A Cleansing Experience (?)

Y’know what a smart thing to do is? Right after the forty days of lent, when you can finally eat whatever you want, do a cleanse. That’s right, get even more restrictive on yourself.

all I want is...

That’s what I did. Literally the day lent finished I started a seven day regime meant to cleanse my system of toxins. Smart move, right?

My osteopath told me about it. She and her fellow students had to do it as part of their college course, for the naturopathy section. In a nutshell, this is what they did:

Day 1 – Fruits and vegetables, raw and cooked
Day 2 – Fruits and vegetables, just raw
Day 3 – Just raw juices
Day 4 – Just water, no food
Day 5 – Just juices
Day 6 – Fruits and vegetables raw
Day 7 – Fruits and vegetables, raw and cooked

Nice and simple eh? People have suggested cleanses to me before, but they all involved drinking five cups of special herbal tea every day for three weeks, and really, who can be bothered? But this one, this one I could do.

I checked the details. ‘Cooked’, at most, means boiled, steamed or roasted. No oil or spices allowed, although garlic and ginger are ok. The term ‘juices’ includes smoothies, so it’s not a no fibre thing. And on the water day you can have the odd cup of fruit tea, but that’s it.

So, armed with my ‘in-depth knowledge’, I dove straight in.

**NB: I had intended to wait until I had a week off work at the end of April to give it a go, but a little voice inside my head said “There is no tomorrow! Do it now!!”**

Day 1

I was at work today, day shifts, so bought some packs of melon from the Co-Op and took a big tub of roasted sweet potato and salad to work. The salad barely lasted til noon and then I was on bits of fruit all day. Hungry enough when I got home that I made some potato and carrot mash with steamed green beans (yes, with a cheeky twist of salt on top; bad yogi!).

Cleanse Day 1 - Mash and Beans

All in all, the first day wasn’t so bad.

Day 2

At work again. Started to feel really ill first thing and it lasted all day. Sore throat, swollen glands, and just generally grotty. Unsure if it was the cleanse or just a random illness. Decided to carry on and see how it played out.

I had the same melon packs for breakfast, and a very dry, tasteless salad for lunch. Because I was ill I wasn’t that hungry for the rest of the day.

Cleanse Day 2 - Plain Salad

Was feeling so bad when I got home I had to make some veggie soup. Totally against the rules but I didn’t care, I felt awful.

Cleanse Day 2 - Vegetable Soup

It’s fair to say that day two was a tough day.

Day 3

Absolutely exhausted today. Thank God I had the day off. Still ill, though I felt ‘over the hump’ as it were. Took a bath to feel better. Realised I was quite spotty all of a sudden, which is unusual for me. Maybe the cleanse was working after all.

Wasn’t too hungry because I was ill, so a diet of smoothies and water was actually quite good for me.

Cleanse Day 3 - Fruit Smoothie

Had a go at a savoury smoothie recipe I found online and it was rank! Cannot recommend it to anyone. Stick to masking your veggie with fruit and the like. Once you start throwing raw garlic, chilli and lime in there you’re asking for trouble.

Cleanse Day 3 - Savoury Smoothie
Cleanse Day 3 - Savoury Smoothie, blended

Also got quite emotional today. The thought of just going for a veggie burger with my ex got me all choked up.

juicy veggie burgers

But at the same time a tear came to my eye watching Car SOS, so make of that what you will.

All told, today was a weird day. I was glad to go to bed by the end of it.

Day 4

Slept really badly, so woke up very tired. Still ill, and a little light headed with a touch of heartburn.

I was a bit hungry but not too bad considering. Having just water all day soon lost its novelty, which is why I turned to the fruit tea.

Cleanse Day 4 - Fruit Tea

Plus all that water made my heartburn worse. I don’t know about you, but if I drink too much water it gives me crazy acid reflux. Very unpleasant.

More unpleasant was when I tried to sleep; I just couldn’t. The heartburn was killing me, and not only did I have hot, itchy feet, but my legs were so restless they just kept twitching and moving about. I had to get up and keep walking about just to get some relief.

In the end it was too much for me. I went in the kitchen and had half a glass of orange juice and three grapes to give my stomach acid something to do. It was after midnight, so technically I’d done the day without food, but really I didn’t care. The night was so unpleasant I had to do something. Passed out on the couch for three hours and then went back to bed.

Day four was not a nice day.

**NB: Apparently, in Chinese medicine, hot, itchy feet are a sign of toxins leaving the body. They end up in the feet because we stand around all day. That’s what Google told me last night anyway, as I lay there in exhausted frustration looking for answers.**

Day 5

Being back on food was such a relief, even if it was just juices. I was tired after last night, but glad that the ‘water only’ portion of the cleanse was over.

Cleanse Day 5 - Avocado and Banana Smoothie

Oddly enough I wasn’t that hungry today, though I did spend a lot of time fantasising about food. And it wasn’t all my fault either. On TV pretty much anything I watched had food in it somewhere. Re-runs of The Big Bang Theory on E4 are sponsored by Hungry House. And even the book I’m reading, Terry Pratchett’s “The Last Continent”, has a massive food theme running right though it. I’m telling you I can’t win; food is everywhere!

After the rigours of yesterday today was a breeze.

Day 6

On the solid food again today after three days of just liquids (the three grapes at midnight not withstanding).

I actually slept really well last night, which was a relief. Woke up pretty early but still, felt good.

I’ve been planning my meals in detail over the coming days. I’m back to work tonight, on night shifts, and I’ve realised that come midnight I can start on the next day’s regimen. So I made a veggie stew to take with me tonight, for the start of day seven. Perhaps not in the spirit of things I know, but after day four I’m kinda over it all now.

Cleanse Day 7 - Vegetable Stew

But until midnight still sticking to the plan. Fruit salad for breakfast and a massive bowl of salad for lunch.

Cleanse Day 6 - Fruit Salad
Cleanse Day 6 - Mixed Salad

It’s crazy how strong everything tastes now. I guess after a few days of no food my taste buds have had time to rest, lol.

Today was pretty good.

Day 7

Pretty much back to normal today. Slept til about 3pm, so didn’t have to think about food too much, lol. Was tempted to just let everything go and have some porridge or something, but I held off. Besides, only had to make it to midnight again. I had some tasty food planned for the breaking of my cleanse.

Cleanse Day 8 - Breaking The Cleanse

Had a banana for breakfast, and made myself one last sensible salad for my pre-midnight meal; veggies with a squeeze of lime juice.

Cleanse Day 7 - The Last Salad

I confess that, come midnight, it felt good to be able to eat whatever I like again. The curry and rice was ok, but I didn’t eat it all. I’m learning that, as much as anything, I need better portion control.

Day 8 – The Aftermath

And that brings me to today. The end of my cleanse, which I celebrated in the only way I know how, with a whole bunch of stuff I wasn’t allowed; to wit, a fat-ass facon and egg muffin.

a fat-ass egg and facon muffin

**NB: Facon is just strips of fried tofu coated in tamari sauce and yeast flakes. I have the recipe if anyone’s interested?**

Man was it delicious. I mean, wow! So tasty. I savoured every moment of that muffin, chewed every bite, reveled in it’s taste, and enjoyed a rush of endorphins I haven’t had from food in a long time.

Can’t wait until the Ploughman’s Wedge I’ve got for work tonight!

ploughman's wedge

The Conclusion

So what have a learnt over the past seven days?

Well, I’ve learnt that you don’t need as much food as you think you do to survive, but that going thirty six hours without any is hard. I’ve learnt that smoothies and salads can fill you up, and you definitely feel lighter on your feet without a lot of old food in your system weighing you down. And you definitely don’t need all the fat and sugar we ingest every day, that’s for sure.

Do I feel cleansed? Well, it’s hard to say. What with feeling ill in the middle of it all, and coming out of it in the middle of night shifts, I just feel a bit tired and in need of a rest. Plus I’m not sure how ‘unclean’ I was in the first place? I mean I don’t drink, don’t smoke, and my only real sins are pizzas, burgers and cake. Maybe it’s best to say that it feels good to have given my system a rest for a while. To stock it up on healthy nutrients while it deals with simple, uncomplicated food that is easy to digest.

But would I do it again? Hmm… Well, maybe, but I’d probably adapt it a little. I’d put the two juice days together, but not have anything after 5pm on the first one, and not have anything until 5pm on the second, thereby giving myself twenty four hours of no food, and count that as my fast. The fasting part was unpleasant, and while I can see the value in giving your body a short break from food for a while, I don’t see the point in lying there unable to sleep all night. That benefits no one.

I think the cleanse was a good thing to do. It has helped me better understand my relationship with my food. I’m going to eat a little less from now on, enjoy what I eat more – I used to shovel food down like a stoker feeding coal into a steam train – and relegate the more ‘cheeky’ foods to an every-now-and-then kind of status. I think that’s a healthier way to be, and healthy means happy in my book.

So what do you think? Have I tempted you to try a cleanse yourself? Or have I put you off completely? Maybe you have a better fast to recommend. Leave a comment below. πŸ™‚

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