A Half-Assed Experiment in Cleansing the Body and the Pocketbook

by Hannah

I’m half way through my second attempt at meal planning, and my first real attempt at a cleansing diet. I’ve been reading about cleansing, Ayurveda mind-body purges involving mediation along with fancy pants “meals” of wheat grass teas and plain brown rice, which I’m sure experienced cleansers accomplish with no hesitation. I’ve fasted for a day at a time as a teenager, mostly just to see if I could do it, and I’ve given up sugar, alcohol, and coffee (separately) at various times for a week or more. But after a couple weeks of drinking more beer than I care to on a daily basis, and less water than I’d ever imagine a body being able to live off of, I decided to put some basic health desires to the test – just for six days.

– no alcohol
– very limited processed sugars
– reduction in coffee consumption
– intentional fats
– home-cooked meals as whole and balanced as possible
– lots of garlic, ginger, cayenne, water, herbal tea, seaweed and nutritional yeast

Sunday, the meal plan. I did my best scheduling whole and well-balanced meals featuring plenty of veggies (thank you, Brattleboro Food Co-op holiday gift certificate) and an excess of herbal teas (several cups in the morning, and at least one in the evening). I’m going for a reduction in coffee consumption, but not an elimination. No alcohol though (a gifted bottle of wine will make the perfect Christmas exception, however); limited processed sugars. Soaked sunflower seeds and almonds with dark chocolate sundrops make satisfying snacks.

For those of you who are like me and love to see the details of others’ lives (is there anyone out there who doesn’t?), I’ll allow some narcissism and post the meal plan:

MONDAY BREAKFAST: peppermint tea, steamed kale, poached eggs, brown rice
LUNCH: lamb cube stirfry & soba noodles
DINNER: miso soup w/ boc choy, mushrooms, leftover rice, tofu, ginger

TUESDAY BREAKFAST: chamomile tea, oatmeal with soaked sunflower seeds
LUNCH: tempae burgers, seaweed salad
DINNER: roast: beef, carrots, potatoes, celery, garlic

WEDNESDAY BREAKFAST: hibiscus tea, barley groats, a poached egg
LUNCH: sliced roast beef salad
DINNER: barley salad with feta, scallions, celery

THURSDAY BREAKFAST: peppermint tea, cheesy grits
LUNCH: salad: greens, roasted tofu, sunflower seeds, oil+vinegar
DINNER: quinoa w/ nutritional yeast, steamed kale, roasted chicken

A few impulse-buys provided plenty of extra teas and spices, some of which I’d never had before. One big goal for me was to stop eating out so much. A cleanse of the pocketbook also. (Who needs to spend ten or twenty bucks on a not-very-nourishing meal?) I see this as a beginning – I’d love to do a week without heavy fats, and only the simplest of carbs – like bulgar and barley, cracked wheat.

Have I been sticking to the meal plan? Not really. We didn’t have anything clean to make the roast in yesterday, so I swapped a meal, and I must admit I’ve been a little lazy with the vitamins. A free loaf of whole wheat raisin bread was a treat for yesterday’s breakfast. And what’s with the white flour bagel I just bought for breakfast without thinking about it? But I’m doing pretty well with the overall goals of less coffee and no alcohol, and fuller, cleaner meals cooked at home. Yesterday Moriah made a lovely tea of wheat grass, nettles, a fresh squeezed lemon, raw honey, and Pau d’Arco – a blood cleansing bark tea I’d never had before. It was amazingly delicious, which I wouldn’t have expected, and I downed at least three cups after a wood-stacking party with my family. Tonight I’d like to try the Pau d’Arco on its own, though, so I can fully taste it.

What are your experiences with cleansing rituals, nourishing diets, and follow-through of lofty goals like – gasp – basic health?