Since the beginning of 2016, I have not been feeling well. For over a month I seemed to be sick with a sinus infection, then a cold and finally bronchitis. In addition, holiday overeating had made me put on weight — especially through the middle. Combine all this with a fast approaching big birthday, and I decided I needed to do something to make myself feel healthier.
I had been hearing a lot about cleanses in the media and from friends. I knew there was no way I could do a juice cleanse (I need food), so I signed up for a plant-based clean-eating program that I could do for five days. This particular program was three meals a day, all vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free.
When the food was delivered, I did a double take. That’s it? It seemed like so little food. I couldn't imagine I would have any energy after taking in so few calories. Having just completed the cleanse, here are five things I learned.
Over the past few months, I would feel like I was “being good” with my eating and could not understand why I was gaining weight. I thought I was making “mostly” healthy choices and just blamed a slowing metabolism. The reality is I eat too much for my age and activity level. I need to eat smaller portions and not snack so much, especially at night, if I want to maintain a healthy weight.
The first two days I was definitely hungry, but I noticed I was hungrier when I wasn’t busy. So was I hungry or bored? I never felt lightheaded or tired throughout the program. In fact, I noticed I had as much, if not more, energy than usual. I slept better and was able to exercise every day.
When I started the cleanse, the program suggested cutting out caffeine completely, which for me was a dealbreaker. As I have aged, I have trouble sleeping and rise way earlier than necessary no matter what time I go to bed. To combat this issue, I normally drink way too many cups of strong coffee throughout the day. While doing the program, I started having no coffee after noon. Simply put, less caffeine equals more sleep for me.
Breakfasts on the program were small but surprisingly satisfying. I really enjoyed gluten-free chia oatmeal and sunflower butter bars. The lunches — soups and small salads — were also filling. But dinner? Eggplant shaped to look like meatballs and collard greens stuffed with raisins — yikes! Some of these combinations I literally could not stomach. Eating less meat, especially at night, did make me feel lighter when I went to bed. So while I definitely could not be a vegan, I will try to incorporate a few meat-free days into my week.
Being on the cleanse program (and having paid for it) kept me focused all week on being healthy. I drank less coffee and more water. I exercised. I didn’t snack mindlessly and ate sensible portions. I remembered to take my vitamins. If I take these habits with me into my real life, I will probably feel better.
On the program, all my meals were premade. I didn’t have to think about what to make or how much was a good portion size. I still cooked dinner for my family every night, and admittedly, what I made for them looked and smelled way better than my cleanse food. But I was able to stay focused on my commitment to the program.
Now that the cleanse is over, the hard part begins. It’s up to me to incorporate what I learned and make it a part of my daily life. I think it'll be a challenge, but feeling physically better (and being able to button my jeans again without major effort) is a good incentive to stick with it.
And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .
SheKnows is making some changes!