I guess changing my life is a little bit of an overstatement and you might have read the title to this post and thought, wow, no eating for 30 days?! That’s crazy and unhealthy! The truth is, I actually ate a lot and it was great! I recently completed a 30-day elimination cleanse. I eliminated dairy, gluten, refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and shellfish and ate a diet that was primarily alkaline. In grade school we studied pH, but I really didn’t pay much attention except to note how cool it was when the test strips turned different colors. So I had to do some research when I decided to embark on this project. Eating alkaline is basically eating foods that fall at 7 or above on the pH scale. To give you perspective, the stomach pH is the most acidic coming in at 0. Blood is about 7.35. So the goal of eating alkaline is to mimic the pH level of the blood. Now there are claims that eating an alkaline will prevent cancer or reverse bone loss and that a highly acidic diet will kill you. None of these claims are supported 100% by true scientific data. But what I will tell you is that foods that are alkaline tend to be what we would consider healthy. Kale, squash, most legumes, potatoes, oats, grapefruit, lemons and the list goes on. Acidic foods tend to be those that we deem as bad for you (in high quantities, of course). Beef, sugar, artificial sweeteners, milk, liquor and processed cheeses are some examples. Acidic foods also tend to be the trigger foods that people are allergic to.
Since I am a vegetarian it didn’t sound so hard to eat mostly vegetables, but give up cheese? Coffee? Pasta? Are you kidding? And sugar? Sugar is in pretty much everything so if you want to give up sugar, start reading those nutrition labels like they’re the fourth installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy. If you are a meat eater, you’re in luck. All types of meat are approved on this plan, but the goal is to have your plate be 20% acidic and 80% alkaline, so have your steak, but limit the portion and load up on the veggies. Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it. I’ve never met a slice of cheesecake I could turn down. Plus, I had to juice, drink obscene amounts of water with lemon and take supplements. There were some other non-food related requirements, like light exercise and yoga.
But the worst part of this cleanse was giving up all social media. Surely I can send a tweet or two? No? No Tweets, No status updating, No Insta-anything? I was fairly certain I would lose my mind or, at the very least, some followers.
I was determined to do it, though. I had been feeling sluggish for a while even though I exercised 5-6 days per week and ate what I thought to be a fairly healthy diet. So I devised a plan, because you can’t just ‘wing’ this. There is some serious and strategic planning involved. I turned off my social media apps, and downloaded an accountability app called Streaks so I could track my efforts.
So how was it? Pretty amazing. Would I recommend it? Absolutely! Lack of scientific evidence aside, eating a more alkaline diet gave me energy. I felt lighter, less bloated and not at all hungry. I didn’t even crave coffee or miss pasta and cheese. I got lazy on the juicing and since I live within walking distance to a Whole Foods, I bought my green juice; which got pricey. But other than that, eating this way is pretty affordable. Quinoa and roasted vegetables became my best friend and I got really creative with salads. I was never hungry.
So I would encourage you to try a mostly-alkaline diet and see how you feel after 30 days. As with any change in diet, you should consult a physician first to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing you to feel less than stellar in your body. There are numerous charts that list alkaline and acidic foods and where they fall on the scale. To make water alkaline, you can just add lemon or lime.
The reality is that eating this way made me more thoughtful about everything I consumed. I had to plan and pay attention and not just grab something on the go. I have since added some things back in, but in very little quantities; and for the most part, I have stuck to every aspect of the cleanse. Not the social media part #obviously. I need Instagram to post photos of my fabulous new alkaline creations!
Jessica Kuiken is a LA-based Pilates instructor. You can follower her on Twitter and Instagram.
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