Saturday, March 8, 2014

Day 13 of my Not Perfect Detox: I'm so done with this.

'Mom, you need to eat more!'

So I'm really tired today and I'm tired of my detox.  I think I feel so wiped out because I had a couple of days this week where I had to really push through past exhaustion to the end of my day.  I pay for even one of those days anymore, but two days of it requires real recovery time.  That's just how it is.

I still don't have the energy to go running, but I wanted to get outside and MOVE so I took my son to the wetlands with me for a 'run'.  We jogged together for just a few minutes for fun, then walked the rest of the way marveling at the high water and signs of spring.  When we got home, I had to just go back to bed.  My son suggested that I'm not eating enough and need to 'eat some real food... not this detox stuff'.  I smiled.  I feel the same way, buddy.  I love that my kids tell me that.  I love that they put their faith in nature and eating eggs and oatmeal and chicken stew and broccoli.  It made me so happy that I sat down and joined him with his breakfast and told him I felt a little better.  Then I took a nap.

I always tell people to do some exercise during their detox and I usually do.  For one reason or another, I've had to cancel on my fun-runs the whole time.  Thank goodness for my yoga mat.  Nothing says 'gentle, loving movement' like a little yoga in the living room.

No, this detox is not going to fix my insomnia or my complete inability to adapt to stress.  Yes, it's good for my body to stop eating gluten for a few weeks.  It's good for anyone to clean things up and do an anti-inflammatory diet for a few weeks for 3 weeks.  It still helps me remember what it's like to eat a diet that makes you change how you cook and shop for a while.  And that helps me do my job better.  But I need to keep digging deeper for that and just keep eating and resting and doing what I can.

This detox helped me REALLY appreciate any old food.  A simple bowl of egg fried rice or a bowl of chili with no cheese on it and no cornbread on the side.  These are wonderful things.  Totally satisfying and nourishing.

I find myself thinking that I'm done with this.  We should just stop now and go back to normal life.  2 weeks is enough.  But I'm going to do this...  I'm going to take a few deep breaths, get through this day and see how I feel about it tomorrow.  One more day can't hurt and it might help me get over this hump.  I can do anything for one more day and I think I remember thinking the same thing last year and it got better.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Day 7, tired of cooking

I've got a busy week coming up.  We've had a sick house this week.  I needed to do some serious cooking this weekend.  Get some main dishes made up ahead.

On Saturday I spent so much time cooking food for our detox and a couple of meatloaves for easy kid meals when they don't like our food, and making some cough syrup (and all the usual things), that by dinner time I was too exhausted to serve a vegetable.  Kids had meatloaf, we had chicken and black bean stew.  If I hadn't had a bunch of veggie sticks and dilly beans in the fridge for the kids, I'd have cried.

This isn't the first time something like this happened.

I'm looking forward to the week ahead.  This real food crusader gets a break from cooking.  2 meals a day are coming from a package.  A detox smoothie.  Medical food.  That used to totally gross me out.  But now it sounds like bliss.  No thinking about food, no planning, fewer dishes.  I just get a break from food.  I'm going on a food retreat for 2 weeks.

I will also complain miserably about the smoothies in a few days.  But I can do that.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Day 6 of my Not Perfect Detox

Boredom Kicks In

I've eaten the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day for the last 6 days.  Dinners have had slightly more variety.  Boring?  Maybe.  Bad?  No.

The thing about not getting to have what you want when you want it for days on end, is that initially, I might get frustrated and depressed about it.  But then I just relax and get used to it.  I'm getting used to that uncomfortable feeling of being hungry and wanting toast.  I still don't like it, though.  I get used to having a chocolate craving and just dealing with it.  I get used to feeling a little sleepy and not self-medicating with caffeine.  I just have to sit with whatever feeling I have and not change it.

I was listening to a dharma talk by Robert Beatty, who is the dharma teacher at the center we are part of in Portland.  In it, he was addressing this.  We feel things that we don't want to feel (hungry, tired, depressed, angry).  Sometimes we are with people we don't want to be with (the list is endless).  Sometimes terrible things happen in our lives.  We spend a lot of time trying to get rid of these uncomfortable, undesirable feelings.  We grab a snack, we stop for a coffee, we watch TV, we get stoned.  He talked about how in meditation we 'fast' from our usual activities and usual reactions to life.

That's one of greatest benefits about doing a detox... for me.  Yes, it's good for my liver and my blood sugar.  Yes, my cholesterol levels will improve.  Yes, I will lose some body fat.  But what I benefit most from is fasting from using food and drink to quench difficult feelings, and doing it mindlessly.  At the end of 3 weeks, I feel more intimate with the physical feeling of emptiness... and with a more spiritual feeling of emptiness too.  It's all part of the same package.  I feel like I gain some mental focus and am more gentle with myself when I'm feeling some of the un-ease of the unwanted feelings.

So for breakfast, I have oatmeal with cinnamon, apple and flax seeds with a little cream and nothing to sweeten it (I'm probably the only person who includes organic cream on a detox). I had some of my favorite vegetable soup for lunch along with some rice, eggs and greens.  It's a good lunch!   We have such an abundance of delicious, healthy food!  It's crazy to think of this detox diet as anything but one of decadence.  But it takes going a step further to remind me of that.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 3 of my Not Perfect Detox

Today I will do something my future self will thank me for.

I'm not going to post every day.  The inspiration will fade soon, especially as the group meetings at the office start up next week.  Good news for me today, I fell asleep naturally last night.  I've had a few blips of this happening, so the journey is not over.  But I'll take it.

SUGAR
So some of us got talking about giving up sugar.  It's amazing the emotions that come up when faced with giving up certain foods.  I totally flipped out when I gave up sugar for 3 weeks last year.  One day I just broke down and cried, got mad and had a real wobbly.  Dark chocolate withdrawals.  Intense.  Some people aren't ruled by sugar.  If you find the thought of giving up sugar for 2-3 weeks terrifying, think about it.  It might really be a great gift for yourself.  I love this cartoon from Hyperbole and a Half about a person who could use a break from sugar.  It always makes me laugh.

I still want chocolate after most meals.  But I don't want to have a headache.  I still want to share my husbands regular ice cream snack in the evenings, and I do now and then.  But it always means I have to get up to pee at night.  I always end up eating some of the cookies and things I make with the kids, but I don't do lots of it or I feel crap.  It's reached the point where the consequences to eating a lot of sugar seriously outweigh the short-term benefits.  Besides, I've got less of a taste for them.  It takes time and goes up and down.

Giving up all kinds of sugar for 3 weeks including natural and artificial sweeteners is a real commitment.  I make exceptions for a little bit honey or maple syrup if they are an integral part of a dressing/sauce that is going to make an otherwise wonderful meal for everyone.  Dropping sugar and sweeteners for 2-3 weeks could be the single most important dietary step for many people.  Heck, just give it one good week!

Cooking ahead
Today I did a bunch more cooking and I think I have a nice variety of foods in the fridge and freezer for nice meals.  It really does take a few days to gear up for this.  That's why I don't like to be too hard on myself for the first few days.

My lunch of rice, eggs and greens:
For lunch the past few days, I've had my BEST lunch of rice, greens, eggs and tahini sauce.  I say best because I love it and it ticks all the boxes.  I've written about it before here.  I talk about soaking and cooking brown rice for better texture and nutrition, and give my tahini sauce recipe.  For this, I make sure to make a batch of rice every 2-3 days that I can fry up.  I also try to wash, chop and bag some chard or spinach so I can just throw it in the pan with the rice.

I made a batch of my Creamy Vegetable Soup today.  When I need food to be easy and nutritious, this soup is my favorite.  It's quick, helps me clean out my vegetable drawers with the last bit of this and that before I go shopping.  And it has ALL the things I need to eat more on a detox... or just to be healthy.  Chicken stock, onions, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, potatoes, mushrooms ... you can leave a few of those out and still make a great soup.  But it's a pureed soup.  I have a cheap immersion blender, which I use A LOT to make pureed vegetable soups and smoothies.  You can use a blender or food processor, it's just messier.  If you need to omit the cream, the potatoes are enough.  Could add some cashew butter for extra creaminess.  If you need lower carbs, cut the potatoes.  As long as you add the basil or pesto at the end, it will be really good.  Also, if you need it to be higher in protein, you can add some leftover chicken or some cannelinni beans.

Made a batch of hummus too (yes, I was in the kitchen a lot today, but I can start to slow down now).  Hummus is cheap and easy to make.  You can make it from canned garbanzo beans, but I think the BEST hummus is from freshly cooked chickpeas cooked with kombu.   The kombu helps them soften, but it also adds so much good flavor.  Here is a rough recipe:

Simple Hummus

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 2 square inches of kombu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbls sesame tahini (unsalted)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (you'll need more, but start here)
  • 1/4 cup (one large lemon) of lemon juice.


  1. Soak your chickpeas overnight (or at least 8 hours).  Change out the water, add kombu, bring to boil and simmer for about an hour.  Pressure cooking makes it a little faster.  Drain out the liquid but save it.
  2. In your food processor, first put your garlic in to mince.  
  3. Then add chickpeas, tahini and salt.  Blend up best you can.
  4. Add lemon juice and a little bit of the bean liquid.  Blend and taste.
  5. Add more liquid, salt and lemon juice to adjust to your taste.
  6. I serve it by spooning out a portion, then sprinkling some sweet paprika on top and drizzling it generously with olive oil.
So fried rice dishes, vegetable soup, hummus and I've got a bean soup frozen too.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 detox day 2

Day 2 of the Not Perfect Detox is going better than last year at this point.  I have a cold and I'm laying around more, so that helps not work up an appetite.  I also planned my meals IN ADVANCE!  I always have to force myself to plan, but it always pays off.

Been drinking more water.  8 oz in the morning.  4 ounces every hour that I remember.  Got my dark leafys in (chard), and raw cabbage in a light slaw with some simple tacos.  I use a nice recipe from Cynthia Lair's website for great tacos.  I make her creamy cilantro dressing with plain yogurt and use organic corn tortillas.  I make them with fish, chicken or pastured beef.  Thinking I'll phase yogurt out in a week or so.

Last night, we had a nice salad, a bit of meat left over from the day before and roasted potatoes.  Roasted potatoes are a favorite of mine.  They're easy.  But here is an especially nice way to do them with rosemary and garlic.  I know it seems like a lot of garlic, I back off a little from this recipe (and I use any potato), but they're great.

I said I'd post some guidelines.  I've been too lazy to research some other ones, but you can.  Here is a link to the dietary guidelines I use.  There are other useful bits too, but that's a start.  Whatever you do, I think it is really helpful to do it gently.  I think there is often a tendency to go too hard, too quickly.  If you've had a really processed diet and carry a lot of excess weight, and decide to do a fast, liquid diet, juice fast... sometimes you will feel worse before you feel better.  Some people call that a healing crisis.  I say that it's more likely to cause you to QUIT and it can be harmful sometimes.  When we mobilize stored toxins from our body, the liver needs vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids to biotransform them so they can be excreted.  In the process, we often make some highly reactive compounds that, if they build up, they can cause you to feel unwell and not do you any good at all.  That's why what you DO eat is as important as what you DON'T eat.

Things that are good to eat:

  • Fiber, to help you poop it out (beans, peas, whole grains, vegetables, fresh fruits)
  • Water, to help you pee it out
  • Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale)
  • Dark leafy greens (magnesium and folic acid)
  • Protein (shoot for 15g/meal, like 2 eggs)
  • Bone broth
Did you have a bit of a crappy food day?  No biggy, just start off right here.  It all adds up.  If there is a box of cookies in your cupboard that is just too tempting, dump them in the garbage now.  Yes, throw them away.  Put them in the freezer if you made them.  Candy?  Garbage can.  Your kids don't need it anyway.  Why make it harder for you?  I will never bring Oreos in my house ever again.  They would be the end of me.

Top tips:
  • Keep drinking water
  • Pick the guidelines you're going to follow for the next 3 weeks
  • Think of the absolutely most UNHEALTHY food or beverage you consume that you know is making you less healthy and happy.  Can you cut it out for just tomorrow?  Could you have even one less?
  • Plan your meals for the next 3 days.  You can always be flexible, but you need to plan to succeed or plan to fail.  Eat a dark leafy green of some sort.

My plan for tomorrow: 
  • Soaking chickpeas tonight to make hummus (if you have chickpeas, tahini and garlic, you can make it too.
  • Thawing chicken stock to make some soup.
  • Soaking brown rice to make easy fried rice dishes.
  • Making some herbal infusion to sip on.  Using nettle and oatstraw, covered with a quart of boiling water overnight.
What's your plan?  

Monday, February 24, 2014

2014 detox day 1: Not a Perfect Detox

Last year, we decided to do a 3-week detox.  This was prompted by some new work I was taking on, leading a medically-supported detox at the doctors office where I was working.  My husband and I did it too, and were so pleased with the results, that we're doing it again.  Today is the first day.  It's only February 24th.  A little early for a 'spring detox'.  But I like to get started before a group I lead, because the first week is the most challenging for me, and because I want to be done before a trip to Seattle next month.

I've written before of reasons why you might want to do a detox, but I'm going to focus on my own reasons right now.  Last year, I just felt better.  I had more energy.  I didn't need a cup of tea after lunch to get my energy back up.  I woke up feeling clear-headed.  I slept more soundly.  My joints felt more lubricated.  I farted less. I hurt less.  I lost some body fat.  

Over the year, some of the new habits stuck.  I've really reduced the amount of sugar I eat.  That has been the biggest one.  I don't like milk in my tea anymore.  I eat less bread.  But I have a pretty healthy diet, overall.  I still love cheese though and am very resistant to that ever leaving my plate.  I kept the weight off until the winter, when I put a bit back on... as is my natural cycle.  But I don't think I should be losing any weight right now.

This year, I want to sleep.  I want to feel good.  It's been an enormously difficult year for me because last summer, I lost the ability to sleep.  I didn't think that was possible, because I've always been a really good sleeper.  But here I am 6 months later and I still cannot sleep.  I have to take pills to do it, and I'm not a pill-taker.  I've done all the things you're supposed to do to improve sleep, including some on-going personal work.  But nothing budges.  The lack of sleep is making my mind go bezerk.  Seriously bezerk.  Like many people, I'm approaching this diet as a 'maybe THIS will fix me!'  People have had more remarkable recoveries from eliminating gluten and dairy from their diet.  I've seen it.  But I have a feeling this will just be one small piece of my healing journey.

So that tells you why this is not going to be a Perfect Detox.  Much as I think I should make every effort to get the most out of these 3 weeks, I think part of what is out of balance with me is that I make every effort with everything.  I'm passionate about too many things.  Too many things are too important not to do well.  I have hit a wall and I need to just do enough for a while.  So I'm going to make this 21 days enough.  I aim to be disciplined only to the point that it is loving and accepting.  And I'm using facebook and my blog to reach out to other people who need to do an imperfect detox and want a little virtual support.  I am not going to be the standing on the throne of perfect diets here.  I'll tell you my guidelines.  They might not be the ones important for you, but I'm sharing them in case they can inspire and support you.

Things to NOT eat (for me): Gluten, dairy (I'm really loose on that.  I eat butter and homemade yogurt and organic cream and cultured cream in moderation.  Dairy fat seems to not be an issue.  I'm avoiding milk and cheese.  I love cheese.)  No sugar or any sweeteners at all.  No chocolate.  No snacking on dried fruit, but I'll put some in dishes in moderation.  No alcohol. No caffeine except when a cup of green tea is needed to lift me out of total darkness.  Because a mom of little homeschoolers rarely has a chance to be properly depressed.  No processed foods, but I don't eat them anyway.  Also, I'm going to keep oatmeal in there for mornings.  Last year, I took it out for the first half and I just couldn't poop properly.  When I put it back in, and everything just worked better.  I know oats have a tiny bit of gluten, but it didn't seem to be an issue for me.  It's something I had to work out.  I might phase it out after a week or so.

Things I want to eat every day:  Cultured veg (sauerkraut and kim chi), a dark leafy green (kale, chard, spinach), cruciferous vegetables and sea weed.   Or at least a few of them each day. Eating the usual frequent bone broths and avocados.  Our liver needs a whole bunch of nutrients to efficiently transform and eliminate toxins and wastes from our body.  These foods are important.  Lots of water and herbal infusions.

Supplements:  I'm not usually a supplement person so much, but I'm using them for this.  The second 2 weeks, I use some products from Designs for Health that we use at the office.  You don't need to, but I do it because it makes it easier for me and it just works for me.  I already talked about important detox things in last years posts part 1, 2 and 3.  If you want to pay for this program, I can help you sort it out, but this isn't about me pushing product and services.  I don't like to recommend individual supplements for people I don't know, so I'll just move past this for now.

My top tips for today:  1) Write down what you eat and drink for the next 2 days,  I call it a 'Food, Mood and Poop Journal'.  Don't judge it.  Just write it down, be accurate.  At the end, give it a compassionate once-over.  What are some habits you would like to change that would help you feel better?  What times of the day do you binge eat?  What are your triggers?  2)  Find your program, give yourself this week to rev up by planning it, shopping and preparing some things in advance for busy days.  Your program could be as simple as not eating junk food and soda and trying to eat one vegetable every day.  If that's a big improvement for your diet, then it's going to be enough.  3) If you do nothing else, drink 4 ounces of water every hour that you can remember.  Set a timer.  Put 8 ounces (at least) by your bed at night and don't get out of bed until you drink it all.  I'll post some guidelines of a plan tomorrow, and some resources where you can find yours.  Feel free to share your favorite site/book/program that has worked for you.  I can share that with other people.

Good luck!!  We can do anything for 2-3 weeks!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My first mince pies

I lived in England for 5 years.  I never made mince pies.  Nobody does, they just pop into Waitrose and buy them all made up.  But you can't do that here.  So I made a batch of mincemeat, which should make about 100 pies, I swear.  I just baked up a few in my muffin tin with my usual pie crust recipe that's been getting me in trouble this year.

I used a wide mouth jar lid ring for the bottom crust cut out (rolled out a little bigger) and a normal jar ring for the top... or a star.  The solid top with slits cut is best.

For the mincemeat, I used Delia Smith's recipe... but used coconut oil instead of suet because that's what I had.  I can't find the recipe on line but nobody I know here in the states has ever had one of these and they all make a face like they don't want to try it and everyone in England has Delia's book or knows someone who does... right?  It's a long list but you can find different ones all over the place.

It was really good.  Everyone loved it (in my family).  Here they are.  All homemade just in time for 4 days after Christmas was over.