Nine days into a cleansing diet

Today is a cold rainy day here in Austin, and I’m in a great place right now as I write this — in bed, where it’s warm and cozy. I hear drops hitting the trailer roof with that satisfying sound that metal roofs provide.

I’m in the 9th day of a cleansing diet.

Usually sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year, I get the strong idea that I want to eat simple food — once the holidays are over.

Don’t get me wrong — I partake of feasts and many holiday goodies. I don’t eat gluten ever, if I can help it, but I indulged in gluten-free muffins, bread, and cookies, not to mention sugar, mostly combined with chocolate. And wine. And a delicious Wensleydale cheese with cranberries.

The richness is delicious, of course, but it just gets to be too much. I start making lentil soup to simplify and make plans to really clean up my eating in January…

Now the holidays are over and we’re into January, and I’m doing the strict candida diet that I first did 5 or 6 years ago. That diet includes very limited grains (only quinoa, millet, and a few others), no dairy except plain yogurt and kefir, no fruit except lemon/lime/pomegranate, no sugar in any form, no fermented/pickled/brined foods.

You can have a lot of non-starchy vegetables, meat/poultry/fish/eggs, nuts and seeds. The only sweetener you can use is stevia.

I remember the first time I did it. I followed it so strictly. I had read that with candida, if you messed up and ate any of the forbidden foods, you could lose all the progress you had made toward clearing excess candida out of your body, and you’d have to start completely over. That’s because the forbidden foods contain sugar or become sugars that feed candida.

So my idea then was that this change in eating was so painful, I wasn’t going to mess up, because I never wanted to do it again.

Now here I am, doing it again. Not because I have candida again, but because I remember that after about two and a half months of eating so cleanly like this, I realized that I felt different.

I couldn’t describe how I felt.

After checking in closely and realizing that I had many fewer aches and pains, more energy, and no issues with my digestive system, it gradually dawned on me that I felt well.

And I’ve built on that for years.

And that’s what I’m going for again. Feeling really well. It’s not that I’m sick. I actually feel pretty blessed to have good health and be able to work 20-25 hours a week doing massage. But I could feel better.

I figured that I might as well ride the impulse to clean up my diet in January and really clean it up. And it’s not that painful, just another adventure in learning about the relationship between the food I eat and my well-being.

This might be something I do every January. It’s hard to maintain perfectly, and I miss certain foods, which I usually indulge in in moderation. The diet is like a baseline to go back to, and it has influenced my food choices quite a bit.

The book I used the first time was The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates. It explains the whole inner ecosystem idea (balancing the gut flora and fauna) pretty well without being overwhelmingly scientific and walks you through doing the diet, including recipes.

I lent that book out afterwards and never got it back, but I remember it pretty well, and some of that material is available online.

In the interim, I discovered green smoothies, which I can make differently every time, using different greens and adding fresh mint and other herbs. I’ve been making those (anyone got a Vitamix they want to sell cheap? my blender is wearing out) for breakfast, lunch, dinner.

I’m also planning to make cultured red cabbage!

I’ll report back after January ends on whether I experienced a surge in well-being and how I want to move forwards.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling pretty good, except for some aches and pains from doing massage.

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