First let me say, while I have done juice cleanses, and the master cleanse, this is not that. It's freaking cold here in Colorado right now. We haven't had a day over 30 degrees all week and most mornings we wake to a fresh dusting of snow. This is not the time to live on juice alone. Just the idea of that makes me want to cry. However, it was time to clean up the diet and bring more intention into eating and cooking. It's something that feels right periodically, especially after the holidays, and it always makes me feel better. Intense cleanses and fasts are not for everyone, in fact can be downright harmful for some people, but almost everyone could do with cutting down on sugar and refined food. So that was the basis of this Sadhana: intention, discipline, whole foods, no sugar.
The intention was to eat only whole foods, while cutting out alcohol, refined or processed foods, grains, dairy, sugary fruit like bananas, all sweeteners, and to minimize red meat. We basically modified the Whole 30 to suit our diets (I can't not eat legumes), making it slightly less intense and allowing certain foods that supported our health goals. Again, anything too intense would not have worked. Longer cleanses feel the best to me when you are basically eating normally but like the very healthiest version of normal.
I recruited Russ to do it with me, because it's soooo hard to be the only person in the house cleansing, and because he too loves dietary reboots. More than one time the fact that he was doing it too kept me from cheating and ordering pasta. So accountability buddy - highly recommend. Preparation is key too. We talked about what our guidelines were, I printed a list of acceptable foods to hang on the fridge and then cleansed our pantry. I threw out all the bread, fake meat, tortillas, chips, crackers and pretty much anything processed, and then spent a ton of money filling our fridge with fresh fruits and veggies, organic meat, and nut milk.
Things we kept: coffee in the morning. We have a puppy who does not sleep through the night and needs to be let out multiple times. Giving up caffeine can happen at another time. I did give up cream in the coffee which feels like a major disciplinary win. Also Vega vegan protein powder. Admittedly this is the only slight cheat as it contains stevia - a sweetener. However we both get so much benefit from our morning protein shakes; it seemed like it was weighted more towards the helpful than the harmful.
Things that were hard: NO SWEETENER. Honestly there were moments when I felt that juice cleansing was easier. Week 2 was definitely the hardest (we are currently rounding the bend at Day 26) and there were moments when I felt like dark chocolate was an absent friend I missed so badly I wanted to cry. NO COFFEE CREAMER. It took about a week to adjust to almond milk in my coffee. Then it got easier to trick myself into thinking it is comparable (it's not). The other big challenge was eating when I was too tired to cook. During this time I attended an intensive training, taught the final weekend of YTT and then taught an intensive Yoga Nidra Teacher Training. I was exhausted and completely unmotivated to cook after these long days. We got through with a combination of teamwork (Russ cooked) planning & prep (salads created before, etc.) and frittatas. Frittatas are my new favorite go to for when I'm tired and must eat in less than 30 minutes.
Things that were good: NO ALCOHOL. I love a glass of red wine in the evening but honestly, the incredible benefits I felt and saw in my energy, appearance, sleep, endocrine function, skin, etc. totally outweigh the pleasure of it. I've decided to make no alcohol a part of my lifestyle indefinitely. NO DAIRY. I think I always underestimate how much dairy I consume and how heavy it makes me feel and look. Out of the two (alcohol & dairy) dairy might actually be harder to give up completely - I love cheese! But I'm going to try to minimize the milk products after the 30 days are over. Another benefit: bringing this much intention into shopping, preparing and eating has made me feel totally reconnected to my diet; nourishing physically but also energetically.
Things that got me through: SWEET POTATOES. Oh man. These are like healthy comfort food. I couldn't get enough. (I've included my absolute favorite salad recipe. Even though it's kale it satisfies me like pizza. True story. Something about the savory, sweet, bitter and sour combined. It might be the perfect meal.) PICKLES. Whenever I craved something savory and processed, like potato chips, tacos, snack food etc. I would eat pickles instead. I ate a lot of pickles. PLAINTAINS. So I'm not actually sure if these are allowed on the Whole 30 diet, but I allowed them on ours. Week one, the chips and gauc cravings were ridiculous, so I made Patacones and gaucamole. It's actually way better than chips anyway! It took longer for sure but was worth it. Here's the recipe I used. (I used coconut oil!) TEA. Apple cinnamon, Rose Tulsi, Mint, anything vaguely sweet. ALMOND BUTTER. Self explanatory.
This is the first time I've done a cleanse where I've actually wanted it to keep going and going. I feel awesome! My skin has cleared up, I've slimmed down, I feel connected to my food source again, I have a ton more energy, we saved so much money, and my practice feels more embodied. We have 4 days left but have talked about basically continuing along these parameters indefinitely. Except with dark chocolate. I will be bringing back the dark chocolate.
Kale Salad Recipe
- one bunch kale, washed & stemmed
- one medium sweet potato or yam - diced and roasted
- 1/2 small red onion - thinly sliced
- 1 - 2 TBSP capers
- roughly 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1/2 TBSP lemon juice
- salt to taste
Massage the kale with olive oil & salt then let sit while the sweet potato roasts (coated in olive oil, 400 degrees, around 20 minutes). Toss the softened kale with the lemon juice. Top with onions, sweet potato, capers. I like to add a sprinkle of olive oil and lemon juice over the whole thing then toss and devour! Everyone in our house loves this recipe, even the teenage boys, and it could not be simpler or cleaner.