The Real Food Cleanse Challenge

Somehow, I managed to gain 10 pounds after the babies were born. As in, I had the chirrens, was a nice, healthy size, and then quickly GAINED the weight over a few months. Sigh. Too much of the wines. Now, I’m not very weight-obsessive, but when my nice Buckle jeans stop fitting, we have a problem. I can’t go buying a new wardrobe of jeans every time my butt moves up or down a size. That badonkadonk’s gotta stay consistent.

Anyhoo, cleanses are cool because they help punctuate a “Big Change”.  I’ve done a few, and I knew I didn’t want to fast. I wanted to eat real food. What was I looking for in my cleanse?

  1. Lose a few pounds
  2. Abruptly change my eating habits
  3. Super-infuse my body with good for you foods

That, said, I came across the 3-Day Real Food Cleanse on one of my favorite vegan blogs, Vegan Crunk.  Written by vegan chef Amber Shea, the premise is to jumpstart the retraining of your body to crave healthy natural foods, while ending your cravings for unhealthy ones. Chef Amber is known for her “Practically Raw” series of cookbooks, which espouse mostly living foods, with some cooked items. Perfect for me! I love eating raw, but don’t have the time, energy, or desire to eat a completely raw diet. The challenge was on!

Here’s the down and dirty of my cleanse experience.

PREP WORK

Here’s what I did to prep for the cleanse.

  1. Ordered the Real Cleanse Diet for a whopping $14.99. I figured if I didn’t like it, then no harm done. I’m worth $15 bucks to try something new. That’s the cost of 3 Starbucks lattes.
  2. Went to Whole Foods and bought everything on the ready-made shopping list. Grand total? $100 for Steph and me. That may or may not have included a few vegan cookies to eat pre-cleanse.  A single person doing the cleanse, buying pretty much everything organic can expect to pay $50. Too much? You can buy just the most important items organic, and cut that down to about $35.
  3. Nothing else. In retrospect, I should tapered off of caffeine, but ain’t nobody got time for dat. For this, I suffered. More on this later.

DAY 1

My mindset:  Holy crap! I’m gonna eat clean and fresh and powerful, y’all! I will be an iron woman by the time this is done!I can do this! I can totally cut out alcohol and sugar and caffeine and did I mention alcohol for 3 days! I will rock this cleanse!

The reality: Day 1 was actually pretty easy, and the recipes were GREAT! Breakfast was the most gargantuan bowl of fruit you’ve ever seen in your life. Now, I’m a fruit-hater, but I actually enjoyed this, because it was smothered in a tahini sauce that really cut the sweetness and gave it some depth.

FRUITsmall

Lunch was a huge salad with with black beans and a tahini-lime dressing. Dinner was an entire head of steamed broccoli with chickpeas and nutritional yeast sauce. All of these meals were fantastic, and this was the my favorite day of the fast. I even had dessert – medjool dates stuffed with coconut butter. I’m not a big dessert fan, but who am I to pass something lovely up on my cleanse. Good thing I didn’t!

DAY 2

My mindset What the frickin frack am I doing? Horrible headache from not properly weaning myself from the caffeine. As in, I rubbed my temples and looked side-eyed at people all day. I finally had to pop some Tylenol. Not sure if Tylenol counts as a whole food???

The Reality Went as well as it could go with me holding my head between the hands. I was a bit weary of the food processor by tonight – be prepared to become one with yours. Breakfast was a cherry-coconut “porridge”. It was ok, I just was already craving something different. For folks that love fruit, though, they’d be in heaven! Lunch was probably my least favorite meal of the cleanse – crudites with hummus. I basically had a huge-ass bowl of veggies and the hummus. Here’s just a small part of the veggies that I was eating at work. I thought I’d never finish!

 

Dinner was a salad with black beans and a sweet potato. I’m probably the only person in the world (besides my mom) who doesn’t like sweet potatoes. It was….as good as a sweet potato could be. Dessert was an avocado-strawberry pudding. Pretty good, but I didn’t really finish mine. I’d had it with the fruit. I went to bed tonight feeling a bit hungry, very discouraged, and not enjoying the food. Definitely the hardest day. I wanted to quit. A glass of wine was singing to me, like a damn siren.

BeverageSymphony

DAY THREE – HOME STRETCH

{Side note. Was anyone else confused by this dude? I kind of just sat there through the whole thing, mesmerized by smoke. WTF?}

My mindset I can do this, yo. Today will be a breeze, especially after the craziness that was yesterday.

The Reality I made the decision that I wasn’t going to do anymore of the desserts after last night’s, so today was a bit lighter on the prep end. The dessert prep was a bit like another meal, and since I’m not a sweets kinda girl, I decided it wasn’t worth the calories and that I’d have more nutritional yeast, dammit. Meals today were pretty good. Caesar salad with olives for lunch and roasted kale and cauliflower with curry cream for dinner. Some kind of chia seed fruity thing for breakfast. I felt like I could do this and that I was high on clean-eating!

THE VERDICT

Despite my whining about the fruit, I LOVED this cleanse. I was barely hungry and ate copious amounts of food. I also learned that I rather liked a huge-ass bowl of fruit with tahini dressing. (Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.) And, I learned some amazing sauces that really jazz things up. Like the the tahini-nutritional yeast dressing that I smothered my broccoli and “chick-un fingers” in tonight. It’s raw, and you can pour that stuff all over your veggies, instead of drizzling a mere teaspoon. I’m a fan.

In the end, I lost 5 pounds. I’m about 4 days past the cleanse, and have kept it off. Though I didn’t really start the cleanse to lose weight, it’s definitely a side benefit!

Pros:

Wasn’t hungry!

Loved the sauces.

Lost 5 pounds

Fresh, simple food that made me feel clean as a whistle!

Cons:

A bit time-intensive with chopping up all your simple, clean food

I got tired of washing my food processor bowl!

It was a bit fruit-heavy for my tastes, but I understand that’s just a personal preference.

If I had to do it over again:

I would cut the desserts (except for maybe the figs with coconut butter). I’d rather use the calories for something else…or not at all.

I’d probably cheat with all the veggie chopping, and buy pre-packaged stuff. For example, tonight (I’m done with the cleanse), I was CRAVING that nutritional yeast-tahini sauce with broccoli. Instead of chopping up the broccoli, I just popped a steam-in-the-bag thing of broccoli into the microwave. I know not everyone is comfortable with that, but dude, I have 9-month-old twins. I have to cut corners somewhere.

That’s it! All in all, it was a phenomenal cleanse. Nicely done, Amber! I’ve already bought her book Practically Raw, and have sung her praises to a slew of people who were wondering what the hell I was doing toting in big bags of veggies to work. Give this whole foods cleanse a try, and you’re on your way to a more healthful, cleaner, vibrant way of living.

That’s all I’ve got. xoxox

Heather

 

 

 

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