In engaging in this fruit cleanse my goals were twofold: A.) Give my digestive system a breather from having to break down a wide variety of foods and B.) Allow for a fibrous cleansing of my digestive tract. Rather intuitively I chose an all raw fruit cleanse, only later researching the use of a raw fruit cleanse and the positive experiences others had during their cleanse. Below are my three big takeaways from three days of eating solely bananas, plums, grapes, mangoes, grapefruits and melons.
1. Most of your daily “cravings” aren’t linked to hunger
Something I discovered throughout this cleanse experiment was the root of my cravings. Most of us recognize that there is a difference between cravings and hunger but often times we respond to them in the same way: by eating. Of course, there are positive cravings, intuitive eating, for example: a diet in which you base your eating patterns off of what nutrients your body calls for at any given time. Since intuitive eating generally refers to whole foods, we’ll speak of cravings here as the foods you want that aren’t necessarily healthful or nutritious.
What I was able to recognize throughout this cleanse was how cravings are generally a mental experience, triggered either by a thought of a certain food or dish, the smell of a meal cooking or even a picture or video of food. It goes to show how effective food marketing is at triggering our senses, making us salivate and buy into restaurants and food products. Think of the cotton candy machine at an amusement park that spreads delicious smells making you instantly want, if not that food, some food to satiate that craving.
How I was able to tackle these sneaky cravings creeping in was to recognize that my will power is in no way directly tied to the thoughts of “you should eat this” or “you need this right now” running through my brain. This is easier still if you practice meditation and distancing yourself from your mind. All it usually takes to beat a craving is to take a deep breath, clear your mind and suddenly it won’t matter as much anymore. A trick you can use, all the time, not only while following a strict diet.
2. much of your snacking may be routine-based
The first night of my three day fruit cleanse was the hardest. There was a few reasons for this, the first of which was that I’ve become accustomed to eating my meals in front of a TV show, Youtube video or movie, and if it’s not meal time but I’m watching something, I’ll often want to have a snack to accompany whatever I’m watching. It’s a sort of oral fixation paired with a routine I’ve implemented that’s programed my brain into thinking I need to be eating while I’m watching a show. As much as I enjoy my routines, it’s helpful to be able to acknowledge my eating patterns so I can at least choose a healthier snack or meal while I’m mindlessly watching TV.
Look into your own routines and see where you regularly eat perhaps without realizing it, maybe it’s a coffee and a pastry every day before work, a snack from the vending machine every time you leave your office building or an inability to go out with friends unless it’s surrounding a meal. None of these patterns are inherently bad, but it’s helpful to notice your patterns so that you may be more mindful of the choices you make and to determine if you even want to be eating. Also it can save you a ton of money!
3. It’s important to slow down while cooking & eating
Whilst only eating raw fruit, all I had to focus on in the kitchen was cutting up & skinning fruits. The fact that my time in the kitchen was simplified to these acts allowed me to bring my whole presence to what I was doing. I found myself being much more mindful when preparing my fruit platters, because there was only one thing to focus on. But this is a practice I think we can take into cooking all the time with any diet.
If you feel overwhelmed in the kitchen, then try simplifying your meals, or take a deep breath and focus on bringing your attention back to what you were doing. As someone who generally does enjoy cooking, I find that when I’m able to bring my attention back to the cooking at hand I get much more joy out of the experience and the food even tastes better. Try not to be thinking of everything else you need to be doing in that day when you’re cooking to improve your experience while in the kitchen.
Of course, the same goes for eating. You’ve just spent all this time in the kitchen creating something delicious, the least you can do is be present while eating and give the food your attention and gratitude. I say this as someone who usually does eat in front of the TV, but if you can eat in silence without any stimulation even better. The idea is to be appreciative of the food you eat and the work it required.
I hope these tips offer some guidance for practicing mindfulness in the kitchen, and throughout the day while you’re eating. These tips are applicable to all diets and areas of eating, not just fruit cleanses or veganism. For me, it took a period of slowing down and simplifying my diet to gain this insight that I can now use all the time. Stick around for more blogs on veganism, mindfulness and holistic living.