Detox Challenge: The Final Word

So, I did it.  21 days without fruit, sauces, sugar, bread, and dairy, to name a few.  During Thanksgiving Dinner, I stood defiant as my family members tried to coax me to indulge in not one, but three of my favourite Filipino desserts. If that were not cruel enough, my sister brought a Marble Slab Creamery Raspberry Ice Cream Cheesecake .  That’s a mouthful, but I definitely didn’t have one. I was about to crumble into a trembling heap, but instead, I chose to cheat in the form of one piece of sliced mango.  And even then, I clutched it in my hand so long before eating it that I drew confused looks.  Yes, I was lost in a moment of crushing guilt and temptation, but amidst the ridiculousness of that moment, I had a realization:

For years, I was absolute in my knowledge that I would never have the will power to change or sustain the kind of diet I knew could make a difference in my life with lupus.  I had heard of many people with chronic illness who had changed the quality of their lives through diet, but everyday there was a new craving that needed to be satisfied:  Bubble tea, M & Ms, tootsie rolls, chocolate almonds, chips, pastries, Nutella, pad thai, deep fried banana cheesecake with ice cream.  I felt like I deserved these “foods,” that I was allowed to have them because I was feeling so crappy.  It was my reward for getting through the day, the release from hiding the pain from others.  By thinking I owed myself these treats, I was contributing to my body’s decline. I was “feeding the wolf” and it was a vicious cycle I didn’t have the will or desire to control.  It didn’t help that I couldn’t cook, nor did I want to.  I needed something that I could enjoy and indulge in and my inner treat monster was the way to get it.

During the detox, I felt better, lighter, and cleaner, but more than that, I felt responsible.  It was the first time I truly took responsibility for everything I put into my body. By completing the detox, I found the iron will I never thought I had! In the face of my most desired desserts, I “cheated” by eating a piece of MANGO.  So clearly, the final word on the detox is “hope.”  After completing the 21-day detox challenge, I feel like there’s hope that I will be able to make the right food (and treat) choices for the long haul.  The first thing I wanted to eat when I finished my detox wasn’t bread, nor cheese, nor chocolate, but plump and juicy, organic raisins!!  Nothing has ever tasted so good in my life!  I think that speaks for itself!

My next food challenge:  Going “raw” for a week… but I’m definitely going wait a while before I attempt to do that. I think I deserve at least a few months of “laid back eating!”

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Detox Challenge: End of Week Two

Week Two Positive Effects:

1.  My stomach is less of a gurgly, gassy mess and more of a pleasant partner in digestive bliss.  Okay, so it’s not that perfect, but it’s pretty damn good.  My insides feel cleaned out, not entirely, but enough for me to lose that heavy, clogged up feeling.

2.  I’m drinking more water and not only that, I finally bought a new filter for my Brita jug.  I’ve been drinking water from my tap out of pure laziness, but the detox forced me to think about the benefits of extra filtration.  As a result, the water tastes better and I want more of it.  I’ve been known to have my first drink of water halfway through the day.  Years of dehydration has turned off my “thirst alert.”  Time to deprogram!

3.  I finished the baby carrot bag, not once, but twice. Living alone, I have never been able to  finish a bag of baby carrots before they turned into a dried up, moldy mess.  The detox rules have turned me into a beta-carotene junkie and to my surprise, I’m actually finding them quite satisfying.  Who knew?

Week Two Negative Effects:

I’ve had a headache all weekend and had to take a tylenol at work yesterday, which I hardly ever do, even if I’m in a lot of pain.  I think the headaches have more to do with the way I’ve been sleeping than with the detox.  I’m trying desperately to get into a consistent routine, but it’s a roller coaster ride of early bedtimes and late night failures.  It’s a battle of wills between me and my delinquent, inner night owl.  The differences between my bedtimes in the last week have been so extreme day to day that my body and my adrenal gland (or so my naturopath tells me) is reeling.  I have no one to blame but myself.  I need to write “SLEEP IS MEDICINE” all over my house.  Maybe then I’ll actually get my ass into bed where I belong.

Week Two Weight Changes:

Lost two more pounds.  Total in two weeks: 3 pounds.

Week Two Biggest Challenges:

Eating out.  I end up taking so many ingredients out of my meal, it’s hard to know if I’m even getting my money’s worth in the end.  At times, it’s hard to watch other people eat.  I’m generally okay, but I had serious pangs of jealousy watching a few of my keepers eat a saskatoon crumble and cheesecake.  I don’t even like cheesecake! My Thanksgiving Dinner with my family will be interesting to say the least…

Week Two Favourite Foods to Satisfy Cravings:

1. Cashew butter and whatever food you want to dip into it.  Delicious.  I may never want or need peanut butter again.

2. Corn flax chips or seasoned plantain chips to halt the desire for their potato counterpart.

Week Two Cheating:

During week two, I had sushi three times, all with white rice, some including shrimp, mushroom, and a little bit of sauce. I also had a spicy sauce on a veggie burger and a soy sauce marinated piece of tofu.  It’s all pretty minor, but I’m a master at guilt.  It’s important to note that sushi three times a week is pretty excessive normally much less on a detox!

I’m entering my last week of detox and I feel like my will is pretty solid.  The days go quickly and I’m excited to know I’m on the home stretch.  I never, in a million years, would have thought that I could last this long without bread or dairy.  It feels good to know I have it in me.

The passage of time has been on my mind lately, this being the very month I was officially diagnosed with lupus 10 years ago. Coincidentally (or not), this month is also Lupus Awareness Month across the globe.  I’m never quite sure what to do for Lupus Awareness Month.  Advertise it on facebook? Email my co-workers? Encourage friends and family to donate?  At the moment, I choose to send out love to my fellow lupies around the world (you know who you are) and to all the keepers who take care of them. I’m heading into another decade of lupus living and I choose to skip the jaunt down memory lane.  What’s done is done and the conclusion to my detox challenge awaits!

Detox Challenge: Week One Update

WEEK ONE LESSONS LEARNED:

1.  Never assume something follows the detox rules:  On my first day of the detox, I was happily consuming soy cheese, certain that I had found a suitable and tasty alternative to regular cheese.  The next day, when looking at the label, I came across the ingredient, “casein,” a milk protein.  In his book, The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, discovered that casein, which comprises 85% of the protein in cow’s milk, promoted cancer in all stages of its development.  I was appalled that a product that claimed to be vegetarian/vegan friendly would have the very ingredient that particular target group is avoiding.  Upon further research, I discovered that some companies include casein to give the soy cheese more of a “real cheese” quality and texture, which is ridiculous!  You might as well get the real thing!  I was not impressed to find out I had unconsciously cheated my very first day!

2.  Check your gluten/non-gluten list twice:  Your intuition when it comes to what foods contain gluten and what does not can sometimes be an unreliable source.  I ate a bowl of vegetable barley soup, only to discover later that barley is a gluten food.  Many types of processed food contain gluten as well, so it’s best to keep to keep it natural. This also decreases your time in the supermarket. Who wants to stand in aisles all night reading labels?

3.  There are alternatives out there, you just have to do the work to find it:  Wow, am I ever lucky that I live at a time when gluten-free and dairy-free lifestyles are being accommodated in the grocery stores and in certain restaurants.  I think of the people I know who have been vegans or vegetarians for decades and I’m at a loss as to how they were able to do it!  These days, there are plenty of options, you just have to do the research and the comparison shopping.

4.  Food bloggers are amazing:  The internet has been a great source of inspiration for me when trying to find something to eat.  There are so many amazing people out there who have posted vegan/vegetarian and healthy recipes that fit or could be modified to fit into the detox rules.  The food pictures on these blogs motivate me and reassure me that I can still eat well while cutting out the things I love.  Here are three new blogs that I have stumbled upon this week: “Muddy Spoon,”  “The Alkaline Sisters,” and  “Healthy. Happy. Life.”  If you have any other recommendations, please send them to me!

WEEK ONE NEGATIVE EFFECTS:

How about those first week detox symptoms, you ask?  I haven’t experienced anything.  No headaches.  No nausea.  I’m assuming this is because I don’t drink alcohol or coffee.  I’ve been feeling pretty great with the exception of some fatigue and a bit of stiffness.  Whether this is due to the detox, lupus, weaning off prednisone, or change of weather is unknown.  As a side note, for the last few months, I’ve been experiencing a lot of bruising on my legs that last up to two weeks.  A quick search on the internet revealed that they are common in lupus, but it’s still on the list of things to report during my next rheumatologist appointment.

WEEK ONE POSITIVE EFFECTS:

I’ve noticed that the skin on my face has cleared up since I trashed the chips and iced chai lattes.  It’s less greasy and my butterfly rash is less pronounced.  I am, however, feeling really bloated.  I’m not sure if it’s due to the fact that I am consuming more veggies and beans than usual or other womanly issues, but it’s been leaving me feeling like I actually had those chips and chai lattes!

WEEK ONE WEIGHT CHANGES:

I’ve lost one pound in the first week.  Weight loss is not one of my goals in doing this detox, but I figured I’d report all the stats!

 WEEK ONE’S BIGGEST CHALLENGES:

1.  Not feeling satisfied:  My mind has had trouble accepting that I do not need a bread product to feel full throughout the day.

2.  The end of “fast” in breakfast:  Not being able to grab a piece of fruit or a piece of toast has changed my morning routine radically.  I have to make time to whip up a detox friendly breakfast or I’ll literally have nothing to eat.

3.  No cold, sugary treats:  We’ve had a sudden trend of hot weather this Fall, so not being able to have a cool treat like gelati or ice cream has been difficult.

4.  Conscious eater fatigue:  I’m constantly thinking about what I’m eating or what I’m going to eat.  I was doing this to a degree before, but with all the rules of the detox, it’s been over the top.

5.  Having cravings for Indian Food:  Naan and some butter chicken sounds good just about now…

6.  No vinegar:  I love balsalmic vinegar on salads.  As an alternative, I can whip up an oil-based dressing at home, but at restaurants or grocery stores it’s difficult to find a dressing without vinegar in it.  The alternatives usually have dairy in them, which I cannot have.

7.  No fruit:  I eat a lot of fruit normally, so cutting everything out except bananas has been tough.  It’s my go-to snack because it’s portable, delicious, and gives me a sugar boost.  I’ve probably been using too much honey to compensate…

WEEK ONE FAVOURITE FOODS TO COMBAT CRAVINGS:

1.  Plantain bananas:  My mom has sliced and cooked plantains for me as a dessert for as long as I can remember. They are healthy, filling, and although I normally eat them with brown sugar, they do not need additional sweetening.  My cravings for bread are more than satisfied with a plate of warm and delicious plantains.  Thanks, mom!

2.  Tahini (Sesame spread) with honey on a rice cake/cracker or piece of warmed brown rice wrap.

3.  Rice crackers/baby carrots with hummus.

4.  My keepers:  Okay, so I know my keepers aren’t food per say, but they have helped me combat my cravings.  Tonight, one of my keepers went to the trouble of making a detox friendly meal for me.  I have another invite from another keeper for later this week.  Others inquire about and support the endeavour, even trying portions of the detox with me or making a commitment to try it at a later time.  Comments on the blog from readers have also kept me on track and out of the cheese buns.  Thank you, my lovelies!!

Day #8 is almost complete and another two weeks of detox awaits me.  Week two of Face Forward’s Detox Challenge, here I come!

Face Forward Detox Challenge: Sept. 20 – Oct. 9, 2011

Detox research completed and approved, I lovingly savoured my last piece of bread this evening.  It was the most sinful piece I could find in the bulk section of my grocer’s bakery; flaky, buttery, and oh-so-cheesy.  It’s the eve of my maiden voyage into detox territory, my friends, and the 21-day challenge is about to begin!  Here’s the quick and dirty on Dr. Joshi’s Holistic Detox, but be sure to read Dr. Joshi’s book, which contains additional food/drink recommendations and exemptions, as well as recipes and important background info.

The Top 10 Detox Rules

1. No red meat
2. No dairy produce (except goat cheese and buffalo mozzarella)
3. No fruit (except bananas, which release sugar slowly)
4. No wheat, gluten or yeast (no exceptions!)
5. No alcohol
6. No buiscuits, cakes or doughnuts
7. No jams or spreads (except honey)
8. No coffee (including decaf) or black tea
9. No sugar, chocolate or sweets
10. No artificially processed flavourings or colorings: ketchup, vinegar, mustard, etc.

Rule #2 (no dairy), #3 (no fruit), #4 (no wheat, gluten, yeast) will definitely be the hardest rules for me to follow, but I’m determined to be optimistic and creative with how I can survive without those items.  I have my work cut out for me, especially considering my last weekend on the detox is Thanksgiving.  This coincidence is unfortunate and unintended, but I’m unwilling to reschedule.  There will always be an excuse to postpone!

Apparently, the first few days of the detox is when you feel the most unwell.  Toxins will be leaving the body left, right, and centre, potentially resulting in flu-like symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and headaches.  I’m bracing myself for some withdrawal, but I’m hoping the fact that I don’t drink alcohol or coffee will soften the blow.  After a rough start, Dr. Joshi says it’s smooth sailing from there and I’ll feel the best I ever have.  Well, Dr. Joshi, I’m testing out your claims and I’ll be blogging after each of the three weeks for a detox challenge update. And in case you’re curious about what the heck I’ll be eating, here is a sampling of the week one meal plan that I’ve designed for myself:

Breakfast:  Cinnamon quinoa breakfast porridge with banana or eggs (hard boiled, veggie omelette, etc.)

Lunch:  Corn tortilla quesadillas made with soy cheese or edamame and avocado salad with tahini lemon dressing

Dinner:  Red beans and brown/wild rice, baked salmon on assorted greens

Snacks:  Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, veggies/brown rice crackers and hummus or homemade avocado salsa

Sounds doable, right?  Having a meal plan is one thing, but we’ll see what happens when I put it into action.  Let the detox challenge begin!!