Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall Detox: The Process and What I Learned

As I've mentioned in previous posts I've been doing an 18 day detox to help me transition from summer to colder temperatures.  The program is with my yoga teacher, Maria, and I am getting credit for doing the detox towards the next level of my yoga teacher training.  The detox is based on ayurvedic principles and works on many different levels of a person.

There were three main stages in the detox.  The first was just slowly taking things such as alcohol, bread, sugar, animal protein, and caffeine out of my system.  I never have caffeine so that wasn't a big deal and I have a glass of wine every once in a great while so that part wasn't difficult.  The hardest part for me was the sugar and bread.  This part lasted about a week and by then end I was only eating a small list of vegetables, rice, quinoa, mung beans, and fruits.  I had cravings during part one of my detox but I was able to step back and recognize what kind of foods I craved in certain situations.  For example when I felt sad I immediately wanted something sweet.  Because I couldn't have any sugar that wasn't in fruit I had to deal with feeling sad without comforting myself with food.  From this experience I have learned that I can work past my emotions without going to food which has always been my first method of comfort.

Part two of my detox was oilelation, both internal and external.  Just a warning some people might find this part gross but really it wasn't as bad at it sounds.  For four days I took a few tablespoons of ghee at 5am. Ghee is made from heating butter and removing all the dairy parts so only the fat is left.  In Ayurveda it is a very healing product.  All I ate during this time was steamed rice, vegetables, and fruit for a snack. The first day of ghee I felt so light, clean and better than I had in a long time.  However, during the rest of this part I felt weak and tired but I could still feel that what I was doing for my body was really helping it.  The last day I took a few tablespoons of castor oil mixed with apple juice. I couldn't even taste the oil!! And this cleaned my system out completely.  I ate kitchari for the next four days.  Kitchari is an Ayurvedic dish of basmati rice, mung beans, and vegetables. This was all I was allowed to eat and I really started to miss fruit!  During the kitchari days I also did abhyanga.  Abhyanga is my favorite thing I've learned from Ayurveda.  You put a lot of warmed sesame oil on your body and let it sit for a few minutes before taking your shower. It has helped so much with my dry skin and also helps me feel less stressed.

The last part of the my detox was reintegrating foods back into my diet and paying attention to the eating habits I had become aware of during the rest of the time.  Here are some things I learned about myself, food and eating during my detox:

1. I really don't need to eat as much as I did before I did my detox.  I am focusing on eating meals that would fit into my two hands places together and cupped.

2. Waiting to eat until I am actually hungry rather than based on the time! This is a big one for me. I tended to eat depending on what time it is rather than how my body is feeling. This is really help me stay away from snacks so that I know I will be hungry for my next meal.

3. Don't mix fruit with other foods.  Part of Ayurveda is food combining and the biggest food combination that doesn't sit well with my body is fruit with any other type of food. This means that when I want fruit I make it a whole meal.  My new favorite breakfast is steamed apples with cinnamon! (I will post this recipe later) PS: Mom, this doesn't mean I won't eat your fruit pies! It will just be a very special treat!

4. Listening to how my body responds to certain foods. I've been experimenting with dairy for the past 6 months and trying to figure out how my body responds to it. I still don't have an answer! But I'm working on just listening right now.

5. Sugar, Sugar, Sugar!!! I always felt so attached to sugar and desserts. I think my "need" for them started in college when everyone I was around had something sweet all the time. Growing up my family didn't have dessert every night and I'm going back to that tradition! The less sugar I have the less I want it. I had a date a few days ago and it was almost too sweet for me (which makes me very happy)!

6. Over the past few years I have started putting things into my body, such as more natural foods, and exercising, such as yoga and running, that benefit my health.  But now I also know that part of treating my body right is by not eating at certain times and by not eating certain things. I've always been better at adding things to my diet or body to make it healthier.  But now I need to focus on what I can stop doing to honor the body I have.

Overall this was a GREAT experience! I have learned so much from it.  It was very difficult at times! But that is true with every other great experience I've had.

I also want to say thank you to Steve for helping me through this detox and to Ollie for distracting me with kisses!

What food habits do you have that you don't think are serving your body? Have you had any experiences with trying to work things out of your diet?  What has been your method?

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