01 July 2012

Nourishing Myself Like a Buddha

The Inspiring Book
A few months ago, a fellow yogi was reading If the Buddha Came to Dinner. I was interested but reading some other things at the time, but a few weeks ago, I finally got around to buying my own copy.

The verdict? I think this is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. The first half explores what nourishment really is (hint: it's more than just food!), and potential to transform us not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Schatz' content aligns nicely with the Ayurvedic practices and seasonal eating I'd already been exploring, and also includes easy-to-understand diagrams about food combining. Quite frankly, this was a concept that used to intimidate me because I worried it was too complicated. (No more! :-) The first half also includes a simple cleanse that gives readers lots of freedom, both in how long to do each phase and in what to eat. The second part of the book contains fabulous, easy-to-make recipes that support good nutrition whether or not readers do the cleanse, and automatically follow the food combining principles.

Cleanse Basics & Initial Fears
Given that I have been having digestive issues of late, I was already considering completely eliminating dairy or gluten. So, the idea of this cleanse came at the perfect time. For the food part, it basically looks like this:
  • Phase 1: fruits and vegetables only
  • Phase 2: addition of grains (with vegetables), seeds and nuts (eaten separately)
  • Phase 3: addition of proteins (with vegetables, but not grains)
Being hypoglycemic my whole life, I've always been taught to eat lots and lots of protein, and as much as I've tried to deny it, I'm a carb junkie underneath. I worry about the sugar in fruit. The cynical part of me wondered how on earth would I survive on just fruits and vegetables! But, although I originally planned on doing an abbreviated version of the cleanse (each phase can be 2-6 days), I became curious about whether all of this fear was just in my mind.

A Week of Discovery
Monday was my start day, and I won't lie--it was rough! I thought I'd be fine because I eat healthy (no caffeine, processed foods, etc.) but the previous day my husband and I had celebrated his birthday, feasting (and instantly regretting!) really bad dim sum for lunch. Oh, and then I had a little bowl of real ice cream for the first time in ages (which was awesome!). So day one, I got a terrible headache and wave of tiredness a little after lunchtime; I decided the cleanse was doing its job. Things didn't improve, and I went to bed at 8pm. Here are some interesting takeaways from this day:
  • My stomach issues flared up--when I inhaled my food.
  • Being tired or upset with myself made me crave sweets
Fortunately, days two through six were much smoother. I:
  • Experienced more instances of eating too fast or un-mindfully causing my stomach issues
  • Noticed how I ate because the clock said to (overriding my body's wisdom about whether or not I was hungry)
  • Had nightmares that I considered to be good (i.e. psychic cleansing)
  • Talked myself out of a really cranky / annoyed mood, and felt really balanced after
  • Continued to be surprised at just how much water my body seems to need to be hydrated, and how thirst often masqueraded as hunger or showed up as a headache
  • Once again saw how boredom made me crave things
  • Allowed feelings of upset to run their course rather than try to push them away, and they seemed to dissipate easily
  • Realized that maybe my body and mind are more tired that I allow myself to feel
Most of these I already knew on some level, reminding me of Autobiography in Five Short Chapters. However, I had to really restrain myself about ending the last item with an exclamation point.

The other thing I want to point out is that with this cleanse, I did nothing different about my workouts. Actually, that's not true. Every day I've run, I've run further, and easier (though that might also be because of yoga).  I expected that the lack of protein would be a real problem, and turns out if was just another figment of my imagination.

So How About That Fruit?
While Schatz' hash browns with avocado slices were also something I never thought I could eat for breakfast, they held me just fine, and so for two of the six days, I tried a fruit bowl for breakfast instead. I had a bowl of 1/2 apple, 1/2 pear, 1/2 banana and a sprinkling of dried currants. I eat breakfast between 8-8:30 am every day, and wouldn't you know it, that held me until lunch, which happened to be 12:45 that particular day! It's amazing what tricks the mind can play on us.

Surrendering to Whatever is Next
Today I began phase two, and honestly I am a little nervous about adding grains. Schatz encourages readers to pay attention to how they feel two to three hours afterwards, to see if grains fuel the body or contribute to cravings. I like having the opportunity for heightened awareness that phase one provided, and plan to take advantage of it. I'm also worried about the seeds and nuts, because I love their crunchy texture and did miss them a few times during phase one. I guess time will tell whether these fears are justified, or just more of my mind playing tricks on me. :-)

1 comment :

  1. I just requested this book from the library - I'm definitely up for trying this cleanse. It sounds like a reasonable one, and I like that there is something more to it than "don't eat this for xx days." And I love the Autobiography! Thanks for the Monday morning inspiration.