Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates
Hippocrates had it right, so long ago, and it seems that we have all but forgotten this wisdom. It is my opinion that there might never have been truer words spoken than those in the quote above.
In my last post I discussed how using the holistic approach to healing and dealing with my chronic illness (Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome). I promised to go into detail about my Detox Diet prescribed to me by my Naturalist Doctor, and I’ll make good on that promise with this post.
Let’s jump right into it. The following is an outline of my “Master Wellness Protocol”, designed by my Naturalist Doctor to fit my individual needs:
NUTRITIVE SUPPORT: Supports the body to heal, repair, restore, revitalize, and balance.
- Daily Food Group Ratio: 60% vegetables, 15% fruits, 10% beans, 10% gluten-free grains, 5% nuts and seeds (30 days). (This is absolutely the most important part of the entire protocol. Let food by thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.)
- Morning Drink: 8 fluid oz every morning upon arising. Lemon/Cayenne/Ginger/Honey mix upon arising. Helps complete elimination cycle, improves circulation, improves immune function, helps lower cholesterol, improves cardiovascular health, and supports weight loss. (This is a lovely drink. Not only do I enjoy it, I look forward to having it in the mornings with my supplements.)
- Daily Water Quota: 60 oz purified water daily (MINUS water taken with supplements, teas, morning drink, etc. (This is my personal quota based on my weight. You can meet your own quota by drinking 1/2 oz of water per pound of body weight. It’s a lot of drinking, and a lot of peeing, as a result. But I really do feel much better when properly hydrated.)
FOODS TO EMPHASIZE:
- Antidepressant Foods: Organic raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, asparagus, avocados, cashews, walnuts, garlic, green tea, oatmeal, flax seed, wild salmon, parsley, organic carrot juice.
- Vitamin E Foods: (Antioxidants, cardiovascular health, circulation, oxygenation.) Excellent sources of Vitamin E include: spinach, turnip greens, and chard. Very good sources of Vitamin E include: mustard greens, cayenne pepper, sunflower seeds, almonds, bell peppers, asparagus. Good sources of Vitamin E include: organic turnip greens, organic kale, tomatoes, cranberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, papaya, organic raspberries, organic carrots.
- Manganese-Rich Foods: (Plays a major role in the functioning of brain and nerves, supports endocrine system and gland function, and necessary for metabolism of proteins and fats.) Raspberries, pineapple, grapes, beetroot, garlic, green beans, peppermint, oats, nuts, watercress, organic mustard greens, organic strawberries, organic blackberries, tropical fruits, lettuce, organic spinach, blackstrap molasses, cloves, turmeric, leeks, bananas, organic cucumbers, kiwis, figs, organic carrots, green vegetables, brown rice, coconut, almonds, hazelnuts.
- Brain Foods: Almonds, avocados, bananas, garlic, chickpeas, dulce, blackstrap molasses, carrots, leeks, beets, brown rice, quinoa, millet, dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, spinach), organic strawberries, blueberries, sage, Swiss chard, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, black beans, cashews, seaweed, green beans, navy beans, tempeh, flax-seed, onions, peppermint tea, pumpkin seeds.
- Flax Seed: 2+ tablespoons, fresh ground, daily. Strengthens and balances immune system, normalizes inflammatory response, strengthens cardiovascular health, helps with digestion/constipation, improves mental focus and clarity, helps fight depression, stress, and PMS, high in protein, rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, improves brain health, anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties.
- Antimicrobial Foods: 2 raw garlic gloves, onions regularly.
FOODS TO ELIMINATE FOR A NATURAL DETOX/CLEANSE:
- No Whites: no white sugar, white flour, white bread, white table salt. Bread substitutions include: Ezekiel bread, gluten-free bread, whole wheat bread made from unbleached flours, sourdough bread. Sugar substitutions include: stevia, pure maple syrup, raw honey, blackstrap molasses, rice syrup. Salt substitutions include: unrefined sea salt, like Celtic, Atlantic, or Himalayan. Rice substitutes include, black rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, millet, quinoa.
- No Dairy: Milk, cheese, ice cream. Substitutions include: Almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, occasional goat milk/cheese, feta cheese.
- No Refined Oils, Trans Fats, Hydrogenated or Partially Hydrogenated Oils: Substitutions include: olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, palm oil. Use coconut or palm oil for high temperature cooking.
- No Flesh Foods For 30 Days: No red or white meat, seafood, or fish. Substitutions include: mushrooms, tempeh, beans, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, other nuts and seeds.
- No Fried Foods: No processed foods, GMO foods, junk foods, fast foods, or foods with artificial flavoring, coloring, or preservatives. (This eliminates nearly everything the majority of the population is eating about 90% of the time.)
- No soda, coffee, or caffeine: Substitutes: MOSTLY WATER! Others include: herbal teas, Tazo chai, Teeccino, Erzotz, Postum, Catfix, Pitaya, Mama Chia, Celestial Kombucha, Kevita, The Republic of Tea, Isse Esque, Taste Nirvana.
- No Peanuts, Corn, or Soy: Other nuts and seeds are fine.
- Avoid Or Severely Limit Alcoholic Beverages
So, you might look at the title of this post, and think, “30 days!? I could never go that long without eating ________ (fill in the blank)!” Or, perhaps you might think, “30 days!? That’s nothing. I go much longer without eating __________ (fill in the blank)!” The truth is that the longer I continued with the detox diet, and continued learning about the ways of natural medicine, I realized that this is a change that, if I am serious about improving my health continually, I will make and continue this diet for the rest of my life. I think it would be much more appropriate to call it 30 days of “withdrawals”, as opposed to “detox”. I say that because the detox only lasts if one continues to refrain from re-poisoning themselves with the non-healthy food choices which are so readily available to our society. Otherwise, one would repeat withdrawals each time this diet is attempted.
“How were my withdrawals”, you ask? Well, for me, you can fill in the first blank in the paragraph above with “cheese”. This was the very hardest part of this journey for me. I’m a freaking cheese addict. I didn’t realize until I began to proceed with this diet how addicted I am to cheese. I have put it on nearly every thing I’ve eaten since I’ve been alive. I love it, and it loves me. We cannot live without each other. Cheese really does make everything better to me. Also, at night before bed, I found myself craving sugar and carbohydrates. This one was likely a stress response craving, according to my naturalist, because I can take the sweets or leave them. They aren’t that appealing to me. The good news is that once I powered through the hard part with the cheese withdrawals, (I only cheated like one tiny time – I swear!), the cravings eased up on me, and then eventually all but went away. And I found that, just like any other powerful drug, when I cheated, it made it harder not to cheat again. I did much better when I stayed away from it altogether. And the longer I went without eating it all, the easier it got to stay away. If I start to cheat too much, my cravings will return with a vengeance.
LIFESTYLE AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES:
- Chewing: It is CRITICAL to chew each bite of food until it is liquid before swallowing. This aids your body in proper digestion.
- Water With Meals: Limit to a maximum of 4 ounces of water or tea with meals. This prevents dilution of the stomach acid and aids in proper digestion.
- Exercise: At least 5 days per week, 30-60 minutes each day, alternating days between cardiovascular and strength/resistance exercises. Be sure to include a few minutes of stretching.
- Sunshine: Get at least 15 minutes a day of fresh sunshine (no sunscreen) whenever possible. Creates a reserve of energy in muscles and nerves, improves metabolic functions, brain function, and nerve function, etc… Also, sunshine creates Vitamin D within our bodies, which many of us are deficient in, due to wearing sunscreen and working indoors most of the day.
- Cookware: Use only glass, enamel coated cast iron or stainless steel cookware. Store in glass as much as possible. Do not use aluminum foil or aluminum cookware.
- Drinking Water: Avoid drinking water from plastic bottles, or only drink from BPA-free plastic if necessary. Use stainless steel water canteens filled with filtered water to transport your water. Learn to drink water room temperature. Avoid tap water when filtered is available.
- Avoid Using The Microwave: Instead, plan and prepare your meals enough in advance so that you can use an oven or convection oven to cook and/or re-heat food.
I challenge you to think about what would be necessary to make these changes in your life. This path isn’t easy at all. In fact, it is extraordinarily difficult for this gal. I struggle daily just to have enough time in my day to do the things that are required for this lifestyle. I work a full time job plus a lot of overtime and driving time, which leaves me little free time to plan or prepare my food. It has also put a huge dent in our wallets to buy fresh, organic, gluten-free food on a regular basis. It is my opinion that a huge and constant supply of internal motivation is of the utmost importance to actually live this lifestyle. Think about the food you buy in the grocery store on a regular basis. How much of it is already prepared, or processed so that you only need to reheat it somehow. How much of it did you purchase because it was cheap, easy, or quick? When one eliminates processed food from their diet, it becomes a basic requirement to cook everything you eat pretty much from scratch. I usually have to set a side one or two whole days per week to accomplish the cooking and preparation necessary to consume this type of food. That means I give away my weekends to this lifestyle on a regular basis. Here’s a rough look at my preparation list:
- Make a large jug of morning drink that will last me approximately one week. (30 minutes)
- Make salad. Chop vegetables. Fill large container with organic greens mix, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. Fill a separate container with diced tomatoes. (Approximately 1 hour) Refrigerate. When I’m ready to eat the salad, I only have to toss some of the pre-made mix in the bowl. But then, I add the things that would have made the salad get soggy if stored for any amount of time together, like the tomatoes. Also, I add sliced almonds, and cut and add half a ripe avocado (leave the seed in the other half for better storage until the next day). (Approximately 5 minutes). Now I’ll need to make my salad dressing, since I can’t find any to purchase without unwanted ingredients. I’ll cut a lemon in half, saving the other half for tomorrow, and squeeze half of it on my salad. Then I’ll drizzle olive oil, grind some sea salt and black pepper over it all, and finally I’ll use my garlic mincing tool to mince 2-4 cloves of fresh garlic. (Approximately 10 minutes). This makes the total time for the salad prep time break down as follows: 1 hour for pre-preparation every 5 days or so, then another 15 minutes prep immediately prior to eating. Not terrible at a glance, but much more than I was used to spending on preparation of my food.
- Boil rice. I make a large batch of rice weekly and add it to salads or use it as a side dish. It is also good to calm the night-time carb cravings. (Usually takes approximately 1 ½ hours).
- Soak and boil beans. This is a two part process. I start with dry beans and boil them for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let them soak for 6-8 hours. Then I bring them to a boil again, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 1-2 more hours. This is a long stretch of time, but you only have to be around periodically when the timers go off, and to occasionally check the boil/simmer to ensure it’s still simmering or not boiling over. I usually do the long soak overnight to save time.
- Make hummus dip for veggies. After the chickpeas are boiled I must mix ingredients and put it in the blender. I actually burned my blender’s motor up with the last batch. Time to invest in a food processor! (30-45 minutes)
- My husband sautees vegetables in coconut oil and seasonings for side and main dishes for dinners. He does this for me a few times a week when I’m running short on time, but want something semi-quick and hot. (20 minutes prep and cook time).
- Fresh fruits and veggies only last a few days to a week, depending what they are. So I need to make a trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market several times weekly. Add in 1-2 hours for each trip I make that week.
- Potatoes. I eat a lot of sweet potatoes, and cook them in the convection oven. (Approximately 1 hour cook time)
- Consider the time it takes to cook and reheat food in the oven or convection oven, vs. popping things in the microwave constantly, the way most of us are used to doing on a daily basis. Think about how many times a day you might not have time to prepare food, so, in order to survive, you throw something in the microwave before you must dash out the door to work. This is something I must learn not to do. I must learn to think as if there is no longer any such thing as a microwave in my house. Yes, I cheat on this occasionally. Sometimes I must eat immediately, or I feel faint and lose energy, which could trigger an episode. But as much as possible I’m avoiding doing this. I must now anticipate that I will be hungry, about an hour before I’m actually hungry, so that I’ll have time to heat it in the convection oven.
Some might read this and think, “I cook more than that every day!” I agree that what I’ve listed above isn’t an enormous amount of time. However, when you take into consideration that I am working an average of 55 hours per week, and that 50-80% of the time I am sent out of town to travel for work, leaving me no time nor a kitchen to cook with. Many times I’m trapped in a hotel room for a week at a time. My husband helps when he can, but he is attempting to start his own business, which leaves him little time for cooking. Sometimes things become impossible, and I have to cheat with something quick. I try not to fret when that happens, because I keep it to an absolute minimum. No one can be perfect. So I don’t beat myself up about it, and that’s that.
This is just a glimpse into the life. At any given moment in the day, I’m usually doing or thinking about something that has to do with eating or preparing to eat my food. It takes me 30 minutes to an hour to prepare my lunch and dinner that I take to work with me. I usually do not have the luxury of using anything except a microwave to heat food at work. I’m getting better at it, and learning some tips and tricks to save me time preparing the food. Sometimes it feels like my entire life is about what I do or don’t eat, and needing to make it. I must prepare a food bag and take one pretty much wherever I go. This includes work, hanging out with friends, visiting family, going on vacation, family reunions, holiday gatherings, going to the movies, etc… I basically carry a bag of food around with me everywhere I go, which isn’t easy either. I’m can frequently been seen lugging a cooler around, and trying to keep things cold, and prevent food spoilage while transporting things. When my food gets a little warmer then ideal, this means it won’t keep as long if I don’t end up eating it right away. When food is expensive, that matters. I’m always thinking about when I’ll need to get more ice, or when I’ll need to re-freeze the ice packs, or if the ice has melted and soaked into any of the food containers. I usually wrap the food containers in plastic bags, but things still sometimes get wet and/or soggy if they sit long enough in the cooler with melted ice.
So… it’s hard. I think you might see that now. Just remember that it’s a lot easier in black and white than it actually is to put it all into motion. However, I believe that anyone who puts their mind and heart into this endeavor can accomplish it. You only need enough motivation to keep you going through the tough times. Learning to fight and eventually beat this chronic disorder of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is my driving motivation. My episodes are torture. Even when they happen infrequently, and/or are mild in intensity, they are still complete and absolute torture. I’ll do anything…. absolutely ANYTHING, if it will allow me to live a life without the torture of Cyclic Vomiting episodes. This natural way of life is now MY way of life. I embrace it wholeheartedly and love it for what it is. It is my path, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to walk it, regardless of the difficulty.
My next post will focus on my supplementation schedule, and how that has changed over the course of the past few months. Please check back for it. Believe it or not, this diet is NOT the only major change I’ve made that is affecting my health. Proper supplementation is essential for the process of healing and restoring balance to the body while in transition from and unhealthy to a healthy physical and mental state.
Thanks for reading, and I hope that this information can truly help other people like me.