This is the second in the series of posts called “Finding My Means”, where I’ll share more of my personal journey towards maintaining a healthy body through my food choices. You can read the first post here, where I share more about why I started this blog in the first place.
A few weeks ago, I read a post from Cara at Fork & Beans called “Why I Went on a Cleanse.” Aside: If you don’t already know about Cara at Fork & Beans, get over to her site pronto. She’s serving up some crazy good eats that are free of gluten, dairy, and egg. Plus, she’s the sweetest. And she has a new book out!
Anyway, in her post Cara shared about how she had been struggling with gastrointestinal issues for a while and needed to find a solution, so she chose to do the Conscious Cleanse. I totally related to her story, as I have had a real struggle in the GI area as well. In fact, last fall I went to the emergency room twice in the same week due to unexplained pain in my gut. After a bunch of tests I was told there was slight inflammation but that there wasn’t much I could do about it. Talk about an expensive piece of information. I thought it might be related to my diet, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it might be, so I just sort of accepted that this was my fate. When I saw the amazing results that Cara had in just two weeks, I was certainly intrigued, and commented on her post asking if she thought it was worth the investment. She assured me that it was worth it. To my pleasant surprise, the fine folks at the Conscious Cleanse reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to participate in the upcoming cleanse and review it on the blog. I eagerly accepted and signed up.
So why a cleanse? Isn’t that a bunch of hooey, drinking lemon water with cayenne pepper and maple syrup? That’s such a Kelly thing to do.
Believe me, I had reservations about doing anything called a “cleanse.” But two things stuck out to me about the Conscious Cleanse.
1) The name. I really connected to the idea of being conscious about how food made me feel. The Conscious Cleanse is all about being aware of how you react to certain foods. In many ways it is an elimination diet, which was appealing to me because it was a way for me to know if a certain food was causing my tummy trouble. Also, I saw this as a great opportunity to start fresh on my path to finding my means.
2) The food. On this cleanse, you can eat a lot, and there are no calorie restrictions. It’s not a liquid diet or a detox tonic or any of that. Just whole foods, combined in a particular way, that help bring the body to a neutral/alkaline environment so that it can “reset”. This really appealed to me.
So how is it going so far? What can you eat?
Well, I’m glad you asked!
Day 1 started off a little rocky, as seen by this post on Instagram. (you’re following me, right?)
Even my phone battery had a case of the Mondays. But I pressed on.
Nearly every day includes a green smoothie of some kind. Ok, this one isn’t green. The berries fought the kale and won the award of “Most Dominant Color in a Smoothie”. But trust me, there’s a crapton of kale in that smoothie. And it was delicious.
I think this one was purty. Loving that rich crimson color.
One thing that surprised me was that I rediscovered my love for salads. This one is going to get its own post soon. Arugula, celery, green apple, walnuts, and avocado, tossed in an almond vinaigrette. An absolutely wonderful combo of flavors and textures.
This salad is slightly questionable as far as being “cleanse-friendly” because it’s recommended to eat fruit on an empty stomach, except for with smoothies. It’s all about easing digestion through “easy in, easy out” food combinations. Still, without the apple, it would still be super tasty.
Almost every morning I have enjoyed warm lemon water in lieu of my normal black coffee. I think coffee has been the hardest thing for me to give up. But it certainly has helped to drink the lemon water out of my coffee mug.
Vida really likes it too. She fights me for my lemon water if she sees me drinking it. That silly girl.
After coffee, going sans bread/gluten has been really tough. Lucky for me, I discovered the Life-Changing Loaf of Bread from Sarah at My New Roots. It’s really easy to put together and is hearty, filling, and oh-so-healthy. I’ll be making this bread again and again and again.
The loaf isn’t very high, but thin slices make perfect little snacks, all toasted up and ready for a smear of almond butter. I drizzled a tiny bit of maple syrup on top followed by a sprinkle of cinnamon (not pictured, because I ate it). Heaven.
Ok, I see you’re eating well, but how do you feel?
I’m not going to sugar coat it. I felt crappy the first few days. I was cranky, tired, bloated, and just felt BLEH. It didn’t help that it was a particularly stressful week. But then…a turnaround. Around day 5 I started to feel lighter, more focused, and just GOOD. I realized that I was craving better stuff to eat, like an entire cantaloupe (yes, it happened). I didn’t miss coffee as much, and I was thinking creatively about how I could make awesome meals that were still cleanse-friendly. More on that soon, by the way.
So I’m feeling good, but I’m struggling in a couple of areas. One, the food combinations. Per the “easy in, easy out” guidelines, I’m not supposed to combine grains with legumes. In other words, no rice and beans. No chana masala over rice. No quinoa mixed with almond butter (a favorite breakfast). I understand the reasoning, sort of, but it’s been tough. But (and this is a big but), I’m not letting that get me down. Even with these parameters, I’m still eating really well and making the meals interesting and tasty. For instance, last night I had grilled summer squash served over quinoa and arugula. It was surprisingly good! I’m discovering that vegetables on their own can be truly delicious.
The other area that I’m struggling with, and this isn’t just limited to the cleanse, is food preparation. This is going to be a big focus here on the blog in the coming days because I firmly believe it’s crucial to have food prepped and ready to go as a defense against the “there’s nothing to eat, let’s order pizza” attack that will surely come your way. It’s one thing to have a fridge full of vegetables, it’s another to have those vegetables already chopped and ready to be tossed into a quick stir fry and served over rice you cooked the day before. KnowwhatImean, Vern?
So that’s my take on the first week of the Conscious Cleanse. Stay tuned for a couple of cleanse-friendly recipes and my final review next week once it’s all over. Oh, and check out my Conscious Cleanse Recipes board on Pinterest!
Have you ever done a cleanse? Tell me about it in the comments!