Day 21, Sunday: In Which Our Heroine Crosses the Finish Line, and Keeps Running
Breakfast: Two hardboiled eggs
Lunch: four slices turkey, pesto slathered on them, peppers
Snack 1: Apple with Bernadette's Paleo Fondue
Dinner: At Egan's. Steak with carrots, green beans, and salad
Snack 2: Cheese stick
Breakfast was dull but efficient. I can't recommend the turkey and pesto combo I had for lunch. I was not happy with it. The pesto is better on eggs, and the turkey is better with avocado. Peppers as usual were awesome. Green apple fondue was awesome. I clink an imaginary smoothie glass to Bernadette every time I eat it. Dinner at Egan's was easy and Detox-friendly. Everyone ordered dessert and Chris and I managed to resist. When I got home, I was still hungry, so I had a cheese stick.
On my last day on the Detox, one of my students who I hadn't seen all summer did a double-take and said, "Wow, you look great! Your skin!" I was very surprised and flattered. That's not why I did the Detox, but it's a nice perk! (Generally, the list of stuff I do to look better goes like this: bathe. Apply two-year-old drugstore mascara.) One of the things I notice when I'm eating whatever the hell I want is that I not only gain weight, I get kind of...puffy. I would not be surprised if there is some kind of systemic inflammation from eating sugar.
I finished the day before Labor Day, and I did a lot of thinking about how I felt about the work of this particular Detox, as compared to the one I did in April. In my yoga classes this week, I explored how work can be a degrading chore or uplifting LABOR that enriches our lives and is an expression and enhancement of our innate human dignity. For me, the first Detox was the former and this second one is the latter. The first one felt like a punishment, like something I HAD to do, like I had a serious flaw (inability to function well on the Standard American Diet, or SAD) and I had to compensate for it with strict discipline. This second one feels triumphant and joyful. I've had a blast planning my meals, doing the shopping, cooking, EATING, and writing about the experience for you and for myself. This isn't something that's a chore or a punishment. It's a reward. How lucky am I? In a world of heavily-conflicting dietary advice, I found a way of eating that makes me feel good! In a world of poison (sugar, simple carbohydrates, and advertising for sugar and carbohydrates), I have the discipline and resources to truly nourish myself and my hubby.
Okay, now that I'm done, what am I going to add back in?
Not fruit. It has become clear to me that I really do not do well on fruit. According to Gary Taubes, most modern fruit has been genetically engineered to be much sweeter than the fruit eaten by our early ancestors. I can barely handle the small green apple I eat daily--it tastes really sweet to me and I feel myself teetering on the edge of a crash after I eat it.
Not grains. I don't do well on wheat, corn (witness the corn chip disaster of Day 19), oats, rice, barley, etc. That includes quinoa! Geez, shouldn't quinoa be Detox-friendly? It has a really obscure name, so it must be healthy, right? Not for me.
Not much dairy. I'd like to experiment with raw dairy. I do okay with the occasional dollop of goat yogurt. I seem to be able to handle a small amount of cheese.
The thing I've missed most? Baked potato. My plan is to try a baked potato and see what happens.
But my main plan is to keep eating like this indefinitely. Will I be able to do that? I don't know. However, there are a few factors that make me think that I CAN, in fact, keep eating this way.
1. When I think about eating sugar or grains again, all I can think about is how once I eat them, I'm back on the roller coaster of cravings again. The limits of the Detox have really revealed to me how sick I feel when I eat sugar or grains. Or too much cheese. Or too many cured meats.
2. My husband is really supportive and participates with me. That means that he'll prepare Paleo-type stuff for dinner. And he'll eat Paleo-type stuff when I cook it. This is really important to me because we love to cook, we love to cook TOGETHER, and we try to eat dinner together every night.
3. Over the course of this Detox I've figured out many "hacks" to help me when I'm feeling cravings. Bernadette's fondue is great for sweet cravings. I never even ended up making Paleo Pancakes or Paleo banana bread, but I hear those are fantastic too.
4. I give myself permission to fall off the wagon for any reason I choose, from there not being anything else I can eat at a social engagement, to feeling like I really want a Brown Bonnet from Carvel. The looser I am, the easier it is for me to be disciplined.
Over the course of the Detox, dear Reader, I have tried to share what I was doing without being scoldy or preachy about what anybody else is eating. I do not respond well to scoldy preachiness myself. I can't stand those FaceBook memes with sanctimonious advice for living superimposed over a picture of a 20-year-old dancer in a bikini putting her leg behind her head. Particularly about diet, there is SO. MUCH. scoldy preachiness out there. This scoldiness doesn't help anybody!
Besides, as Hemingway says, "We are all apprentices in a craft where no-one ever becomes a master." He's referring to the Master Craft: Living. And what he's saying is that nobody knows shit. It doesn't matter if you meditate every day, or graduate from Harvard, or look really wise, or live in a big house, or live on the streets. Insert your own "it doesn't matter if...". It is terrifying and marvelous--nobody knows anything!
So look: I don't know anything. But I am pretty sure about the following:
1. The ONLY way to know whether or how much you would benefit from cutting sugar is to do it.
2. If you really want to do it, you can.
Thank you Diane Sanfilippo for creating the Detox and the excellent materials that make it easy to follow. And thank you, Gentle Reader, for reading and supporting me on my Detox. Mwah!