It feels a little silly to be writing about a smoothie on a food blog, but when your digestive system works like mine, you gotta start somewhere.
(And like I said, I do have other things to discuss that I’ve been meaning to write about, so hang tight. My life isn’t all about what my digestive system is up to, so no reason this or my other blog should be!)
I want to tell you about this smoothie for two reasons. First, it’s connected to a cleanse/detox diet I did at the end of the summer, which kind of changed my life. Second, it’s one of the best smoothies I’ve ever had and it’s good for you, which is kind of a relief for those of us with digestive distress. When you’re about to give up eating forever and sit around with a sour look on your face, there should be something for you to enjoy.
Earlier this summer, I kind of lost my appetite for a number of reasons, most of which I won’t go into here (most of them have been resolved, so no need!). I’d been toying with the idea of cleaning out the pipes, flushing the system, getting a fresh start, and finally figuring out what was really up in there. For years, there had been a series of irregular cycles – sometimes I could eat anything and be a-okay. Sometimes I’d be on a strict steamed vegetables and protein and occasional burrito or sushi or French fry treat diet, and that would work best. Sometimes I’d know exactly what was killing me, and would have to force myself into dietary submission, cutting out the things I loved best just to not be in agony for days on end. Sometimes nothing would work, and everything I put in caused sharp stabbing pains within minutes, proceeding on to searing acid and bloating that made me look like I’d put on insta-weight in the form of 10 lbs. of white dough, followed by days and days and days of “Okay, seriously, I can’t tell you how really uncomfortable this is, and no I can’t remember the last time I went to the bathroom,” and eventually coming to an anti-climactic close, which usually just meant the cycle was about to start all over again. These times were occasionally broken up by truly exciting experiences of, “I just lost 3 1/2 lbs.! I should have named it!”
You’re free to stop reading at any time, but I swear it won’t be all gross stuff. Well, okay, maybe a little more.
So, even though it was the end of the summer, and the farmers’ markets were bursting forth with produce like never before, and food blogs and magazines were producing recipes that seemed to be designed with Leah in mind, I figured it was time. I wasn’t much in the mood for eating anyway. And really, given the nature of the diet, all that fresh produce came in handy.
I knew I wanted to get back to serious basics, and I knew a diet overhaul was in order. But I’ll be honest: words like “cleanse” and “detox” bug the holy hell out of me. Or they used to anyway. Partly it’s from so many people getting so gung-ho with the Master Cleanse. Let me be perfectly clear, friends: I think the Master Cleanse is one of the stupidest, worst things you can do to your body. I won’t even link to it. It puts such an enormous amount of strain on your body without real long term benefit. It’s particularly hard on your muscles – and let’s think about anatomy for a moment. What’s an important organ that’s a muscle? That’s right. Your heart! I won’t discuss it further here, but I’m happy to argue with anyone who wants to take me on.
Even so, cleanse or detox or diet overhaul or whatever, something had to be done. A dear friend of mine is a kinesiologist and a chiropractor, so I went to him for help. He recommended a (I got over it) detox/cleanse program called “Wholesome Medley,” which is based around a strict diet and uses Standard Process supplements which are all whole foods-based. Now, before you roll your eyes and give up on me for buying a bunch of supplements and getting brainwashed, I’ll expand on what I said yesterday:
- After one day, my digestive system calmed down completely.
- After one week, I was completely, 100% totally regular. LIKE A NORMAL PERSON, I TELL YOU! Down to the part where it takes no time at all and you’re not using an entire roll of toilet paper, sitting in the bathroom wondering how this can be happening when FOR GOD’S SAKE NOTHING IS TECHNICALLY GOING ON BACK THERE (and oh my God did I just type that, where is the backspace).
- After three weeks, I had only one – ONE – stomach ache, and that was when I ate a piece of meat that was fattier than the diet allowed.
By the end of the three weeks, I felt like a kajillion and one dollars. All of the dollars in the world, plus the euros. My skin was glowing, my entire digestive tract worked beautifully each and every single day, I felt light on my feet, and I wasn’t depressed or anxious.
Believe me, it was hard. There were a few days during the process – sometime in the second week I think – when the rest of my body, aside from my digestive system, felt achy and tired and grumpy. That’s apparently part of it. Even though it’s no Master Cleanse, it’s still tough on your body, which is why you should only do it about two times per year.
So why did I go off that diet, if it worked so beautifully? Well, it was kind of boring. I missed food, in all its glory. Here’s what I was allowed to eat every day, for three weeks, along with the supplements:
- Two to three smoothies, with the powdered supplement
- Fresh vegetables, as much as I wanted – mostly raw, emphasis on leafy greens (some things could be steamed for four minutes, like broccoli, collards and kale, onions, etc.)
- Fresh (and frozen) fruits, although the veg should outweigh the fruit (this was hard for me)
- Two 3-4 oz. servings of lean protein, simply prepared
- One to two eggs
The smoothies could serve as meal replacements. I didn’t have to eat all that protein, but it was there if I wanted it. And while I’m sure it was cheating, I cooked with extra virgin olive oil and used it on my salads too, along with vinegar. I used sea salt and organic pepper. And while it was a strict no-no, I had 8 oz. of black coffee every day, to avoid debilitating migraines and extreme bitchiness. But you read that right – no avocados, no nuts, no carbohydrates of any kind (some brown or wild rice was allowed, but I avoided it completely), no sugar, no dairy. Some might say no fun, but y’all are just jealous of my discipline.
So now the challenge for me is to figure out how to feel that great while still being able to enjoy life – not just during a big cheat meal, but in little ways as well. Figuring out how to transform this diet into something more fun and sustainable, going back to the simple meals I ate during those three weeks that were satisfying and happy but also discovering more complex and interesting dishes. Determining as well what I can work in and what’s best left out – either for special occasion, super cheat meals or maybe even for good.
IBS is so random, which is one thing that’s frustrating about it. Sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason, no specific thing we can all avoid, no way to 100% avoid times of “here, random stranger, please remove my digestive system with that soup spoon.” But maybe a basic framework can get some of us somewhere, and we can each fit it according to our needs and likes. Kind of like everyone else does with food in general.
So let’s start with that smoothie!
Leah’s Best Ever Smoothie
Now, I wish I’d written this earlier in the year, when I somehow was very smart and froze a bunch of this summer’s glorious peaches. Because I’d have told you to do the same. But I didn’t, so look and see if you can find some frozen peaches. If you can’t, substitute something with a similar texture and a sweet flavor that will balance out the intensity of the berries. Sometimes I use frozen mango either in place of the peaches or banana, but it’s not quite as good.
As another note, you’ll see the flax seed oil. That part is KEY, and was required in every smoothie I drank during the three weeks. It really helps me keep things running smoothly, which is why I’ve gone back to two smoothies (one this size, one with less fruit) per day.
1 generous Tbs. flax seed oil
2 heaping scoops of the supplement of your choice (kinda optional, kinda not – if you have a good supplement with all the protein and nutrients, you can use this as a meal replacement, which is nice when your whole system is flipping you the bird and shutting down)
8 oz. fruit juice (I’m fond of the triple berry juice from Trader Joe’s, or 100% pomegranate)
1 banana, any stage of ripeness
4-5 slices frozen peach (about 1/3-1/2 peach)
Large handful frozen blueberries (I like the little tiny Canadian ones, from Trader Joe’s)
Large handful frozen berry mix or frozen berry/cherry mix (also from Trader Joe’s, but any blueberry/blackberry/raspberry and strawberry or cherry mix will do)
Small handful frozen black raspberries (this is what puts it into the stratosphere)
1. Place all the ingredients in the blender, in order. Put the lid on.
2. Blend. You may have to stir once or twice to get the frozen bits down. Blend again, if necessary.
3. Enjoy. And think about how great it will be to have a digestive system that allows you to eat more than liquified foods.