Ok, ya’ll. I’m back, and feeling great after the Pranaful Spring Cleanse.
I didn’t mean to take so long to fill you in on the cleanse, but it was Spring Break last week, and I just couldn’t write. There were sandcastles to build, waves to jump, and dolphins to chase in the warm Florida sun.
I’m home now, though, rested and ready to chat about the cleanse.
First of all, I have to say a huge thank you to my friend and inspiration, Meredith Klein, and also to Dr. Siva Mohan, for offering this powerful experience for free. They worked tirelessly during the cleanse, to promptly reply to questions and comments about the protocol, and their insights were invaluable (join the Pranaful Spring Cleanse Facebook page to read all about it).
I also need to say that I am really glad I did it. I had a lot of reasons not to cleanse, but I did it anyway. And now my skin is glowing, my hair is shinier, I have more energy, and I’ve dropped a few unnecessary pounds. More importantly, I learned a lot from the experience, as I always do when I shake things up. Here’s what I took away from my week of green juice, kitchari, and aloe shots:
1. Cleansing is an emotional and spiritual exercise, as much as it is physical. It’s easy to just think about the food, and what we are missing, during a cleanse. The most important work, however, is happening at a much deeper level. If we pay attention, we start to recognize the stories (and untruths) we tell ourselves about what we need, deserve, and desire. We gain perspective about the role of food in our lives, and are empowered to make healthier decisions afterward. My mantras throughout the cleanse were “it’s only food”, and “I can do anything for a week”.
2. I don’t need as much food as I normally eat. I have toyed with the idea of calorie restriction for years, and have tried to practice it from time to time, but have not been particularly successful. In my head, I know that science says we need far fewer calories than most people eat, and appropriate calorie restriction can help prevent disease…but I have a tremendous fear of my blood sugar dropping, so I usually eat something small every three hours. On the cleanse, however, I purposefully stretched out the time between eating, and allowed myself to sit with that fear. It made me realize that the fear is more about my lifelong attachment to food, than avoidance of low blood sugar. As a child, I used food for comfort during my parents’ separation and divorce–a pattern that started when I was eight, and I don’t think I ever broke. I am attached to healthy food now, instead of junk food, but the dynamic is the same.
3. The first few days after the cleanse are as enlightening as the cleanse itself. As I started to reintroduce foods that I ate before the cleanse, I noticed that some foods made me feel bad, including soy lecithin, which is in a majority of the snack bars I eat on the run (KIND, Luna, etc.). I know soy lecithin is not particularly good for me, but it’s one of the compromises I have made along the way, in the name of convenience. But now I know that I have a soy lecithin sensitivity, and it’s harder on my body than I thought. So, I’m going to avoid it going forward, which is hard, because it’s used in a lot of products that are otherwise healthy. Admittedly, eliminating these foods from my already gluten-free, mostly vegetarian diet has been frustrating (especially on spring break, when we were in perpetual motion!). However, having eliminated foods before, I know that once I find substitutes, it won’t bother me for long.
4. I get stuck in food addiction very easily. I had never had kitchari before last week, but now I wonder how I ever lived without it. I am having a hard time letting go of just eating kitchari at every meal (seriously!). Everything else seems less clean, and less comforting.
5. I spend a lot of time thinking about, shopping for, and preparing food. I need to let go of the reins a little, and streamline some of my habits. This cleanse actually showed me that life is easier when I prepare several days’ worth of food ahead of time, instead of cooking twice a day, like I normally do. Cleansing this way definitely changed the way I think about meal planning for myself and my family.
6. No matter how crazy healthy I become, I can always benefit from giving my digestive system a break every now and then. I felt great after the cleanse, and will definitely use the information, recipes, and techniques I learned for the rest of my life.
7. We can learn a lot of crazy healthy habits from Ayurveda. The more I experiment with this ancient Indian approach to food as medicine, the better I feel. This Ayurvedic cleanse was logical, insightful, and helped me feel more confident than ever in exploring the use of Eastern approaches to healing my body.