Last week, I wrote about my journey with this year’s spring cleanse. It has been my experience that when I mention the word ‘detox’ to some people, they ask whether I am juicing, how strict the cleanse is, and for how long I have to be on the program. My answers are no, I do not juice; my cleanse is not strict (however, as with all other programs, it requires commitment to the action plan); and I set my own time frame for the cleanse.

I can’t blame the people who ask these questions with a look on their faces that lets me know how sorry they are for me. I used to respond in that same manner before I gained the understanding that it’s possible to cleanse in a gentle way. To me, a cleanse is not a punishing process that we undergo for three days and then abandon altogether when we return to a lifestyle of relying on coffee consumption to stay awake, eating greasy foods in a hurry, and drinking alcohol several times per week.

For me, an elimination cleanse is an opportunity to remove certain substances from my diet that have a tendency to make me feel unwell and/or zap my energy. It’s an opportunity for me to tune in and notice how I feel when I eat cleaner, healthier foods. Leading up to the detox, I was already eating plant-based food 90 per cent of the time. I did not consume alcoholic drinks and did not smoke, so I was starting with a relatively clean slate. However, I wanted to eliminate a habitual craving for chocolate, caffeine, cheese, and foods containing refined sugar.

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My typical breakfast (complete with oily fingerprints on the table that accidentally got into the shot): Steel-cut oats with coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, walnuts and desiccated coconut; herbal tea.

Throughout this year’s 10-day cleanse, I was able to successfully eliminate those pesky cravings. I have been enjoying my clean plant-based (mostly) nutrition plan and chose to continue with it past the completion of the cleanse. I love the feeling of clarity and the natural boost of energy I get when I eat steel-cut oats in the morning, beautiful soup with lentils for lunch, and various salads with chickpeas, hearty greens and plenty of garlic for dinner. I have also been avoiding snacking in-between meals. Since I don’t miss the taste of cake or cookies, I don’t want to venture back down that artificial sweet path unnecessarily and then feel the need to eliminate sugar from my diet once again.

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My typical lunch: Chickpea salad with purple cabbage, red bell peppers. carrots, pickled cucumbers, and avocado, drizzled with a dressing of lemon juice, EVOO, garlic, apple cider vinegar and sea salt.

I am not strict, but I try to stay disciplined. I have started to re-introduce dark raw chocolate and caffeinated tea into my diet, because I am not entirely against those. I have made a pact with myself to set certain boundaries around tea and chocolate and respect them. Instead of drinking caffeinated tea on a daily basis, I now choose to have a cup twice a week. Instead of eating four squares of dark chocolate every day after dinner, as I used to do, I allow myself a single square of chocolate every few days. Right now, this is the right lifestyle for me.

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My typical dinner: Stirfry with carrots, broccoli, bok choy, bell peppers, cashews, tofu, and garlic. Served on a bed of brown rice and sprinkled generously with sesame seeds.

I’m truly starting to understand the importance of continuing to experiment with nutrition and learning on an ongoing basis. It really is a lifelong journey. The way I ate five years ago no longer serves me. The way I eat now might not be right for me several months from today. Nothing is static. We continue to change. Our bodies continue to change. We have to honour ourselves and meet ourselves where we are today. There is no golden rule that everyone must follow when it comes to healthy nutrition. The only guideline I would recommend is to be kind to ourselves and to trust the intuitive feeling to guide us along the right path for us at this time. Focus on what is working today, stay present, continue to pay close attention to the fluctuations as they happen, and make the necessary adjustments.

How do you make decisions about healthy nutrition? Do you tend to read books or magazine articles on nutrition? Has your nutrition plan remained the same throughout your life, or has it changed? What were the catalysts for those changes?

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