On February 13th (also known as Ash Wednesday) I set about on a thirty-day elimination diet, thus eradicating all gluten, soy, dairy and sugar from my culinary repertoire. The timing of this coinciding with Lent was purely coincidental, I assure you.
When people find out I am voluntarily giving up a plethora of glorious things, their eyes go wide, their head cocks to one side, and they gasp “WHY?”
Or as my Mother puts it “How many more days till you are done with this stupid diet you are doing?”
The answer really is one of intrigue. I was simply interested to see how I would feel if I went without certain types of foods for a little while. I have always been a pretty healthy person, I don’t eat a lot of processed foods, I never drink sodas or caffeine, I love all kinds of fruits and vegetables. But I also love me a good hunk of cheese, anything with the word “fried” preceding it, and I can’t think of a better way to end the day then with a glass (or a bottle) of wine. I love food, and with this love comes a lot of calorie dense, richly fattening meals.
So what does one eat while on such a diet? A lot more than you would think. Every morning I start my day with a vegan protein shake (recipe is at the end of this entry), which thankfully takes all the guesswork out of what I will eat for breakfast. Lunch and dinners simply need to consist of a serving of lean protein (and you can even had red meat it moderation), a side of non-starchy vegetables, and a high-fiber carbohydrate (Quinoa, brown rice, lentils etc). Snacks can include raw nuts (no peanuts), veggies and humus, or low glycemic-index fruits (berries and green apples). A few days before I started the detox, I went to Trader Joe’s (oh I love it so) and stocked up and all kinds of yummy vegetables and other healthy food options.
I am headed into week three of the diet, and pretty people I have to tell you, I feel amazing. I am not an effusive person, and I would definitely put myself in the “cynical and resistant” school of thought about most things, but I have absolutely noticed a change since I got on board the detox train.
The most profound difference is my energy level. You know when three o’clock rolls around, and you feel like you need to curl up under your desk (or dining room table) and take a nap? Yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore. I don’t feel sluggish…really ever. Even on nights when I have fitful sleep due to some recent bouts of anxiety (more on that later), I still wake up feeling energized. While we are on the subject of sleep, I feel as though I fall asleep faster and sleep much deeper, like better than I have slept in years. It’s been a welcome shock to the system.
Now of course there have been moments of struggle. When you attend a party and find yourself only able to eat carrot sticks and nuts while everyone else noshes on crackers topped with warmed brie, or gets to devour a chocolate and peanut butter pie in front of you, it can be a challenge. And, to be honest I have had some moments where I let myself cheat…mainly when wine was involved…which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. However, these moments have been sporadic, calculated, and definitely and exception rather than a rule. I feel if you are going to do something, than really try to do it the best you can.
Many people have said to me “I could never do that. I could never go without _____ (fill in the blank with something either laden with dairy, gluten or sugar)” To which I say, “Yes you could. The question is, do you want to?” That’s the thing, we are all capable of accomplishing great feats, we simply have to desire to accomplish them. I really wanted to give this a try, I have set my mind to it, and so it’s really not that hard.
Now, the million dollar question is: What will I do when my thirty days are up? Am I going to bid farewell to sharp cheddar, fresh-baked bread and decadent pastries?
I love food too much to totally reform my eating habits. However, eating this way has changed my perspective on food, and taught me that I can go without certain foods that I am used to consuming on a daily basis. My intention is to maintain these eating habit’s let’s say 75-85% of the time, relegating cheese, bread and desserts to the “on occasion” part of the food pyramid.
Well…except wine. You can’t take that away from me.
Breakfast Protein Shake Recipe (also a great post-work out Recovery Shake)
Ingredients: Finding a good quality, vegan, gluten and soy-free protein powder is key here. You can find many options at your local health food store, Whole Foods, or you can order directly from Arbonne, which is where I get mine.
-One serving size of Vegan Protein Powder (I switch between Chocolate and Vanilla flavors)
-1 Cup of Water OR Unsweetened Almond/ Rice/ Coconut Milk (Can use more or less to achieve desired thickness)
-Four Ice Cubes (Optional-more or less to taste)
-1/4 Cup of Organic Berries (I buy packs of frozen berries to ensure freshness)
-1 tsp of “good” fat (Almond Butter, Coconut Oil, Flax Oil)
-Handful of Organic Spinach (Optional-more or less to taste. Could also use Kale, which imparts a grittier texture but is very good for you)
Combine all ingredients in blender, blend until smooth.