Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'll just say it, "I quit'

The kids and I went to a garden up at the University of Utah this afternoon.  I took 125 pictures in a little over an hour.  It is an incredibly beautiful place.  Peaceful, yet still approachable enough that the kids could run crazy.  

Yeah, I know.  I'm a hypocrite and a loser.  Not really, but I thought I'd say that to avoid any "I told you so" comments.   Yesterday, at about 4:00 PM, Heather called to tell me that she was leaving the doctor's office and she had big news.  Her doctor told her to stop the cleanse IMMEDIATELY as it was definitely the cause of her sinus infection.  Apparently, doing the cleanse so thoroughly, and purely, from Day One, we actually shocked the hell out of our bodies and caused our immune systems to fail.  We thought that maybe we gave each other the flu, but have learned that each of our illnesses are unique, and not contagious.  I have bronchitis.  I've had it enough times in my life to know.  I've been sleeping upright in a chair for two nights, and probably will again tonight, because the amount of phlegm in my lungs is monumental and when I lay down it becomes hard to breathe, thus causing coughing fits.  My family doesn't dig the coughing fits.  So, getting back to the topic, I took the doctor's words of advice to Heather to heart.  I decided to quit the cleanse at 7 1/2 days in.  It felt great and awful at the same time.

As I look back on the last week I have several reflections.  I have been physically ill the entire time.  My fatigue was so dramatic that I was unable to work out some days, while others I exercised below my potential.  A positive thing that came from the cleanse - really positive - is that I have learned so much more about food.  One of the basic tenets of Kathy Freston's Quantum Wellness is to reflect on food and it's sources.  She wants us to think about where food comes from, what conditions it was grown or raised in, and how it will affect our health.  I learned that agave nectar rocks.  I'm not a honey fan, but love this stuff.  It looks and acts very similar to honey, but doesn't have the glycemic level that honey does.  I put it on toast (now that I have chosen to eat it), in oatmeal, tea - whatever.  The kids didn't even squawk when I put it on their whole wheat waffles the past two mornings.  

After Heather gave me "permission" to quit the cleanse, I felt guilty and thrilled at the same time.  I am typically not a quitter in the areas of food.  I would have stayed ill, and suffered the cravings, to the end if the other two did it.  However, when a doctor tells someone that it might be causing all the health problems I'm suffering, which I didn't suffer prior to the cleanse, I have to give it some serious merit.

After I hung up with Heather yesterday afternoon, I immediately had a Nutter Butter cookie.  It was the only sweet in the house.  After ingesting, it only took about two minutes - literally - for the headache to start.  I began to worry that every new introduction of caffeine, alcohol, gluten, animal products and sugar would cause the same reactions as when I quit them.  I'll admit that I had a few stomach aches last night, as I slowly added a few whole wheat crackers and natural ice cream to my diet, however today has been better.  I haven't gone hog wild.  I think that's the point.  I actually loved some of the foods I learned about.  I also still have a pantry full of quinoa, rice pasta and sugar-free marinara.  I will probably continue to enjoy these items.  I have always eaten fruits and vegetables, so this will be easy to maintain.

It's hard to admit that I quit to the world (all 1,000 of you), but I have to be honest.  I had a much better workout today than yesterday, and I have to attribute this to a more balanced menu.  Will I become a vegetarian or vegan?  Probably not.  I am definitely more aware of ingredients, and love legumes, so I could probably do it, but I don't think restricting myself to that level is what I want right now.

Chris and I talked after I told him I quit.  He refrained from finger-pointing and hysterically laughing, and instead agreed that incorporating vegetarian recipes into our regime would be great.  We have been fish and chicken people, but that's only because they're easy to grill.  I plan to find a great vegetarian cookbook (any suggestions?) and learn from it.  We also plan to cut out as many processed foods, and foods with added sugar, as possible.  That one will be tough.  Nearly everything has added sugar.  It's amazing when you start to examine ingredient labels.

I am grateful that I read the book and tried the cleanse.  It showed me that I have the tenacity (a small amount, but better than nothin') to take on something this huge.  It also taught me about balance in my life and about revering my home.  I continue to de-clutter and clean daily.  I don't have the maniacal desire to finish everything this week, but know that my entire perspective on how I want my home to feel, and look, is entirely different because of this cleanse.

I'm heading to bed now as I can hardly keep my eyes open.  It could be the multiple nights of broken sleep due to my coughing, or it's the shots of rum I added to my smoothie tonight.  

Balance.  I have to incorporate it into my life more consistently.  Extremes have never been a great idea, but they sure teach lessons.


56 comments:

Christa said...

My favorite vegetarian cookbook is Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons. My mom gave it to me about ten years ago and I still cook from it a bunch, especially after getting a community supported agriculture share last year.

Lyndsay said...

I have been a vegetarian for a long time, and I have to recommend ANY Moosewood cookbook. I have several, and there isn't any recipe that I have tried that wasn't tasty and super simple. I think my favorite is "New Classics."

The Moosewood idea is mostly vegetarian, so there are a few fish and chicken recipes in there.

ziemlich said...

I second the Moosewood cookbooks!

galainoregon said...

any cookbook by deborah madison will help you make amazing vegetarian meals. and if you want to continue thinking about the food we eat, its origin and its place in the consumer cycle, i think barbara kingsolver's "animal, vegetable, miracle" is a must. and i promise - none of these will make you sick! feel better soon!

blackbird said...

It is a shame you got sick and didn't feel well - but I'd still chalk it up to a learning experience and it sounds like that's just what it was...

Marcie said...

I have to say your last paragraph sums it up - balance.
Good for you for trying this and trying to be more aware. I'm heading to buy her book today.

kitty8joe said...

i came to recommend the moosewood new classics cookbook--looks like everyone agrees. good luck to you.

maya said...

lately, i've been enjoying the 101 Cookbooks blog. she's vegetarian.

http://www.101cookbooks.com/

Lyndsay said...

Maya - I forgot about that! I just recieved her book in the mail yesterday, and it is fantastic. "Super Natural Cooking" is the title. It is filled with gorgeous pictures and a ton of good ideas. There are lots of whole grains and good veggies. I have made recipes from the website, but not the book - but I can't wait! Yummy food!

Powell Family said...

Congrats on making it this far. I hope you start to feel better. It doesn't sound like the cleanse was having the right effect on your body & it was time to stop.

Clara said...

Not sure if it's available in the States but there's a vegetarian restaurant in Victoria, BC that is so great they made a cookbook, and that cookbook is carried in most bookstores in Canada. It's called Rebar, I really recommend the Powerspheres which call for fruit sweetener (I use agave nectar). I wouldn't say the recipes are basic or super simple but they're pretty delicious. Enjoy!
PS - you didn't hear it from me but you can probably google powerspheres and rebar and find the recipe.

KikiRiki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ana said...

I agree with the Moosewood suggestions too! I grew up with those books and I am not a vegetarian. I agree with your blog -- balance is key.

I hope you feel better soon too. Thanks for sharing your experience.

KikiRiki said...

As someone who grew up in a meat loving family and is married to a meat loving man it was hard for me to fit vegetarian meals into our routine but Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian has been a huge help. The recipes are simple but delicious.

Congrats on making it 7 1/2 days. That is an accomplishment if you ask me!

Susie Sunshine said...

A Nutter Butter isn't the best choice, but not the worst either. My husband's friend celebrated the end of a week long fast with salami, cheese, and scotch.
He threw up all night!

Best wishes on the start of an entirely new outlook on food! (And share some good recipes!)

Just The Girl said...

I would have quit after day 1 so don't think of your self as a quiter just think you lasted way longer then most!

Rebecca said...

Balance is right. People tend to be very all or nothing: either they eat meat everyday, or none at all; either they don't eat any refined sugar, or they eat processed foods full of sugar.

There can be a nice in-between place, though. I almost never eat meat, but I don't feel any need to be a vegetarian. I eat oatmeal for breakfast, but I put (sugar-sweetened) dried cranberries in it for sweetness and flavor. Dried fruit is a great way to get a sugar fix without adding all of the chemicals that go into processed foods. Plus, I'm pretty sure dried fruit has some nutritional value.

You can have a healthy, fast/processed food-free diet without cutting out all sugar, meat, dairy, caffeine, etc. Good luck finding the right balance for you.

Rose said...

I was startled by your opening line. You are the opposite of a hypocrite, and you have been completely honest. Neither you nor Heather came across as preachy or sanctimonious in your writings about the fast - far from it! You are to be applauded for being conscientious and introspective. Thank you for sharing your experience with the blogosphere.

Me said...

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

My Life My Life My Life said...

Love the shot...very clear...makes me want to pick dozens of them.

I think making a right decision is very good balance. It was the right decision to stop the cleanse so everything is in its perfect place...no quitters here.

clueless carolinagirl said...

I was "mostly vegetarian" for 25 years, until I learned that I had a serious iron deficiency. Now you can do two things with that. You can either take foul smelling pills that make you incredibly constipated or you can eat a steak. I opted for the steak and now eat red meat 2-3 times a week. I feel much better and have more energy.

jonniker said...

I'm going to second "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" as it really does rock.

And have I asked you this before? Have you roasted carrots? Please, go forth and roast carrots with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. You'll DIE. So rich and delicious. So good. Also good: roasted tomatoes done the same way, but in thin slices. Both are great for vegetarian sandwiches.

And Carol, I'm relieved for you. I know, I know, I hate to be one of Those People, but I was worried about you. It ... it seemed very extreme, and I know you, and I know that you ALREADY have great control and thought over what you eat. You do. I've eaten with you and talked about this with you and I just ... I was worried about you, given how sick this was making you.

Not not NOT "I told you so" because Jesus knows I would have been happy to be wrong.

Neesja said...

The best advice I have had is avoid foods with a "bar code"! Generally means it has been over processed. We are lucky to live on Vancouver Island, home of the
"100 mile diet". Not that I follow it but it is a great perspective on where your food comes from. Enjoy your new balance!

Dirkey said...

Anything from Christina Pirello rocks my socks off!

practiceliving said...

Like Clara, I recommend the Rebar Modern Food cookbook. The Rustic Bread Salad is my favourite - I think I could eat it 3 meals a day for the rest of my life, happily.

Juliann said...

You can't go wrong with Bittman, Madison or Moosewood. I got a copy of the Essential Vegetarian Cookbook by Diana Shaw when I first became a vegetarian and have gotten a ton of use out of it over the past 10 years.

I would suggest grabbing a bunch from the library and flip through them. That way you can get an idea of the recipes in the books and if they fit your cooking style before you purchase them.

jen said...

i also love "vegetarian cooking for everyone" by deborah madison. also love "claire's corner copia" - best soup recipes.... esp the potato corn chowder. yumm.

Britt said...

Good for you listening to your body (and your friend . . . and your friend's doctor).

A new cookbook I'm loving is by The Splendid Table folks. While it's not purely vegetarian, there's one small meat section with main courses of veggies, eggs, pasta and so on. Each meal is less than 20 minutes active prep time and simple enough that I feel confident altering the recipes right off (and they provide good variations). A link's hopefully at the end of this comment.

Good luck!

http://www.amazon.com/Splendid-Tables-How-Supper-Award-Winning/dp/0307346714/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214455217&sr=8-1

Katie said...

Snaps to you for taking on a healthy challenge! Please, not even for five seconds, don't think you're a quitter, your last paragraph is determined, 'fo schizzle.

I think the original old skool Moosewood cookbook is a stellar place to start, and I'm super eager to read Barbara Kingsolver's book ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, which seems to be a lot about being more mindfull about where food comes from.

Hope you feel better soon.

cathryn said...

I have been a vegetarian for almost 16 years and our family lived off of recipes from the "Vegetarian Epicure" by Anna Thomas. She's recently published "The New Vegetarian Epicure", which I have used copiously, to the point that every second page is stuck together!
Happy cooking!

Anonymous said...

Bittman's "How to cook everything vegetarian" is a really good staple cookbook. And if you haven't read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," I recommend it is a good primer on what vegetables are in season when and its a good overall perspective on healthy, local eating. It has good recipes too! Congrats on your partial cleanse! I don't think I would have been able to last 8 days.

Sara said...

I'll admit that I'm confused. How did the diet weaken your immune system? Was it that you weren't getting enough something-or-other? If so, what was it that was lacking? And is it found in Nutter Butters? If so, hurray!

Nicole said...

ha!!!! I quit also...Well, I never actually went as full throttle as the two of you. But I broke down and had a cup of coffee yesterday after I spent ALL DAY Tuesday fighting- I MEAN MAJOR FIGHTING AND STRUGGLING- to stay awake.
And I agree with the Moosewood comments. I've got one of their cookbooks...good stuff.

By the way!! I'm free!!! I'm calling. Get ready. We've got some catching up to do.

xo

brie said...

I was a vegetarian for about ten years and the Moosewood books were my bible(s). I also recommend "Pretend Soup" by Mollie Katzen for kid-friendly veggie recipes. Even though I eat meat now and again I still try to eat a few vegetarian or vegan meals a week. You should take a look at:
- Vegan With a Vengeance
- Veganomican
- How it all Vegan/Garden of Vegan
Someone else mentioned the Rebar cookbook---it's pretty great.

mbbored said...

Mark Bittman "How To Cook Everything Vegetarian."

I agree with the Moosewood ideas.

I also like "Very Vegetarian" by Carl Lewis.

Dawn said...

a good cookbook that has a lot of vegetarian recipes is 1000 Lowfat Recipes by Terry Blonder Golson. It also has lots of healthy non-veg recipes, too! I use it a lot and have never been disappointed.

Also, a good vegan cookbook is Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton.

pflower10 said...

Where do you find brown rice pasta? I have heard so much about AGAVE nectar lately and am excited to try it out. Can it be used just like sugar too?

Anne said...

Moosewood Cookbook is great, as is the Whole Foods Cookbook. I haven't seen Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything Vegetarian," but I have his "How To Cook Everything" and I LOVE it ... so the veg one is probably worth checking out.

As for quitting the cleanse, don't feel bad. It IS about balance and there's nothing balanced about a cleanse. I asked my doctor about cleanses last year and she didn't recommend them either.

jen said...

Any cookbook by Jeanne Lemlin is excellent. I've used the Moosewood cookbooks for years and I love them but I felt like I needed more time-saving recipes and found them in Jeanne Lemlin's Quick Cooks book.

I only lasted 3 days on the cleanse and felt fine mostly because I kept my one cup of caffeinated tea (with soy creamer) and 1 teeny teaspoon of sugar. I know it was only 3 days, but it did make me aware of how often I crave sugar. Like, after every meal and a couple more times in between. I substituted fruit and, can I share a bit?--I've never been more REGULAR and that is FABULOUS!

Rochelle said...

I recommend Veganomicon, and you don't have to be strict about using 100% vegan ingredients. The recipes are generally uncomplicated, easy to follow, and provide lots of basic tips for people like me who are not naturally talented in the kitchen and hate having to track down some esoteric ingredient in my local crap grocery.

The book has really helped me out, as I find most vegetarian cookbooks, especially the "chef-y" ones like Madison and Moosewood, to be just too complicated and demanding for everyday life.

Rochelle said...

P.S. My omnivorous husband, who IS a great natural cook and never uses a recipe, has loved everything that has come out of the Veganomicon, as the recipes are chock full of spice and flavor.

Lauren said...

Hi. Just came to your site via Dooce and started reading some previous posts. My heart aches for Ben and for you and for your husband. I wonder how now, a couple of weeks since the phone call, things are going. Must also say that the two Anonymous posters should be ashamed of themselves; and Julia, whoever you are, your words were beautiful.

hopalong said...

The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook actually has some nifty stuff -- I love the Sweet Potato Biscuits and the Orange Creamsicle smoothie.

Anonymous said...

veggie cookbook: rebar. I think really this is the only cookbook I need. I eat meat too, but mostly eat veggie, and mostly from this book.

Jodie said...

My favorite vegetarian cookbook is the Enchanted Brocolli Forrest cookbook.

me again said...

Also, make your own marinara...really simple, and guaranteed to be sugar-free!

mek said...

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison is our bar-none favorite vegetarian cookbook, like many others here have recommended. Frankly, I like her attitude and it's a better fit for us than our Moosewood books have been. We're not a vegetarian household, but we eat a lot out of Madison's cookbook.

And, another vote for Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - it's a cool book for many reasons.

Chris said...

Live and learn I say. At least you tried something to better your health, too bad you had the opposite effect.

I was born and raised vegetarian. Still am. My suggestion is that you go to the library and check out a bunch of cookbooks and try them all till you find one you like.

Anonymous said...

Moosewood is great, so is How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Debroah Madison. Good Luck!

michelle said...

deborah madison's cookbooks rock. i started with vegetarian cooking for everyone...

BnonB said...

One clarification: Molly Katzen has a series of 3 cookbooks and one is called the Moosewood Cookbook. She worked at the restaurant in Ithaca, NY, for awhile. Her others are Enchanted Broccoli Forest and Still Life with Menu. The Moosewood Restaurant itself has several cookbooks as well. I like Mollie's better.

A friend who used to be a vegetarian read "Good Calorie, Bad Calorie," and now eats beef sometimes. She said it's worth reading, as it explains the science behind the various diet schemes, low-fat, low-carb, etc.

Rebecca said...

My favorite cookbook is Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. Her other cookbooks have been good as well, especially the Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes cookbook. Enjoy!

Surprised Suburban Wife said...

I know, you got FIFTY TWO comments already but here's my two cents: "Eat, Drink and Be Vegan" by Dreena Burton is the best vegan cookbook I've used. She's big on agave nectar, whole grain flours, and brown rice. Her baking works really well too - everything rises and is nice and moist unlike many vegan recipes I've tried.

Babette said...

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison...Really, for EVERYONe--kids and husbands love it.

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Zoe said...

Veg Planet by Didi Emmons and the Moosewood books are great for beginning vegetarian chefs and have great simple meals, but if you have kids that arent too picky the best vegetarian cookbook I've ever used is World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey. I LOVE this book and use it to make meals all the time to which the response is "you MADE this? from SCRATCH?

I received the Madison book as a gift, and I havent been that impressed. It was also my sixth or seventh veg cookbook, so maybe it's better as a starting point?