Day #1: Stocking Up For the Cleanse

Today is Day #1 of my Kathy Freston Jump Start Cleanse and I have found in the past that the best way to stick to the program is to be prepared. My cupboard and fridge are all stocked up with fresh fruits and veggies, gluten-free grains, nuts, seeds, organic tofu, almond milk, cold-pressed organic oils and beans.

Trust me I know how busy life can get and I am the first one to dig my hand into a big bag of chips to ward off a mid-afternoon hunger attack or to hit up the Harvey’s drive-thru for a veggie burger in between soccer and dance for a quick dinner (not to mention my coveted evening glass of red wine).

In order to survive 21 days without gluten, animal products, caffeine, sugar and alcohol, I have to make darn sure that my kitchen is full of healthy and satisfying foods. I am already a nerdy meal planner so I am all prepared with my list of meals.

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Here is what is on the menu at my house this week:

Breakfasts – Green Smoothies, Fresh Juice, Coffee-Less Lattes, Cooked Gluten-Free Rolled Oats with fruit, nuts and cinnamon

Lunches – Quinoa Salad, Raw Wraps with veggies, hummus and spinach, Cold Spring Rolls, Green Spring Soup (recipe is coming!)

Dinners – Stir Fry with Tofu, Kelp Noodles with Raw Tomato Dressing (recipe is coming!), Marinated Grilled Vegetables over Brown Rice (recipe is coming!), Veggie Chili, GF Oat Flour Pancakes with Fruit Puree (recipe is coming!)

Snacks – raw nuts, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, medjool dates, homemade nut milk  (recipe is coming!), plain rice cakes with hummus or homemade almond butter (recipe is coming!), Mary’s Crackers with homemade guacamole, raw fruits and veggies, herbal tea, homemade energy drink (recipe is coming!) + water, water and more water!

I’ll keep posting my progress and my recipes as the days go on. As you can see, I’ve only listed 4-5 meals in each category because I am counting on leftovers to fill in the gaps. And sadly since no one in my house is doing the cleanse with me this time around (yes I’m talking about you Mark) although I will be preparing these meals, I will be adding non-cleanse items for my hubby and the kids. I’ll try to remember to let you know how I modified in my posts.

Today I am feeling a bit nervous to embark on this journey but excited that my body will have a chance to reboot after a long, cold winter. The first few days are always the toughest as I overcome withdrawal symptoms. Send me some positive vibes today – I’m going to need them! (and perhaps send some along to my poor family too – I’m not the easiest to live at the start of this cleanse).

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A Kathy Freston Spring Cleanse

People often ask me why I became a vegan in the first place. Well to start with, I honestly never really loved meat. I would always cringe when meat was served as a child and I’d pour over each piece looking for icky fat and gristle. However, animal protein did make up a part of my diet until about 5 years ago.

It was after a particularly crazy trip to Vegas with my husband and our fun-loving friends (you know who you are!)  where we ate, drank and partied like we were 21 that I came home wanting to cleanse my system. I had seen Kathy Freston on Oprah and I was immediately drawn to her beautiful spirit and her gentle approach to leaning into veganism and embracing a more conscious way of eating. Her message really resonated with me – make slow and easy shifts in thinking and consuming that ultimately result in increased overall health and wellbeing.

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I rushed out and bought her book Quantum Wellness and it changed my life. Not only does she address food choices in the book, but she also advocates for 8 Pillars of Wellness including: Meditation, Visualization, Fun, Conscious Eating, Exercise, Self-Work, Spiritual Practice and Service.

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Kathy suggests a “Jump Start” cleanse on chapter 5 of her book so I decided to give it a try and I roped my husband into doing it with me. There are  no funky powders or weird pre-packaged foods or supplements involved in her cleanse that often contain questionable ingredients and leave most people feeling starved and miserable. Instead she suggests 3 weeks completely abstaining from:

  1. Animal Products (meat, dairy and eggs)
  2. Gluten
  3. Alcohol
  4. Sugar
  5. Caffeine

I know what you are thinking – then what the heck did I eat??? Trust me, I thought that too (and so did Oprah for the record who embarked on the cleanse with her staff shortly after Kathy’s appearance on her show).  But having done the cleanse several times over the past 5 years, I can tell you that there is a bounty of healthy and nutritious food available that kept me feeling satisfied for the duration of the cleanse. Kathy breaks down each food category above in detail in the book and suggests that 3 weeks is the optimal time to give our bodies a chance to eliminate the most common toxins and allergens that we all have the most difficulty processing.

Kathy herself says:

“If you have never done a cleanse before, this may sound a bit daunting. I completely understand. It’s always challenging to put the brakes on what feels comfortable, especially in so elemental an area as eating. But any time you disrupt a pattern or meet a challenge, you create an enormous space for a quantum leap to happen……Remember a cleanse is only temporary: it is a short-term vacation for your body, giving it time to rest and detox. No one’s asking you to give up anything forever, unless of course you discover that you want to. Just try to stay open and willing to go the distance.”

Yes it is a steep learning curve. On my first Kathy Freston cleanse I basically knew nothing about vegan food except for tofu dogs and Tofurky (neither of which I consume nowadays btw). But even though the first few day were brutal as my body detoxed from caffeine and sugar, I felt absolutely amazing at the end of 3 weeks.

Here are just some of the benefits that I have personally noticed from doing this cleanse in the past: better and deeper sleep, increased energy, clear skin, calmer overall attitude (once I came down from the caffeine addiction of course), weight loss, clear eyes, reduced under-eye puffiness, reduction in allergy symptoms, disappearance of my hemorrhoids (hey – I pushed out 3 kids people!), better focus, more patience and my frequent tummy aches completely vanished. Plus I got a huge education in cooking with quinoa, barley, flax, nuts, seeds, gluten-free oats, beans, fresh fruits and veggies, organic tofu and a plethora of delicious vegan foods. And ultimately I learned a lot about myself, my cravings and my relationship with food.

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I always like to embark on a cleanse in the spring when it feels like the perfect time to toss out the gunk in my house and in my body. I am going to begin the 21 Day Jump Start Cleanse on Monday, April 1st and I will post a few times a week to share my recipes, meal plans and my trials and tribulations as I muddle through this journey.

I hope you’ll follow along and perhaps try out one or two of my recipes -if only to prove to yourself that it isn’t really all that hard and that the foods aren’t actually boring and tasteless (come on – you know that’s what you are thinking). And even if you aren’t interested in a spring cleanse at this time, I highly recommend Kathy’s book as an interesting and informative read. If you aren’t careful -it might just change your life too!