My first detox was a food-based cleanse in 2009. It was painful and I spent most of the time angry. Cliff spent most of the week curled in a ball in bed with a pounding headache from caffeine withdrawals. We had an awesome sense of humor + resolve through the week (kinda had to). You can read about it here, here, here. Now I've gotten to the place where I do some sort of cleanse, fast, detox once every month or two because I actually want to. I use them as my reset button when things start to feel a little off. I use them to clear space for a big goal. I use them to feel good in my body. I use them as research for what I'm recommending to my clients.
Going raw was something I had on the radar for a while but honestly I wasn't willing to put in all the work involved. I had preconceived notions about what eating raw would look like. Some were spot on like all the chopping and food prep involved! And others were just things I'd made up, like that it would be impossible to eat raw out. It's possible it's just tough given all the temptations out there.
Meat + Potato Roots
I was raised a meat + potato girl and proud of it. My mom worked, raised 4 kids (I'm the oldest), made drill team costumes, washed what seemed like 2 tons of laundry that we generated weekly and prepared dinner for sit down meals every night. I never had to worry about how to feed myself. I was always provided for and we loved everything that my mom made except pork chops. Kayla and I always hated those but it was my step dads favorite so they were in the rotation. Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni was my favorite oooh and Manicotti. We always asked for Manicotti on birthdays and special occasions. Fruit and veggies were not a part of our life. We ate the Standard American Diet and like so many didn't know that there was anything wrong with that.
So to say that now that I cleanse often because I want to is like a giant WHO ARE YOU? THIS IS SO FREAKING COOL!
It was my Aunt Mary saying that she was going to do a raw cleanse that made me do it. I felt like if I had a buddy it would be much easier and it totally was! Mary came over every Friday and we'd prep meals together. That ritual made this experiment sustainable for me. I LOVE hot food and I would have withered on the vine with just smoothies and juice for a month. Having raw meals made in advance kept me inspired and moving forward. I blogged several of the recipes here.
The first three days were no sweat, it felt like a typical juice cleanse. I noticed that I was feeling lighter, both emotionally and physically. Emotionally I was chipper, happy, even ridiculously giddy at times! Physically I was feeling like a sexy beast! You know that feeling when you just start working out and you feel svelte, sexy, bad ass but you're still waiting for the extra fat to go and your abs to get out of the cooler? Yeah! That's the feeling I'm talking about. I felt thin and fit and unstoppable. I found myself prancing around the house naked (I love to be naked but I was extra enthusiastic the first two weeks of this experiment). I noticed very quickly that I had zero digestive response (in the good way) post meals as opposed to when I eat meat, dairy, breads which leaves me feeling stuffed and tired.
Then my period came and oh my gawd I was knocked on my ass. I was beyond tired, just exhausted and grumpy. I know now that I was not eating enough. Getting used to the sheer volume of how much you need to eat was a tough switch for me. All that old programming about portion size came flooding back in and even though I was eating everything raw I kept thinking- please don't let me be the only person on the planet to eat raw, gain weight (ummm Hi Fear, my name is Lacy, come on in but please don't sit on my thighs!)
Permission to Change Course
About day 21 or so I noticed the my finger nails were looking awful. My nails were peeling, thin and brittle. Vertical lines and a few white marks. I called my Ayurveda practitioner, Anne and we ironed it out. Long story short I was not assimilating and digesting the nutrients of the food. Raw food is hard to digest and my body was just taking it in and shooting it out (literally) without keeping all the good stuff that it needs in between. After talking with Anne I made several adjustments. I took nuts from daily intake, several times a day to almost not at all. I was still using almond milk and raw almond butter occasionally in smoothies but I stopped with the cashew creams, nuts for snack, and putting nuts or seeds on every meal. I doubled my fruit intake and added more leafy greens in via green juices. And when I felt like I needed it I added in a super simple cooked meal at lunch, typically sauteed veggies with olive oil or coconut oil.
When I started with the cooked food I actually missed the raw taste and texture of the food. I WAS (am) SHOCKED! I can't believe that I prefer a raw zucchini to a cooked one! Now that the experiment is over I find that I'm eating one cooked meal and two raw meals per day. That feels really good in my body + mind right now. Having that one cooked meal is an anchor for me.
I want to take this opportunity to give you permission to listen to your body! If you ever find yourself in the midst of a cleanse, detox, food experiment and you know that something is a little off --- be kind to yourself and your body and make adjustments that work for you! Seriously, there's no need to suffer.
Post experiment I find that I am doing much less preparing of what I call substitute meals like raw chicken salad and more eating of just the basic fruits and veggies. It's way easier to eat vegan now. Vegan feels like a vacation compared to raw. I found it was tough to eat out and eat raw (in this town). It's super easy for me to eat out and eat vegan even if I have to make a meal out of sides and the garnish on the plate. I've done that more times than I can count since moving back to Texas and it's not so bad. My go to meal at any Mexican Food restaurant is side of avocado, side of pico de gallo, beans (beans are iffy so many places cook beans with meat or lard in them) + corn tortillas.
I love eating vegan, it feels aligned for me right now, for my body, for my views on life and love. That's not to say that I don't eat meat on occasion. I still do though it's extremely rare and I am intentional about it. I like to know where the meat is coming from, how the animal was raised, what it was fed and even how it was killed if possible. I've changed so much in these 34 years and expect more change to come.
So what's next for me? I'm going to do another raw food experiment for a few weeks in June. This time I am going to try eating 80/10/10. 80% fruits, 10% veggies, 10% nuts/ seeds. I'm anxious to see how eating loads of fruit changes things for me (though I have a feeling it's not going to be my bag, but hey--- won't knock it til I've tried it). I've never been a huge fruit eater unless you count fruit roll ups and Gushers (those fruit things with goo in the middle, man I loved those) as a kid in which case I'd be a fruit expert.
A video from nearing the end of the expirement
Your Success Guide
Do you feel like you'd like to try a raw food experiment? Here are a few tips + tricks to set you up for success!
1. Set an Intention + Goal
What brought you to a raw food experiment? What are you hoping to achieve? Do you have a few lb’s to loose? Want your clothes to fit better? Maybe you'd like to reduce or eliminate chronic pain? Have better energy and sleep? Spend some time with your goals, write them down and post them up somewhere you can see them. Remembering why you're doing this will help keep you going in tough moments when cravings pop up! A note on cravings-- I found that within the first three days all physical cravings went away entirely! It was only the mental cravings that kept popping up and seeing my intention helped a ton to move through those moments.
2. Clear Cutter
Go through your cabinets, fridge + freezer and get rid of anything that will be tempting + potentially sabotage you while you’re on your raw experiment. You may choose to donate to a food bank, give the extra food to a neighbor etc. It’s so important to make space for your raw food experiment in your life! Literal space and emotional space.
3. Ease In
Before you begin your experiment start adding + reducing to create an easier transition into raw. ADD morning green smoothies or juices. Drink more water! Speak words of affirmation.
Going from a full on cooked food, meat eating, dairy drinking person to a raw vegan is a shock to the system. Several weeks before you begin your experiment I suggest you begin drinking a green smoothie or green juice in the morning for breakfast. This is a really easy step. It’s adding a healthy new habit into your life and when you begin your raw food experiment that habit will already be in place so nothing will need change for your first meal of the day!
Start drinking more water. Water is elemental! Before your raw experiment begins (and through your experiment, through the rest of your life even) begin drinking water first thing upon waking. When I wake up in the morning I sit in bed and drink a full bottle of water (22oz in my glass lifefactory bottle). It will get the systems of your body going, help with morning elimination and help remove excess toxins from the body. Elimination upon waking is ideal for a health body.
Speak words of affirmation to yourself throughout the day. Remind yourself often that you’re wonderful, that you’ve got this and that each step you take is towards your vibrant health + happiness! Affirm your decision to conduct a raw experiment + give yourself time to be successful.
REMOVE diary, meat, caffeine, alcohol. If you drink caffeine on the daily start to taper it down. Go half caff on your coffee or sub for green tea. It will save you from experiencing severe and debilitating caffeine withdrawal.
4. Menu Prep
Get an idea of what you’ll eat for breakfast lunch and dinner each day. It can take some time for it to feel OK to just eat juice for a meal or to eat a meal made up entirely of fruit. We have been inundated with messages about how to eat since we were children. If you’ve dieted a lot in your life you may find that you run up against the old idea of: How many calories are in this? Am I getting enough protein? Allow yourself to release those as much as you can and just feel into how your body is feeling and the state of your mood!
Breakfast for me was typically a smoothie or juice. I did Chia pudding for a solid week and loved it, took forever to make but was totally worth it. It was like eating dessert for breakfast and some days that felt perfect
Lunches were typically some kind of salad. My favorite was lettuce cups with chopped up veggies and some kind of dressing over the top. This Ginger sauce is my favorite, maybe of all time! This Garlic Basil is really tasty too.
Loads of fruit, loads of nuts (though I found that fewer nuts felt better for my bod).
Some days I would literally eat an entire watermelon! It would take me forever but I'd just graze and snack on it all day.
Dinner was often more zucchini pasta, collard wrap filled with veggies and sauce or if I was tired of chewing by then a green or fruit juice.
For the first week or more I ate whenever I felt hungry. That worked great but I felt like I was eating ALL DAY LONG and it got tiring. Once I went to three meals per day I felt much better.
-chefs knife + cutting board
I could not have done this experiment without my blender and juicer. Seriously-- when I had no idea what to make or when I had waited a little too long to eat my blender always saved the day. I do not have a food processor so did a lot of chopping by hand. It's helpful if you have one but of course it can be done without a food processor. A week or so into the experiment I got a julienne peeler and my life changed! Best 3 bucks I spent that week! There are tons of recipes out there for zucchini pasta. It's all about texture and having the julienne peeler was invaluable for me. And of course you need a great knife and cutting board cause you're going to be chopping your little raw heart out.
Post Experiment update!
If you have questions or decide to do a raw experiment and could use some support I'd love to help! You can schedule a free initial consultation here.
Sending love to you on your food + life journey! Lacy