Friday, April 29, 2011

It's all about the food.

When eating, we think we are feeding ourselves. But our food doesn't necessarily feed us. It doesn't necessarily enter our body and disseminate nourishment to our cells, organs, and the systems that fuel us. Sometimes we eat and our food hurts us. It drains our energy, screws up our body systems, and increasingly disseminates toxins. I spent almost 6 days refusing to give my body food that would hurt it; a break from my typical diet,which, despite being much better than the average American diet, still overexposes me to toxins and nutritionally void calories.

The physical benefits included losing 7 pounds, resetting my sugar-addicted system, finding relief for a chronic condition (my interstitial cystitis), and gaining mood stability. I didn't feel hungry and I had more energy. A successful detox.

My first full day back on a regular diet didn't go very well. I had milk for breakfast and chicken salad on a roll for lunch. Russ and I left after lunch to go away overnight by ourselves. Dinner was more chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans at a restaurant. My body revolted and I felt sick the rest of the night. It was that feeling of food sitting in my belly. The next morning, all I really wanted was milk. Even my breakfast - oatmeal with honey and dried fruit - was too sweet. Hubby and I visited the Lindt store near our hotel and even my favorite dark chocolate overwhelmed my palate. Hunger pursued me constantly.

That was three weeks ago. And while I am not getting sick anymore, I still seem to be hungry all the time. What I think is that my body is wanting something I am not giving it enough of - pure, wholesome, nutrient-dense,God-given,food of the earth. I am giving it refined sugar when it wants the natural sugars found in things like milk, fruits and vegetables. I am ingesting chemical, additives, and dyes when it wants accessible vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and healthy enzymes. For five days I flooded my body with REAL, and it's not going back to PROCESSED without a fight. Which is good and, by God's grace, I hope to do even better than before.

Interestingly,what started as a simple physical detox also ended up being a detox for mind and spirit. I have fasted in the past for spiritual reasons. The idea is that denying a base instinct and having hunger constantly drive me to prayer, clarifies and reinforces my dependence solely on the Lord for all sustenance. But when fasting, the focus on food is in relationship to being hungry, and the spiritual implications are in relationship to denying something my body needs (making a sacrifice) and focusing on God (to look at my sacrifice and bring a spiritual renewal of whatever sort is needed at the time). But for the five and half days I experienced not eating but yet not being hungry, the spiritual implications became evaluation of my sinful relationship to food. I'm not talking about the sin of gluttony, although I'll admit to being gluttonous at times, rather my use of food to fill emotional needs that ONLY Christ can fill (as opposed to a physical need that God can sustain for a time in fasting), my addiction to certain foods, and abuse of my body through unhealthy food when I otherwise had a choice. Stripping myself of the choice to eat, food could not to talk to my brain and convince me nothing was wrong with my eating habits (sugar in particular has a very powerful voice). It was an amazing breakthrough for me, the results of which I am trying desperately to hold on to.

Would I repeat this detox? Absolutely! I'm thinking longer next time.
Would I recommend that others do it? Absolutely. Unless you have medical reasons, there are only benefits to gain.

I'd like to thank the farmers at The Family Cow for their ceaseless work to make quality organic raw milk available to the public. I could not have done this without that resource.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Raw Milk Fast, Days 5 & 6

Day 5

This morning, I took my kids to Dunkin Donuts - which is right around the corner from me - so they could get a donut and a little egg and cheese wrap. I had promised this to them earlier in the week. To my wonderful surprise, I had no compulsion to eat a donut, or even smell a donut.

Later, I watched my nephew for about five hours and mostly he was a sweet, wonderful angel. But there was about an hour where he was crying for his parents, inconsolable. During that hour, I thought more about food than I had almost all week. Had I not been on this diet, I would have just gotten some food (probably chips or other starchy carbs)and not thought twice about it. But not being able to eat focused my mind on why I wanted to eat so badly. I am a stress eater.

Today I started thinking a lot about what it will be like to start eating again. I'm used to carrying around a glass of milk. I'm used to not eating anything solid. But today is my last milk-only day. Tomorrow is a day of slowly going back to regular foods. So I found myself contemplating throughout the day what that meant for me physically, mentally, and even spiritually. It may seem silly that being on a milk-only diet for 5 days can be significant in so many ways. But for someone like me who is food-addicted, and especially sugar-addicted, it really has been a huge thing.

Overall, the day went by smoothly. Although I did make my family Belgium waffles for dinner, which filled the house with a heavenly smell that was hard to resist.

My plan for tomorrow is to have a small cup of decaf. coffee in the morning, milk throughout the day, then break my solid-food fast with dinner at Chipotle. Originally I was really wanting to have pizza, but my sister Kate reminded me that coming off a detox, I shouldn't go straight into such junky food as pizza. Chipotle was next on my list and is pretty simple food. I have mixed feelings about tomorrow, but excitement wins!

Day 6 - Coming off

I woke up this morning and thought about milk. Yesterday I was sure that I would wake up thinking about coffee or the food I was going to eat for dinner. My daughter suggested we have a kefir smoothie, which sounded like a great idea! So I made smoothies with home-made kefir, banana, peaches, and fresh mango. I decided to eat some of the mango and it was sweet! Likewise, even with the tang of the kefir, the smoothie was almost overwhelming. This heightened awareness of sweetness is normal when a person has not eaten anything sweet for awhile.

A couple hours later, I brewed my cup of coffee. I put 1 tsp of sugar in (I normally put 2) and some milk. It burned my throat and I only ended up drinking about half. I had two cups of milk for lunch and felt good until around 4:30 when I started to get really hungry, even though I had had the same number of calories by this point in the day as I have any other day this week.

It was 6pm before we set out to Chipotle. In the meantime I had attempted to eat an organic blue corn chip. Umm... no. I couldn't even swallow it, I kept gagging. then I got concerned that I wouldn't be able to eat tonight after all. Perhaps it was the hardness of the chip? So I had the rest of the mango from this morning. No problems. My dinner consisted of cilantro-lime rice, black beans, chicken, salsa, cheese and guacamole, all of which I didn't have problems actually swallowing. But after about half of what they gave me, I started to feel full. Weird sensation to have food sitting in my belly again. I'm not sure I like it.

I'm sitting here drinking a cup of black tea and contemplating all the positives of my experience. But I'm tired so I'll be writing about that later. Thanks to all of you who cheered me on the last 6 days. These things are so much easier to do when people support me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Raw Milk Fast, Day 4

There are always 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. But our perceptions of how fast or slow this time ticks away can be vastly different. A person going on vacation might feel like her last couple days of work are excruciatingly long, while then her vacation seems like it flies by. I said to my husband this evening that I feel like the week is moving by so slowly, but he thinks it has gone by really fast. My difference in perspective comes from the fact that I am doing something difficult and I'm ready for it to be over. But since it's difficult, every moment seems to drag by. A minute talking on the phone with a friend is not nearly as long as a minute standing in the freezing cold waiting for a bus.

This morning my friend Amy and my sisters Mary and Kate came to visit me. A morning gathering like this usually involves yummy food and lots of coffee. Amy had coffee and I indulged in putting my nose next to her cup and inhaling deeply. No one ate anything, except for Kate who had a cookie that she snuck pieces of when I wasn't paying attention. We all had a great time but it definitely felt like something was missing. It got me thinking about how deeply the experience of eating is wrapped up with our experiences of companionship. "Breaking bread" together has historically represented a spirit of community and fellowship. This detox has been much harder than anything I've done previously, and a lot of it is this aspect of being unable to break bread with others. Not only can I not eat food when I am compelled to eat something, I also can't have the "complete" fellowship experience when getting together with friends. And I have a low tolerance for sitting at the table while my family eats dinner and I just drink milk. Mentally, the reasons for giving up on this diet are extremely compelling.

But despite my urgent desire to be done this detox, I am nervous about going back to eating real food. I have enjoyed a deep sense of calm the last few days as well as relief from some chronic issues. And the fact that I don't have to think about what I will be eating each meal is an added bonus. Oh well, we'll see what Friday brings.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Raw Milk Fast, Day 3

Halfway done! Yay!

I spent most of the morning planning the 6-week Civil War unit I'm teaching my kids' homeschool co-op starting next week. It's my custom to drink coffee while I plan; for some reason the ritual tells my mind to open up. Obviously, no coffee for me, so I ended up struggling with my planning. I know that this is totally psychological but the mind is a powerful thing. This evening was also the first I've actually cooked dinner since I started my detox. Gnocci stew with tomatoes, ground beef, and spinach. It smelled absolutely divine and it was very difficult for me to refrain from eating it. I had the kids test the flavor so I didn't taste it and lose my resolve. Other than that, only a few food cravings today and still no hunger to speak of.

My kitty has finally realized what it is I'm always drinking. Now when I get a glass of milk, he follows me around and if I set it down, he's right there trying to drink from it! It's very cute - I put my hand under his chin and push him back a little so then he reaches out to paw at the glass. He's also super-sneaky, going away until he thinks I'm not paying attention just so he can try to slip in unnoticed.

Physically, I'm still feeling great. I lost another pound since yesterday and my mood has remained generally calm. On an interesting note - my urine is a weird yellow-orange color from the high amounts of beta-carotene found in the milk of grass-fed cows. (sorry if TMI!)

I'm kicking around the idea of doing a few weeks of drinking 4 cups of milk a day and eating just one main meal. I'd like to see if small amounts of milk throughout the day will help with my mood and appetite control. We'll see.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Raw Milk Fast, Day 2

My day was pretty simple - just some work around the house and schooling the kids. I got up around 8:30am and thought immediately about coffee. I miss coffee. Then I remembered that I can't have coffee. Despite that, pouring my first glass of milk seemed natural. I drank 14 ounces between 9 and 10am.

My son is not supportive at all - and by that I mean he thinks it's funny to tease me by tempting me with yummy food. At his 10:30am snack, he brought me his chips and tried to feed one to me. It took a lot of willpower to send him away! I miss chips.

I had several episodes today of almost overwhelming desire to eat something - anything. But just like yesterday I was not hungry, so I knew my body was seeking the pure pleasure of eating, not to mention sugar! I drank 16 ounces more during an hour around lunch time. I sipped on milk throughout the afternoon and evening, and ended up with around 72 ounces. It's important that the milk not be super cold and also be consumed a little at a time over the day - so no downing whole glasses of cold milk in one sitting. I feel like this aspect has really helped with the hunger issue and keeping my blood sugar even throughout the day.

About mid-afternoon, I was feeling strongly that I needed to have a different flavor on my palate or I'd go crazy and give up. Rather than risk abandoning my detox, I decided to have a cup of mint tea, with nothing in it. The mint tea is local and organic so I felt it would compliment my desire to avoid ingesting toxins this week. Not only that, but mint also has its own list of positive healing properties.

So how am I feeling? Well, I lost a pound since yesterday but don't get excited because it's water weight that is typically lost when sugars and simple carbs are cut out of the diet. So more importantly, I've found my mood to be really stable the past two days, even when dealing with difficult children. I also notice I am just more calm in general. Neither of these things should surprise me because milk aids in the production of serotonin, the chemical in the body responsible for mood stabilization, and sugar (which I'm not getting)causes erratic production of serotonin, causing high-highs and low-lows.

I have a condition called Interstitial Cystitis - a chronic inflammation of the lining of the bladder. Basically, I live with symptoms of a mild bladder infection all the time. The past two days, those symptoms have dramatically decreased. I'm not sure if that's because of the bladder-irritating foods I'm not eating or because of the milk's healing properties. Perhaps a little of both.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Raw Milk Fast, Day 1

First I'm sure you want to know why. Why would someone subject themselves to an entire week of consuming nothing but raw milk? The answer is pretty simple. I have access to fabulous raw milk from organic grass-fed Jersey cows, thanks to The Family Cow This milk is virtually toxin-free. So for one week, I give my body a reprieve from ingesting toxins (with the exception of my anti-seizure medication). My plan cuts out water as well because the water I have access to is also full of toxins. Additionally, every once in awhile, it's good for me to cut sugar, including simple carbs, out of my diet for a period of time. A sugar detox is a difficult undertaking because so much time and energy is wrapped up in preparing meals I can eat. So this week I will also give my body a reprieve from sugar, without having to think about it much. Lastly, raw milk has incredible healing properties, so it's like a week of high-intensity medicinal soothing for my body.

So, today was Day 1

I got up at about 7:45. Our plans for the day included church and then a bike ride on the C&O Canal Towpath. Upon getting up, I poured 10 oz of milk and let it sit for a bit (it's better if it's not really cold). This I sipped on while I got ready for church. I brought 10 oz to church in a travel cup and drank from it periodically during my service in the nursery. It is not unusual for me to skip breakfast in an effort to get out of the house on time on Sunday mornings. So usually by the time church is over I am starving and end up eating donuts or coffee cake afterward. After church we spent about an hour chatting with friends, which put us going home around noon. To my surprise, I was not hungry at all. One thing I did have a problem with is the filmy feeling and taste the milk left in my mouth. I decided to deal with this by sucking on a cough drop for a few seconds periodically.

I had 10 oz more milk before we left for our bike ride. At this point I was still not hungry but I was craving food - the general pleasure of eating. I also had a headache, which often happens when I am detoxing from sugar, plus I hadn't had any caffeine. We left to go on our bike ride around 2pm. I realized that I couldn't go without drinking during the bike ride and it would be impractical to bring milk along for that purpose. So I brought a bottle of water and ended up drinking about a cup of it during the 9-mile ride. I should note that cow's milk is about 87% water so dehydration is not going to be an issue.

After our bike ride, I needed a nap - which is not unusual for me and had nothing to do with the milk. I slept from about 4:00 - 6:00pm. Before my nap, I was still not feeling any hunger, but I did wake up with a growling tummy. I poured 16 ounces of milk and sipped on it all evening. My urge to eat some sort of food is getting stronger, but I know that it is all psychological. I still have a headache but it's a dull roar in the background.

I need about 1500 calories a day for my age, weight and activity level. 10 cups of milk is 1600 calories so I was aiming for 9 1/2 cups. About 7:30pm, after putting in the data from our bike ride, Russ informed me we burned around 900 calories. Too late to make all that up tonight! Oh well, I'm still not hungry.

One last thing. Some of you may be wondering about the fat content in the milk I'm drinking. It is whole milk and the fat content is 50%. Am I worried about it? No. I'm not convinced that all fats are as bad for us as mainstream medicine tells us. But more on that another day.