Monday, February 22, 2010

Trip report interrupted one last time - 21 day cleanse

Just after Dave and I returned from our fabulous Wickaninnish stay (see previous posts), I decided to follow another Blogger, Bonnie, on a 21-day cleanse.  Bonnie's daughter had done the cleanse before and raved about it, and I had been wanting to eliminate certain foods from my diet, so I jumped on the bandwagon.
Basically, you take 3 weeks and eliminate the following 5 foods from your diet:
Wheat (gluten), Dairy, Meat (ALL animal products), Caffeine, and Alcohol.

I was especially motivated because my naturopath had suggesting eliminating wheat and dairy as a way to clear up my perpetually stuffy nose.  I had been tested for allergies and had none, so she looked to my diet for ways to help things work better.  I had half-heartedly tried to eliminate one or the other for nearly a year, with mixed results;  I had never been able to discipline myself to stick with it for any length of time

Bonnie's suggestion came right after a few days of absolute indulgence, and I was ready to "trim the fat" so to speak.
A few other people said that they were going to try the cleanse or that they would be interested in the results, so here goes.  For Bonnie's result you may click to the following link:
She has a great blog, so you might want to grab a cuppa and settle in.

My results and observations:

Week One:  I was overwhelmed with planning, shopping, and cooking.  SO many foods have wheat, gluten, sugar, and/or dairy in them.  Read your labels - it will blow your mind!
I ate a lot of beans, rice, tomatoes, rice pasta, marinara sauce, hummus, corn tortillas and corn chips, salsa, guacamole, peanut butter, apples, rice-milk and fruit smoothies, and an agave-sweetened wheat free cereal.  It wasn't half bad, but I exhausted my vegan meal repertoire.
I felt headachy the first few days (probably caffeine/sugar withdrawal), and a bit crampy from the sudden increase in fibre.  I toughed it out through the headache, and drank more water to help with the fibre processing.   After a few days my nose cleared up and I really enjoyed just breathing.  My digestive-waste-processing system changed from it's usual sporadic dysfunctional norm to what is probably the perfect system.  The way it was meant to be.  I won't go into too much detail, but it improved in every way. EVERY way. Poo nirvana. Poo-vana!

Week Two:
 I still took a lot of time to plan, shop, and cook, but I went to the internet and other sources to get more ideas.  I cooked a lot from "How it all Vegan", a vegan cookbook I had here already.  Excellent book!  Before I started the cleanse I noticed that my knees sometimes hurt when I got out of a chair. During week 2 I noticed that my knees no longer hurt.  I felt a weird lightness - like when you try to lift something up and it turns out to be lighter than you thought it would be, and your arm lifts it higher than it meant to.  This is how my whole body felt - as if every cell in my body was just a smidge lighter.
  The opposite of sluggish and lethargic.    I was not light-headed, just light-bodied!  I didn't weigh myself at this point - I had been eating a lot of nuts, avocado, and using olive oil to cook, so I didn't expect to see any significant weight loss. 
So, by the end of week 2 I have a cleared nose, better sleep (I can breathe with my mouth closed and not drool or snore), a "lightness"  in my bearing, and have reached Poo-vana.

Week Three:
I became so relaxed about what to eat that I didn't plan my meals, but just shopped for more fresh fruits and veggies when needed, and threw meals together from all the healthy stuff I now had in my cupboards.  Agave syrup, steel-cut oats, vegan mayonnaise (pretty good!), dried and canned beans, vegetable broth, decaf and herbal tea; these are my new friends.  Need a recipe? Go to the internet - milliions of options.
I started to feel really tired.  Tired all day, and wanting to nap in the afternoon.  I thought it might be lack of protein, but I reviewed my food choices and realized that I had been getting adequate protein.  Iron?  Maybe - I'll still have to review.
Suddenly I remembered vitamin B12 !  Apparently a vegan-like diet often doesn't provide enough vitamin B12 without supplementation.  I had been taking B12 off and on for the past year, but had run out just before the cleanse and hadn't remembered to get more.  I quickly bought some B12, and have added it to my daily regime again.  Now, a day after the official end of the cleanse, I feel less tired....and I'm still on the cleanse!

Going forward:
I LIKE feeling light.  I LIKE not being bloated.  I LIKE losing weight without really trying, and I LIKE Poo-vana!
I miss some things: cheese, fudge, ice-cream, to name a few, but it's not the end of the world. 
I've lost 3 or 4 pounds without trying.  I was never hungry during the three weeks.
I KNOW that this way of eating is good for me.  I feel better physically and emotionally.  I know I'm now doing what I can to lessen my chances of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, all of which run in my family.
I will add fish  and/or chicken once or twice a week, and I will have "normal" food and/or wine at family gatherings and restaurants if there are not enough vegan alternatives.  As much as possible I will remain wheat/dairy/sugar free - I think they were the main contributors to my dietary woes.

The cleanse was made easier for me by the fact that my husband willingly joined in.  I didn't have to cook differently for him; he added fake beer and the odd real drink of alcohol, but stuck to it other than that.  He wants to continue with the new regime - he has no more heartburn and feels better overall, too. 
If anyone wants to ask me a question you can comment here and leave your contact information.  I'll be happy to answer anything in excruciating detail !


Deborah said...

Kath, If ever you needed more proof of Dave's love, this was it. But you didn't need that. It was already pretty obvious.

I'm thrilled that this new way of eating has worked so well for you, and that you're going to continue with it. It's stunning, actually. I mean, I would have a really hard time with all that, although I would use the excuse of not having such a willing partner. Even the alcohol went by the wayside!!! Not that much was consumed in your house anyway...just summer Sunday afternoons, right?

I am SO impressed. And delighted that you can breathe properly and have reached blissed-out poo-vana. Congratulations!

beth said...

wow....good for you!
you are an inspiration to me !
i just started to change my ways and had to stop and start again with baby steps as my body had an immediate reaction to the lack of sugar.....

I hope that I can keep it up.....and see the difference !
dairy will be hard for me...really hard since I'm a full fledged cheese head from wisconsin....

Jo said...

You are my hero! People have forgotten how to eat "whole" food. Everything is packaged or processed. You are eating the way the human body was meant to eat, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating -- so to speak. :-)

Keep us posted! And congratulations!

Kathryn said...

I know he loves me, but really - he wanted to do the cleanse too. He loves veggies and always thinks we don't eat enough. It was also nice that he didn't have to cook for 3 weeks. Going forward, he'll be cooking too, but I'll do most of the planning and shopping.

Beth, Wow ! Thank-you! I feel that if I can do it then anyone can, but the time has to be right. I am about 25 pounds overweight and on blood pressure meds. It is my time to wake up and make changes.
It IS a lot of work at first, but a little easier now. It would have been hard if my DH didn't do it with me, but not impossible. I also love cheese. Love it, but don't crave it now. Baby steps are good for a lot of people, but I had to do the drastic all-or nothing aproach, because whenever I do baby steps I can't see any changes happening and then I give up. You have to take whatever approach works best for you. Some people find the all-or-nothing approach way too harsh. Good luck to you whenever your time is right, and if at first you don't succeed then try, try again!

Holy Moly, I don't think of myself as a hero, but just a person who keeps on trying even after dozens of failed attempts. Crazy, maybe! I hope I can maintain. It's a lot more work making my own hummus, salsa, guacamole, etc, but I'm finally at the point where I understand that the effort is worth it. I'm also at the point in my life where my kids are either living on their own, or never at home. I mostly just cook for my husband, and he usually does a lot of the cooking too. The North American food system and diet are both quite screwed up, and we're all paying for it. I don't fault anyone for eating all the junk and pre-packaged food - it's everywhere and all too easy. Each individual has to decide whether the food they eat could be contributing to some of their problems; and then try a different approach to food and how they relate to it. I'm just learning to use food as fuel and not as a diversion, reward, or companion. Oy, change is hard, isn't it? Thank-you for your good wishes!

ellen abbott said...

Hi Kathryn. thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

It's amazing how much crap is in our food supply...sugar, chemicals, salt. and people wonder why cancer and diabetes is rampant and all kinds of weird allergies that no one had in the 50s and 60s.

Just having oatmeal for breakfast every day sent me to poo-vana.

We have always been fresh food eaters with very little processed food added. My kids grew up healthy without any of those awful illnesses and allergies that so many kids have now.

So good for you. It's amazing the difference when you eat real food. don't know that I could cut out all those things you did though. All things in moderation for me.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Kathryn: What a great report of your 3 wk and on-going cleanse. You were blessed to have your Dh participate!

I agree about the 'poo-vana' and the increased 'lightness of being'. Both enjoyable.

Did you notice how once off sugar for a while, fruit tastes so scrumptious and sweet?

Have you ever chopped so much? Seemed to me I was always cleaning and chopping vegetables - but's that's okay if it will keep disease away!

Thanks for the B12 heads up - I am taking my B-complex again.

I have much the same plans as you except for the chicken. My husband wants to be vegetarian - but enjoys his whole wheat bread and pasta - and his wine 'cellar'.

Thanks for your encouragement and I'm glad it turned into a beneficial experience for you. It must feel wonderful to be able to breathe without obstruction.

I just got Alicia Silverstone's new book called 'The Kind Diet' and she gives a great distilled version of all the reason's to eat clean and with compassion - and a lot of good recipes.

Have you noticed that you hardly need toilet paper anymore? Isn't that amazing? Tells you something about all that gucky animal protein! Anyway - enough about our new bathroom joys.

Take care!

Annz said...

I feel as though I would fail immediately, having had terrible experiences with Vegan people.
I hope "The Goddess" was not a part of your Poo-vana.
However, I am curious to see if, since it helped your breathing, if it would help my asthma.
I'm a pretty active sports-enthusiast, but no matter how hard I exercise, I am always short of breath.