A reader requested that I post a summary of how I felt on last week's raw, vegan adventure. Not a bad idea. Here are the highlights of the physical, mental, and emotional roller coaster that is l.o.v.e. (live.organic.vegan.experience).
For the full experience, start reading here and work your way to today.
l.o.v.e. - the recap
On Monday, I took on l.o.v.e. with few expectations. I knew a little bit about what I was getting into. I knew it would be raw. I knew what there wouldn't be -- animal products -- and that was fine with me. I knew there would be juice. I'm generally not a juice drinker. I like to sink my teeth into what I consume. I tend to feel hungry often. Whether this is a real physical hunger or a pattern ingrained in my brain, I would figure out as the week progressed.
During the week I felt hungry alright. Especially in the morning. I drank my juices and I felt hungry. I tried to breathe deeply and focus on work, but that was a challenge. I realized how much I think about food, what an integral part of my day it is. Every meal is a question. Fortunately for me, it's not 'will I eat,' but 'what will I eat.' I thought of this often. How fortunate I am to have this basic need covered. There is never a doubt in my mind that I will be able to acquire something to eat, let alone something healthful and nourishing.
During the raw detox, I didn't need to think about what to eat. All of my meals were prepared for me, I just had to pick them up every morning.
What I needed was self-control.
Before I'd pick up my meals, I would read an email with the menu and instructions for the day. Next to each meal was an approximate time for consuming it.
For the first 3 days, this is how it went. First, the energy elixir at around 8 or 9am. Then, a little bit of self-control. Drink some water. Next, fruit juice at around 10 or 11am. Then a little more self-control. Don't look at the clock, stop thinking about food. Stop salivating when the person next to you is eating an egg and cheese sandwich. Drink more water. At around 12 or 1pm, it was time for veggie juice. Sip it slowly. Make it last. Enjoy the savory flavor. Think about how good this is for you.
At 2pm, time to rejoice. It's time to really eat. This might have been my favorite part. Every day was a new inventive lunch. Spicy burrito, chipotle nappa wrap, sunflower falafel. It was divine. I resisted the urge to just shove it all in. I took my time. I savored each bite. And the funny thing is, it wasn't so hard to do. Eating slowly made the enjoyment last longer, and it fulfilled me even more than if I would have scarfed it all down at once.
Another meal came at around 4pm. Usually something light, a salad of beets or edamame. I had something planned after work every day that week, so I wouldn't be able to eat meals 6 and 7 until at least 8pm. I found I wasn't really hungry in the evenings. I felt really calm. I'd still think about eating my last two courses, both dessert in my mind. But I think I could have done without them, or at least not finished them.
I grew up with the rule of 'no dessert until you finish your dinner.' I don't think it's a bad rule, but it definitely trained me to think that I should always finish everything on my plate, regardless of how full I feel. I try to be mindful of whether I'm eating out of habit or desire, or eating because I'm still hungry. It's amazing how little it takes to truly satisfy physical hunger. The hard part is telling my self that I don't need to keep eating.
And then something clicked
On day 4, something magical happened. My whole body buzzed with energy. I felt euphoric. I didn't need to watch the clock. When it was time to eat, my body knew it. I'd float out of my chair and calmly go to the fridge. Sit down and enjoy. I'll admit that I was getting a little bored with the juices, even though I knew they had something to do with the amazing feeling coursing through me. That night I went to yoga, uncertain of whether I could make it through class. I more than made it through. I could see myself shining in the mirror. A friend and teacher who was in the same class later told me that my aura was aglow. I believe it.
If day 4 was the pinnacle, day 5 was the descent. If you've been following these posts you'll know, that was at the end of day 4, the monthly visitor came to ravage my insides. I thought I had it covered with a hot water bottle and ginger tea, but when I awoke on Friday at 4:45am, I had to give in and pop a couple of pain killers. I felt a twinge of failure, having to poison my newly detoxified insides. But there wasn't really anything I could do. I knew the pain would be even more distracting than any amount of hunger I felt all week would be.
On my last day of the fast, I felt ready to move on. I also felt a bit conflicted. What should I eat tomorrow? There were some basic instructions about coming down from the detox, like eating fruit and salads (which I partly followed). But after having gone through this, I didn't want to screw it up and return to old eating habits. Not that I was an unhealthy eater before. A friend once told me that of everyone she knew, if she had to lick anyone's sweat, it would be mine. (I'm not sure what would warrant that kind of action, but hey, I took it as a compliment.)
Before the fast, I already thought a lot about what I put into my body. I cut back on meat and dairy, I tried not to eat highly processed foods (though one of my vices is Mallowmars, thankfully, they're a seasonal food). I ate veggies, fruits, and nuts regularly.
Now, I have an even greater perspective.
I have a better sense of when I'm really hungry, or just falling into a pattern of eating. And I've been exposed to another way of enjoying food (isn't that what it's all about?). I feel fortunate to have been able to experience this pure way of eating, and the pure feeling of bliss it can bring.