I spent the last two weeks cleansing my body of years of accumulated waste and slug. I was assigned a very, very specific detoxification diet, designed to remove toxins naturally. More on that in a second. My friend and a soon-to-be naturopathic doctor Chelsea Schreiner both gave me the idea for this OWO and mentored me throughout the process. Ideally, this should be a 3-6 weeks long regime, but as I have better things to do and try, I compromised with a two week regime. It was more than enough.
So, what is a detoxification diet? It is a diet designed to naturally support your body's detox instruments, namely your liver. By ingesting some foods, according to the theory, your liver will increase its detox process, but in this new active state it must be supported. And, to let your liver sweep up everything, it must not be muttled down by extraneous toxins. What do I mean by extraneous toxins: all most everything delicious. Let's examine what I couldn't eat:
- red meat
- dairy products
- processed sugar
- corn and corn byproducts
- oats, barley etc.
- alcohol =(
- vegetables from the Nightshade family, eg: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers
- bananas, citrus, strawberries
- and finally, caffeine. f**k
So looking at the set of all foods, what I could eat was a pretty small set. The idea of the diet is to take in large amounts of vegetables. So one having a good hand at cooking vegetables is key to doing this diet. Lucky, I'm fucking awesome. But this only solves a partial problem: vegetables are not enough! And without wheat and potatoes, you have to get creative with substantial foods to eat. Enter quinoa: the most delicious, detox-friendly grain known to man. I created a wonderful quinoa dish that I would be happy to eat whether detoxing or not (the recipe is at the bottom of this article). What about breakfast - what did I eat for breakfast? Typically it was light: an apple, a glass of almond milk + a pea-derived protein powder. Lunch was usually a soup I prepared: common was split pea soup or carrot-ginger soup. I made a really nice spinach curry soup that I would make again. Supper was again soup, curried cabbage or quinoa salad. On a diet like this, it is important to snack often, lest you have 0 energy, so I supplemented by meals with carrots + humus, celery + tahini, nuts, fruit and daydreams of doughnuts.
Ok, so what happened? How did the two weeks go? Bad, then good. I underestimated what caffeine withdrawal was like. What an unpleasant feeling! Head and body-aches, and constant feelings of lethargy. For four days I suffered like this. The only relief was my constant naps in classrooms. In my experience, a brain without caffeine, or some other stimulant, is a dull brain. I constantly felt unmotivated, and even apathetic at times. Contrast this to now where all I can think about is 'how can I get more shit done in less time--oh and my coffee cup is empty'. So included in my caffeine withdrawals was withdrawals from my regular diet. Chelsea, my mentor, recommends to her patients who embark on a detox diet to gradually eliminate foods. Not me. I don't have time for that. So I literally went from gorging on junk (in preparation of a two-week fast), to clean, sugar-free, diet. The shock layered my sufferings. So if the first week was bad, the second week was much better. I found my cooking and diet stride. Preparing food was easier. Even my palette changed, and I found sweetness and flavour where I otherwise never did. But still the issue of lethargy hanged over me. Over the two weeks, I could not dispel it. My body - no, my brain - is powered by coffee.
I did feel better eating all these vegetables and avoiding nasty foods. Whether the feeling with an actual mental response to less bodily toxins, or purely psycho-somatic is debatable. I slept better. I was more regular (infact my whole digestive tract changed for the better). I lost a few pounds (actually I'm not sure, but probably). But I knew this diet was temporary. I had my entire day's diet planned the day after this experiment was finished: coffee + cinnamon buns in the morning, burger and fries for lunch, and Indian food for dinner. And a beer. Waking up that morning was like Christmas morning!
What are my thoughts on the diet now? I think it is an interesting diet for those for which it is recommended. I entered the diet only because it was a challenge, not for any health benefits or allergen profiling.
So I know this write-up was late, and in fact I have already done another OWO inbetween when I finished this and now (it was a private one, sorry can't say what it was), but next week I will be bullying my morals around. Stay tuned and stay away from me next week. =)
- 1 cup of quinoa grain
- tsp of cumin
- splash of olive oil
- splash of balsamic vinegar
- chopped spinach
- diced red onion
- diced green onion
- optional: chopped radishes, chopped almonds, or grated carrots
- salt and pepper to taste
Wash the quinoa in cold water. Add two cups of water, add some salt and the cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a lower simmer. Once all the liquid is absorbed, let it sit to room temp. Put into fridge to cool (or freezer w/e). As the quinoa is cooling, prepare vegetables. Combine remaining ingredients once quinoa is cool enough. Eat .