Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Detoxing: The Three Rs

What is the point of detoxing?  I do it for a number of reasons, all of which are uniquely suited to my particular detox "plan".  Which I made up when I lived in Michigan after returning from a week at the beach with too much alcohol and salty foods (I gained 7lbs in a week and lost it almost instantly after not touching salt for three days.)  I'm not a scientist and I'm not a doctor and I have no idea if this plan is actually good for you or not.  So please don't read this as a diet.  It's simply my reasons and rules for occasionally choosing to reduce my intake of processed foods, and I don't do it for more than a few days.  So here are The Reasons:

  • If I've been eating out too much, eating too many salty foods, or consuming too much alcohol or sodas, it's a good way to let my body get back to normal and reduce the bloat.  
  • It's a good way to remind myself that it is possible to eat good foods that don't have a lot of sugar or saturated fats in them. 
  • It gives me a chance to check in on what I'm eating; what I think I can't live without in my diet; how much sugar or saturated fat I'm consuming.  
  • It lets me take a step back and focus on what I'm eating, instead of mindlessly munching.  I agree that diets shouldn't be about restriction, but not being on a diet often leads to my finding snacks in easy places.  
  • It encourages me to think about food.  I haven't become obsessed with labels yet, but I want to eat fewer processed foods.  Detoxing reminds me that it's not necessary.  
  • I eat less.  I reinforce portion sizes.  I reinforce healthy protein-fat-carb ratios. 
  • I force myself to eat whole grains.  Usually, I'm really lazy about this.  Detoxing is a good way to remind me that eating whole grains is easy and delicious.  
So what are The Rules?  (These are my rules.  They are not one-size fits all and please, if you are already not particularly healthy, don't try this without talking to a doctor about making drastic changes to your diet.)
  • Eliminate foods that are highly processed.  Nothing that comes from a box with a packet of powdered cheese.  Nothing from a can.  Nothing that is frozen with some kind of sauce.  Nothing from a jar.  Nothing you don't know the process.  
  • Eliminate foods that are high in salt.  Nothing should have added salt.  I do add a sprinkling of kosher salt to certain dishes, but only after tasting it and assessing whether it really needs salt.  
  • No white flour or white sugar.  This eliminates a lot, but it's also a pretty easy rule to follow.  
  • Eat mostly plants.  If it isn't currently a plant, how long ago was it a plant?  What happened to it to make it not a plant?  
  • Eat foods with very few ingredients.  A lot of people follow the less-than-five rule from the Omnivore's Dilemma, I just try for ingredients I can read.
  • Eating animals - I eat fish, skim milk and fat free greek yogurt as part of this.  I'm detoxing, not tormenting myself unnecessarily, and without eating grains, I need foods that carry a LOT of protein.  I don't eat cheese though.  Cheese is very high in sodium and deliciousness, and it's one of the reasons I'm detoxing.  
  • No chemicals.  For the Splenda junkie, this ones a tough one.  
  • Go easy - when I went running on Day 2 the last time I did this, I nearly passed out.  
  • Cheat.  Do not torment yourself.  I needed veggie broth for my soup tonight and I added one of those no-sodium bullion cubes.  I didn't even check the ingredients, but I was not going to make my own stock.  Sometimes a little cheating is necessary.  I also had dried cranberries in my oatmeal and dried dates in my salad, both of which are really high in sugar.  
  • Kick your spouse out.  Mr. Barefoot is out of town right now, which means I get the run of the house and total control of the kitchen.  It also means I can dedicate my evenings to cooking, if I want.  
And finally, the Recipes.  There's not much to them.  

Oatmeal (in the rice cooker)
Combine 1 cup oatmeal, 3/4 cup water, and 1 cup milk.  Add cranberries and maple syrup, or, if you are hardcore, eat as is.  

Greek Yogurt 
Combine 1 cup of Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or other fruit.  Or eat on it's own, if you are hardcore.   

Broccoli Bean Soup

Broiled Tilapia 
Eaten with brown rice and asparagus.

Baked Asparagus-
Heat oven to 350 with pizza stone in the oven.  Toss 4-5 pieces of asparagus that are approximately the same size with lemon juice.  Put on warm stone, cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender.  

Toss salad with dried fruit, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  

The Length - 
Usually I hardcore detox for 1-2 days, then slowly re-introduce gluten and other foods back into my diet starting at the end of Day 3.  I wound up waking up Wednesday morning (Day 3) with a headache and generally not feeling well, and so I went ahead and had some Kashi GoLean Crunch with milk.  Things like Kashi are a gray area, since they are processed and contain sugar and chemicals, but they are whole grains.  By the end of Day 3, I wasn't craving sugar as much and wasn't hating myself for forcing myself through this, so I think that's a good sign.  

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