Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Made It

Yesterday was the 21st day of my vegan cleanse, and I made it through. 21 days with no alcohol, caffeine, gluten, animal products or sugar, with just a few minor slip-ups here and there. Here are some of the things I saw:

Sleep - My sleep improved dramatically. I used to have a lot of difficulty waking in the middle of the night, hitting the snooze, feeling tired all day, etc. During the cleanse, I would fall asleep around 10 or 11, sleep straight through, and wake up refreshed. The one day I introduced a bit of caffeine, that reversed.

Energy Levels - My blood sugar has always been a problem, and I was always plagued by mid-afternoon tiredness. Not on the cleanse. Blood sugar stayed level all day, without the gnawing hunger or pitches into exhaustion. The one day I had a bit of sugar (and I do mean a bit - one bite of a vegan brownie), again, that all reversed.

Digestion - I used to think having stomachaches all the time was normal for me. It's not. Last night, I tried a bit of pad thai - which for all intents and purposes should have been gluten-free. According to boards I've read though, apparently something in the sauce has wheat in it. Guess what?

Sinus - Sinus congestion and headaches were a normal, everyday thing for me. I would take Advil and Sudafed every single day. I am not kidding. Usually more than once. After about a week and a half on the cleanse, it occurred to me that I hadn't taken either in more than a week. I still have congestion, but it's livable and has only required allergy meds once (on a particularly foggy, polleny day).

Appearances - My skin looks a lot better, and my dandruff nearly went away. In addition, I've lost at least 15 pounds. I'll weigh in at my doctor next week (don't own a scale), but I had lost 12 pounds when I weighed in there at the two week mark. None of my pants fit anymore, that's for sure.

So, basically, I feel about a zillion times better. The few forays into adding some of these foods back has - as I pointed out above - not been too successful. I'm also having a skin problem that could be a reaction to a new cosmetic - or an allergic reaction to soy. I'm keeping an eye on that.

I will do some more experimenting with adding things back one by one. But, having seen that I could live without some of the symptoms I thought were just the way I was, I honestly am thinking of eating like this permanently. Here are my thoughts below:

Caffeine: Eliminate. This was the easiest to give up, and the easiest to substitute other things for. (I can even still go to Starbucks with friends, since their vanilla Rooibos tea is naturally caffeine free, and makes a mean latte with soymilk.) It was also the most dramatic change.

Animal Products (Dairy): Leaning toward Eliminate. At one point, I'm pretty sure I got some dairy in a smoothie, and my head immediately filled with congestion and I started sneezing. Looking back on it, I'd get the same reaction when I drank milk straight or ate ice cream. I'm thinking that dairy might trigger my worst sinus reactions, but I'm going to probably do a little more experimenting.

Animal Products (Meat and Shellfish): Avoid, Possibly Eliminate. I'm not quite ready to call myself a full-time vegetarian yet. I may well eat a little turkey at Thanksgiving, etc. But as a day-to-day thing, I don't miss it, and it's getting harder to ignore how that cow or chicken got turned into the meat on my plate. Mostly, I'll be eating vegetarian.

Gluten: Leaning toward Eliminate. My guess is that I'm at least sensitive to gluten, although some things seem okay (I didn't have a bad reaction to a Boca burger I had). I'm going to test it, but right now, I'm leaning away from it.

Sugar: Avoid. If I eliminate gluten and dairy, that cuts out a whole lot of sweets for me. But the occasional piece of candy, etc. won't kill me, as long as I'm willing to take the sugar hit. It will be an occasional treat, though, because it really does make me ravenous and tired.

Alcohol: Have on a limited basis. This is probably where I will have my occasional "treat". I don't think having a drink every week or so will kill me, and it's a big part of my social life. I enjoy my wine, and as long as I keep it to the occasional drink, I'm okay with adding this back in.


  1. incredible results.

    after my experiments with giving up all these vices, my plans are this:

    caffeine: evil, need to never have again if i can help it

    meat: once a month, fish or beef only

    sugar: tough one to break, but am finding more ways of substituting with agave nectar, etc

    dairy: occasionally tough to avoid, i don't have any negative reactions but i feel sorry for the little calves and their mommies :)

    gluten: not so tough, can limit to once a month or less. mostly giving it up for the carby craving/weight gain factor.

    alcohol: special occasions only, one drink max

    i love the idea for the vanilla rooibos tea soy latte! i just gotta practice saying it smoothly :)

  2. Foo! I am so proud of you! I knew you could do it! These things really are life changing. These days I am doing less caffeine with the whole trying to get +1. Instead of coffee I am making chai. It does have caffeine, it being black tea and all, but a lot less than coffee. I will post my recipe on my blog in a few days - it kicks booty!

  3. Very insightful. Enjoy the updates on your progress. My plan is to start a similar cleanse this - we'll see how it goes!