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Being cleansed

3 Feb

When I got sick in November, I immediately started researching foods that would help fight viruses (not kill them but keep them at bay) and that would also boost immunity. I knew that I was stuck with the virus forever, but I also knew that I could use food to help me live as healthfully as possible.

So I gave up (for the most part) gluten and refined sugars at that time. I also started eating a lot more green leafy vegetables, fruits, and grains. I was still stuck on caffeine, and admittedly I was still drinking sugary, high fat coffee drinks at least three days a week — and usually seven days. And once in a while, like after a long run, I would have something that violated my food rule, but I thought I felt better.

Then in January a friend and coworker suggested I do a cleanse with her, one that was led by Anna, a nutritionist my friend knows. The cleanse would mean giving up dairy (CHEESE!!) and caffeine for two or four weeks. After the cleanse was finished, I knew that I could go back to any of the things I had given up. In other words, I knew I didn’t have to do it forever!

I read Anna’s tips and learned how releasing my body from gluten, refined sugar, dairy, and caffeine would be beneficial. I printed some of her recipes and prepared to spend some big bucks at the grocery store in the organic produce section. And I gave all my cheese to one of my young friends.

Surprisingly, giving up caffeine wasn’t that difficult. I was eating a lot of quinoa, which it turns out can make you very nauseous if it isn’t rinsed thoroughly to remove the saponin (soap!) that covers it, so I was feeling sick at the same time I had the caffeine headache and it passed without me noticing much. I bought some Teeccino, a coffee-like beverage that’s made with grounded roast nuts, figs, and dates, and the warmth plus the flavor has been a welcome substitution.

I’ve been eating more beans (especially chickpeas) and ancient grains including quinoa, wild rice, and brown rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! I found a recipe (thanks to my coworker!) on The Spunky Coconut (a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free blog) for Walnut & Coconut Porridge┬áthat I’m pretty sure I could live on solely if the need arose. I drink unsweetened almond milk and use canned coconut milk for recipes. As a sweetener, I use raw honey but only sparingly. I’ve also fallen in love with sweet potatoes and kale, believe it or not, and I use kale all the time it in stir frys and scrambled eggs.

The result? I’ve lost maybe 5 pounds (I don’t know what my weight was when I started, but some clothes fit that before did not!). I sleep like a baby most nights. I have plenty of energy and don’t get that afternoon sugar crash that I used to experience every day.

Yes, going out to eat or going on a coffee date is harder now, but cooking is fantastic. The money I save by not going to the coffee shop every day is being spent on healthy staple foods that last a long time. I’m discovering new recipes and experimenting with substitutions in old recipes. And I feel great!