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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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My 28-Day Mind and Body Detox

Happy New Year!!

Matt and I are beginning a 28-day cleanse today that will last through the month of January 2012. Some of you followed our cleanse last year.  This year will be similar, but I will also be focusing on a more spiritual detox in additional to the physical one.

Physical Body Detox

We’ll be using the Clean method to create our daily menus, supplements and physical activity.  We’ve looked at a few others, but found that this one works best for us.

If you’re thinking about a cleanse or detox, my advice is to peruse a few different options and then settle on one.  Make sure it is something you can follow through on, and one that is healthy.

But otherwise, don’t think too much about it – just do it.  You can always modify slightly along the way to better fit your needs, goals and lifestyle.  And no matter what cleanse you do, you’re going to be more detoxed at the end than you were at the beginning!

At the least, a physical cleanse focuses on what you put in your body in order to allow your body to better detoxify.  In addition, may focus on supplements, physical activity, sweating, hot-cold baths, skin brushing and more.  Try as much as feels comfortable, and add on as you go if you start feeling more comfortable.

If you’re interested in how we did the Clean cleanse last year, follow my nearly daily posts beginning here.  If you want to try a few other books, you might check out:

It’s your body, your program.  Do what feels good to you.

Mental and Spiritual Detox

In addition to the physical body detox, I’ll be working on a mental and spiritual detox this year.  What does that mean? Well, honestly I’m going to find out as I go!  Based on my 2012 goals, here’s where I’m starting…

Classes

I’m going to begin by taking a few classes at local yoga studios:

  • A weekend intensive Intro to Pranayama Series
  • A weekly Pranayama Series
  • An Introduction to Meditation Series
  • A Sangha Meditation Series

In addition, I will probably drop in on a few yoga nidra classes, as well as warm yoga classes.

Walking Meditation

As you probably know, I walk to work every day – about 3 miles of walking in total.  When I was at Miraval in December, I took a class on breath walking.  I won’t say it’s as powerful as guided sitting or laying meditation, but it is certainly helpful to slow my blood pressure and clear my mind!

So I’ll be doing that regularly, either to or from work – or both.

Reading

I’m currently reading Wherever You Go, There You Are.  I believe a couple of you recommended it to me a year ago, and it has come up since then several times.  So finally I’m taking the hint!  :)

I’m also thinking about reading Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life.  I’ve heard good things about the author and it looks right in line with my cleanse.

Writing

As you saw in my Plans for 2012, my goal is to write regularly again.  I had a breakthrough yesterday that writing, cleansing and positive personal change go hand-in-hand!  So now I have a bigger reason to write.

So my goal is to work up to daily writing again.  That could mean a blog post here, a blog post at my professional blog, a journal entry, or just jotting down some profound thoughts on a napkin.

What Do You Think?

Anyone have ideas for good books/activities I should try?

Or… Have you done this before? Do you think I’m nuts?

25 Ways I've Improved My Asthma

I just received a really lovely email from Liz, who was recently hospitalized for asthma.  Sick in bed, she was clicking around the internet and found us by following a link to How To Plant, Grow, & Prune Blueberries.  Liz, I’m so sorry you’re sick!!

In her email, Liz asked what I’ve done to try to get off my own asthma medications.  I spent the whole walk home yesterday thinking about all the many things I’ve done over the past couple of years!  So I thought some of you might benefit from this, or know someone who has asthma and might benefit.

My husband, who doesn’t have asthma, has benefited from many of these changes as well – he says he’s not sick as often, he gets headaches less, he’s less stuffy in his nose, and his sense of smell has vastly improved!

Brief History of My Asthma

I was very sick as a child – every fall through spring I had a serial illnesses of bronchitis, ear infections, sinus infections, mononucleosis, strep throat, respiratory flus, colds,… it was pretty miserable.  At that time, people recognized wheezing as the only major symptom of asthma – rather than what I had, which was uncontrollable coughing and gasping for breath.  If you want to know how it feels, I even made a short film about it!

So I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in college.  And boy, my world changed!  Suddenly I had enough oxygen on a daily basis – my mind was clearer, I was sick a little less often, and my posture improved a bit (asthmatics tend to hunch over their chest).

When I moved to New York several years later, it got worse.  My doctor at the time said that was normal, and added more medications.  A few years later, I moved to LA.  Of course it got worse.  My low point was taking high doses of steroids, 7 daily medications, and STILL uncontrollably coughing and gasping for breath.

Something needed to change.  So over the last four years or so, I’ve slowly made lifestyle changes that have got me down to just two medications (at the lowest possible doses), with an occasional rescue inhaler (used every few months).  I’ve been sick twice in the last three years.  That’s it.

My goal is to go off all my medications by the end of the year.  Catching a terrible bug going around just recently has set me back a tad, but I’m moving forward again.

A Word of Caution

Be careful.  Listen to your body.  Listen to your doctors.

I am not a doctor, I am only writing about what works for me.  Please take what you can on your road to finding what works for you.

And above all, remember that the most important thing is for your asthma to be under control.  It’s ok to be a bit cautious, because out of control asthma takes a long time to recover from – if it doesn’t feel right to make a change, don’t risk it.  Take your time.  It will get better.

25 Ways I’ve Improved My Asthma

  1. Remove all toxic and fragrant products from your home. I may not be starting with a small one for some of you, but this is where I started.  Shampoos, soaps, detergents, floor cleaners, carpet sprays, window cleaners… all of it.  Replace them with very natural versions (no artificial scents, and preferably no scents) or make them yourself.
  2. No fragrances or toxins on the body. It was hard for me to give up perfume, but I did.  It is incredible how much of a difference it made.  Lotion – find the most natural, non-fragrant one you can find.  Deodorant.  Bath oils… you get the picture.  This is not about deprivation, it’s about getting healthy and staying that way!  You’ll get used to it.
  3. Exercise regularly. Every day if possible.  It doesn’t have to be strenuous, just get the warm air going through your lungs.  In the winter, wear a scarf and put it over your mouth and nose to keep the air warm.  I walk to work every day, about 2.5 miles round trip.
  4. Learn about asthma. Learn how it works – it’s fascinating and useful; learn what to look for in a trigger; learn what medications there are (your physician may not know all the answers).  I started with Asthma for Dummies (I know, but it really is helpful).  Talk to your doctor as much as he or she will let you.
  5. Reduce stress. Or Increase calmness.  Maybe a little of both.  Take it as it comes.  Learn to say no.  Be ok with staying home if you’re tired and need a little “me” time.
  6. Be the master of your own medical plan. I had to make my own appointment to see a pulmonologist – nobody referred me.  It was one of the first catalysts for getting my asthma back on track.  Now I’ve gone so far as to see a naturopath and do acupuncture.  But that’s not all.  You and only you know when you need an increase or decrease in medication.  You know.  You know when it’s time to try a different medication or doctor because one isn’t quite working.  You have to ask, you have to keep track, you have to read up, you have to know your body better than anyone else, and you have to advocate for you.
  7. Find your triggers and get rid of them. In my home, I found that I’m allergic to wool, latex, and sesame oil – along with dust mites of course.  It took a while to figure those out!  I had to really pay attention to what was making me cough.
  8. Cover your pillows, mattresses, and duvets. Dustmite covers are all over now – you can buy them really cheaply at Target, or get expensive organic ones that last forever online.  I recommend not getting the super cheap plastic ones, as the fumes from the plastic are pretty bad.
  9. Wash your hands. That’s an easy one – yay!  Don’t be afraid to feel a little crazy at how much you wash your hands – it’s better than being sick.  Wash before eating, after being around sick people or in well used public spaces.  Carry anti-bacterial stuff with you in your purse, but wash whenever possible.
  10. Invest in good air filters. Replace your heat/air con filters per their instructions – at least annually – and buy good ones with a HEPA filter if possible.  We have a separate HEPA filter in our bedroom that runs all the time.  It has made a huge difference.  We have this one.  It’s really expensive, but it has lasted forever.  Most others break after a year or two.
  11. Take daily vitamins. I take a food-based women’s multi-vitamin as well as vitamin D (because we have so little sun in Seattle).
  12. Eat healthy, balanced meals – not too much, mostly plants, and not late at night.  I have been a vegetarian since 1989.  You don’t have to get that extreme, but eat organic, whole foods as much as possible.  And make sure you don’t eat anything 2 hours or less before bed.  GERD is a huge asthma trigger.
  13. Eliminate food sensitivities aka triggers. I knew sesame oil was a problem, but had no other food allergies that I knew of.  And then… there was wheat.  I had no idea!  The change a gluten-free diet has made for me… is the biggest change yet.  I highly recommend doing a cleanse to find out what you’re allergic and sensitive to.
  14. Do a Cleanse or Detox. Gets all those toxins out of your system, makes you feel GREAT, eliminates the foods you’re most likely to be sensitive to, and gives you a clean slate to test out foods you might be allergic to.  You can do it with your doctor’s guidance.I did it and LOVED it.  Alternatively, do the Elimination Diet.
  15. Keep your chest and breath warm. I have my own fashion:  I have a ton of scarves.  I’m always wearing them.  The secret:  they’re to keep my chest warm!  A pulmonologist told me this once, and it totally works.  I don’t leave home without wearing a scarf unless it’s pretty warm outside.  I also bring one out to dinner or movies, or friends’ houses.  Your lungs are so reactive when you have asthma, that they react to cold as well as actual allergens.
  16. No ice. For the same reasons as #15.  I always used to have asthma attacks in bars.  I was complaining to my pulmonologist, and she said “do you get drinks with ice in them?” So I tried not having ice, and she was right!
  17. Stay clear of highly polluting substances. If you don’t have to walk along the freeway to work, don’t.  If you can put your printer far away from your work station, do.  If you can live in a place without floors with formaldehyde, please do (many carpets and wood floors are glued with the nastiest of chemicals!!).  Stay clear of the smokers…
  18. Learn to nurture yourself. Take a break when you’re sick.  Get a massage (it can loosen up chest and shoulder muscles that are keeping your chest from fully opening).  Try acupuncture.  Drink warm tea.
  19. Yoga. Exercise plus de-stress plus lung opening equals asthmatic friend.  I love it.
  20. Know your own limits. Know when you shouldn’t push it, and know when it’s ok to push it. For instance, learn when you’re feeling so good for a while that you might try a little less medication for a day and see what happens.  Learn your edge.
  21. Have a supportive partner or family if possible. If you live with someone, tell them a little about what you’re learning and what if feels like.  They likely have NO idea that you feel like a fish out of water.  They might be able to help cut down on the toxins in your home as well, and may be able to help recognize when you’re starting to have an attack so you can catch it early.
  22. Hire cleaners. It took a long time for me to come to terms with this one.  But every single doctor has told me I can’t be the one to clean our home, because cleaning stirs up so much dust.  So I took the plunge and we now have green cleaners that come once a month.  Don’t forget you also have to leave the house when they’re cleaning!
  23. Detox your workplace. Printers, dirty carpets, perfumes,… there are a lot of things you can’t control very well.  I have plants all around my desk to help purify the air, as well as a little desk HEPA filter I use on occasion.  Keep your desk clean and free of dust.
  24. Work to solve other health issues you have. Often asthma is not a lonely culprit – it is often aggravated by, or aggravates, other health issues.  For me it was GERD (until I stopped eating gluten), grinding my teeth (I now have a nightguard), shoulder and chest weakness (which yoga is helping with), and gluten intolerance.
  25. Read and learn regularly. There are always new medications and studies being done.  You may find that a new study has indicated asthma may be caused by something or other, or a new exercise is thought to make a difference.  Try it.  It may or may not work, but I’ve found a few ideas that way!  In fact, I’ve learned there are breath coaches out there and I’m wondering if that my be my last push to freedom from medication.  We shall see!

Good luck and I wish you the best of health.  Please ask me any questions – I’ll answer if I can, or try to point you in the right direction if I can’t!

 

Cosmetic Clays - What Are They and How Do You Use Them?

If you’re like me, you might be afraid of putting new things on your face… or making skin care products at home… or entering and navigating an apothecary or herbalist’s store.  But a dear friend of mine recently picked up the book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health and promptly signed us up for a class in making body masks.  Amazing how a little class can completely demystify the new ingredients as well as the apothecary.  Thank you, Sarah!

The following information is collated from a course taught by Katya Difani.

The Benefits of Clay

Each type of clay has its own unique properties due to its origin, mineral content and texture.  In general, clay:

  • Absorbs excess oil
  • Binds to toxins
  • Cleans away dirt
  • Exfoliates
  • Improves circulation
  • Reduces swelling and inflammation

Bentonite Clay

Bentonite is from volcanic ash and is high in trace minerals like silica, aluminum, iron, sodium and magnesium.  It is a mild clay, used both internally and externally.

Internally, it’s used to treat mineral deficiencies, anemia, ulcers, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and more.  It also binds to toxins from intestinal bacteria.  A lot of people drink it during a cleanse or detox – a friend of mine said she did it and it felt like a lump of clay in her stomach.

  • If you want to try drinking it, take 1-3 teaspoons of bentonite clay in 8 ounces of water per day.

Externally, you can add it to your bath or body/face mask.

  • For the bath, add 2-3 ounces of bentonite clay to running water and mix thoroughly.
  • Add one part clay to 3 parts water, mix thoroughly – adding extra water or clay as needed to create an even paste, and apply to your skin.

French Green Clay

French green clay – also called Illite or Sea Clay – is green colored from chlorophyll.  It contains mineral oxides, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, copper (antioxidant), selenium (antioxidant), and much more.

Green clay is one of the more drying of clays, so it’s good for oily skin in particular.  Also, it is a better absorber of impurities, dust, oil, toxins, and makeup – which is why you’ll see it in a lot of spas.

French Red Clay

This is similar to French green clay, but contains higher amounts of iron oxides (thus the red color).  It’s slightly less drying and more balancing than green clay, but is also good for oily skin and can even be used in place of soap as a cleanser.

Moroccan Red Clay

Moroccan red clay is highly absorbent, drawing oils from the skin as it stimulates circulation.  It contains naturally occurring dolomite, silica (good for hair, nails & skin), ferric oxide, and mineral oxides.  It smells very earthy and lovely.

This clay also mixes well with water and oils you might add to your masks.  When mixing with water, mix at a ratio of about 1 to 1.

Rhassoul Clay

Rhassoul clay was my personal favorite.  It’s used a lot in spas because of its balancing effects:  it reduces dryness and flakiness, while a the same time reducing oil and improving skin clarity.

This clay contains high percentages of silica, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.  It’s used as a shampoo, cleanser, skin conditioner, and body relaxer.

White Kaolin Clay

White kaolin clay is the mildest, most gentle, least drying clay – which is why it is the one found in most cosmetics, according to Katya.  It is high in calcium, silica, zinc (antibacterial), and magnesium.

Because of its high drying and disinfecting properties, it can help heal blemishes and inflammation.  It is also used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, and cholera.  Plus it is used in making paint, paper, fiberglass, porcelain, ceramics, and toothpaste.  It’s the Kao in Kaopectate – and Rolaids, Mylanta, Maalox, etc.

You don’t need to add much water to this clay so add little bits at a time.

My Favorites

In order, my favorites were:

  1. Rhassoul
  2. White Kaolin
  3. French Green
  4. Moroccan Red

I have very sensitive skin that is more dry than oily, however.  My friends who attended with me were more on the oily side and liked the French Green best.

Where to Buy Clay

  • Health food store
  • Apothecary
  • Herbalist
  • Or if you can’t find it locally, do an internet search for “cosmetic clay”- there are several online resources

Recipe: Quick Green Clay Mask

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons french green clay – absorbs oils and impurities
  • 2 large lemon wedges – pH balancing, gentle exfoliant
  • 2 teaspoons honey – anti-microbial (raw is best)

Directions

Mix ingredients, apply to skin, leave on 5-10 minutes, rinse with warm water.

Also check out How To Make A Simple Facial Mask, which also lists other ingredients if you want to experiment.

How To Make A Simple Facial Mask

A friend of mine took me to a class in making body masks recently.  It was FABULOUS!  As I do a cleanse this month, I’m looking forward to detoxing my face with a mild, homemade mask….

The Problems with Store Bought Facial Masks and Scrubs

I spent a good deal of time in health food stores looking for a super mild facial scrub and/or mask during my first cleanse.  Most of them are extremely abrasive, many have a lot of chemicals in them, and they all have very strong scents.  These are all negatives for my sensitive skin.

The closest I could find to something I would put on my face was Giovanni’s D:tox collection.  While it still has a scent, it’s fairly mild and the scrub is not too abrasive.  Though, of course, it’s expensive.

All facial masks you find in the store have preservatives in them!  According to our lovely course teacher, Katya, clay only lasts a week or two when it’s wet – before it begins to grow molds.  So be sure to store your homemade masks dry, and just mix up what you’ll use in a week.

Recipe: Simple Facial Mask

The following recipe is by Katya Difani, and adapted from Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health

Ingredients

  • 1 cup clay (she recommends white kaolin clay)
  • 1 cup finely ground oats
  • 1/4 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup finely ground lavender or rose petals

Instructions

  1. Grind the oats, almonds, and lavender or rose into a fine powder – using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder.
  2. Combine all ingredients together.
  3. Seal in a glass jar until ready to use.
  4. To use, mix 1-2 teaspoons with a small amount of water (purified is best) – just enough to make a smooth paste.
  5. Gently massage into your skin.
  6. Leave on for a few minutes.
  7. Rinse with warm water.

This mask is very gentle and mild.  The white clay is not very drying, and still draws out toxins from your pores.  The oats are soothing, cooling, and moisturizing.

Other Ingredients To Try

The list is fairly endless!  Here are a few ingredients that caught my ears and eyes:

  • Blueberries – antioxidant
  • Acerola cherry – antioxidant, stimulates collagen
  • Licorice root powder – anti-inflammatory, awakens the skin
  • Lemon juice – exfoliating, antibacterial
  • Honey – antibacterial, moisturizer
  • Green tea – antioxidant (you can also spray your face with tea before applying the mask)
  • Papaya
  • Avocado
  • Yoghurt
  • Camomile
  • Poppy seeds
  • Corn meal
  • Ground coffee beans
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Essential oils – citrus oils in particular
  • Body oils – the three I liked best were jojoba, grape seed and rose hip seed – but even olive oil would be nice

Coming Soon:  How to Make a Simple Facial Scrub & Cosmetic Clays Demystified.

Please comment if you have other ideas.  And have fun treating yourself!!

An Easier Detox: The Elimination Diet

There have been a lot of comments and emails here lately about not quite being ready for a full-on cleanse.  I understand completely, as it does take some time, preparation, and diligence to do it well.  So I thought I’d share the Elimination Diet with you all.

Before embarking on the Clean cleanse, Matt and I began with a week of the Elimination Diet.  During that week, we gradually weaned ourselves off caffeine, and eliminated the foods most likely to create body inflammation and/or allergic responses.

The Results After One Week

The caffeine withdrawal headaches weren’t great, but also not nearly as bad as I thought.  I think it makes a big difference to eliminate refined sugar and starches at the same time, so you don’t have sugar highs and lows.  Plus at the end I was no longer dependent on caffeine, which is liberating!

I felt cleaner, my skin was softer, any blemishes I had disappeared, I lost a couple pounds, and I was lighter on my feet.  Sort of a detox-lite.  Not a full-on cleanse (which is life-changing) but really, really good.

I encourage you to try it for a week and see how you feel.  Everyone I know who has done this with diligence has said they felt better afterward.

Foods That Create Inflammation & Toxic Responses

Now that I’ve observed the results of de-inflaming my body, I can see the puffiness in other people.  Inflammation makes you look a little bloated, and not quite healthy – it’s particularly easy to see in the face.  And while I found that the puffiness didn’t correlate to weight, it most definitely correlated to clothes sizes and the difference I saw in the mirror.

The seven foods that create the majority of our body inflammation and other toxic responses:

  1. Dairy
  2. Wheat, barley and rye (the gluten grains – even if you’re not allergic, you may find you have symptoms)
  3. Refined sugar
  4. Eggs
  5. Soy
  6. Corn
  7. Red meat

Some sources put the nightshade family in this category as well (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, tomatillos).  That might be just one too many to eliminate for some of us.

Four-Day Rotation

According to my Naturopath and Clean, even after the Elimination Diet you should try to eat these foods only once every four days.  This allows your body to recover (ie detox) from the foods so that inflammation doesn’t build up.  For all you gardeners out there, I think of this as crop rotation.

I know that is a hard list for most of us to avoid, but I encourage you to see how the food affects your body for just one week.  Then continue for another couple weeks if you like it.  And if not, at least it was an interesting study!

Foods To Eat

I’m not a nutritionist, as you know.  No claims to be so!  The following list was compiled using several resources, but is taken mostly from Clean.  I have a copy of this list in my wallet that I pull out when I’m grocery shopping (I’m sorry the following list is so long – I can’t create a table here).

Fruits

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Figs (these are high in sugar so not too many)
  • Huckleberries
  • Kiwi
  • Kumquat
  • Loganberries
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Mulberries
  • Nectarines
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Raspberries

Vegetables

  • Artichoke
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beet & beet greens
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Celery root (celeriac)
  • Chives
  • Cucumber
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • Jicama
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms: all
  • Onions
  • Pak choi
  • Okra
  • Red leaf chicory
  • Sea vegetables/seaweed (kelp, dulse, hijiki, arame, wakame)
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Snow peas
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (winter & summer)
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip
  • Watercress
  • Zucchini

Legumes

  • Lentils: brown, red, green, yellow, French
  • Split peas
  • Chickpeas
  • All beans, except soy (edamame)

Grains, Pasta & Cereals

  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Teff
  • Buckwheat
  • Rice: brown, red, black (forbidden rice), wild
  • Puffed brown rice
  • Puffed millet
  • Brown rice pasta
  • 100% Buckwheat noodles
  • Kelp noodles
  • Flours: brown rice, teff, millet, tapioca, amaranth, garbanzo bean, coconut, chestnut, sorghum

Nuts & Seeds

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Flax seeds
  • Hazelnuts (filberts)
  • Pecans
  • Poppy seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Hemp seeds

Oils

Use unrefined, extra virgin, non-gmo, organic, & cold-pressed oils.

  • Almond
  • Flax seed
  • Coconut (best for cooking at high temperatures)
  • Olive
  • Pumpkin
  • Safflower
  • Sesame
  • Sunflower
  • Walnut
  • Hazelnut
  • Truffle

Milk Substitutes

  • Almond milk (unsweetened)
  • Hemp milk (unsweetened)
  • Hazelnut milk (unsweetened)
  • Coconut milk or water
  • Rice (whole grain, brown rice) – least optimal due to its being more processed and higher in sugar

Beverages

  • Teas: herbal, white, rooibos, green, yerba mate
  • Kombucha
  • Mineral water
  • Spring water
  • Fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juice – made with only fruits and vegetables listed above

Sweeteners

  • Whole fruit sweeteners (dates, eg)
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Stevia
  • Xylitol
  • Agave – not the preferred choice, but okay in moderation

Meat

  • Free-range chicken, turkey, duck
  • Lamb
  • Buffalo
  • Wild game: venison, quail, pheasant, rabbit
  • Cold water ocean fish: wild pacific salmon, ocean char, cod, halibut, haddock, sole, pollack, tuna, stripped bass
  • Water-packed canned tuna (without added soy protein)
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies

Spices, Condiments

  • Most spices are ok if they don’t contain the 7 foods to avoid above
  • Mustard (made with apple cider vinegar)
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Miso
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Rice vinegar
  • Tarragon vinegar
  • Ume plum vinegar

Make sure to eat a balanced diet that includes lots of vegetables!

Reintroduce Foods Gradually

If you do this for at least three weeks (the minimum time required to completely remove foods from your system), you will also have some the reintroduction benefits of a cleanse.  That means you can slowly – one by one – reintroduce the 7 potentially toxic foods to see how your body reacts to them.

Briefly, you should eat each food in its purist form (not mixed with anything else if possible), preferably 3 distinct times in one day.  For example, corn tortillas or chips to test corn, a slice of whole wheat bread to test gluten.  Then wait 2 days and record in a journal anything different physically or emotionally.  After 2 days, move to the next one on the list.

 

Cleanse: Two Weeks Later

Our New Juicer!!

First off, I’d love to hear from everyone who decided to do the cleanse – how are you doing?  Are you feeling good??!  Are you learning about your body, and learning to nurture your body?  I’d love to know!

Ok, are you ready?

Weight

First off:  Weight.  You all want to know, don’t you?

I wasn’t sure how this would work, if I’d stabilize or gain it all back.  The verdict…

  • Last day of the cleanse: weight 126.2
  • Two weeks later: weight 124.8

Of course it’s not just about weight – I wrote about overall puffiness being the biggest change in me.  I dropped 2+ pants sizes. Crazy, isn’t it?  I think I’m an extreme case, so don’t expect all that from the cleanse if you try it.  But wow, right?

Menstruation

Menstruation is a woman’s reality for 1/4 of her life between puberty and menopause.  This a natural aspect of women’s daily lives and it’s something a lot of people don’t talk about, so I do talk about these things here on occasion.  However, if it offends you, skip it and read the next paragraph.

So – no cramps again.  Wow.  Just wow.  And really nothing in the way of PMS, either.  That’s huge, compared to my past.

Caffeine

Haven’t had any.  I did have one cup of mate over the weekend, after kind of a long night the night before.  But no coffee, no tea.  I’ve wanted it on occasion, but decided to see what would happen if I didn’t drink it.  Most of the time, I forgot I wanted it within a few minutes.

Reintroduction of Foods

We reintroduced the top food allergens slowly and methodically per my naturopath’s instructions.  Briefly, if you do this yourself you should eat each food in its purist form (not mixed with anything else if possible), preferably 3 distinct times in one day.  Then wait 2 days and record in a journal anything different physically or emotionally.  After 2 days, move to the next one.

Here are my results….

Dairy (Raw) – We broke up our dairy experiment into two parts: raw cheese and pasteurized cheese.  I have a friend who is terribly allergic to cheese but found recently that raw cheese provided enough digestive enzymes that she could actually eat a bit of it without feeling bad.

Result: Raw cheese is awesome, no reactions.

Dairy (Pasteurized) – We had some lovely blue cheese.  Since then I’ve tested other pasteurized cheeses as well.

Result: Quite stuffy nosed, with a puffy face the next morning.  Nothing that would keep me from it entirely, but I will try to limit my intake.  My naturopath suggests not eating it more than one every 4 days to let my body recover.

Wheat – Yep.  I was supposed to eat a piece of bread for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner.  But I didn’t make it past breakfast.  First I had an asthma attack for the first time in several weeks.  Then I became so depleted, I laid on the couch, barely able to lift my arms and legs.  And it was all topped off with a nice migraine for the first time in months.

Result: I have a wheat allergy.  It’s likely gluten.  I thought so, but now I know so.  My naturopath said, “well, you had the top two food allergy reactions – there’s no need to get tested.”  Strict avoidance is key.  Wah.

Corn – We had popcorn.  It’s our fun evening snack while watching a movie.  We buy organic, heirloom popping corn because it’s fun and a whole new level of taste.

Result: Just fine.  Whew!

Sugar – We splurged one night and had frozen yogurt at a yogurt bar.  It was fabulous and fun.

But it did hurt a bit later.  It was a lot of sugar.  I definitely sense the blood sugar spikes now, and am not thrilled with them -  I will not see sugar exactly the same again.  But I’d be kidding myself if I said I wouldn’t eat sugar again.  I’ll be cutting down, but not cutting out completely.

Result: Definitely spikes followed by lows.  The lows are the worst part.

Alcohol – Tested it a little too much this past weekend, if you know what I mean.  I don’t do that very often.  Fortunately, even hangovers are lighter after a cleanse!

Result: Some of it makes me stuffy, and all of it makes me feel puffy faced the next morning.

Eggs – I have yet to reintroduce eggs.

Soy – I have yet to reintroduce soy.

Tomatoes – After the reaction during the cleanse, I decided I do want to pay attention to this – but I haven’t tested tomatoes yet.

Overall Well Being

Both Matt and I still feel really good.  We adopted the morning smoothies into our lives for a while, and then recently bought a juicer.   We love our juicer!!  I will post recipes – we’ve had juice every morning for the last several.

I’ve kept the weight off and seem to be dropping slightly still.  I’ve also kept most of the energy, though reintroducing some of those foods has definitely taken a toll.  By keeping at least one meal a day a liquid meal and to remain for the most part on the Elimination Diet, it has helped recover from those foods faster.

And finally, I’m more excited than ever to heal and nurture my body (and mind) and to continue on with the Year About Me.  Please let me know of any suggestions you think I might try!

So, Have You Started The Cleanse or Are You Thinking About It?

I’d love to know!

Cleanse: Day 21 - Celebration

BEFORE – Cleanse Day 1, 9am

AFTER – Cleanse Day 20, 7pm

Before And After

I know it looks a little like those Weight Watchers before and after pictures, with the pictures in different locations (hall vs. kitchen) with different cameras (iPhone vs. 35mm).  But even so, I think you can tell there is a difference.  I just looked at these myself and was kind of shocked!

(Note: I wore no makeup in either shot.)

The Benefits of My Cleanse

As you all have watched over the last 3 weeks, I have some of the many benefits of the Clean cleanse to include:

  1. Sounder sleep
  2. More limber
  3. Weight loss – and more importantly puffiness loss
  4. Softer, glowing skin
  5. Greater energy
  6. No menstrual cramps or PMS
  7. Heightened mood
  8. Greater mental clarity
  9. Increased awareness of mental toxins
  10. The ability to function effectively without caffeine
  11. Clear sinuses for the first time in years
  12. Generally more in tune with my body
  13. Knowing what foods I’m really allergic to (to come – see below)
  14. I’ve found a common link to many of my medical issues
  15. I learned to put my mind over culture in order to give my body what it needs
  16. I’ve learned to love water, and drink it waaaay more often than I used to
  17. I’ve learned a TON about my digestive system, I’ve learned to love and respect my colon!

The Negative Effects of My Cleanse

  1. Funny dreams about Doritos and potatoes
  2. Restricted diet, making it more difficult to socialize at times
  3. Dry skin in the beginning (though it quickly went away after I bought the skin brush)
  4. Hyper sense of smell (it’s both good and bad, depending on where I am!)
  5. My talking about this cleanse with everyone who will listen!

What I Will Change After the Cleanse – Aka, My New Normal

  1. I created a Wellness Plan, and I’ll stick to it – I’m excited to reach those goals!
  2. I’ll be reintroducing the most common food allergens over the coming weeks, so I’ll know for sure how/if I react to any of them.  That list includes wheat, soy, corn, eggs, and dairy.  I’ll be testing a few other things as well, like rye (another gluten-containing grain), tomatoes (because of the bad reaction the other day, as well as some skin sensitivity), and raw cultured cheese (just in case raw is ok for me but pasteurized is not – raw has more enzymes to help you break it down).
  3. Less alcohol consumption.
  4. Little to no caffeine – I’m going to see where this takes me, but if I need caffeine I’ll first be reaching for the green tea.
  5. More raw foodsDr. Junger suggests 51% or more of your diet should be raw, because of those fabulous enzymes that help you digest the food.  Something to strive toward!
  6. Smoothies in the morning. I must admit, I never ever would have pegged me as a morning smoothie drinker, but I really love the way it makes me feel in the morning!
  7. Buy new clothes. I know!  I had no idea that only a few pounds would shift my clothing size so substantially.  But it’s rather ridiculous, so to the (thrift) stores I go!

Day 21 – The Final Day of Our Cleanse

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Carrot, beet and celery juice at the farmer’s market.

Market fresh and fabulous local dinner (see below).

Well Being Meter

Are you kidding?  It has been an absolutely amazing experience.  Of course it wasn’t always easy, but it was jaw-droppingly informative and beneficial.

Our Celebration!

It has been cold, cloudy, and rainy here for many days on end, so we decided to treat ourselves to a mini vacation celebration.  We drove up to Vancouver, BC and spent the day sightseeing in the sun.  (About 2 hours north – the first time we’d driven much at all for some time.)  It was fabulous!

We spent the morning perusing the Farmer’s Market, the early afternoon perusing Chinatown, the late afternoon enjoying the park and the sun, and the evening EATING.  Eating fabulous local, organic food.

It just so happened it was “Dine Out Vancouver” (a part of a whole movement of restaurant weeks around North America – many are listed here).  So we had a three course meal and wine pairing at an astoundingly low price.

I will say I was hungry.  Not famished, not starving, not wasting away, but definitely ready to eat.  I could feel my insides doing lots of stuff, since it didn’t have any digestion to do.  That was a strange thing.

I still resisted the rolls – no wheat yet.  Everything I ordered was gluten free.

I ate an amazing arugula and wild mushroom salad, then local white salmon with potatoes over a fennel/leek salad, a cheese course, and finally pumpkin creme brulee.  And wine.

I know you’re supposed to very gradually reintroduce foods – dairy, sugar, alcohol in particular – but we needed a celebration for the hard work.  (Don’t we deserve it??!)

What Were the Effects?

I didn’t drink one of the wines I had because it made me very flushed – from the oak or sulfites, I’m not sure.  Otherwise, I felt pretty good afterward.  Except for the sugar low on the way home – I fell asleep for an hour!