Notes from Two Weeks on a Soup Cleanse

I know it sounds counter-intuitive to go on a cleanse or diet of any kind during the holidays, but after over-indulging in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving (not to mention on the big day itself and several days of leftovers afterwards), I decided I had to do something about my out-of-control eating habits.

So after reading about the Souper Girl one-week (or more if you desire) soup cleanse in The Washington Post, I thought I’d give it a try. Lord knows I wouldn’t survive a juice cleanse, and I tried no-carb dieting last year (with much success but so much self-torture that I don’t think I can put myself through it again), I thought it was time to try something new. My expectations weren’t too demanding (and I think that has been the key to my success with this cleanse). I didn’t expect to lose weight after just one week doing this, but I did expect to reset my voracious appetite, curb my cravings for junk food, and literally cleanse my body of all the garbage I had been eating leading up to now.

15230809_10211411641833788_6870281752162743337_n

Souper Girl’s cleanse did not disappoint. You do it in one week intervals, and it consists of four homemade, locally sourced, vegan, kosher soups a day for five days with two days off in-between where you substitute your soups with natural vegan foods like brown rice, hummus and veggies, quinoa and other similar meals. (I’m not a vegan but was open to trying this.)

Lucky for me, I live within Souper Girl’s delivery zone and received my week’s worth of soups right at my door, with flavors consisting of the likes of Brazilian Black Bean, Wheat Berry Minestrone, Curried Split Pea Appel Kale, Gingered Sweet Potato, Barley Chickpea Kale, Hearty Lentil Butternut Squash and Greens, and Gingered Carrot Orange just to name a few.

As is the key for most diets or cleanses, the first 1-3 days can be the most difficult as your body goes through a sort of withdrawal. But, again, as with most diets or cleanses, the key is to stay busy. And thank God that is exactly how my first week went on the cleanse. I was so busy at work (and over the weekend), that I simply did not have time to think about mindless eating. Having a scheduled eating regiment actually worked well with my lifestyle (and continues to).

Luckily, the soups are very filling and range to about 1,000-1,200 calories a day. You start your day with the highest calorie soup and work your way through to the lowest. And better yet, the portions are very generous (it’s a proper bowl of soup, not a cup) and because they are homemade, they are so incredibly tasty that each one was a treat to look forward to. I really did enjoy my first week on the cleanse, so much that I signed up for a second week.

What I like about it:

  • Truly delicious soups
  • Big portions and very filling
  • Packed with nutritious ingredients
  • Convenient to prepare (just microwave in the container the soups come in)
  • The “off” days offer flexibility in your diet
  • Curbs your cravings
  • Resets your appetite
  • A glass of wine a day is allowed
  • Actually does cleanse your insides
  • I lost 2 pounds; probably water weight, but it was water weight that needed to go

What I don’t like about it:

  • It’s a little pricy ($135 for a week’s supply however, repeat buyers get a $10 discount, but still…)
  • Toward the end of the first week of the cleanse I did get a little sick of soup overall, but it obviously was temporary since I signed up for a second week and continue to enjoy it

Lessons learned from the experience:

Diet truly does affect your body, both inside and out: I didn’t lose a lot of weight, but I lost enough water weight so that my clothes fit more comfortably, and my body literally was working around the clock releasing all the junk that had accumulated inside me over the weeks.

Homemade makes a difference: I’ve tried commercial diets before, and while they worked well for me, they weren’t very tasty. I truly do believe the fact that these soups were homemade made a difference in this cleanse experience. They tasted divine and were not skimpy portions.

Flexibility in a diet really helps: The fact that this cleanse has two off days really helped, and after the first week of successfully following my “off day guidelines,” I felt comfortable enough to indulge in just one meal of evil carbs and fat (pasta carbonara and fried mozzarella) knowing that the next day (and several days after), I’d be back into the routine of healthy soup eating.

Veganism is not bad: No, the experience did not convert me; I will continue to consume meat and eggs and milk and such, but I learned that my body can function just fine without those products, too. If anything, I didn’t get sleepy mid-afternoon (as I usually do at work), and I attribute that to the cleanse and likely vegan aspect of the diet.

So with two more weeks to go until Christmas, I feel much more comfortable confronting the holiday and all it’s glorious junk food and am happy to know that afterwards, I have a plan to get back on track and stay that way until next holiday season.

 

Advertisements

Living the Dolche Vita

When J. Miguel and I first started dating nearly three years ago, one of the earliest rituals we formed was weekly dinner at my place. I’d cook a homemade meal, he’d bring a bottle of red wine, and we’d spend hours eating, drinking and talking. In fact, we often remained at the dinner table long after the last crumb of food had been consumed, just telling stories, debating and finishing what was left of the wine.

Being the typical American woman that I am, there was one thing missing from these dinners that J. Miguel eventually asked me about: the absence of bread. At the time, I was (and still am) on a low-carb diet, avoiding things I tend to over-indulge in like rice, bread and pasta. This isn’t unusual for many Americans of my demographic circle, but coming from South America, this was a surprise for J. Miguel.

Upon my explanation as to why bread was not part of my weekly homemade dinners, he exclaimed with concern, “But baby, a house is not a home without bread on the table!” Immediately, childhood memories of Midwestern family dinners that included warm baskets of bread filled my mind, and I knew, sadly, that he was kind of right. Continue reading

Comfort Food from Peru

There is something about food, no matter what culture you come from, that evokes such strong emotions in people. I can think of few other things that people will happily spend hours of labor preparing, only for it to be devoured in mere minutes, sometimes without appreciation for the one who cooked the meal. And what is it about cravings? What is it about cold, rainy days like today, that drive people to seek out their favorite comforts, even if they are settling for something less than the best? It may not be like how Mom or Grandma used to make it, but at this particular time, it’s somehow good enough.

Today was one of those days for J. Miguel. He took me to a hole-in-the-wall Latino restaurant in Arlington, Virginia called El Puerto Restaurant, located in the Columbia Pike area and specializing in “authentic” Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine.

FullSizeRender 4

Before I go further, I have an embarrassing confession to make: I’m not a huge fan of Latino cuisine. I like Tex-Mex just fine, but I know it’s far from traditional. I think the few true Latino foods I have come to appreciate can be limited to papusas, salteñas, fried plantains and fried yuca. And trust me, I’ve been adventurous, having even tried anticuchos (cow hearts). There is that one time I had a fabulous Cuban lunch in Miami, but other than that isolated experience, I tend to like the fusion dishes, such as what José Andrés prepares, although those come with a pretty hefty price tag attached to them. Continue reading