Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The big German cleanse, Day 0

I haven't posted here in a long time, and am not sure if anyone is still reading this. The big disappointment: I will not be posting about food for the next week. Instead, I'm writing about NOT having food for a week.

For a variety of reasons, I'm doing a cleanse, but not one of the usual 'crash diets' or 'Dr. X' Amazing Juice Wonder'. Sticking to my roots, I'm doing a German 'fast' losely based on a German doctor named Buchinger, who called the thing “Heilfasten”. A healing fast, literally, because it was first used in his clinic for people with chronic diseases. But there are many benefits for healthy people, and it's very easy to do at home.

In Germany, this is not really a woo-woo kind of thing; lots of people fast for a couple of days or do this type of cleanse in one variation or the other (there are no hard and fast rules), often twice a year, but mostly during Lent. It's not a method to lose weight - you might lose some during the time, but it's mainly water and you'll put it back on in no time after starting to eat again.

Will it detoxify my body? I'm not quite sure. The last time I did this, I did not experience any of the supposedly typical symptoms of toxins being flushed out of your body (e.g. furry tongue, bad breath and general smelliness, headaches or dizzyness). I was a young and health-conscious vegan at the time, though, with daily yoga and 8 hours of swordplay training in the Aikido dojo. There's no medical evidence that the body builds up toxins, but many people swear the cleans helps do detoxify their bodies, especially those with asthma and allergies. I don't believe that the body will build up toxins that it's unable to cleanse by itself, but let's see if two years of eating animal products have made my body toxic.

People report about experiencing the fast as a deeply spiritual experience, many speaking even likening the feeling to being high. Again, I'm not so sure. I'm not a particular spiritual person, though I have no issues with meditation and yoga. Replace 'spiritual' with 'psychological' and much of this stuff makes sense.

But really, the cleanse doesn't have to be for anything like this.
I returned to London after almost 2 years of travel, and I'm happy to be here. Work is going well, my social life is going well. Yet, I feel strangely unsettled, have trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, eat way too many animal products, waste a lot of time on the internet instead of doing things that are important to me, that I enjoy and benefit from. Telling myself all these things doesn't seem to help. I work from home and could go out any time, but I barely do so. My yoga routine has completely disappeared.

I need a spring cleaning for my mind, and it probably won't hurt my body, either. I need to push the stop button and instead of spending so much time buying food, cooking food, eating food, going out to eat, focus on things that are important to me. Maybe even push the reset button and get a new start.

I meant to start the cleanse from Monday, but after a boozy night in a lovely country cottage, I don't feel like eating much today. Maybe a good reason to get started today already.

Day 1 of the cleanse simply a day where you eat lightly, with lots of fruit and veg and no or little animal products.

And get the equipment all ready!

The equipment:
Hot water bottle and micro-enema. Sexy times, I know!

As your digestion mostly comes to a halt during the fast, it's really important that you... well, cleanse your colon first. Otherwise, you'll keep feeling hungry as your stomach thinks the digestion keeps going (and some say the undigested stuff in your gut can lead to re-toxification. Whatever). This isn't as nasty or terrible as it sounds. Many people take Epsom salts or similar to create artificial diarrhoea. The medical industry has also invented these nifty mini enemas, which are as easy to use as a suppository. Because I refuse to drink something that tastes nasty, when drinking is all I will be doing the next days.

A propos drinks: There's no need to get any fancy stuff. Many people make their own juices, but honestly I can't be bothered and use organic proper juices instead. What I will be doing myself this time is to cook my own vegetable stock each day, but I've done it with storebought ones before. Get good quality, organic stuff, without added sugar or nasties. Smoothies and very thin, finely puréed soups are ok, too (that's my take on it at least).

The outline for the fast recommends that you only drink a certain amount of juice and soup, but I'll disregard that one – if I am not eating, I at least want to decide what and how much I'm drinking (and I don't fancy fruit juice too much anyway, so probably won't experience any sugar shock).

So in addition to fruit and vegetable juices and “soup”, the menu will feature herbal teas, water, fresh ginger tea, plain miso soup, and if things get hairy, the leftover pumpkin soup in my freezer. Also, lemon for the vit c and against the general taste of nothingness in your mouth.

My last meal: a salad of mixed green leaves, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and a tiny bit of 'Drunk Goat' hard goats chesse (next time, Deborah!)

Let's get started.

P.S.: The girlfriend is worried that I might be 'starving' myself. Not so – they human body can go without solid food for a remarkably long time, and with this kind of fast, you give your body about 300 calories a day and all the minerals and vitamins it needs.Unless you are very underweight, pregnant or suffer from a severe chronic disease, it's perfectly safe.