I think summer is officially over for me now. Our family just got back from our first trip to three days at Great Wolf Lodge (which was a lot of fun and which offered a lot of junk food), and now there are no more distractions from school and our new routines. There is also no more distraction from something that I’ve wanted (and needed?) to do for a long time, which is to put some concentrated energies into taking care of my health and body. How I’m starting? A detox.
A detox! I’ve never done anything like this before, but it’s time. Sure, I’m happy to lose a couple of pounds, but my main goal is simply this: I want to feel better in my body. There are obvious reasons why I’m often tired and foggy in my mind, including that I’ve pushed past 40, don’t get enough sleep, and don’t exercise regularly. Seeing that in plain text makes me look a bit dumb, so I should say that I’m working on sleep and fitness too. But I could use a jump-start and a concrete plan to feeling good, and I’ve decided a detox will be it.
A friend told me her husband did Alexandra Jamieson‘s 4 week detox with success, and I like it because it doesn’t seem too extreme (you still get to eat) and because it should provide some information at the end about how our bodies react to certain problematic-for-some foods, by introducing them one at a time after a period of avoidance.
The basic structure of the detox:
Week 1: slowly eliminate five toxic foods: caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gluten and dairy
Weeks 2 and 3: eat none of the toxic foods, and have smoothies for breakfast and lunch (berries, greens, protein powder, fibre powder) and a normal (detoxed) dinner. (I’m suspicious of powders generally, so I am going to allow myself a handful of nuts in my smoothie and find other sources of fibre (prunes, anyone?))
Week 4: having smoothies just for breakfast, normal lunch and dinner, and reintroduce the toxic foods one at a time
Healthy snacks are allowed, like fruits and vegetables. And no sugar means no honey, maple syrup or other sweeteners. Stevia is okay.
How hard could it be? Ha! I know how hard, which is why I’ve imposed upon myself a social fine for cheating. Every infraction means I have to take out for dinner my fellow detox companions. I need some bite to make this happen.
I also need ideas for what to eat, and to that end, I’ve got two books that will be my steady companions during all this. First is Simple Food for Busy Families: The Whole Life Nutrition Approach by Jeannette Bessinger and Tracee Yablon-Brenner. I received this book a few months ago, and really like it. Well-researched and written, it’s really a reference guide to the benefits of eating whole foods, which is the single premise of all food discussion that I espouse without reservation.
The authors dissect the problems of Standard American Diet (SAD) eaters versus “natural eaters”. The latter eat according to healthy cues from the body, including hunger and cravings to attend to its needs. This person might enjoy a rich chocolate dessert one night without much thought or gain weight, because she “intuitively eats in a way that balances the extra sugar, fat, and calories in the dessert, allowing her body to assimilate it organically without taking a harsh toll on her system.” By contrast, the SAD eater’s internal cues no longer give accurate body feedback, due to over-consumption of sugar, salt, unhealthy fats and processed foods.
There are simple recipes in the book plus a “mix and match” section outlining various groups of ingredients needed to make smoothies, hot cereals, soups, etc. I’ll be looking at the smoothie mix and match section, I can tell you that. I also like the macro approach to healthy eating in Simple Food for Busy Families, where the authors address the importance of routines, sleep, and other factors in maintaining health. Personally I think adequate sleep is a remedy for many things, including eating crap. I am never more prone to scarfing down junk than when exhausted.
Also on my kitchen counter is The Simply Raw Kitchen by Natasha Kyssa. In my humble view, raw diets cannot make claims of non-extremism, but I like this recipe book. Firstly, it makes its case about the benefits of a raw plant-based diet without being preachy (I think I need to read The China Study now), and the author works off the premise that readers want to include more raw foods into their lives but aren’t necessarily looking to convert entirely. In fact, she identifies the dangers of quick or complete conversion, that is, that it’s fraught with failure. She even includes a few lightly cooked meals together with her mother in the book to make her point.
I will also be consulting the smoothie section here, plus interesting takes on old favourites, like “Real Tomato Soup” including a tablespoon of miso. I love miso, and I’ll need a worthy destination for the tomatoes still ripening in the garden. There’s also a recipe for “Spicy Thai Salad”, made with lots of raw cabbage, which sounds delicious. Plus, who wouldn’t want to eat salad in a mason jar? In other words, this raw cookbook offers some really attractive recipes that happen to be powerhouses of good, healthy eating. It’ll take more work and intention to make these than a grilled cheese sandwich, but I’ll be putting food and health on the map for the next month, and I’m up for it.
My hope, ultimately, is to do some body recon during the detox, and to acquire some good habits post-detox. These good-looking books will make this easier. They’re not going to help much with what I’m pretty sure is a sugar addiction, but no book can be everything to every woman.
I’ve also been warned that I’m going to be crabby for the next four weeks, because I’m going to be hungry. But a secret: I’m actually looking forward to this detox. Not enough to extend it or anything, but I know it’s going to be good for my body (and I really do respect this body of mine) and I’m excited at the prospect of feeling great. Feeling great! The detox is kind of a kick in the pants to do what I want to do. I’m in. And I’ll report back when I’m done.
If you’ve ever done a detox or related food activity, please tell and give me your tips!