Let’s just say I’m not the “cleansing type.” I like to think of myself as a self-indulgent healthy eater. I don’t deny myself anything I want (though I never want to eat fast food or most processed food) and eat a great variety of mostly very healthy stuff. But after a months-long period of intense work and stress I was feeling a little unbalanced and suffering from spring allergies well into the summer.
Not one to do anything drastic like ingest nothing but lemon juice and maple syrup for days on end, I decided to figure out a way to eat for a week that I thought would make me feel better.
Mostly by instinct, I came up with a recalibration diet. Luckily my cohort was game too or it would have been more difficult. We even went out once. To Café Gratitude, natch.
Here’s what we ate/didn’t eat:
Any whole grains and legumes we wanted (except wheat)
All the fresh fruits and vegetables we could eat
A good balance of raw vegetables to cooked with some fermented vegetables
No bread or anything, not completely whole (except almond milk I made myself)
No alcohol, dairy, or animal products of any kind (except bonito flakes for dashi broth)
1 cup of coffee a day
(soba noodles in dashi broth)
Breakfast: We alternated three items: whole grain porridge (pictured above) with fresh fruit, almond milk and honey; dashi broth, soba noodles, seaweed, and mushrooms; and fruit smoothies made with homemade almond milk
Lunch: We alternated beans and brown rice and seasonal vegetables with lentils, brown rice and seasonal vegetables. Some raw, some cooked, sometimes drizzled with tahini dressing. Sauteed okra, steamed greens, raw carrots, lacto-fermented beets, and avocado, etc.
Dinner: Same as above
Snack: lots of peaches anytime we wanted them
(my own dal, with cucumber relish from the book, and leftover curry red rice bowl from Cafe Gratitude)
It was interesting to see what kind of cravings came up on such a diet. As I said I don’t deny myself anything I want so I was bound to yearn for something. I thought it might be the yogurt I eat almost every day. Nope. Or the wine I love with dinner. Nope. Or the afternoon nubbin of chocolate or scoop of ice cream. Nope. Or the cheese I love dearly. Nope. Here’s what I wanted most intensely: Bread and Eggs. I craved eggs like crazy and realized how often, when I’m hungry, I’ll reach for a piece of bread or make toast or something. The carbs I think are a habit and the eggs maybe a need for animal protein. It was interesting. And on the last day I started daydreaming about pizza. And that’s how I broke the cleanse, with pizza from Flour & Water. It was fantastic!
Do I feel better? Yes, a bit lighter, more energetic. Most importantly, I think limiting the insane number of food choices we have every day is a really good way to start eating mindfully again and enjoy everything even more intensely (I say this as I eat breakfast at the computer while blogging). The whole experiment was sort of comforting, fun, and predictable (in a good way). I felt like I had more headspace for other thoughts besides food. I looked forward to every meal because I was really hungry and because it was tasty food. I think it’s a good idea for me to do this every few months or so.
Was it hard? Not for the most part, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t absolutely tortuous to stop by Omnivore Books to see our friend Celia moments before the Fried Chicken Taste Off . One of the succulent, fragrant entries had already arrived and the aroma was driving me wild. Then I had to torture myself further by looking at cookbooks!