Cleanse Day 18: The End

Yesterday, Joe and I decided to end our cleanse three days before the 21 day mark. We hadn’t planned on ending our cleanse early, but I figured I should share with you what led us to our decision to quit our clenase.

When I first became vegetarian, my mom cautioned me to make sure I was eating a balanced diet that was full of all the necessary nutrients I needed to thrive. She told me that if I ever started to crave meat, it was probably a sign I wasn’t getting something in my diet. During the 3 years that I was a vegetarian (I now eat a little fish, as most of you know) I never once craved meat in the “I’ve got to have it” sort of way. Sure, there were times when I thought I would like a chicken tender, but that was more about the crunchy breading on the outside, not the chicken itself. I always felt satisfied and nourished.

However, I had a completely different experience on this cleanse. And yesterday, while at the grocery store buying oats bananas for breakfast, I had a craving for Greek yogurt that was almost primal. I wanted the Greek yogurt. I needed to have it. It was such a strange sensation for me, since I rarely ever crave something that way (other than chocolate.)  

The first week I felt incredibly lethargic throughout the day. I thought that might have something to do with “detoxing” or cutting out caffeine. I powered through hoping I would feel cleansed and renewed with glowing skin in week two. During week two I did feel a little better, I slept really well, but as I mentioned, I was really tired at the end of the day. Joe and I were both ready to sleep at 9 each night! And yes, we usually go to be early, but we’re not usually ones to fall asleep on the couch at 8:45.

Additionally, I had high hopes that my skin would be radiating and glowing, free of blemishes (from the elimination of dairy) by the end of the cleanse. However, I didn’t notice any difference between my skin before the cleanse and my skin at day 18.

But the thing that really got me was the fact that my stomach issues were no better on the cleanse, in fact, I think they were the worst they have ever been. Strange, right? I occasionally suffer from a gassy stomach, painful bloating and just general discomfort (sorry for the TMI). I was hoping that elminating gluten and dairy might have positive results and be the solution to my issues. However, my stomach had never been more unhappy on the cleanse. I was constantly gassy, my stomach was always upset, and, despite eating a large amount of whole grains, beans, lentils and fruits/veggies, I was struggling with regularity.

I wanted to be able to report at the end of the cleanse that I felt like a new person, that I was refreshed and renewed and had a new outlook on life and the way we eat. But neither of us really feel any different, other than the fact that we feel lacking in foods that fuel us and make us feel our best.

Pre-cleanse I was a really clean eater. Other than my nightly dark chocolate, I didn’t have a lot of out of control eating habits and felt like I was doing a balanced job of eating for my body and lifestyle. Consequently, I didn’t lose any weight on the cleanse. Joe doesn’t eat bad, but he’s not quite as clean of an eater. He lost 3 to 4 pounds over the 18 days, which I think had more to do with the fact that he was snacking less often and eating healthier when we dined out.

So, that’s that! Sorry for the long post. But for those of you who followed along, I figured you would be interested in a full recap of our experiences. I had always said that I didn’t think cleansing was for me, but now I’m sure of it. I think it’s good to take a step back now and again and re-calibrate when it comes to things like overeating and eating too much sugar and/or processed food. If I were to do a cleanse of any sort in the future, I would think about structuring it by cutting out sugar and processed food and try to eat a smoothie every day in place of one of my meals. But I don’t think doing a long-term cleanse is something I’ll try again.

Have you done a cleanse? I would love to hear your experiences and observations!

Madison

Cleanse Day 17

I’m typically not a calorie counter since I try my best to eat when I’m hungry, get a variety of foods in my diet and not eat when I’m not hungry. I figure that in the end, if I can stick to those principals and stay active, things will all net out to a healthy level.

However, since my eating patterns are a little different on the cleanse, I was interested to track my calories for a day and see where I was netting out. My daily total (1,855 calories) was about what I expected. Although I have cut out items like cheese, yogurt, eggs and butter, I’ve made up for the lost calories in other was, with nuts, smoothies, vegan butter and veggies.

Here’s a look at the day’s eats…

Breakfast
1/3 cup rolled oats made with water, cinnamon and stevia (125 cal)
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (200 cal)
1 medium banana (100 cal)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (60 cal)
Water

Calories: 485 calories

Mid-Morning Snack
1 cup fresh blueberries (80 cal)
Herbal tea and water

Calories: 80 calories

Lunch
12 black bean and quinoa chips from Trader Joe’s (210 cal)
1 can vegan split pea soup from Trader Joe’s (200 cal)
1/4 cup hummus (100 cal)
1 date (50 cal)
Water

Calories: 560 calories

Afternoon Snack
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (40 cal)
1 cup frozen mixed berries (70 cal)

Calories: 110 calories

Dinner
Mashed sweet potatoes with vegan butter and nutritional yeast (250 cal – rough estimation)
1/2 cup black beans (120 cal)
Green beans with olive oil, salt and pepper (50 cal)

Calories: 420 calories

Dessert
Chocolate Tofu Pudding (recipe coming to E&C soon!) (200 cal)

Caloires: 200 calories

Total Daily Calories: 1,855

Cleanse Day 16

Joe has finally gotten to the point in the cleanse where he is counting down the days until the cleanse is over. I think my hubby is really looking forward to eating something that isn’t gluten-free and vegan. And he has also mentioned how excited he is to enjoy a beer at the end of the day.

Lately, we have both noticed how well we are sleeping. In addition to getting tired earlier and easier (we are both totally ready for bed at 9 every night, 9:30 if we are pushing it) we are also sleeping super deep without disturbance each night. I’ve always been a good sleeper, but this sleep has beensomething else. Joe has also said that he feels calmer, more relaxed and focused throughout the day, mainly because he never has a food coma that can sometimes result after eating a big lunch full of animal products. It will be interesting to see what changes we decided to keep around and what changes we decide just aren’t for us long term.

Here’s a look at today’s eats…

Breakfast
The usual. Could I be any more boring in the morning? What can I say? I know what I like.

Mid-Morning Snack
Herbal tea

Lunch
12 Black Bean and Quinoa chips from Trader Joe’s
1/3 cup hummus
1 can vegan split pea soup (also a Trader Joe’s fave)
More water and tea

Afternoon Snack
Cashew Cookie Larabar with 1 tsp. creamy natural peanut butter

Dinner
Lots of little bites as I was making dinner. We had our friend Cornell over for dinner, so I had to step up my vegan, gluten-free game a bit. I made a quinoa dish (2 cups quinoa made with veggie broth) with sauteed kale, edamame (about 1 cup), sauteed mushrooms (about 1 cup) and onion (1/2 of a medium onion), sliced grape tomatoes and avocado. Oh, and a little toasted sesame oil and vinegar to finish it off. Joe said it was my best meal of the cleanse yet!

I also made dessert, something I have steered clear of since I went on the clenase for the most part. Berry cobbler was, in my opinion, the easiest way to make a familiar dessert that was also cleanse-friendly.
For 3 servings:
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (Bob’s Red Mill)
2 to 3 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan spread
2 tablespoons rolled oats
3 packets stevia
Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups frozen (thawed) mixed berries tossed with a little stevia and gluten-free flour

I combined the topping mixture until it was crumbly. I divided the berries into 3 individual ramekins and topped it with the crumbled topping. Baked in the oven at 375 for about 20 minutes or until the filling was bubbly. It was delicious!

Madison

Cleanse Day 15

Sorry for the lack of posting over the weekend, friends! I’m much less diligent about tracking what I eat on the weekends even though I still abide by the cleanse rules. Perhaps thats because on the weekends I’m much less likely to sit down for proper meals and more inclined to eat small meals and snacks throughout the day. The weather here was great, too! I think it was the first weekend that we had truly warm weather in the upper 70’s so Joe and I spent a lot of time working in the yard and taking Nutmeg on walks.

We are on the final stretch of the cleanse and I’m a little bit sad about it, to be totally honest! Joe seems to be ready for some of his old favorites, like a grilled burger or a Greek yogurt, but I’m really starting to feel like I have hit a stride with the way we are eating and living over the past 15 days.

I do have to admit that I’m looking forward to grilling up some salmon sometime soon after the cleanse ends. And my stomach is really looking forward to eating fewer lentils. But I think there are a lot of elements of the cleanse that I think I may try to implement into my daily life.

Here’s a look at today’s eats…

Breakfast
1/3 cup rolled oats (made with water, cinnamon and stevia)
2 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter
1 banana, sliced
Water

Mid-Morning
Decaf coffee with steamed soy milk

Lunch
2 cups sauteed kale (with olive oil, salt and pepper)
2 slices gluten-free brown rice bread with 1/3 cup hummus
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 dried fruit leather strip (no sugar added from Trader Joe’s)
Hot tea and water

Snack
2 homemade date-nut balls (dates, almond butter, almonds and cinnamon)
Water

Dinner
Gluten-free pasta dish made with penne, homemade pesto, edamame, mushrooms and garlic
Smoothie with almond milk, frozen raspberries and frozen blueberries

Dessert
Tofu pudding with 1 tablespoon almond butter
1 cup warm almond milk

Madison

Cleanse Day 11

We really are on the downward stretch of the cleanse! And I have to admit that I’m a little excited. I wanted to go back and talk about the tiredness that Joe and I were feeling earlier this week. Around days 9/10 Joe and I were really struggling with feeling tired later in the day (at night mainly, after the gym) and Joe was especially cranky when he got home from work, mainly because I think he wasn’t getting quite enough to eat, despite my best efforts. I, on the other hand, feel like I’ve been getting plenty to eat, but as some of you pointed out, I may not have been getting quite enough protein.

For Joe, I started making more smoothies to accompany his meals. At breakfast, I’ve started making him a smoothie with almond milk, peanut butter, stevia, cocoa powder, dates and ice. It’s packed with calories (I usually put a couple tablespoons of peanut butter in there and 3 to 4 dates) and low in sugar. Great fuel for an active hubby. At night I’ll also make him a smoothie right after we get back from the gym, sometimes the same smoothie I make in the morning, and sometimes with almond milk and mixed berries. I’ve noticed that this has helped a lot and Joe says he feels like he has a lot more energy and is no longer cranky. Major win!

I tried to put my focus into getting a little more protein, too, mainly in the form of tofu pudding. It’s a truly healthy treat, so I’m not sure it really counts as a treat. But it’s a great way to incorporate protein into the daily grind. I just blend together a block of firm tofu, a little almond milk, some cocoa powder and stevia until it is smooth and creamy. 

Here’s a look at the day’s eats…  

Breakfast
Oats (made with water, cinnamon and stevia)
2 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter
1 medium banana
Water (16 oz)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Mid-Morning Snack
3/4 cup fresh blackberries
Water and herbal tea

Lunch
Leftover split pea soup from last night
2 slices gluten-free brown rice bread, toasted and drizzle lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper
1/2 cup sauteed kale
More hot water and herbal tea

Afternoon Snack
1 tablespoon salted peanuts
1 PB&J Larabar with 1 teaspoon creamy natural peanut butter
Water (24 oz)

Dinner
Roasted teeny, tiny potatoes from Trader Joe’s (with Italian herbs and olive oil)
1 to 1 1/2 cups roasted kale
1/2 cup garbanzo beans

Dessert
1/3 cup cashew cream layered with 2/3 cup tofu chocolate pudding (tofu, stevia, cocoa powder)
2 tablespoons walntus

Madison

Cleanse Day 10

We are half way through our cleanse! I can hardly believe that it has gone so quickly. When we started the cleanse, I was worried that doing so would mean a lot of extra work for me. Since I am the primary (okay, almost exclusive) cook in the family, breakfast, lunch and dinner are on my shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to take on that responsibility, especially when Joe does most of the laundry around these parts.

That said, since I had a better grasp on what foods we could and couldn’t eat, Joe was just a willing participant ready to eat whatever I prepared. And he has done so throughout the cleanse joyfully. It’s fun having a husband that is willing to try crazy different things with me, even if it isn’t a lifestyle he is interested in maintaining long term.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes, what surprised me most was the fact that it hasn’t been that much extra work and has only been minimally more expensive. True, I do have to think in advance a little more about what Joe is going to have for lunch (probably the hardest task, so I try and make extra for dinner so he has leftovers) but since our dinners are less elaborate, it’s been easy to get meals on the table.

During the cleanse I’ve found that food is more abot fuel and satisfying my nutritional needs rather than satisfying every craving that comes my way. And I think that is a good thing to reflect on. However, I’ve also found that sometimes I end up eating more calories in order to satisfy (in a cleanse-friendly way) my sweet tooth at the end of the day. My nightly ritual of a couple squares of dark chocolate contains somewhere between 100 and 150 calories depending on if I have 2 or 3 squares. Swapping a serving of cashew cream or tofu pudding, while certainly healthy, is more calorie dense and doesn’t really satisfy the way a small amount of dark chocolate. Totally classic case of quality over quantity, right?

Here’s a look at the day’s eats…

Breafkast
1/3 cup oats (made with water, cinnamon and stevia)
2 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter
1 medium banana, sliced

Mid-Morning Snack
Mint tea latte (made with unsweetened almond milk)

Lunch
2 slices gluten-free brown rice bread, toasted
1/2 medium avocado, sliced
1/4 cup roasted red pepper hummus
Smoothie (made with 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup frozen mixed berries and 1 tablespoon ground flax)
Water!

Afternoon Snack
More mint tea and water
1 tablespoon creamy natural peanut butter
1 medium banana, sliced
1/2 of a peanut butter cookie Larabar

Handful of blackberries

Dinner
Bowl of homemade vegan split pea soup (split peas, broth, water, salt, pepper, onions, garlic and carrots)
14 Baked Tater Tots (special treat we picked up from Trader Joe’s!)

Dessert
2/3 cup cashew cream topped with 1/4 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup unsweetened almond milk

That’s it!
Madison

Cleanse Day 9

photo

Hello again! I have to be honest with you, the last couple days have been the point where I have considered ditching the cleanse. Although there have certainly been positives to the way we have been eating (my stomach issues have been virtually non-existant, my skin looks fantastic) Joe and I have both been feeling really tired over the last couple days. Yes, we usually go to bed early (between 9:30 and 10:30 typically) but over the last couple days we have been struggling to stay awake until 9!

I am guessing that those who support this cleanse would probably say that this is just a time in the cleanse that people may start to temporarily lack energy, but I’ll admit that I’m a bit skeptical. Although I feel like I may consider cutting out most dairy from my diet after the cleanse is over for the sake of my skin, I am really starting to miss the nightly salmon or other seafood that I had been enjoying previously.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to calculate the grams of protein I ate yesterday and found that I ate roughly 63 grams of protein, certainly an adequate amount for a woman who weighs 143 pounds. Though I’m not sure it is enough for my level of activity. Anyone want to weigh in?

Here’s the day’s eats…

Breakfast
Oats (made with water, cinnamon and stevia) (4 g)
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (8 g)
1 medium banana
Mint Tea Latte (make concentrated mint tea, add in 1/2 cup warm almond milk and stevia)
8 oz water

Mid-Morning
More herbal tea and hot water

Lunch
2 tablespoons salted peanuts (5 g)
1 cup kale sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper (2 g)
1 can Trader Joe’s vegan split pea soup (14 g)
15 Food Should Taste Good multigrain (gluten-free) chips (3 g)
1/4 cup red pepper hummus (4 g)
More herbal tea

Afternoon Snack
1 cashew cookie Larabar with 1 tsp. creamy natural peanut butter (6 g)
Hot water (16 oz)

Dinner
We went out to dinner with friends tonight. I knew ahead of time that based on the restaurant they selected we were going to have a tough time finding options that were gluten-free and vegan. I ate a smoothie before leaving the house for substance. Thankfully they had a gluten-free menu, however they had no vegetarian/vegan items on their gluten-free menu (or their whole menu for that matter – frustrating!). Joe and I got creative and made a meal by patching together a few different items.

Smoothie (at home)
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (2 g)
1 packet stevia
1 tablespoon psyllium seed husk
1/2 of a banana, frozen

At the Restaurant:
Salad with avocado, black beans (15 g) , corn and tomatoes with balsamic
Seltzer water with lemon

Dessert
Skipped tonight. My stomach wasn’t feeling the best so I watched something on TV with Joe when we got home and went straight to bed!

Madison