Healthy clean eating – finding the right food for my body
April 29, 2018
About three years ago, I decided to jump into the cleanse craze. I didn’t do it because I wanted to lose a lot of weight. My original goal was to support my husband, who had high cholesterol, and we wanted to see if we could get it under control with food and exercise, rather than jumping straight into taking a statin for the rest of his life. Little did I know how much I would learn about myself, physically and emotionally, during this time!
Starting with a body cleanse program – which one is best?
First, the process part. There are tons of cleanse options out there, some of them a little crazy, in my mind. Since my goal was to figure out what foods to eat for the long term, I read up on the Whole 30. My favorite book is “It Starts with Food” by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. Additionally, I knew an Arbonne consultant who was holding a 30 day cleanse group, and that was another area to get some learning and support. So, these two sources became my guide for my 30 day healthy eating challenge!
The process itself is pretty straightforward: my husband and I focused on clean eating and eliminated potential food irritants from our diets for 30 days:
My experience with the 30 day detox cleanse
I’m not going to lie, I did experience withdrawal symptoms. The first week was the hardest, when my body reacted to not having the simple carbohydrates any longer – no sugar, bread, pasta. I had headaches as a result. This is where a good support system is helpful – if you start a cleanse with friends or as part of an online community, you can share symptoms and experiences together. That first week is when you really want to cheat, or worse, quit.
Quickly, though, I started to see results. Within a week, I had dropped 5 lbs. Much of it was water weight. After that, I experienced a steady, smaller decline each week.
Many others in our group weren’t as lucky – they didn’t see a steady drop in weight after that initial drop. And this was the time that we had to remind ourselves of why we were cleansing. The goal is to understand how different foods impact our bodies, so that we could make long-lasting changes.
Post-cleanse: making long-lasting changes to my diet
After 30 days, I started adding some of the eliminated foods back into my diet, to see how they affected me. I added them back one at a time, not all at once – it’s like starting babies on solid food, to assess if they have any allergies or reactions. Here’s what I found:
Protein and healthy fats in combination make me feel full and balanced longer. I continue to drink a protein shake each morning. Click here to read my post on the best blender I’ve found to make my shakes! If I need some variety, I’ll switch it out to eggs and banana with almond butter.
There is a world of whole grains out there to try! During my cleanse I found several “ancient grains” that are now part of our regular diet – farro, quinoa, and millet, just to name a couple. These can be added to salads and can replace rice in meals.
Bread and pasta make me feel bloated. Within hours of eating processed carbs, I can feel it in my stomach. I love pasta though, so I switched to eating it once a month or so, and I make my own, which doesn’t give me the same feeling. I also bought a spiralizer and make “zoodles” – zucchini and squash noodles, and I’ll put meatballs and sauce on top!
Milk and ice cream give me stomach cramps. I grew up drinking a glass of milk every day to get my calcium, and it turns out my body doesn’t love it. I’m still trying to figure out how best to solve the calcium need – more to come on that one.
Sugary foods now taste too sweet. Perhaps the best part of this cleanse is that I no longer eat cookies, cake, or pies regularly. I don’t buy packaged treats. When I do eat apple pie at Thanksgiving, I immediately feel heavy and tired, reminding me that I don’t want to re-introduce these foods back into my regular diet! My go-to treat these days is a piece of dark chocolate after dinner – my favorites are Ghirardelli and Chocolove – with almonds and sea salt!
Three years later – what have I maintained?
As my body changes over time, I continue to modify the foods I eat. However, the cleanse set the framework for how I structure my meals daily. Each meal consists of protein, good fat, fruits and veggies. My husband and kids also eat this way. If my son doesn’t get protein at each meal, his energy level and mood swings all over the place.
And to circle back on my original intent for the cleanse in the first place, which was to see if we could lower my husband’s cholesterol levels without medicine. He had his blood work done about 2 months after the cleanse, and his cholesterol had decreased to be in the normal range. Each year he has it tested, and he continues to maintain normal levels. That’s thousands of dollars saved in drug costs!