I have a confession to make. While I’ve been vegan for over seven years, I go through phases of ‘junk food veganism’. My most recent bout of indulgence was spurred by an extended period of sinklessness (sure, that’s a word) during the remodeling of our kitchen.
What does a junk food vegan eat, you may ask. My latest obsessions include organic animal crackers, baked barbecue potato chips, and Suzanne’s Ricemellow cream. I’ve also been known to indulge in homemade nachos (with Daiya cheese), Spud Puppies (organic tater tots), and Gardein veggie chicken strips.
Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, I am about to tell you a dark secret that folks accustomed to healthy eating rarely discuss. Once your body gets used to high-quality nutrients it functions quite poorly on unhealthy foods – even vegan and organic ones. I’m not implying that I don’t enjoy the occasional ice cream cone (I’m even going to give you guys a recipe for a cleanse-friendly frozen treat later this week!) or microbrewed beer – I do. But, when my diet shifts from more than 10-15% processed foods, I feel the repercussions almost instantly. I’m talking headaches, acne, insomnia, fatigue, constipation, nausea, and stiff joints. My chronic pain condition (I have trigeminal neuralgia) worsens and I have to rely heavily on prescription treatments instead of Ayurvedic ones. I find myself dozing off at 3 p.m., but wide awake at 3 a.m. These “health annoyances” increase proportionally with the number of crappy meals that I consume.
When my body starts giving me these warning signs, I know that it is time to get back on track – STAT. What’s the quickest way to get the toxins out and the good stuff in? A cleanse, of course! If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I am a big proponent of regular cleansing. There is nothing that compares to the energy and ‘lightness’ you feel as you near the end of your journey. For me, cleansing has become almost spiritual. It is a time to turn inward for strength and find center again. Are you sold yet?
Below, I’ve outlined some guidelines that I’ve set for myself for the next several days. I will also be posting recipes throughout the week to help you through the tough spots. I hope you join me! Remember, I am not a doctor or trained healthcare professional of any sort, so I encourage you to get the green light from your family doc or rescue cat or whomever you trust with that type of thing.
Internal Spring Cleaning Guide:
1) Limit caffeine to 3 cups of coffee per day. Sorry dudes, I’m not giving it up – this is a big cutback from my regular 10+ cups a day
2) Drink at least 64 oz of Master Cleanse elixir daily. 8 oz water, 2 TB maple or raw agave syrup, 2 TB lemon juice, dash of cayenne
3) Remove simple aka ‘white’ carbohydrates completely. Limit whole grains to 2-3 servings per day. I use gluten-free grains when cleansing. I particularly love quinoa, buckwheat, and millet.
4) Consume low-glycemic fruits, such as organic berries and green apples. All fruits have some health benefits, but during a cleanse the goal is to create a very alkaline environment in your body. The sugars in pineapples or mangoes can add to acidity.
5) Eat at least 3 servings of raw greens per day. Try adding a handful of spinach to your midday smoothie for an easy dose of green goodness.
6) Fill the plate with 75% raw or lightly cooked veggies. Organic bell peppers, mung bean sprouts, baby bok choy, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli – whatever makes you happy. (As long as you get those 3 servings of raw greens each day!)
7) Chose unprocessed, plant-based proteins. Beans, nuts, and legumes all win big here. Avoid animal proteins (including milk and eggs!) as they all create an acidic body. If you decide to resume eating meat after the cleanse period, I recommend that you talk to Dawn at Goodness Grows [link below] for sustainably harvested meats, dairy, and eggs.
8) Just say no to alcohol and sugar. This is a cleanse, remember? You can have them back – in moderation – in a few days. I also promised you a cleanse-friendly dessert recipe, so you can look forward to that.
9) Up those omega 3s! My favorite source these days is chia seeds, which find their way into all of my smoothies and most desserts. Flax seeds are also great, but stay away from fish oils, which often contain toxic levels of mercury. I believe that our friends at Goodness Grows are offering walnuts in this week’s CSA share, which is another great option for those of us expecting a delivery this week. You can also snag a wide variety of omega 3 supplements at either Earth Zone location.
10) Be fat-conscious, not fat-phobic. I limit my consumption of fats to those found in nuts, seeds, and avocados during a cleanse, but if you must use oil, I suggest cold-pressed olive. Looking for something to put on your dinner salad? Check out Susan V’s recipe for Ranch Dressing. It contains no added oils, PLUS it contains chia seeds.
Later this week, we’ll talk about healthy habits, fun recipes, and delicious alternatives to coffee and soda. Anything else on your mind? Send me a message or comment below.