Kathy raises some fascinating points about the value of "conscious eating" and knowing where your food is coming from. While I'm not a vegan like her, she raises the importance of being tuned in. For instance, think about the oriings of that burger at the local fast food joint. Or contemplate the beginnings of that candy bar.
Anyhow, before I continue, let me stress that this is an incredibly ambitious project to quit sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten and animal products all at once, even if just for 21 days.
While Kathy says that you should do as much as you can do, I think that giving up the five substances may just be too much for many people to undertake. For many folks, it hard enough to just stop sugar by itself for three weeks. Or perhaps eliminating coffee is all you can do. (If you tackle even just one of the substances for 21 days, it's highly commendable.)
So before you plunge into this bold experience, please proceed gently. Be aware that you may be one of those people setting your body up for a major shock, especially if you've been abusing it for years, giving it lots of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten and animal products. (A number of experts don't even suggest kicking sugar cold turkey, because it puts too much stress on your body. Of course, others think that the sooner you eliminate it, the better.)
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to discourage you, Oprah fans. I'm just encouraging you to not expect perfection. And please don't get upset if you find this too overwhelming and if withdrawal symptoms set in such as headaches, overpowering fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability and flu-like symptoms.
Anyhow, of course, Kathy urges you -- as I do -- to follow this cleanse as much as you like.
In the meantime, let me clear the carb confusion -- something I felt important to do after reading Oprah's blog entry for Day 1, in which she writes that she had some agave nectar and soy milk.
Perhaps Oprah and many of you don't realize that agave nectar really is a kind of sugar. And soy milk may have some hidden sweeteners in it. Here's what she wrote:
"So this first day wasn't hard at all. For breakfast, I had steel-cut oatmeal with fresh blueberries, strawberries, chopped walnuts and a splash of soy milk and some agave nectar. For lunch, chunky mushroom soup with wild rice and pecans. As a snack, a handful of roasted almonds. And for dinner, a baked potato drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper with a salad of shredded lettuce, cranberries, pine nuts and tiny orange slices with a vinegar and oil dressing."
First, let's discuss agave, a much-touted sweetener that's allegedly from the blue agave plant in Mexico. Agave also is non-GRAS (that means it's not Generally Recognized as Safe).
What's more, it's a sweetener composed primarily of fructose. In fact, agave is "metabolized in your body like high fructose corn syrup," according to food formulator Russ Bianchi. (FYI, high fructose corn syrup has been in the news a lot lately because of research suggesting that it's linked to obesity, etc. I delve into this in my book SUGAR SHOCK! )
Interestingly thirdly, a lthough agave is hailed for its low glycemic index, most people aren’t aware of the fact that the sweetener can be toxic, especially to pregnant and lactating women.
(You can learn more about agave from this well-resarched article about agave from The Chicago Tribune's Julie Deardorff. However, I do think she could have come down harder on the substance though.)
But rest assured. You can still enjoy sweet foods if you don't use agave. First off, you can enjoy fresh fruits as apples, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, plums, etc. You also can sweeten foods withdried fruit (you can chop up unsweetened dates, raisins, mango and cranberries); freshly squeezed or mashed fruit such as oranges, bananas, pears, grapes; and sweet potatoes or yams.
In addition, during your 21-day cleanse, you could sparingly use (preferably up to 1 tsp. max at a time of) one of the more natural sugars --date sugar, which is madefrom freshly ground, dried dates;maple syrup, which comes from boiled -down maple-tree sap;black strap molasses,which is the residue from the sugar refining process;brown rice syrup, which is an amber-colored syrup made by fermenting cooked brown rice with enzymes;organic honey from saps. pollen, nectar, etc. (but make sure to buy it straight from a farm and don't use it if you're a child, pregnant, diabetic, hypoglycemic, a senior or have celiac disease); andbrown cane sugar, which is sucrose with a little bit of molasses.
You also may wish to try stevia, which is grown in parts of south America or Asia. While the FDA considers it an unapproved food additive, you can get it as a dietary supplement. I recommend getting it in as close to its natural state as possible, meaning the ground-up or whole leaves.
Also, I invite you, Oprah fans, please read the labels of your soy milk. Your best bet is to look for the phase "unsweetened" on the food label, because if it's unsweetened, it may contain some kind of sugar. I recommend Unsweetened Eden Soy, Silk Unsweetened Soymilk, Westsoy Organic Unsweetened Soymilk and Westsoy Unsweetened Vanilla Soymilk.
A few more things. While they sound absolutely scrumptious, I'm confused by the recipes included on Oprah's website:
By the way, count me in, too! I'm thinking of joining the 21-day cleanse, starting later this week, when I finish up my supply of eggs and goat milk's yogurt. Actually, I have a major head start, because I already don't consume three (well, nearly four) of the substances:
Sugar. Just celebrated my 10-year anniversary off sugar and other sweeteners (other than a few planned and unplanned slips).
Alcohol. Ditto; also off it for a decade other than having a few small sips here and there.
Caffeine. Quit that about 15 years ago, too.
Gluten. I rarely eat that these days. I phased it out about five years ago, after learning about wheat's dangers while writing my book SUGAR SHOCK! (Several experts I interviewed planted the idea in my head.)
Animal products. I don't have them much, but I do enjoy organic, free-range chicken from time to time, and I eat lots of fish. (So that'll be my big sacrifice. It'll also be a challenge to find alternate vegetarian protein sources.) The biggest sacrifice for me would be cutting out goat cheese and goat milk's yogurt -- do I really want to be that committed? Hmm. (Guess I need PETA's help!)
In fact, agave is "metabolized in your body like high fructose corn syrup," according to food formulator Russ Bianchi. (FYI, high fructose corn syrup has been in the news a lot lately because of research suggesting that it's linked to obesity, etc. I delve into this in my book SUGAR SHOCK! )
Remember, taking a 21-day cleanse such as Oprah and Kathy Freston are suggesting will not only make you feel better ultimately, it will help you to become more focused, centered, spiritual and alive.
But, I invite you to go even longer than three weeks without caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten and eat less animal products (only organic if you do), and, I'm convinced, your life will completely change.
Jennifer Moore contributed to this SUGAR SHOCK! Blog post.