Sunday, March 9, 2014

DIET: Three day "spring cleaning"

   Winter is a tough time for those who, like me, might consider themselves "metabolically challenged." It starts for me with our late September "anything goes" beach trip (where the motto is "Beach Trip - where you put mayo on BOTH slices of bread" and where the shear quantity of items in the recycling bin would be embarrassing in any other situation). It is a guaranteed 5 lb. gain. And that would be OK if it stopped there, but it just snowballs into Halloween, where we buy a bag of candy even though there is about a .00006% chance of us actually getting any trick-or-treaters. Then Thanksgiving, with its carbs, carbs and more carbs. Oh yeah, and the deep fried turkey doesn't help. And finally Christmas, by which time I have completely thrown in the towel and given myself completely to eating as many cookies as humanly possible. I'd like to say things changed once the New Year started, but with the cold weather this year, creamy soups were more likely to appear on our menu than leafy greens. So as March roars in, I find myself bloated, dreading the scale, and in need of a serious dietary tune up.
   While I realize that "juicing" is all the rage right now and purported to clean up your evil ways, I've never been a big fan of extremes in diet (except for that extreme cookie binging diet I went on around Christmas). To each their own, but juicing to me seems frivolous - a kind of first-world problems case. I am not opposed to juice in moderation or even working it into a healthy diet, but drinking only juice for 3, 5 or 7 days just seems a little, um.. well, crazy. But my body is definitely in need of some clean living, so I have dedicated the next three days to a reboot. I need to reintroduce my body to green vegetables and the idea that it is OK to be a little bit hungry. I won't go so far as to call it a "cleanse," but I have mixed some ideas from a few I've seen. There will be some juice (gasp) involved, but in a minimal way. Mostly, it will be three days of no animal products, no caffeine and no booze. I'm not sure which will be the hardest, as I am a fan of all three. I'll post here what I am eating, what effects (if any) it has on my mood and waistline. Stay tuned for Day 1.

         Breakfast (around 7:30): Total cereal w/ raisins and almond milk
         Lunch (11:30): Bottle of Suja King of Greens juice
         Snack (3:00): Blackberry soy yogurt
         Dinner (6:30): Veggie curry over steamed brown rice
         Snack (8:30): Apple

So far, so good. Except that soy yogurt is gross. If you are used to creamy Greek yogurt with its luscious richness and smooth texture, well.... this is nothing like that. A little hungry around 4:00, but overall a pretty painless first day. I hadn't planned on an evening snack, but felt like if I didn't have something I would wake up ravenous in the middle of the night. I definitely missed my morning coffee buzz, but the decaf was an acceptable substitute. Sparkling water with a slice of lime has always been my go to substitution for alcohol and so that was my slightly less satisfying nightcap.

 UPDATE: Day 2
          Breakfast: Soy yogurt with bananas and almonds
          Lunch: Evolution Sweet Greens with Lemon Juice
          Snack: Slice of whole wheat bread, toasted and dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
          Dinner: trio of cold vegan salads from Whole Foods (Thai Kale, Vietnamese Cucumber with peanuts, and spicy udon noodles.
          Snack: Apple

 Woke up with a headache, most likely due to caffeine withdrawal, but wasn't starving like I thought I would be. Stepped on the scale. Woo-hoo! Two pounds gone! Probably a lot of water weight which happens with most diets in the first few days, but I'll take it. I had purchased two containers of the soy yogurt, so bit the bullet and had the second one for breakfast. Not as bad mixed with banana and almonds. After only having juice for lunch, the hardest part of the day was mid afternoon. That is typically the hardest part of the day for me to resist temptation anyways, so with nothing but 100 calories of juice in my belly, I was very ready for the midday snack. Dinner was pre-bought, but tasty (the udon noodles are awesome). One of the benefits coming to a meal with a rumbling tummy is that it makes the food taste better. My normal carnivore self would have probably passed up a kale salad, but it was really delicious. I am going to try and replicate it and will post a recipe soon. Despite the yummy dinner, by 8:30 I was really hungry so had an apple since that seemed to help yesterday.
  UPDATE: Day 3
          Breakfast: Total with raisins and almond milk
          Lunch: Kale salad with avocado, blueberries and pumpkin seeds, small whole grain roll
          Snack: Evolution Organic V juice
          Dinner: Pita pocket filled with firm tofu, veggies, cashews (and topped with Newman's Sesame Ginger dressing)

  I'm not sure it is diet related, but I slept really well last night (which is not normal for me). Woke up feeling good - headache was gone. Not starving, but a little hungry. I really miss my coffee though. Really. A lot. Prior to these three days I can't remember a time (outside of when I was pregnant) when I didn't start my day with at least two cups of coffee. Scale showed another pound lost (yippee!). I switched the juice to just a snack today because I was getting so hungry by mid afternoon I thought a more substantial lunch might help. I'm pretty hooked on the cold kale salads - much prefer it in that form than cooked. Maybe I'm just getting used to feeling a little hungry all the time, but I skipped the evening snack tonight. I will write up some final thoughts tomorrow.

CONCLUSION: I slept horribly last night, which is not abnormal for me so I can't necessarily blame diet . Maybe I was just excited about the coffee I knew was coming in the morning. The scale was down another pound making my total weigh loss 4 pounds. Not too shabby. I took a close look at myself in the mirror this morning and noticed my rosacea seemed to have calmed a bit, which is not surprising considering caffeine and alcohol are triggers. My skin also looked more hydrated, likely due to the tons of water I've been drinking. My energy level was good despite not getting a great nights sleep. Overall, I have felt pretty good the past three days, with some hungry times, but never really crossing over to "hangry" (hungry + angry). I have concluded that soy yogurt is gross, cold kale salads are awesome, and juicing is a genius marketing ploy. After carefully reading the nutritional labels of several types of juice, I think they are pretty nutritionally void and often times packed with sugar. How can a bottle that contains kale, celery, spinach, carrots, etc have no fiber? Because it is only the juice, not the skin or actual veggie, thus no fiber makes it into the bottle. And the claim that "cold pressed" juices contain more nutrients doesn't seem to translate onto the nutritional information on the label. Pasteurized or cold pressed both had the same amounts of vitamins. And at anywhere from $4- $13 a bottle, my opinion is that they are a waste of money. The idea that drinking only these juices for days on end will somehow cleanse you by giving your digestive tract a "break"...well, I'm no nutritionist, but from what I understand, the bacteria in our guts are there for a reason. I'm going to leave mine alone. They seem happy there.
   I do plan on working more vegan meals into my life, and trying to limit my intake of both caffeine and alcohol, but right now I'm going to go have a cup of coffee.... and some cheese.


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