Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Back, Back to Texas, Texas

So I took a little break. Let’s say the first few entries were a bit of a test run for myself. The last month has been pretty hectic, but I see the semblances of settling a’happening, and I want to get back into writing. I like food a lot. I’m planning on sticking around here for a bit, so now’s as good a time as any to get into this new little groove I’ve set for myself.

I’m in Austin now, after a drawn-out reintro to the United States via a road trip. Adjusting to the food here has been the hardest part of being back. Bagels, pizza, chips and rich, rich food made my tummy hurt almost every day. I needed a readjustment and decided to go through a brown rice detox once Nathan and I stopped all the couch-surfing. I’ve gone through a couple detoxes and each time learned a ton about my body and its cravings.

Still, depriving yourself of something your body has accustomed itself to is a difficult process. Once your body regulates itself to certain chemical compositions, it can be hard to let go. I’m not crazy about coffee, but I often find myself tied to sugar (sweet, lovely sugar). It’s crazy feeling the withdrawals of that; when I’m consciously avoiding sweet, but every part of me wants it sooo bad. These detoxes can do some amazing things though (Science!). I was pretty impressed after my first one. I had brown rice, soy sauce, gomasio, and occasionally steamed broccoli for ten days. My first two days I had only fresh juice (all praise the heavy duty juicer) and then it was rice, rice, rice. I felt alright the first day, horrible the second and had an all-out breakdown by the fourth day. It was intense, like epiphany that I should break up with my then boyfriend intense. I realized then how much I look to food as a crutch in my life, as a distraction from problems at hand. I took to writing, felt better, and continued eating brown rice. I made it through completely readjusted; I had seriously no desire for non-food food. Tortilla chips (once one of my favorite foods), french fries, etc., looked completely inedible. I craved real food and it was awesome. I was super happy, like, genuinely happy; I felt great. Then I drank beer one night and it all went down-hill from there. I did another detox one year later and have been doing these about once a year since.

With this latest one (which I ended this Sunday) I wanted to do a better job re-introducing foods into my system. I want to test my body a bit once I have a clean slate, so to speak. Before I started the detox, I had my last meal in my new apartment (above picture). We went to Central Market, a healthier, more organic and “natural”-friendly supermarket than its parent-store, H-E-B. H-E-B is a corporation found only in Texas, as far as I know, and they have an amazing tortilla making machine. Woo. Anyways, Central Market is a nice alternative to Whole Foods, if you’re into that. We (boyfriend and I) are into that. So we headed over and spent some dough on pre-made stuff. The salad we made ourselves in a lazy fashion (mixed greens from bulk, carrots, artichoke hearts, avocado, tomatoes, Annie’s Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing), the chips we got from Fiesta Supermarket (that place deserves its own posting someday, god bless ’em), and Central Market provided the rest: whole grain bread, bulk salsa, butternut squash soup, and wine. I’ve forgotten the name of the wine, but we’ll get it again. Whatever. After this meal...it's RICE! RICE! RICE!

Okay! So the general plan for the next seven days was as follows (the routine I kind of just put together after reading around about various brown rice detoxes and nutrition reports):

BREAKFAST: A green juice and a glass of water with lemon juice. (Sometimes I mixed them together, sometimes I had one and not the other.)

LUNCH: Brown rice with chopped celery.

SNACK (or whenever hungry really): Brown rice with chopped or grated carrots.

DINNER: Brown rice with steamed veggies. One kiwi for dessert.

Some notes: I made sure to exercise a bit everyday and drink lots of water. I tried to stick with high alkaloid foods, and less acidic foods, as high alkaloid foods are a little kinder to the stomach. The veggies I ate on a regular basis were celery, carrots, broccoli, and kale. I threw in parsley for its “chemo-protective” qualities. For seasoning, I stuck to Braggs Liquid Aminos and nutritional yeast. Our meals were actually quite delicious, and I think I’ll even make this on normal, eat-whatever-I-want nights. Yum.

So I felt a bit sick after the first day, like I was actually getting sick. I felt lethargic and had aching headaches (the headache part might have been from me getting sloppy in keeping up with my water-intake). After the third day, however, I felt awesome, physically. I had a lot of energy, but emotionally I felt a bit all over the place. I didn’t like that I couldn’t have certain things, especially when I was out toting my Tupperware of brown rice. That made me grumpy sometimes, but I got over it. On my last day, though, I was downright giddy. I even insisted on sharing some my diet with my parents when I heard they were swinging by for lunch, if for nothing but to proselytize the Word on health food. Hmph.

Hm, I suppose it’s interesting to mention I was reading The China Study whilst detoxing. I had been meaning to read it for a couple of years now, and had actually bought a copy for my dad awhile back. I picked it up and actually had a lot of fun thinking about nutrition and the food industry and just making a whole nutrition theme for my detox week. I just finished the book today and I’m pretty excited about watching the documentary, The Future of Food soon.

This is the first thing Nathan and I ate once we officially ended the detox – Rice Chips and baba ganouj. We were pretty freaking excited about it. Just to have that little bit of diversity on my palette was so...exotic. It was also my first experience with Tom’s Tabooley, a local provider of Mediterranean goodies. The baba ganouj was delicious, if also expensive. After that snack I cooked a mediocre Tempeh Coconut Curry. I put too much coriander and there just wasn’t as much love, I admit it. It’s been awhile since I’ve cooked with these ingredients and I gotta get back in a cooking mode, for sure. I’ll put the recipe up when I’ve made it better.

I found a random document online that talked a bit about re-introducing foods into the system after a brown rice detox. I have to admit, I didn’t look much farther than this little guideline. I was tired, and, okay, anyways I’m not following it sooo much. The basic idea is that I’m re-introducing various foods slowly back into my diet, noting how my body reacts to them, and moving on. Nathan and I tweaked the whole thing a bit, and this was the outcome:

Days 1-4: Add corn, corn oil, bananas, dried fruit, mushrooms, tomato sauce, avocados, wheat-free/gluten-free bread, rice pasta/rice noodles, dairy-free ice-cream, millet, amaranth, quinoa, canola oil, and sesame oil. No hydrogenated oils.

Days 5-7: Add walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, tahini, almonds. (No peanuts, cashews, or pistachios).

Days 8-11: Add barley, buckwheat, oats, kamut, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, black-eyed peas, beans.

Days 12-13: Add yogurt and feta cheese.

Day 14: Add whole grain products.

Day 15: Add rennet-free whole raw mild cheese.

After that day I’ll add peanuts, etc. I don’t imagine it’s supposed to be a get-it-all-in-before-the-last-day kind of thing. We’ll see how it goes. I decided awhile back that after this detox I’d go vegan, and I’m sticking to that plan. I won’t be a super strict vegan, but I want my diet to be primarily dairy and meat free. Reading The China Study kind of scared me straight. Heart problems run in both sides of my family and I’d like to avoid that route as much as possible. That, and it would just be nice to have some possibility of a life in old age that I can enjoy. I will eat some bad food every now and then, but sparingly. Cheese is so good. Especially in the form of queso.

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