I did it! I made it all the way through day 14 of Team J&A’s two-week Whole Food Detox. As I mentioned in my first detox post, I won the registration for this guided detox through a contest on the blog Viola Cay. I was inspired to participate because the post-holiday slump had me feeling kind of “blah” and the start of a new year had me looking for a change. Evaluating my food choices—my “fuel”—seemed like a great start.
How did this detox work? First off, I had tools: a private Facebook group of other detoxers; four webinars to discuss progress, questions, and strategies; and daily emails from Team J&A that offered advice and encouragement. I also received homework assignments, a shopping list, and a long list of recipes. If I hadn’t had access to these tools and the regular support, I’m not sure I would have ended my detox so well. (For another take on this detox, check out Viola Cay’s vlog, which you can find here.)
The detox was designed to eliminate toxins, addictions, and foods that can cause a body to become sluggish, lethargic, bloated, constipated, and just unhappy. The goal was to understand which foods help your body function well and which foods hold you back. It was split into three phases. In phase one, I gave up gluten, soy, alcohol, dairy, refined sugars, red meat, peanut butter, and caffeine. I ate organic chicken and eggs, wild fish, beans, nuts, and a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. In phase two, I gave up the fish, eggs, and chicken, as well as natural sugars, high glycemic fruits, and nightshade vegetables. It was a vegan phase, so I ate a lot of veggies and beans. In phase three, which ended yesterday, I added back in—slowly—foods I had previously eliminated and monitored my body’s reaction. This is a longer phase than just the 14 days of the detox, as I consider what helps me feel good. I anticipate this assessment will take me a while to complete and that there may be some foods that don’t come back, or come back into my diet in very small doses (gluten, for example).
What did I learn from these two weeks? A number of things, some of which surprised me:
1. I didn’t eat as healthfully as I thought I did. My metabolism disappeared sometime during my twenties, and, as a result, I’ve had always to be mindful of what I eat. Just looking at a piece of cake, ice cream, or croissant had me wondering if I would be able to fit into my pants the next day. Yet I always believed that I made good choices when I ate. But 2013 saw me gaining instead of losing weight, and falling into some bad food habits (e.g., egg, cheese, and bagel sandwiches). After doing this detox, I know a large part of that weight gain and my general sense of not feeling great could be attributed to too many carbohydrates, hidden sugars, and preservatives. Two weeks into this detox, those bad choices are gone, and I am five pounds less than when I started. I also feel clear, strong, and more focused. And, my unexpected prize was wearing a pair of pants to work on day 11 that I hadn’t worn in public since 2006. They fit great, and I felt awesome.
2. I love coffee—but there’s a price. During the detox, I didn’t miss cheese or sweets or bread (well, except for that toast I hallucinated); I missed coffee. The detox leaders urged us to understand the “why” of our cravings. Do we really miss the item we’re thinking of? Or, do we need something else? I thought about it, and concluded, nope, I missed coffee. I love the way it starts off each day, it’s warm on a cold morning, and it tastes good. Once I reached phase three, “the reintroduce foods stage,” I tried coffee again. Alas, the first day didn’t go so well; the coffee didn’t match the hype I had for it in my head. Perhaps it was because I drank it with almond milk? The next day I tried again, this time with skim milk, and it was perrrrrfffffeeeecccccttt. Hello, love. We’re back in business. However, maybe it was because I was away from coffee for nearly two weeks, but on that second day of reintroducing it to my body, I was unable to fall asleep that night until very, very late. As I was lying awake at 1:30 AM, I decided coffee was still a go, but I have to cut it off by 11 AM.
3. Healthy food tastes great. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it: this recipe for fudge brownies was provided by Team J & A as a suggested dessert for us to try during the detox. Fortunately for me, I didn’t make it until day 14 because it was yummy. The consistency is different from other brownies but the chocolate fix is there. The desserts in this detox, though, were few and far between for me. I primarily focused on smoothies, salads, and soups. (If you follow me on Instagram, you saw pictures of some of my food choices.) I didn’t feel deprived (except for coffee); in fact, I felt full without the need to snack or go off program. Plus, I tried a host of new foods—from kale to chia seeds—and have a greater appreciation for a diet rich in healthy options.
4. I can keep doing this. The key to eating healthfully, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, is planning ahead. I did well on the detox because I went to the grocery store regularly to stock up, because I made meals and snacks in advance, and because I actively thought about what went in my mouth. I hope, now that I have two weeks under my belt, I will keep going. So, I am stretching out phase three indefinitely.
My next phase—my personal phase four—is to integrate some of what I learned on the detox into my family’s diet. My four-year-old daughter can be a picky eater, but my six-year-old son has an open mind to food. I’m hopeful I can persuade him, and get him to help me get her, to try some of my detox favorites.