Monday, November 23, 2015

Liven up that Liver!

A two week liver cleanse. How hard could it really be? I have to admit I went into it feeling more than a little smug. After all, I have been an avid disciple of the 80/20 style of eating for four years now on the advice of my London nutritionist. Eating this way and avoiding too much gluten, dairy, refined sugar, alcohol and bad fats has become a way of life for me. Liver, schmiver. I was going to kill this.

How wrong I was. Speaking from the comfort of reaching day 10 (and on my third and, hallelujah, ye gods alive, last day of liquids only) I had no idea just how tough it would be. Or how good I could actually feel depriving myself of many of the foods that I usually really enjoy.

It helps when two of you are doing it together and I don't have to look longingly across the table at hubby tucking into fish and chips with a glass of Chablis while I demolish my falafel, lentil and squash salad (delicious though it is) accompanied by a glass of eau plat.

It doesn't help when your 16 year old daughter - who could walk The Great British Bake Off - decides to turn into Cooking Mama in the absence of any solid food on offer and start baking Millionaire's Shortbread and making her own spicy chicken goujons and home made fries (I don't even eat chicken but still found myself drooling.) The shortbreads are stacked enticingly in the fridge, silently mouthing 'eat me, eat me' every time I open the fridge door. I have insisted we freeze a few down so I don't lose the plot.

But I digress. Back to the benefits. Within four days, I noticed that I was sleeping longer and more deeply right through the night (instead of waking at 2 or 3am and lying there fidgeting for an hour or two.) I'm guessing this is due to the lack of stimulants (alcohol, caffeine, gluten) washing around my body. I feel refreshed every morning and ready for the day as soon as I wake (this is not my usual state, I assure you).

And, shallow I know, but the cosy little muffin top that has been keeping my midriff warm for the last two years is gone. Yup, gone. Today I tried on a ridiculously small pair of Zara Capri pants that I bought on a mad whim two years ago and have barely worn due to the fact that I couldn't sit/eat/breathe out while wearing them. They fitted - snugly, yes - but comfortably enough to be requisitioned back from my daughter's closet and into my own.

We all have our reasons for doing the liver cleanse. Mine was to give my body a recharge after a particularly manic and social summer/autumn before the onslaught of Christmas party excess. It has forced me to keep my diary freer than it has been for many months - definitely no bad thing - and even make some time for the odd decadent essential oil filled bath, complete with detoxifying Epsom Salts, which is something I am always too busy to do.

It also encouraged me to think about my goals (thanks Emma) and be proactive about the future. A healthy body and mind have always been top of my list but if a by-product is fitting comfortably into my gorgeous Roksanda Ilincic figure hugging dress for a glamorous Christmas party, then I'll take that too, thanks!

In the interests of balance, there have been a few downsides aside from my kitchen turning into the Cote d'Azur offshoot of The Hummingbird Bakery. I have been hungry since the day I started, despite copious Nourishing Protein shakes, super green smoothies and many an afternoon spent concocting new dishes from the recipes Christine and Jess have kindly supplied. Maybe I'm not eating enough I thought, until hubby accused me of sabotaging his weight loss programme by putting too MUCH on the plate (that's what cooking while ravenous does to you). He reckons it was easier when he was doing it by himself!

I have discovered that I miss tomatoes, aubergines and my beloved bananas on rye more than I miss alcohol. Also, that chewing is underrated. I am peeing about three times more than usual (that is the toxins rushing for the door according to Christine, so all good despite the inconvenience of needing a convenience every half an hour.)

On the plus side, I have really enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone to create a few extra healthy breakfast, lunch and supper dishes that mix it up a little and make it less boring for the folks. The support from the rest of the group has been amazing and I haven't suffered the headaches and other niggles that a few of my cleanse friends have experienced.

With just a few days left to go and the prospect of a delicious Sunday lunch out to celebrate that fact, the 64 million dollar question is, would I do it again? Hell yes. Sign me up for March!