a treat to dive into a bowl of Special K tomorrow afternoon and eat my delectable smoothie for breakfast. I'm going to enjoy all of it, be in a great mood, and appreciate every single savory bite.
10. Imagine Believe Achieve
I sat next to a coworker eating Arbys. I grabbed a piece of chocolate candy and saved it for tomorrow without a problem. I ate nothing but fruits and vegetables for 7 straight days. I did it. If you imagine you can do it, believe that you're capable you will achieve great results!
From here it's mindful eating and phase 2. Phase 2 consists of more green smoothies, Special K lunches and lean protein dinners. I'm going to be eating more protein to stay fuller longer. I'm sure my stomach has shrunk (as well as my appetite) from this week and my system welcomed the low taxing cleanse. 30 day gym membership starts this weekend and I'm also on a weight loss challenge at work. Keepin it healthy! So healthy that I've already planned what to eat during our work party this Friday! I know what is on the menu and what I can indulge in and what I need to avoid. Smart choices!
Also I'm learning a whole bunch of new and healthy recipes to try. In an effort to enjoy something warm and hearty, I learned how to make a stew from scratch! It was an eggplant and tomato stew and I used all kinds of herbs and a bay leaf! (Never cooked with a bay leaf before) The final product was delicious. I'm looking forward to getting creative with some healthy vegetarian dishes in the future. I'm not a vegetarian, but those recipes have the most vegetables ;-) I'm also going to be protein powder peanut butter fudge balls! It's going to be great and my body will appreciate the variety. I used to eat breakfast burritos on a bi-weekly basis. They were on whole wheat tortillas with eggs, skim milk and turkey bacon....but there is only so much burrito your system can take before it just wants a nice leafy green vegetable.
Until next time...