Sunday, November 17, 2013

Raw Cleanse Diary: Attempt #2

photo by Brooke Lark

I woke up on Wednesday and started to make a batch of pumpkin pancakes. I was already irritated with myself for skipping the 5:30 AM workout class I'd meant to attend, and then my pancakes started turning into mush. I got into a fight with my parents because I was stressed about the pancakes and short on time and finally just dumped the pancakes in the trash and headed to Chaco Canyon. As usual, though I try to talk myself into a smoothie or green juice, I leave with a fresh-from-the-oven double chocolate muffin.

I walked to the bus stop, sat down and consumed my less-than-nutritious meal when my phone beeps. It's Danica.

"Happy first day of raw cleansing!"

Oh shit.

I had completely forgotten. I texted her back, relieved at my luck; "Good thing I packed a salad for lunch!" I'd explain my muffin mishap to her later.

I decided, on the bus ride to school, that my three day cleanse was going to become a two day cleanse. I was headed out of town on the third day, and I knew we'd be going out to eat. This is a rare thing for me, and I wasn't going to pass it up! I also decided my cleansing was only going to last until dinner, because my parents don't appreciate it much when I ignore whatever dinner they've prepared and try and make my own raw concoction.

Although I had forgotten my raw intentions for the first day of the cleanse, I happened to have packed myself a totally raw salad and a container of raw almonds for snacks. It was nice to realize I eat fairly raw and healthy on my own without meaning to.

However... lunch rolled around and although I wasn't super hungry, I was hungry enough. I pulled the salad out of my bag and... well, I tried to eat it.

It was disgusting. Made from a combination of lettuce, plum, kiwi, apple and bell pepper I threw together last night (hey, I was trying to be creative!), it appeared to have wilted. It smelled like compost and tasted like rotten fruit.

I did not want to eat the disgusting salad, so I tried to mask the flavor by adding some (non-raw) pumpkin seeds... It only got worse. Instead of the salad, I ate just the pumpkin seeds- oh, and a slice of a friend's orange. I was still hungry, but the salad was awful and I didn't want to force it down.

Finally I talked to Danica, who I typically don't see until fifth period. No sooner had I walked into the classroom than she passed me a dish of pomegranate seeds and a big salad, claiming that she'd expected me to be hungry. She knows me so well! :P The food was gone in a matter of minutes.

I did manage to stay raw until dinner- I had my almonds after school, and my mom's soup for dinner with buttered toast. But that ended up being the most cleansing I did. Danica made it to two and a half days, and I'm excited for her! I, personally, have no regrets about not finishing my cleanse. Just like last time, though I didn't really do the cleanse as intended, I learned from it. This time what I learned was that maybe cleansing- at least the way we've been doing it- isn't for me.

Throughout high school I've had issues with cycles of starving myself and binge eating, and the root cause of such disordered eating is generally related to control, whether that be too much control or a lack of it. Right now, I'm at a pretty healthy place. I eat mostly well and I don't count calories. See, a couple years ago that was got me into some trouble; calorie counting. Instead of paying attention in class, I'd be writing lists of how many calories I'd consumed and how many I had left, how much weight I needed to lose and how many calories I'd have to remove to get there. I was obsessed. Fast forward to a few years later and I'm a lot better off mainly because I stopped trying to have so much control. I've read a lot about eating mindfully and slowly, and relaxing when you eat. In today's society, food is meant to be enjoyed. It's also meant to provide fuel for your body. When I eat now, I try to eat for both nutrition and pleasure. I won't eat food I don't like simply because I don't believe it's worth it.

This is why cleansing is hard for me. The raw cleanses I've been trying, at least. I don't like the idea of never being able to have warm food. I mean, a bowl of cooked quinoa flakes with blueberries, flaxseed meal, almonds and honey is incredibly good for you- but the raw diet doesn't care. I don't want to force down a nasty salad because then I'll feel guilty for wasting space in my body for something I didn't enjoy and makes me feel gross.

My main point here is that I believe people should be able to find a healthy long term diet (and, if they wish, a healthy method of short-term cleansing) that works for them. I'm not going to be one of those people who lives off of veggies all the time because I love fruit and I love bread and chocolate. I don't like candy or soda. I don't have to eat them. I like tortilla chips with salsa and beans. I'm going to find the healthiest version of that I can and eat them.

Cleansing isn't for me right now because there's too much control. I feel like I'm just waiting for the cleanse to be over until I can go back to normal, and that kind of restriction isn't the right kind of eating for someone like me. I think I would like a juice cleanse, because I love juices and would actually enjoy consuming them. But I need to be able to love what I eat and eat what I love. This is the philosophy I've been building up around myself for the past several years. I'm still working on it. Maybe someday I'll write a book about it. We'll see. In the meantime, I'm going to eat roasted almonds with dark chocolate and pomegranate seeds, because I love them. I'm going to go make French toast with coconut eggnog, because it's delicious. For lunch, I might have a salad with kale and walnuts and cranberries and goat cheese, with a dash of orange champagne vinaigrette. Today, as I try to do every day, I am going to enjoy what I eat.

photo by Brooke Lark

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