clean: the gradual reintroduction of foods, or “hello cheddar, my old friend. i’ve come to nibble you again…”

on friday around lunchtime, i broke my dairy fast.  it was heavenly.  my child was a screaming mess because it was nap time and he was hungry, but i was putting together lunch as quickly as i could.  i decided to make the yummy bean and chicken burritos (using brown rice instead of white rice and brown rice tortillas instead of wheat, and still no salsa, but otherwise back to normal), so i’d shredded some cheese for those.  as i nibbled my first slice of cheddar in three weeks, i honestly didn’t mind the tantrum happening on the floor right next to me.  i had this dreamy, far away look on my face….  i kept offering slices of cheese to the [not so] happy toddler, but he’d say, “no!” and run away, so i was forced to eat them myself.  (seriously.  it was a bit of a cheese noshing fest.  i wanted to make reeeeeeally sure i wasn’t allergic!  :) )  finally, he allowed me to pick him up and as soon as he saw the pile of shredded cheese, he grabbed an enormous handful and shoved it in his face.  i handed him a plastic mug and he filled it full of the shredded cheese and then happily ate some of the beans i’d offered him earlier, but mostly just wanted shredded (not sliced) cheese.  apparently, i wasn’t the only one who’d experienced cravings these past three weeks.  we also enjoyed some plain yogurt with fresh pineapple for dessert–yum!

for supper, we decided it was definitely time to eat out again.  i still was only allowing myself the addition of dairy, so we couldn’t go just anywhere, but with a little digging, i discovered that bunky’s cafe has both a gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian menus, so i figured i could probably find something there to eat.  mr. happy stuff is being a bit more relaxed about his re-introduction process.  he had coffee this morning and chose to drink a beer and eat some bread with his dinner, but so far, he hasn’t experienced any ill side effects.

we got to bunky’s and i just grinned from ear to ear to be back in a restaurant.  even more awesome that it was one of my favorite restaurants that we don’t visit very often!  i ordered my usual (lamb kafta brochette, served on a bed of basmati rice with a side of their amazing homemade hummus, a small green salad, and their yogurt sauce) and as i ate, i realized that with just a little tweaking, we probably could have managed to eat at bunky’s even while on the cleanse (note to future self).  i got the gluten-free bread option, and if i’d forgone the yogurt sauce, i think it would have been clean (okay, well, the rice was a white rice, but it wasn’t the sticky glutinous kind of rice, and it may possibly have had butter on it?  but since they serve vegan options, i know i could have asked for a dairy-free version if i needed it).  it. was. de. li. cious.  i almost teared up at one point, i was so happy to be eating such wonderful food and to be back in a restaurant (who knew that’s what i’d miss the most?  is that pitiful?) and to see my boys enjoying their meals so much.  we ended up ordering the happy toddler two child-size portions of the cheese tortellini and he ate all of them except the last one!  plus, he ate at least half of the bread plate and about a quarter of one of my brochettes.  i only ate one brochette, then stopped because i was full (not painfully stuffed, but certainly satisfied) and packed the rest up for lunch next week.  mr. happy stuff got the chicken schwarma and agreed that although he wasn’t painfully stuffed, it was an extremely welcome sensation to feel full after three weeks of always feeling a bit underfed.

we spent the rest of the weekend at our annual church retreat and had so much fun hanging out with our friends (the happy baby was having a blast ramming around with all the kids there and although he fought going to bed, he crashed pretty hard and quickly every time he went to sleep).  in addition to adding in dairy on friday, i added sugar on saturday (hello, valentine chocolates.  you tasted delectable!), and gluten on sunday.  i also accidentally ate some margarine and i think one baked good i ate may have had some egg in it, but i haven’t experienced any overt symptoms at all.  my throat is no longer sore (although i’ve almost completely lost my singing voice, but that might just be from singing and talking too much this weekend), my tongue still has a tiny sore spot, but its migrated to the top side of my tongue which is a marginally less painful location than the very tip, and the itchy spot on my hand is the clearest its been in three weeks.  mr. happy stuff suggested that perhaps i have an allergy to the lack of dairy and gluten.

we both noticed an increased awareness about food this weekend.  on saturday, after a big breakfast and a pretty big lunch, mr. happy stuff realized he wasn’t really all that hungry for supper and bypassed the baked potato and just got a small bowl of chili (which he didn’t even finish).  the only thing i could eat off of the snack table was some dried fruit, so i ate a little of that, but i realized that it’s not completely impossible to just not eat the snack food.  i’m not sure if it’s better to just eat one of the things i’m really wanting (nutter butters, no-bake cookies, brownies) or if eating even one will just open the floodgates of flavor desire.  even today, when i could have eaten more of the snacks on the snack table, i had no interest in the pretzels or animal crackers that were left, and so i didn’t eat them.  i know that seems fairly non-exceptional, but i have a habit of eating food just because it’s there and that’s a habit i wouldn’t mind dumping.

people have asked me if i felt different while on the cleanse or if i feel more “clean” now that it’s done.  i’m not sure i ever got that “burst of energy” feeling that others have talked about, but i did lose about 9 lbs (we’ll see how long that lasts) and i did learn a lot about food, about reading labels, some new foods we might try to add to our weekly menus, how incredibly pervasive tomatoes are in our diet, that ground turkey is a perfectly fine substitute for ground beef in many situations, that i love eating out, but that i can choose healthy foods when we’re in restaurants, that i don’t need to feel obligated to finish all the food the happy baby doesn’t eat, that i don’t need to snitch bites all the time while i’m cooking, i’ve learned some healthier, more satisfying snack options, and i’ve learned that i can actually say “no” to a brownie even if i’ve been smelling it bake all morning, and that there’s no reason to indulge in rich foods if they’re not your favorites.  the jury’s still out on the “long-term” effects, but if anything interesting happens during the reintroduction process, or if i have any deep insights, i’ll be sure to post them here.  thank you all for your words of encouragement to us throughout this experiment.  if you have questions or are considering your own cleanse, i’d be happy to give you my opinions!

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