Recently, my friend and I decided to embark on a 7-day cleanse. Actually she decided, and then I decided to join her. The plan includes a ton of fresh vegetables (which we both love), eaten steamed or stir-fried in olive oil and also gently boiled into a vitamin and mineral packed broth to eat throughout the day. Additionally, several shakes made from fresh veggies, protein powder and flax seeds and oil can be happily drunk. Even hummus and certain nuts are allowed. Suffice to say that this “cleanse” seemed like nirvana to me since I really do enjoy eating healthfully (did someone mention lemon bars?). The biggest challenge for me was going to be starting the day with hot fresh lemon juice and green tea instead of my usual gigantic serving of blazing hot chai and oat bran crunchies (my morning ritual with a favorite book).
Day one found us washing, chopping and cooking the broth, which turned out to be yummy! The lemon juice was great too, as it reminded me, of course, of my favorite lemon bars (sans delectable crust and sugar of course). And I like green tea, so all was well…until day two when I began to feel deprived.
Day Two: It started as a loneliness for my morning ritual, which was not quite the same with substitutes, and grew into an insidious coveting of any and everything anyone else was eating. I found this strange, as I typically eat whatever I want and don’t concern myself with this at all. In a moment of clarity (ok, and hunger) I realized that the cleanse was over. Though it contained a myriad of healthy foods I adore, the strict plan also reminded me that I needed to honor my recovery by choosing not to participate in an endeavor that unexpectedly harkened back to pre-recovery days. Deprivation was taking me backwards twenty plus years, not forward. I was not experiencing cleansing, I was becoming darkly irritable.
Part of healing from bulimia when I was 23 had to do with exploring deep psychological issues. An equally large part had to do with food itself, which had unwittingly become a coping tool, albeit an unsatisfactory one. Since eliminating food from life is a bit tricky, one can only renegotiate the boundaries, establish a new relationship. Little by little, that’s what I did. And ironically, I found that allowing food free reign, and me free choices, was the unexpected path to wholeness.
This beautiful piece of rainbow chard, resplendent in green and yellow and absolutely delicious steamed with a tad of butter, reminded me that recovery is also beautifully resplendent, and a sacred, holy gift to be honored. As for the cleansing, that’s been happening for the last 23 years.