Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Detox not Botox

With all the talk about bird flu and all of my family history with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease, I figure I'm only genetically capable of somewhat loaded dice when it comes to my health future.

In 1989, I gave up red meat.

It's a a little surprising I think, because I grew up in Maine, hunting, learning to shoot a gun and having all kinds of daily outdoor and wildlife experiences.

Those days I was living in Wyoming, dating a boy whose father happend to be a Wyoming guide. Despite an impressive 100% male-created, wild game, delicious Thanskgiving dinner in Sheridan, Wyoming with his family, the drive north from Laramie exposed me, for the first time, to hundreds of cattle ranches. The slaughterhouses, the methane gases, and the the fact that 100 vegetarians can eat on the acre it takes to feed just one meat-eater all convinced me that cow-centered life had much too high a price.

Did you know that 50% of our water resources in the country go towards cattle ranching? That fact, along with mad cow disease, and that I'd never really consistently craved meat, made me give up red meat that year in Wyoming at age 20.

The next several years I continued to eat turkey and chicken. But in '92, I finally gave those up too. The idea of steroids and antibiotics and chickens living penned up in a factory farm made me sick. I had seen many chicken farms growing up in Maine and the smell alone was enough to make you not want to eat chicken, especially ones crowded together with their beaks cut off and being fed all kinds of chemicals.

Consequently, for the past 13 years, I've been living a semi-vegatarian life. Being from Maine, I could never give up some seafood, which I still eat a few times a week. But I am far healthier than I once was despite eating some amounts of vegetarian junk food.

So, why now, am I deciding to detox for 30 days? Why now am I giving up dairy, sugar and alcohol? Is is hard to be nearly vegan? Yes. a little. Mostly because restaurants have very few vegan and/or sugar-free options.

I really want to be consistently conscious of my health and what I put into my body. I figure trying this way of life for 30 days should give me an opportunity to see how my body reacts and ultimately how I make it the most happy and least susceptible to the fortune predicated by my genes. Luckily, I have a 90-year old grandmother and many reasons to believe I may have inherited good health from some hearty Maine and West Virginian stock.

The hardest part of attempting this has been getting rid of sugar. It's in EVERYTHING! I try really hard not to buy things that have even cane sugar, but sometimes it is hard. I have not been eating sugar or corn syrup or any refined sugars at all. Alcohol was the easiest part because I hardly drink anyway.

Although I am getting tired of explaining WHY I am not drinking when I go out to a bar or why I can't have a piece of the chocolate cake that my co-workers or friends are clearly enjoying. At least the bartender this weekend was cool and chalked it up to being the designated driver (which I was, and it was a damn good thing too). He gave me cranberry juice and filled up my water glass all night with lemons that made it look more like a drink, which was thoughtful at least.

I have not given up coffee, but I now drink it black or with vanilla soy milk. I gave up sugar in my coffee last February. I've been trying to eat as many all organic products as I can afford since I want to try to get rid of all the toxins--built up pesticides and other junk stuck in my system from years of abuse and unconcsious consumption. I've been putting flax seed on every salad and anything else that the tiny, nutty-flavored seeds taste good on.

Here's a sample day:


1 cup of oatmeal with banana and flax seed
cup of coffee with vanilla soy milk


organic, natural peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread
a tangerine
a Kombucha (cold) tea (a fermented mushroom tea with enzymes, probiotics and detoxifiers)
water and tea all afternoon

If still hungry, snack of soy yogurt, fruit leather or more celery or some unsalted nuts


1 cup whole wheat rainbow pasta
with tomato and garlic marinara
1/2 cup soy ground meat
small butter lettuce salad with cherry tomatos with balsalmic vineagar dressing

snack of a few walnuts or frozen blueberries before dinner.

Mostly I haven't really been hungry after dinner, which is good, 'cuz that's when I usually like to snack.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to...

Over and Out,