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ctwaterfall

All clean.

Now, pass me a cup of my favorite breakfast blend, please. Don’t forget the full-fat coconut milk.

Yes, I had a cup of coffee this morning. Yeah! Actually, it was half coffee and half coconut milk and it was divine.

I’ve been on my spring detox/cleanse for well over two weeks now and other than a couple of itty-bitty exceptions, I stuck with it the whole time. Okay, okay, so I had a piece of bacon at Easter brunch. If it’s any consolation, I regretted it five minutes later. Sort of. Well, not really, but at least I didn’t eat any more or have anything other than fresh fruit and a scrambled egg (from an organic, spa-pastured chicken). I rarely eat bacon during my normal life, why would I fall prey to it now? I don’t know, the smell maybe.

Other than the bacon, a few sips of a wonderful red wine and some home made chicken broth I used for a soup base, I didn’t stray from a diet of organic fresh fruits, vegetables, brown rice, and pastured eggs. I feel refreshed, energized and ready to keep at it with some minor modifications. Honestly, my friends, this is the way to stimulate the body’s natural defenses, boost immunity, normalize weight, clear the brain fog and increase strength and vitality. Not only that, but it puts you on track to renew your resolution to live a healthier lifestyle. Each time I do a cleanse I wonder why I ever stray from this type of clean living. That was a rhetorical question as I do know why. Because I enjoy a glass of wine while reconnecting with old friends. I want to try my own version of Cid’s chocolate macaroons or Miles’ chorizo sausage with potatoes or Shirley’s flourless peanut butter cookies. That’s why.

So, the question is, how do we find a healthy balance between a sincere quest for better health and what goes on in real life?

I’m lucky — I have celiac disease, which makes is easier for me to make healthy choices. No fast food, no junk food, very little processed food. It’s not hard to live a gluten-free lifestyle if you stick to whole, fresh food and learn the simple art of preparing it. I take that back, it’s not always simple to prepare a simple meal. But it’s fun to experiment and the essence of good cooking is starting with good ingredients.

I have learned that the most nourishing foods for me are also the tastiest and most pleasurable to cook with. Thankfully I’m not limited to what’s in the produce section at my local market. I have my farmer friends at Grant Family Farms who carefully grow, harvest and deliver produce that has transformed my cooking. It’s a privilege of which I am most grateful. Not only does this food assure my wellbeing, it also contributes to my value system.

Blah, blah, blah. How do I get off on these tangents? On to a summation of my detox/cleanse.

The benefits
• To start with, I like feeling good, both physically and mentally, and a periodic cleanse is a perfect way to renew that commitment to myself. My wellbeing is my responsibility and I like to be reminded to take it seriously.
• Increased energy throughout the day. No energy slumps in the afternoon.
• Higher quality sleep, a lack of which is my downfall. After about 10 days of cleansing, my sleep quality gradually increases and now I’m sleeping a full eight or nine hours with maybe one brief stir during the night. Uninterrupted sleep is SO important to good health. Eliminating foods that interrupt that pattern and nourishing the body with foods that enhance rest and rejuvenation is part of my goal with this — and it works!
• My favorite jeans fit again. Yeah! Okay, so vanity does play a role here, but it’s not all about that. I lost 5 pounds and feel better about myself, but it’s also a lot easier to stand on your hands and do arm balances in yoga when you weigh less. In my case, I’m more likely to “work out” in ways that strengthen my bones and enhance my health if I lighten my load. I don’t like going to the gym and working out with weights, but I do understand the need for weight-bearing exercise. I use my own weight as my weights. Does that make sense? There’s a tipping point with what I’m able to “lift,” so losing a few pounds makes a big difference. My type of cleansing is a good way to lose weight in a healthy and lasting manner.
• My liver and its buddies (pancreas, gallbladder, intestines, etc.) are very happy.
• My skin is clear. I have DH (dermititis herpetiformis), which is the skin manifestation of celiac disease so my skin is sensitive to all kinds of things. Detoxing clears it up.
• No more carb cravings. None, honestly. I don’t care about sweets. Right now, anyway, which shows me how much they play a role in my biochemistry.
• This is a perfect time for me to play with some foods I think I might be sensitive to. I’ve in essence been on an elimination diet for almost 3 weeks, now I’ll slowly introduce a couple of foods I’m suspicious of and see how I do.
• I’m doing my own version of genetic nutritioneering, or modifying the expression of inherited traits. Cleansing gets me back on track with improving my genetic odds. Celiac disease is genetically predisposed as are some of the associated conditions that can go with it. I’ll spare you the details, but I have some autoimmune risks that I want to diminish and some age-related diseases I want to totally avoid.
• Whether you’re male or female, hormonal balance is key to good health and vitality. Cleansing helps normalize those ups and downs. With the right foods, your attitude improves and mood swings diminish. Plus, you age more gracefully. Detox, don’t botox.
• My hair looks healthier. Seriously, it even seems like it grew faster the past month.
• I have a tendency to have some joint and connective tissue aches and pains and food makes a huge difference in my range of motion. I’m more bendy, twisty and pain-free. It’s amazing.
• Bottom line? I feel healthy, revitalized and ready to take on my spring and summer outdoor activities. Plus, did I mention my favorite jeans fit again!

The pitfalls
• It takes time and commitment to understand the mix of nutrients necessary to sustain your body while detoxing. My activity level required a little more protein than I was getting the first few days of my cleanse — I had to make adjustments.
• Occasional dizziness, irritability and a couple of mild headaches the first few days. Those are detox symptoms, but like I mentioned above with the protein, some of that is caused by low blood sugar, so I tweaked my meals accordingly.
• Not drinking enough water. I had to constantly remind myself to increase fluid intake.
• The detox tea (although it was herbal and contained no caffeine) made me restless and affected my sleep if I drank it in the evening.
• I ate only foods that I prepared and for some people, this can be too time consuming and difficult to figure out. Plus, it gets boring.

Symptoms and problems vary greatly depending on the general health of the person doing the cleanse. Consult your health care provider before embarking on a detox program. If you’re interested the progression of this series of posts, please refer to the following: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 and part 7.

Go forth and cleanse your body of icky things!
Melissa
P.S. I took the above photo last summer on my 240 mile trek of the first half of the Colorado Trail.

23 Responses to “cleanse/detox wrap-up”

  1. Hey Melissa,

    Congrats on completing your detox program! Your beautiful photo is just perfect for this post … it makes me think–free and clear, and alive! Vibrantly alive! :-)

    I agree with everything you’ve shared about the benefits of detox. It does always amaze you how good you can feel after the initial days of detoxing. Like you, I always think … why go back to the other way? But, the PB cookies (thanks so much for the mention!) and such lure me back.

    I’m preparing for a support group meeting here tonight with jambalaya in the crockpot and oven-fried shrimp, banana Kahlua coconut cake, and Steve’s lemon sponge cake (all GF and DF) on my part of the menu … and still be made. But, after that, I am recommitting once again to significantly less sugar. Gotta get busy, but hooray for you!

    Shirley

  2. OMG, I just looked at Cid’s chocolate macaroons and Miles’ sausage and potato dish. Forget what I am having … I want some of those!! Both gorgeous and mouth-watering recipes.

    Oh, and by the way, we are also having my great salad recipe, grapes, cucumbers, avocados, etc. (and other wonders that members will bring) this evening … why did I forget to mention those equally delicious foods with more nutrition than the other dishes?

    Shirley

  3. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    A marvelous post to illustrate your commitment to healthy living and thinking. It all makes sense to me after several months without chocolate and other such sugary treats, I now feel disinterested in such things generally speaking. I’ve re-introduced juiced fruits and vegetables and your wonderful toasted brown rice porridge… it’s a firm favourite now on the days when lunch time is delayed. Dried berries and nuts are now my preferred snack and despite working with the most fabulous cheeses, I find a little goes a long way. Even bread has become less essential to me. It can’t be a coincidence that my skin is better too and certainly losing a few pounds has helped in the jeans department.

    Well done Melissa… let’s both of us not stray too deeply from the ‘yellow brick road’ of healthy eating.

    Cid

    p.s. thank you Shirley for your kind words.

  4. Congratulations! That is a huge accomplishment.

  5. Melissa says:

    Shirley,

    Thanks for your comments and support. I really do appreciate it. Banana Kahlua coconut cake? Wow, that sounds decadent. I love anything with coconut in it. Have you posted that recipe yet? I’ll have to go look.

    :-)

    I wish we were in the same area, we could host some fun support group meetings together.

  6. Melissa says:

    Shirley — yes, those macaroons look good, don’t they? And they are naturally GF. Yeah! Oh, and the sausage and potato dish as well. Yum!

    AND your salad. Tasty and healthy — the best of both worlds!

  7. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    I’m glad to hear you’re meandering down that “yellow brick road” of better health as well. It really is amazing how good you feel when you eliminate the foods that sabotage good health and give your body the nutrients it needs to thrive. Cutting out processed sugar is such a good place to start.

    Yes, here’s to jeans that aren’t too tight! Much more comfortable that way.

    :-)

  8. Melissa says:

    Meghan,

    Thanks for the congrats! It’s nice to have the support and makes life fun to connect with people who are on the same path.

  9. CoconutGal says:

    Awesome! This was a great re-cap. I am inspired! I feel like a cleanse would help me with my autoimmune disease, but especially with my recent flare-up, I know I am not ready yet. Frustrating!
    Congratulations on completing yours, it sounds like you really feel good :-)
    I am totally with you on the everything in moderation thing. Yes, it feels great to eat clean, but life is also short and just need things like chocolate macaroons sometimes!
    I am curious… since your rules were no meat and eggs & beans in moderation, what did you eat to increase your protein? I struggle with getting enough protein so any ideas are always helpful.

    xoxo Coco

  10. Melissa says:

    Coco,

    Great question regarding the protein and one I’m very interested in. I’m not a vegetarian, although I have been at times in my life. If you know what you’re doing, it’s not difficult to get enough protein from plant sources alone. You can be a very healthy vegan, in fact. Even a healthy vegan hard-core athlete!

    While doing a cleanse/detox, I choose to limit starchy foods, so I actually didn’t eat any beans, corn, legumes, or potatoes.

    My plant sources of protein were nuts, seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, brown rice, pastured eggs, fruits and veggies. Other than the eggs and goat kefir, it was pretty much a vegan diet (I did have some chicken broth once and that piece of bacon that seduced me).

    Brown and wild rice was a staple and I ate some almost every day. Same with nuts and seeds. I’d throw a handful of walnuts on my salad or chia seeds in a smoothie. I would toast sesame seeds and add them to mixed veggies. Sesame seeds are high in protein (and calcium).

    Good veggie sources of protein (which I ate during my cleanse) are beets, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, watercress, mushrooms, kale, onions, sea vegetables and spinach. “Green” sources also contain chlorophyll, which helps balance the body’s pH levels.

    Fruit sources of protein are apples, bananas, pears, strawberries, melons (and others).

    Hemp is a great protein source and is high in chlorophyll. Same with spirulina.

    I was going to add buckwheat to my cleanse foods, but never bothered. Buckwheat, quinoa, teff and amaranth are high in good quality protein. It’s actually not difficult to eat enough protein without animal products. It just takes some thought and planning.

    I like to have some protein with each meal because it balances out my energy levels. I don’t “crash” later on.

    Wow — I got carried away with your question! It was a good question! Hope that helps.

    Melissa

  11. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    I’ve got a pot of Spirulina on the side in my kitchen. Foolishly I didn’t buy the capsule form and when I tried the power I thought it was dreadful. How should I use it up?

    Cid

  12. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    The only way I’ve ever used spirulina is in smoothies (or straight with water). I prefer chia or hemp seed, but I’ve gone through a spirulina phase in the past. I mixed it with some vanilla goat yogurt (any would do), pineapple, banana, berries — whatever I had around (frozen blueberries or something), a little cinnamon and occasionally a touch of coconut milk. It’s not bad that way.

    I’ve heard of using spirulina in a guacamole dip as well. Avocados, lime, garlic, onions — a basic guacamole recipe.

    Also — this is weird, but I’m wondering about mixing a little in some coconut oil and making a “beauty” mask out of it. I always thought I’d try that, but never did. I put coconut oil on my hair every few weeks as a moisturizer. I also put it on my skin — so why not mix some with spirulina for a “clay mask” treatment?

    I’ve never done this, but the foo-foo spas charge lots of money for seaweed facials, why not make up our own?

    :-)

    By the way, I responded to your soup comment on the other channel.

    Melissa

  13. greedydave says:

    Melissa,

    Terrific round-up, I’m really glad you did this. While I know your motives weren’t evangelism, I’d like you to know that you’ve made one very unhealthy Mancunian start to think about food choices. I was reading a post of yours from before I became a reader about sports energy. I followed a few bits of your advice and it helped me through nearly half of my (actual) spring cleaning. Gosh, we single blokes are horrendously messy!! I’ll do the other half next year. :)

    GDave

  14. lo says:

    Having just finished an exceedingly rich dinner (complete with cake) for my niece’s 4th birthday… I am feeling the need for some good, nourishing (cleansing) foods! That photograph really speaks a thousand words!

    Reading about your journey was truly inspirational, and I’m SO GLAD you shared with all of us. I have lots of great concepts bookmarked, and I’m already planning our next cleanse!

  15. Melissa, you have such a wonderful blog, healthy living + celiac disease in one place – how great!

    What a beatiful picture of the waterfall, I can’t wait for summer to come to be able to enjoy all of the hiking around here once again!

    I am looking forward to doing a powerful detox once I am done breastfeeding (hmm, that might be a few years). For now, I focus on daily green smoothies, healthy food, and fresh air.

    I have enjoyed reading your detox, thanks for sharing it! -Ali :)

  16. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    That spirulina mask sounds like a fabulous idea. Let’s both try it and report back.

    Cid

  17. Melissa says:

    GDave,

    Good, that’s the idea. It’s really not hard to move into a more healthy lifestyle if you add little pieces here and there.

    As for your spring cleaning, I’m not a very good example of that kind of clean. You should see my office — I have stacks of papers and books all over the place. I can hardly find my computer for all the stuff on my desk. Actually, now that I look around, it’s a bit embarrassing. I better get some “external” cleaning done today.

    :-)

  18. Melissa says:

    LO,

    I’m so glad to hear that. Thank you for stopping by and letting me know. I appreciate it and know when you do something like this that you’ll come up with some fun recipes to go with it!

    Cake? What kind of cake?

    :-)

  19. Melissa says:

    Ali,

    I appreciate your comments and input! You already live a detox type lifestyle, so no need to rush into doing a cleanse. As you well know, breastfeeding your little ones is much more important. I love your “greens” photo, especially with the foot of snow in my back yard! I’m wishing for spring and the “greens” that come with it.

  20. Kay says:

    Cleared up your dh? That’s interesting. I had a bad flare-up recently. Probably due to shoveling a truckful of oat-filled horse manure. Yeah, I wore gloves, but, you know. I’d love to get rid of it before I bare my legs in shorts and capri pants. And my hands looked like raw hamburger. They’re improving . . . slowly.

  21. Kelly says:

    I didn’t know you get DH! Me too!

    My skin is sooooo sensitive and dry.

    I know I owe you an email. Please forgive me! :) Catching up.

  22. erin says:

    Hey there,
    I really enjoyed this post and I have a questionabout it. I want to go ahead and do a midwinter cleanse ni the next few weeks. I know exactly what you mean about the tipping point in yoga! just a few days of eating lighter is enough to make it a whole different experience ;) so i was hoping you could clue me into what exactly your cleanse entailed….i’ve done fasts before, but i don’t want to do anything that hardcore right now. suggestions?

    thanks!
    erin

  23. Absolutely love your blog! Definitely bookmarking it.

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