What I Learned From My Completely Unscientific Cleanse
I've always been skeptical of cleanses, juice fasts, detoxes, or any short-term diet that seemed too strict or worse, gimmicky. Over the years, I've attempted to be vegetarian, dairy-free, low-carb, and gluten-free. I've fasted on fruits and vegetables only, and have tried every commercial diet known to man.
Now I mostly eat a balanced diet. I eat meat once every week or two. I consume dairy in the form of skim milk and Greek yogurt or kefir. I don’t eat many refined carbs or bread, but if the server places it in front of me at a restaurant on a Saturday night, who am I to hurt his feelings? Most of the time, and certainly at home, I eat vegetables, fruits, and fish.
Last Monday, I got on the scale after several weeks of restaurant meals, alcohol, and social events.
It wasn’t good.
Luckily, my husband was out of town for most of the week (this was right beforeThanksgiving), so I made a snap decision: I'd go on a nutritious liquid diet for three days.
Before I tell you what I consumed for those three days, let me say that anyone who plans on doing any type of diet or fast should first make sure they know their own body.
I know what foods make me gain weight quickly, and I know what foods help me to take it off. I know how to make sure I have energy and am never dizzy or fatigued.
Paying attention to what I know my body needs is exactly what has kept me from detoxes in the past.
So, please, to thine own self be true!
I briefly looked up a few cleanses online, and after researching a slew of options, I decided to allow fruits and vegetables. Instead of eating them, I'd blend them into a smoothie. (I was also experimenting with a more spiritual fast, and attempting to control my snacking habit, so I wanted to avoid the physical act of eating for a few days as well.)
I also allowed kefir or yogurt, and I any vegetables I wanted, to help boost nutrients.
I knew it would be a busy few days for me, and that helped.
I started each day with my usual organic decaffeinated coffee with a splash of skim milk (and two refills).
Throughout the day, I drank water and home-brewed, unsweetened decaffeinated green tea – it's very important to stay hydrated during a process like this. For lunch on the go, I made a giant smoothie, which lasted me most of the afternoon: half a banana, half an apple (with peel), a handful of grapes, a few ounces of decaf green tea, half an avocado (omega 3 fats), a splash of yogurt or kefir (protein probiotics), a couple of handfuls of kale (really bumps up the nutrition), and blueberries (antioxidants).
If I thought about it, I also threw in chia seeds, wheatgrass or flax seeds. This was not necessarily a low-calorie snack, and it tasted sweetly delicious (even my grimacing mother had to concede after she tasted it).
Later, for dinner, I had a “soup” of blended roasted tomatoes or pureed squash and skim milk. A cup of hot tea with a squeeze from the honey bear, and the day was complete. (Don’t forget to keep drinking water.)
After Day One, I slept very well, and awakened easily. I didn’t feel hungry or weak. During the second day, I noticed a slight headache, which I had read would be probable – so, whether it was real or the power of suggestion, I just ignored it or drank it away with green tea.
By then, I noticed how fantastic I felt just by the sheer fact that I did not notice how I felt at all! I was not hungry, tired, sluggish, cold, hot, cranky…I felt perfectly fine.
By Day Three, I was anticipating that my yoga class might find me weaker or dizzy, but I felt stronger than ever. I could not believe that on the third day of a liquid diet alone, I was in a cheerful mood and feeling full of energy.
Day Four was a Wednesday, and I got on the scale.
I did lose a few pounds, more than I expected, but I don’t dwell on the number because I went into the fast after a weekend full of alcohol, sodium, meat, fat, and culminating in ice cream.
So what was the real value of the 3-day fast?
It was finally realizing how little the body actually needs in order to function optimally – nutrients are important, but we have ourselves convinced that we need three large square meals to feed our engine.
I found out exactly how my body responds to less “static” and more purity, and it was a lesson I won’t forget!
I broke my fast on the day before Thanksgiving, tasting some of my prep cooking, followed by dinner and drinks out with my husband.
Perhaps I will try another 3-day cleanse after this week, but the truth is, I don’t have to unless I feel like it.
All I really need is to remind myself of the lesson, remember how well my body functioned (in terms of moving, sleeping, and thinking) on a high-nutrient, low-calorie, mostly plant-based fast.
I’m still not going to urge or advocate juice-fasts, smoothie cleanses, or detoxes.
Instead, I will continue to advocate paying attention! Find out what makes your body happy, and what makes it sad. Write it down if you have to, experiment!
You too will find your optimum weight, your optimum energy level, and your happiest self.