“Food is such an intimate experience, even more so than sex. Everything we put in our mouth touches our insides, affects how we grow, affects how we age, affects how we behave. It defines who we are.” -Monica Bhide
It has been over three years since I first read this quote by Monica Bhide. The first time I read it, a light bulb illuminated in my mind and I thought “hell yeah it is” and “fuck yeah it does”. Now, this idea makes it’s way back to my consciousness as day 10 of a 28 day intensely intimate journey letting food be my guide for healing, comes to a close. When I tell people I am only eating fruits, vegetables (mostly raw) and sprouts and drinking herbal tea and fresh pressed juices for 28 days, I can see the sheer terror in their eyes. And those who really know me say, “wait, you’re not drinking any alcohol for 28 whole days….that’s crazy”. Yup…I have gone coo coo bananas over here! Honestly, when I began this cleanse, I was terrified. I was afraid that I would fail, of what would come up in the space I was about to create. What the hell was to become of my social life?!
The fear of not being able to do it is curious to me because I have spent large chunks of time in my life studying the benefits of raw food, living the raw/vegan lifestyle, teaching it to others and even what feels like lifetimes ago, owned the first raw food cafe juice bar in my little New England town. Yet, over the last 5 years, I have jumped on the paleo band wagon…feeling ok, but not great. I had forgotten, as many of us do, all the knowledge I have tucked away. It is time to listen to the innate wisdom inside of me and it has called me to sit in the pause. To be with myself. No distractions of what to eat or drink, where, and with whom. No distraction of running to the local coffee shop between clients to get a caffeine fix to carry me through the day until I can get home and have a glass of wine to wind down. Not trusting myself is exactly what has led me right here, on the brink of doing what many people around me call drastic, even dangerous. When did consuming raw fruits and veggies become dangerous people?!
My motivation for doing this has many layers. The first being, I needed to check myself and my relationship with alcohol. For me, alcohol became a crutch at a very pivotal point in my life; the end of my marriage, followed by the beginning and devastating end of another significant relationship. Alcohol became my trusted companion. I had convinced myself almost daily that I needed it and I deserved it. It was an escape, a way to hide from feelings of despair, failure, loss, fear, love. Brene Brown says “we can’t selectively numb out. When we numb the dark, we numb the joy”. So, over the past 2+ years, I have had many come to Jesus moments surrounding alcohol and my relationship with it and the truth is, I am tired of not being fully present in my life. I want to feel it all! The good, the bad, the ugly, the achingly beautiful, the devastating blows.
The other layers of motivation are rooted in a longing for physical, spiritual and mental equilibrium; maybe even excellence. Physically I have been placing more demands on my body, training for a half marathon and ramping up weight training in an effort to feel stronger in my body and challenge myself. I began to feel that my diet wasn’t measuring up in supporting what I was asking of my body. My belly was frequently bloated and uncomfortable. I noticed ridges in my fingernails, a sign that I am not absorbing vital nutrients. I’ve developed hormonal acne. No one wants to deal with pimples, especially when you’re in your thirties. Additionally, I have been experiencing bouts of anxiety and depression, floaters in my vision, a white coating on my tongue in the morning, brain fog and extreme fatigue. All of this, a clear sign that something has to change. Spiritually, I have been on a path of intense self discovery; often a gritty and raw process. In an effort to go even deeper into my spiritual practice, to get closer to source (God if you will), and my authentic self, it has become increasingly clear that I must commit to clarity and extreme self care. Which for me meant no more numbing out and extreme mindfulness in regards to how I nourish myself overall.
After 11 days of sobriety and 10 days of feeding my body intense nutrition, coupled with 10+ hours of sleep every night of the first seven days, I am on a bit of a high. I have to be honest, the first week was painful. I was hungry! And tired! Not a good combo really, but I was oh so gentle with myself. I felt very tender and vulnerable in those first few days. Changing patterns and facing attachments to food and alcohol drudges up a lot. Everything that I had been avoiding or didn’t want to face began to bubble up to the surface. I sat with it, meditated, took epsom salt baths and slept as much as I could. Then I moved into a few days of increased energy and a total aversion to food in general. On those days I did what I could to get calories in, any way I could, which basically meant throwing everything into a blender and drinking it. Gratitude shout out to my Vitamix for carrying me through! I also experienced intense lower and mid back pain for a few days. I noticed pain in my tailbone, the site of an old snowboarding injury. After some research, I came to find out that when the body isn’t required to utilize so much energy on digestion, it is able to repair itself. Many people have claimed to experience pain in old injury sites while on a cleanse. A sign that the body is healing itself. Rad! That knowledge made the discomfort more bearable.
Moving toward day 11 I am finding myself more committed with each passing day. My energy has skyrocketed, my mind is clear, I am calm, my belly doesn’t hurt. I am keeping the food simple, eating when I am hungry and paying attention to what my body is calling for. If I want to eat watermelon for dinner….I do it!