Clean it out!
Once a year Thom and I do a detox/cleanse. We started about 4 years ago. I had seen a naturopath and I was asking about how to resolve some health issues. She suggested that the best way to start was to take stock by cleaning the slate and seeing what remained. A detox. It simultaneously seemed like the best idea and the most awful and drastic idea.
I have done detoxes in the past. Ones where you have to drink terrible liquids or take fistfuls of pills and you are made to feel that toxins are being ripped out of your system. Horrible. I was very relieved to hear that the detox she was suggesting was much more calming to the system. This detox – the Delicious Detox by Carol Morely– is all about removing the foods that are common allergens/irritants to the system, and eating lots of foods that are really good for you and encourage your body to be the best it can be.
When I had cut out sugar for a few years I had felt great. So, in that way, cutting out some foods seemed like a great thing to do, but the idea of no wine…for three weeks….seemed a little unbearable. But I guess that was the reason to do it. Especially since I found myself asking the naturopath how I could have some booze on the detox if I really needed it. To her credit, she asked if I needed to talk to someone (i.e. was I an alcoholic?) and then capitulated saying that one small organic white wine spritzer might be ok if I really, really felt the need for a drink. To my credit, I completed the three weeks without a tipple and felt great for doing so.
While I think we eat pretty well all year round ( lots of leafy green veggies, fish, beans, and I prepare most of my food from scratch without preservatives), being a skilled baker does have its drawbacks (sugar, dairy, wheat, yeast, gluten…) and sometimes my endeavours in the kitchen make me feel tired, bloated, and pudgy.
Being a foodie, I read a lot on the internet about what to cook, bake, and eat. Some of it is very straightforward and trustworthy. Some of it, not so much. My parents counted on the Canada Food Guide, but even my doctor has thrown suspicion on their recommendations. An example: Are eggs good for you or bad for you? You can read compelling, science backed articles for either side. I’ve been reading about the negative effects of soy – thyroid and fertility problems. But I substituted soy for dairy years ago because I read about the evils of dairy. So confusing! What am I supposed to eat and what am I not supposed to eat?
I think part of the problem is that we are so out of touch. We. You, me, everybody – with how food makes our bodies feel. We eat because we want to taste something delicious rather than eating the fuel our body needs. For example: I have low iron and sometimes I know I should eat some meat to top it up. But instead I might reach for baked goods because they taste great and I know I will get at least a little pick-me-up. We’re all running around so much, and are so stressed and busy. It’s hard to notice how your body is responding to what you eat – until you decide to make changes.
Now, let me be clear here. The purpose of this post is not to make you go out and buy the Delicious Detox book and change how you eat for three weeks – although you can if you want to. You’ll probably feel great. What I am proposing is that we all focus a little more on how what we eat actually affects our bodies. For example: I am somewhat lactose intolerant. When I eat dairy I am aware that shortly thereafter I feel bloated and gassy. Being aware makes me decide not to eat dairy the following day. But I don’t always have that awareness with other foods. I have to decide to focus on that. It has to be a choice. A regular choice. Essentially, I have to take stock.
In my kitchen the other day I was going through my pantry – refilling jars with beans, rices, pasta, flours, sugars, and spices. Making sure that I am ready for any baking and cooking adventure. I made sure I only had fresh ingredients on hand and that I got rid of anything I don’t use. (Millet and Mung beans. What was I thinking???!) Essentially, I took stock. I know what I have and I know what I can do. And now, just over three weeks since I started my detox – we decided to do a full month this time – I am taking stock of myself. Observing how great my body feels, noting what I am craving (chocolate dusted almonds from Soma, a poached egg, toast with butter, corned beef, and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc). I noticed how much I miss baking – cooking too, but baking. Even though I don’t have a big sweet tooth, I love the act of baking, the feeling of baking, the smell of baking. Clarity comes when you step back and stop doing something. Then you can see what you have been doing and clearly think about what you want to do. While I have made lots of delicious meals this past month, I have been restricted by the rules of the detox and I am grateful for the clarity it has given me.
So, my call to action. Take stock. In your body, in your kitchen, in your head, and in your heart.