It's been three days since my purge, and I have been slowly building up my digestive fire (agni) and reintroducing foods slowly. The idea is, now that my body has been cleared of toxins, I should be slowly building back new, toxin-free tissues by eating clean, simple, easy to digest foods to start so that we don't shock the system (when we shock the system, we won't be able to digest the food, which in turn becomes toxins inside our body).
On Tuesday, the day after the purge--of running to the bathroom and of drinking vegetable broth all day--I cooked myself some quinoa and steamed vegetables with, you know it, more ghee on top. It was a nice change from all the kitchari I was eating, and it was nice to have some greens in my diet once again!
On Wednesday, I varied the grains and cooked red lentils (these are the easiest to digest lentils) and pearl barley. I also mixed up the vegetables. I had this craving for eggs towards mid-day, but I wasn't supposed to have that till about 6 days after the purge. Luckily, some roasted sunflower seeds held it off.
On Thursday, I allowed myself some oatmeal (cooked in water) topped with roasted flaxseeds, walnuts, dried cranberries, and a dash of honey. I am certainly glad to have some sweet tastes back in my breakfast! I varied my menu for that day a bit more, with roasted butternut squash and beets for lunch, and forbidden black rice for dinner. All these meals, except for breakfast, were accompanied by a side of steamed greens.
At the beginning of the cleanse I really didn't know why I was embarking on this particular journey. I'd told myself because I was curious. But now, I realized there was a much bigger message as I reflected on my 7-day journey. If one thinks about it, the cleanse can easily fit into the disciplinary principles of yoga as taught by Patanjali in his sutras, namely tapas. Tapas can be translated into "self discipline" or "internal fire." It is a practice where one is willing to sacrifices some of the superficial enjoyments in life to delve deeper and find something better. It is the concept of burning away toxins, attachments, and unnecessary or negative things stored up in the body. Performing physical asanas is a form of tapas, because we are holding positions, which might not be all too comfortable, to help us gain stronger bodies and to allow ourselves to see deeper within ourselves. This cleanse is easily another form of tapas, because we are following a strict dietary discipline to cleanse out the body, mind, and soul.
The cleanse also taught me non-attachment to food. When we are upset or stressed out, we'd always seek out comfort foods that are, most of the time, not the wisest choices. I had my share of rough edges throughout the cleanse, but I had to hold off on these comfort foods. Instead of covering up my emotions with food, I was letting them do their stuff, but eventually, these negative emotions burned themselves out.
Since the cleanse, I noticed that I have a much better digestion, with less gas & bloating. Prior to the cleanse, I was drinking green smoothies for breakfast almost everyday. Now I crave more warming, soothing, easier to digest breakfasts, like cooked grains. This might also be due to the cooling weather. In honesty, I haven't yet given much thought to fresh fruits or raw vegetables yet, although I am allowed to have some. In case you're wondering, Ayurveda principles believe that raw fruits and vegetables are cold and harder to digest, which might put out your digestive fire. I have also become more aware of the food in front of me when I am eating--chewing mindfully, eating without distractions, and thanking the food I have. Digestion takes up 65% of our energy, so when we are eating and surfing the internet or watching TV, some of those energy might be diverted to our brain, leaving less for the digestive system.
What did I miss most during my cleanse? Just about anything, really. But there were days when I just want to reach for a warm cup of chai in the morning, or pastries for breakfast, but actually just any normal food other than a bowl of yellow mush. Now that I can actually start to have some of these things, I don't crave it that much anymore. Funny how when we can't have something, we want it more. Sure, there are moments throughout the day when I'd have the sudden impulse to grab a piece of chocolate from the pantry, but these craving attacks usually don't last long.
If you've ever thought of going on a cleanse, I'd highly recommend it. For your first cleanse it is better to do it with a nutritionist or Ayurveda specialist as they can guide you and serve as support. You will gain a greater appreciation for the food you eat, and realize how little food you actually need to sustain and survive.
I'm going to close this post with a short story my Ayurveda mentor told me:
A pre-diabetic man went on a 3-day juice fast under the supervision of his doctors and physicians. Just after 3 days, his blood sugar and cholesterol levels were down to normal.