Seeing as how we've had lots of late spring rain over here in Alberta these days, I thought it would be the perfect time to chat a bit about my experience of cleaning up my diet for 2 months straight (all of April & May). As you remember, as the beginning of April I did a post outlining a few of my goals for a wee bit of a spring "cleanse" (eww, still don't like that word).
My main focus was: reducing my sweet tooth. Even for someone who rarely eats actual sugar, I had a big sweet tooth for fruit, brown rice syrup and even stevia etc.
My second focus was: being the kindest possible to my digestion by chewing more, snacking less, and eating less foods that have a tendency to slow down and irritate my digestion: nuts & nut butter, puffed/popped grains etc. So these two things combined provide a plan for me to be a lot stricter with my two biggest indulgences: decaf lattes (usually made at home with almond milk), and cocoa in all forms.
So, how did I do?
Well, I've experienced some big changes, and a lot of them are emotional / mental:
♥ Sweet Tooth: This has gone down substantially, and I'm so happy about it! I haven't touched stevia in 2 months and don't plan to use it...well, ever again, I hope. I think it is definitely the best choice as far as artificial sweeteners go, because it is more natural. But for me, it is just too concentrated and too strong. It simple fires up my desire to eat eat eat sweets all day long. I don't feel the need (and I don't give in every time when it is there) to eat something sweet after every meal. I haven't had any maple syrup in a few months, but between it and brown rice syrup, I feel as though if I want it, I can get all the extra sweetness I need there, when sweet veggies & fruits just won't cut it.
♥ Cocoa / Chocolate: Haven't had any in 2 months. I'm going to hold out for as long as I can, until I build up trust with myself that I can indulge on occasion with moderation. I have a tendency to start out small with my true love, dear chocolate, and then it always sneaks it's way into being a daily thing. Which isn't necessarily bad for some people. Good quality dark chocolate with little sugar and no dairy is one of the world's best things! :) But, quite sadly, I have a sensitive system and for myself, it's better as a rare treat.
♥ Coffee: I missed this more than chocolate. Even though I was only drinking decaf espresso, and not every day, I found it to be a big source of comfort. And also, I find that it helps my digestion. Does anyone else find this? (I've read that blood type As receive coffee well). BUT, I started sleeping immensely better even after cutting out decaf. I have had a few decaf lattes since June started, as a treat, and I enjoyed and savoured them immensely. I think this will be something I can have moderately again for a treat in the future, or if i'm out at a nice cafe. But, I don't want it to be an everyday thing. And not even a regular planned thing.
♥ Better Digestion: Overall, definitely feeling less sluggish and bogged down. I think the less snacking and chewing more is quite simply the best thing for this. I didn't have any flour products for the two months either, which helps digestive issues.
♥ Less Snacking: Very hard at first, but now it seems normal. The only time I find I need to snack is if I will be teaching or practicing yoga and ate my meal quite a long time ago. I usually have something small to hold me over and give me energy to work, until the next meal. Since it's almost summer, I've been enjoying fresh local fruit as a snack: berries & apricots, mainly. Apples, pears, and grapes sometimes too.
♥ Fats: I found simply reducing my fat intake a bit for awhile gave me a chance to clear out a bit and freshen up my organs/skin/energy for spring and summer. I use a tiny bit of oil (sesame, toasted sesame, flax) everyday, and some days enjoy some seed butter, and it seems to be working out great.
♥ Lightening up: Am definitely a bit lighter (clothes fitting better), and I feel like my body is simply processing things better. I am sleeping better and my digestion is better. Both these things affect body weight as much as diet and exercise, in my opinion. Simply being more conscious of my daily food choices is also a big part. I'm pleased all around.
♥ Spiritual/Energetic: I feel as though I've been able to connect into my heart and intuition a bit more over these past months. I think cleaning up my diet has given me the space to move inwards. Just recently I've made a very difficult, big change and stopped working at the main yoga studio I've been at for a really long time. I've been avoiding/ignoring processing and decoding this feeling for months because I truly love all the people there and have a strong devotion to my teacher (which hasn't changed). But, for some reason last week was the breaking point, and I felt like the light bulb was turned on. In a moment of clarity everything was processed, and I realized how I was feeling. So I followed that part of my heart and am now teaching yoga much less for awhile. I'm going to be doing a bit of bookkeeping work while I look for classes in the style of yoga that that has a message for me, that I still need to explore. Even though there was a lot of turmoil and heartache these past few weeks, overall I feel much more clear now.
♥Mental: Simply taking a step back as far as diet goes, seems to create a lot of mental chatter. Every time I do this, I become so aware of the "mental need" and the "mental voice" that tells me to eat the chocolate, or want the coffee. But in fact, most of it is just habitual, and comes from a thought/emotional process, not from actually listening to one's body. When I told myself that despite wanting chocolate, I just wasn't going to have it for now, I didn't drop dead. I didn't starve. I just had a little kid style tantrum in my head, and then got over it. It takes 21 days to break habits. Now that it is no longer a habit, and I see these lovely foods / stimulants / mind-expanding treats for what they are: something fun. Something playful that can bring a bit of uplifting and creative spark---when used moderately. If they are used regularly they create a big sweet tooth, lack of energy, and overall loss of vitality. Used wisely, they are there to bring a bit of different energy into play.
I am still working on finding the best balance in my life, but I don't imagine that this will be a quest that is ever over, because I want to continually improve and grow and expand. That's why I connect to Macrobiotics. It's all about the big picture, and creating the best life.
Have you tried anything similar before?
What has your experience been?