Cleaning Out The System

This month I embarked on a detox to cleanse my body after a long (and glorious) summer of indulgence. I am also in dire need of better iron absorption with recent blood work indicating anemia. Yikes! Thus began “Sober September”, an eye opening experience for many reasons, not least of which is just how difficult it is to cut out simple pleasures. I avoided the following foods based loosely on the recommendations outlined by the Candida Diet:Green Mango Mint

  • Sugars
  • Wheat and most gluten
  • Processed everything
  • Dairy (except yogurt)
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol

 

I prepared all my food fresh and used seasonings such as Udo’s Oil, lemon, fresh basil, garlic, cinnamon, vanilla and ginger. I cut down on fruit consumption in favour of fresh vegetable and avoided dried fruit entirely. I limited starchy vegetables and avoided fermented foods as well. For three weeks I committed to cleanse the system with the goal of improving digestion and increasing iron absorption.Egg Salad

So how did it go? For the most part I was successful: I feel great, have more energy and sleep better. Some of this can be attributed to the iron supplements, but also the increase in vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains and avoidance of alcohol, gluten and sugars. I provided some sample meals below to inspire you to undertake a similar challenge.Quinoa Pancakes

  • Breakfast: Plain yogurt. Pumpkin seeds. Chia Seeds. Half banana
  • Snack: Smoothie – Kale. Half banana. Cocoa powder. Flax seeds. Hemp hearts. Almond butter. Almond milk.
  • Lunch: Green salad. Can salmon.
  • Dinner: Beef and vegetable stir-fry
  • Bedtime snack: Hagan Daaz chocolate ice cream (I cheated)
  • Breakfast: Smoothie – Kale. Spinach. Pear. Yogurt. Fresh ginger. Cinnamon. Flax seeds. Almond milkBrocolli Salad
  • Snack: Almonds. Apple
  • Lunch: Green salad. Poached eggs. Pumpkin seeds
  • Snack: Celery. Almond Butter
  • Dinner: Fish. Rice. Broccoli
  • Bedtime snack: Banana mashed with cocoa powder and yogurt
  • Breakfast: Quinoa pancakes. Plain yogurt.Chicken Pizza
  • Snack: Almonds
  • Lunch: Broccoli salad. Avocado. Egg. Chicken
  • Snack: Apple
  • Dinner: Chicken pizza
  • Bedtime snack: Brownie. Plain yogurt (I cheated again. I’m not perfect)

I did not offer quantities as these will vary depending on your body’s dietary needs and activity level. There were times when I felt hungry, however this started to change around week two when I was fueling with whole foods and quality calories. Everything that I put in my body was being used and gave me the energy and nutrients needed to function. With that said, in week three I started to slip and started eating sugars once again (brownies, chocolate and ice cream). The process of avoidance and awareness at just how difficult Paleo Dinnerit is to manage cravings was enlightening. The biggest realization was how social food and drink are and the difficulty of dietary restriction in making the right choices. I am grateful to have no allergies because eating out would be extremely difficult. I enjoy my food to the full extent and continue to believe in eating everything, in moderation.

Happy Cleansing!

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The Paleo Diet

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the ‘Paleo Diet’. Although this diet is nothing new, part of the increased popularity can be attributed to the influence of CrossFit. While I do not subscribe to any one particular diet, if I had to choose one it would be paleo, albeit slight modifications.

Paleo-friendly Dinner

So what is the paleo diet? The foods involved in this eating regime are whole, unprocessed and largely plant-based. It is fashioned from the assumed ‘caveman’ diet, that of our hunter/gatherer ancestors, and avoids cereal grains (oatmeal is out), legumes (no peanut butter), dairy (easy for ‘lactards’, hard for cheese lovers), refined sugars (that’s a given), processed foods and salt. It also stresses a macro-nutrient profile of 20-35% protein, 35-45% carb and 20-45% fat. In comparison, the Canadian Food Guide recommends a macro-nutrient profile of 10-35% protein (less than paleo), 45-65% carb (considerably more than paleo) and 20-35% fat. Also, the Canadian Food Guide stresses a high importance on eating the ‘four food groups’: grain, dairy, vegetable and fruit and meat/alternatives (the former two are out on a paleo diet).

I generally eat a well-balanced diet consisting of whole foods, many of which are plant-based. My focus is on variety throughout the week and I include foods from all the traditional food groups. Why? Because nutrition experts agree that diets consisting of whole, natural and varied foods provide the best micro-nurtients, those required for the body to function at it’s best. I also avoid supplementation (vitamins, powders, etc.) because real food provides the nutrients my body needs. While I choose healthy foods most often, I also believe in moderation and would never turn down chocolate cake, nachos, or cheese and crackers (those are out with the paleo diet).

Some food for thought; our ancestors, to our knowledge, had a short life-expectancy. If we were only expected to live to 35 we could put virtually anything in our bodies and be just fine. But that is simply not the case therefore the longevity of this diet from an evolutionary perspective is limited. Secondly, our ancestors were eating what they could when it was available. The notion of ‘carb counting’, fat intake and portion control was null. Lady Caveman didn’t care about her muffin top but about being strong enough to give birth and care for her family. Nutrition science has progressed over the centuries to offer a better understanding of how the body functions and what is required to reach this optimal state. When government organizations lay out recommendations for food intake they do so from evidence-based research. The Canadian guidelines are certainly general but a good estimation of what people should be eating. With that said, there are a multitude of diets and the best one is that which is based on an individual’s location, access to food, genetics, dietary needs, and preferences. Above all food should be enjoyed and not obsessed over because it is the fuel that gives you energy to live. So eat on and live well!

Resources:

True Green Smoothie

Avocado DelightI strive to eat the recommended 5-10 fruits and veggies each day. I have no problem when it comes to fruit; banana in smoothies, apple with breakfast and snack, afternoon orange, etc. Veg can be a problem though. If I don’t eat salad everyday sometimes it’s tough to get more than two servings. My jaw can only handle so much chewing!

So what to do? Why pack it into a smoothie of course! Here’s one that fits a fair chunk of your daily dosage into one (or two) cups. Looks strange but taste delicious (think salad, not milkshake, delicious).

Green Smoothie

  • Romaine lettuce bunch
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Coconut water or some form of milk
  • Juice of 1lime
  • Handful cashews (soaked overnight is best)
  • 1 avocado

Play around with quantities until flavour is right. Blend until smooth. Drink until satisfied.