less is more

The cleanse has ended! OK, it was supposed to go through today, but Steve and I had a babysitter for last night and every parent knows you never, and I mean NEVER say “no” to a free babysitter. Never.

Last week Steve and I discussed where we would eat, then he made reservations and we salivated over the menu. And we counted down – “four days until Johnny’s” then three, then two. We would also send each other texts throughout the day about how fucking stoked we were for this meal.

That is the first lesson this cleanse has taught me: making something a treat makes it so much more enjoyable. When it is no longer a daily occurrence, you appreciate it so much more. Also, anticipation is half of the fun. My marathon training book said never take your rest day spontaneously – half the beauty of it is the anticipation of it. Same is true of food, I now know.

The meal was fantastic. I delighted in the bread. Of course I did. I had looked forward to that more than anything else. But I ordered a coffee cocktail – the same one I had had pre-cleanse and thought was delicious, but this time I didn’t find it so delicious. Maybe the bartender made it wrong, or maybe, just maybe, my taste buds are changing. I had chicken parm, but it was covered in a mozzarella cheese layer which I removed. I can’t believe I used to eat that much cheese. This time when I saw it, all I could think was, “artery clogger.”

I ate the whole damn meal. I have never finished my meal there, but yesterday, I did. I was famished for all I had missed. Steve didn’t offer me any of his like he usually does, and he even cut into mine. We were oh so hungry. 

The next lesson the cleanse taught me is to lay off the caffeine. The fact that the withdrawal was so rough for me shows me exactly how addicted I was. I have decided to only have coffee no more than every other day. I don’t want to get to a daily dependence again. I don’t want to go through that withdrawal ever again. It felt like a scene from “Trainspotting” – and everyone knows there is no desirable scene in “Trainspotting.”

At the coffee shop today, I had another barista make me a flavored latte. This was a trifecta of cleanse no-nos: dairy, sugar, and caffeine. The first sip was good. But each sip after got progressively worse. I couldn’t finish it. It was too sweet. It didn’t make me feel better. In fact, about an hour afterward, I got a headache. I took a picture of what it looked like after it settled:

How disgusting is that? How was I putting that into my body on a daily basis? That dairy! I think dairy is what I am now the most turned off by. I had a Chipotle burrito today, but held the cheese. I kept sour cream though, which has always been a love of mine. But the sour cream tasted so sour. This time, it didn’t add to the burrito, but rather seemed a distraction from the fresh and good-for-you ingredients. Which I guess is what unhealthy food is, when you think about it. We just get to the point where we douse everything in so much bad-for-you stuff that soon there is barely any good-for-you, if any at all.

I am returning to my life of eating foods I enjoy, but now I am so much more aware of what I am putting into my body and how it affects me. So the cleanse was a good experience. It was eye-opening, a real test of endurance, and best of all: cleansing. I am excited to continue trying new recipes that are better for me, and to keep modifying recipes we used to eat to be better for us. Much less butter, much less cheese. And sugar – less is more. That is, less makes you appreciate it more. And really, the appreciation and anticipation of food is half the experience.

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