Okay, anyone who really knows me will recognize the improbability and even absurdity of this kind of regime I’ve chosen to follow for a couple weeks.
You see, I’m currently three-quarters through a two week cleanse/detox program. It’s not hard-care (no fasting or crazy foods you have to eat), just a focus on lean proteins, veggies, some fruit and lots and lots of water or detoxing/healing liquids (think turmeric tea, cranberry lemon water, that kind of thing).
The program is set up my friend Abby Bliss and she’s a Portland holistic nutritionist/wellness/life coach who helps her clients diagnose possible underlying food sensitivities/allergies or eating patterns that are holding you back from optimal health (and she also offers suggestions better for you).
The idea here is that by eating really clean for a couple weeks, you give your body a reset and a rest so that it can perform better for you. You break patterns of eating and drinking and start to learn what works best for you.
In the first week you completely cut out sugar (and other sweeteners), gluten, yeast, all dairy, grains, soy, nuts, alcohol, and caffeine (although she said it’s okay to have one cup daily if you need it, which I always do). These aforementioned foods/drinks are the main thing people take issue with digestively, so it’s best to identify them.
(My first reaction when seeing the Do Not Eat List was — “Eek! What’s left?”)
In the second week you start reintroducing foods and see how your body reacts.
I’ve been asked by a lot of people recently “Why the detox/clean eating thing? I thought you were a pretty healthy eater?”
I’m an avid experienced cook who loves and uses stellar ingredients, so yes, my food is often both delicious and pretty healthy. But that said, I don’t eat enough vegetables. Or drink enough water. And my penchant for carbohydrates is well-documented and clearly out of control (I’m usually walking around with a pretzel, Triscuit, or cracker with a thick swipe of rich cheese. Or all three. I’m not kidding.)
And I love bread so much I could– and often do!– eat it at every meal.
And after the holidays with too much indulging of everything (red wine! ginger chewies! grilled steak! pasta!
potatoes gratin! Caesar salad with double croutons! bourbon on ice! pot de cremes!),
and I saw that Abby (someone I’ve known slightly for years) was offering this program mid-January, I thought this was the perfect time to jump in.
So now I’m on day 10, and I’m doing pretty well so far. I’d like to see it through a full two weeks and then slowly reintroduce some of my old favorites and see how I feel.
Are you too wanting to button things down a little bit? Feeling the bloat or less than 100%?
Whether you want to make big changes or few or none (no judgment– a couple weeks ago I wouldn’t have entertained the idea of walking away from my food friends), here are a couple things I’ve learned in a clean-eating program like this.
Abby’s materials, support and personal encouragement was the genesis for all of this but what follows is my personalized spin. So here are…
My FIVE tips to incorporate Clean Eating/Detox principles into your diet.
ONE. Make a lot of soup.
Keep some in the fridge for the next couple days and the rest you should freeze for when you need a quick healthy meal in the near future (it can go from freezer to belly in about 15 minutes).
Soup is a great way to eat a lot of healthy ingredients. Ginger. Garlic. Vegetables of all kinds. And it’s so filling and gratifying, especially at this time of the year.
These past two weeks I’ve made four different kinds of soup.
Roasted Kabocha Squash.
Plus a Asian Chicken Ginger with Riced Cauliflower.
I’ve had a small cup of soup almost every day for the last two weeks and shared it with people too — homemade soup deliveries make you a rock star.
TWO. Don’t be afraid to repeat eat.
Abby’s program includes a variety of terrific recipes but these past few weeks I’ve just tried to listen to what my body wants and when it wasn’t screaming Fritos and Pinot it was often requesting something I’d eaten in the past day or so (probably because it was so healthy and fresh tasting).
So my advice is prepare a large amount of whatever you like to eat and enjoy that in the next week if that’s what floats your boat. It will make your life much easier to not have to start anew each meal — taking a lot of the stress out of sudden hunger pangs.
This lentil salad I made in the beginning of the first week and I enjoyed it a few times over the course of a few days.
On the last day I wanted something warm so I added hot homemade chicken stock to it and enjoyed it like a stew.
It was just as delicious on the third day as it was on the first.
THREE. Up your water game– you’ll drink more.
It seems like drinking a lot of water is crucial to clean eating; not only does it help your body flush toxins from your body, it’s great for your all your organs plus it fills you up (and away from dangerous temptations).
Prior to this, I drank a fair amount of sparkling water but if I ran out, so would my desire to drink water. Now I’ve always got a batch of various infused waters ready to go that I can enjoy throughout the day.
Taking Abby’s advice I always incorporate some super healthy ingredients into my water: citrus, apple cider vinegar, cucumbers, ginger, pure cranberry juice.
Every day I start with clean quart sized jars and fill them up with whatever I have in the fridge or freezer that speaks to me, and then keep these jars in the fridge to infuse as the day goes on. If I have errands I need to run, a jar comes with me in my bag so I can hydrate on the go.
In the past two weeks, I’ve used combinations of the following to flavor my water: Meyer lemons, regular lemons, grapefruit, satsumas, grapefruits, limes, ACV, cucumbers, mint, Italian basil, Thai basil, fresh ginger, juices (cranberry and POM), turmeric, radishes, and fresh lemongrass.
Straight from the freezer I’ve also tried blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and mango.
The beauty of this system is it keeps me away from the trap (and expense) of only drinking sparkling water (which often comes with unnatural flavorings). I also can see at a glance how I’m doing with my water intake. If I still have jars in the fridge filled with water at the end of the day, I know I’ve got some H2O catching up to do.
If you’re interested in trying, my advice is to grab whatever sounds good to you and add into a big jar with a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice (bonus points a sprinkle of cayenne).
Muddle it a bit, and then top off with water. Refrigerate until icy cold (and sometimes I use the citrus, lemongrass or ginger base a second time).
FOUR. Invest in organic protein and stock your fridge with those cooked options — and keep those eggs at the ready.
I started off this detox with a couple home-cooked organic chickens.
We enjoyed what we could eat that first night and then I pulled off the meat and stuck it in the fridge with some fresh lemon slices.
For the next couple days I added that beautifully moist chicken to soups, salads and just nibbled on it when I wanted something with a little more heft.
Eggs have been another savior, and instead of granola or toast, I have an egg to start my day.
This is the week I chose to improve my egg game.
Charlotte and I went to the farmer’s market and we each picked out treats for ourselves.
She may have ended up with the cider, cheeses and oversized fresh pretzel, but I got that amazing juice, leeks and duck eggs to die for.
Have you ever had the pleasure?
They feel like a stone in your hand (heavy!) and the shell is thick and hard to break.
But, crack that egg open, give it a quick fry and dig in.
Be still my heart.
The yolk is huge and deeply flavorful and rich.
Atop avocado (or as seen here in pre-tox with a tiny bit of basmati) these eggs are sublime.
Can’t get duck eggs where you are?
No problem. How about just a simple egg white frittata for one?
Or a regular egg fried up with a bit of turmeric?
Eggs always made me feel like I wasn’t giving up too much and were particularly satisfying.
FIVE. Do you find it hard to eat your fill of veggies? Drink them instead.
Every day I started with a green smoothie, using whatever I had on hand and I was in a mood for.
Prep often started off looking like something like this.
Parsley and cilantro and ginger and citrus and a green apple and whatever green I felt like adding — celery, cucumber, spinach, or even a small handful of these gorgeous kale sprouts from the farmer’s market.
I wasn’t much of a green smoothie person before but I found that the addition of that apple or frozen pineapple or mango really helped with the consistency and made it taste less grassy, more pleasing.
I like making a big blender of the smoothie every a.m. and then portioning it into single servings. I then stick the jars in the fridge, so whenever I want a little extra energy they were ready and waiting for me (sometimes I blended it later with more ice/fruit).
So that’s it. (And Abby if you’re reading, you’re an angel and I couldn’t have done this without your expertise and support. A million thanks. And readers if you want access to all the recipes, resources and access to her wisdom and support, check out the link to her website and consider investing in your own health too).
Okay, so I’m still really missing my bread, cheese and red wine but I can go a little while longer while I give my body a further rest.
And while the rest of the country is currently struggling with a Polar Vortex, right now in Portland we’re enjoying much more temperate climes and gorgeous sunlight.
I’m feeling lucky. Blessed even.
Bottoms up, peeps. And stay warm!
(And are you my friends making anything special for Super Bowl?)