Yes, I know. It’s a poorly lighted, badly cropped, and annoyingly small iPhone picture. The photographer within me is screaming, but I was too lazy to charge my camera battery, so bear with me here. It does get better. This quality photograph is my guilt-free ice cream dessert, made with only one ingredient.
I’m sure you’ve heard of this before. The miracle delicious soft-serve that is the product of a frozen banana in a food processor? Yes, well, this is my second attempt at banana ice cream. In the first, I added some cocoa powder and chocolate chips, assuming that they would somehow mask the flavor of banana. Wrong. I don’t mind banana, but not in my chocolate ice cream, and I ended up throwing most of it out. When I tried it again tonight, I decided to embrace rather than obscure the banana flavor (because we all know it’s impossible), so I added some vanilla and handful of rainbow sprinkles. I’m pleased to say that is was actually pretty good! I’m sure there are many other variations of this ice cream out there on the internet, but if you can’t stand banana, this is probably not the dessert for you.
This whole concept of “clean eating” is relatively new to me. Up until the past year or so, I ate whatever I wanted; I thought that just because I was skinny, I had nothing to worry about. This is a major flaw in our society. We glorify thinness so much that many people see a low number on the scale as the only goal, when it is in fact hardly relevant. The more I learned about biology and nutrition, the more of an interest I took in my own health. I realized I was filling my body with processed foods galore, an abundance of sodium, and way too many carbs–basically, crap. About a year ago I started branching out in my tastes, filling up on more fruit and meat than cookies and lemonade. But we all slip up sometimes, and these past few weeks, especially over vacation, I gave up all pretense of healthy eating and let the cravings take over. Not that the food I was eating was particularly junk food, but I really hadn’t been getting the vitamins, minerals, and proteins I need, and it was starting to show. I started breaking out, became sluggish, and my depression took a turn for the worse.
I’d been hearing about “cleanses” for some time–flash diets that remove toxins from the system. While many of them sounded dangerous or maddening (such as the all-fruit cleanse or the liquids-only detox), others sounded reasonable, even doable for a slightly picky eater like myself. I found this great, pretty inclusive one-week cleanse and decided I would give it a shot. Why not break the sugar addiction and make myself feel clean and healthy? I sketched up a meal plan, down to the snacks and the times I would eat. This morning, I had some grapefruit and oatmeal (without sugar!) for breakfast at 6 AM, and a peanut butter apple around 9 AM which eradicated hunger until nearly 1 o’clock. I munched on some cucumber salad near 2, and after my Chamber Choir rehearsal, went home. Sitting on the counter were piles of fresh-baked cookies. Chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, double chocolate… I couldn’t resist. I broke the cleanse and had a cookie. It was kind of pathetic, but I’d say it was worth it. My mother bakes probably the world’s most delicious cookies.
I’ve carried on with my cleanse since then (okay, I had a piece of lasagna for dinner, but hey, who can turn down fresh lasagna?), although I think I’ve already ruined the whole point of it. I’m supposed to be breaking my sugar addiction, getting rid of toxins and all that, but I couldn’t even go one day without excess sweets. I did notice, however, the surprising energy levels I’ve had all day. Maybe I’m not being “cleansed,” but attempting this definitely made me remember how good eating healthy can feel. I’m not the sort of person who enjoys salads and quinoa and walnuts, or the sort of person who could ever go vegan or vegetarian. I like my brownies and burgers, but just because I enjoy food of the less-healthy variety doesn’t mean I can’t incorporate them into a largely healthy diet.
I think I’m going to carry on with my oatmeal and grapefruit and apples-with-peanut-butter, but I don’t see the need to continue an official “cleanse” when I’ve already spoiled the whole thing. For me, this was a rewarding conscious effort to control my health and lifestyle, and a great reminder of why I bother taking care of myself at all when eating pop-tarts on the couch is so much easier. Have you tried a cleanse or detox? If so, how did you feel throughout the process–were you pleased with the results? I’m curious to know how other people approach sensible eating!