What I Learned from my Digestive Reset

Last year I did my first Digestive Reset. The purpose is to promote health by helping us align with nature’s rhythms. In the Fall our nervous system and digestive systems are more sensitive to stress. This also effects our immune system, given that it activates during times of stress to protect us. This digestive reset helps us to prepare, balance and align with the changes in the qualities from summer to fall.  The nitty gritty involved a process of eliminating some stuff from my diet (I chose things like gluten, black tea, sugar, chocolate and red meat) and adding some self-care practices like body oiling, tongue scraping, neti, daily meditation,  yoga, alternate nostril breathing along with a mono-diet that involved eating Kitchari for breakfast, lunch and dinner and eliminating snacking. Since it was the first time there was definitely a learning curve with some of the spices and getting the right texture for the mung beans and rice.  The self-care practice was easy peasy compared to the diet portion. Caffeine and sugar withdrawal are definitely brutal for the first couple days.  Eating the same thing everyday was torture after the 2nd or 3rd day. I admit I had to cheat a little bit just to have some variety while still trying to stick to an Ayurvedic diet. Like a recurring injury that arises because of a physically weak spot in our bodies, I started to notice the  weaknesses in my mind and the stories I’d tell myself about my perceived struggle. You definitely start to learn some lessons about your relationship to food and perceived hunger. I say “perceived” hunger because those feelings of hunger are usually because something else is going on (thirst, boredom, stress).  Despite the struggles I ended up feeling better because of it. All abdominal bloating from my previous eating habits had disappeared and I discovered to my pleasure that I actually have a nice flat belly! Who knew! Energy was up and consistent. I was sleeping great and aches and pains settled out. 

My experience this year, while similar has a greater sense of ease to the whole process. This year I experienced a headache interspersed with migraines for the first 6 days and then I felt great after. Unlike last year, I mastered my Kitchari making skills and it wasn’t hard to stick to the mono-diet. Like anything, a little bit of planning and intention setting can do wonders. I was also much better able to listen to the signals my body was providing and the struggle was much, much less. Sticking with my meditation practice felt easier and I could sit for longer. As an added bonus I even lost some weight without restricting food and feeling hungry.

This year I started my second Fall Digestive Reset after Thanksgiving  (they are done during seasonal transitions going into Fall and Spring). It was 10 days (the spring one is a month). This what I learned for myself:

  1. Abdominal discomfort and bloating are definitely diet related.
  2. Our bodies are masters at adapting to what we put it in. The withdrawal symptoms are clear signals of what I was putting in was keeping me limited and creating cravings.
  3. Eating wholesome, nutritious food, regularly at meal times cuts down on the desire to snack and decreased cravings.
  4. Feeling hungry and going to the grocery store with my husband shed light on all kinds of food cravings that I probably would have given into otherwise. Shop when satiated. Make healthy choices.
  5. If you can get through the headaches and irritation you are going to feel light, clean and energized after. I feel less desire to jump back into old eating habits. (although as my load increased babysit my niece and nephew so did my old eating habits. A curious correlation between stress and food…)
  6. The second time around was much easier than last year.
  7. My gut doesn’t like milk and caffeine makes me more tired and foggy. I kinda already knew this but now definitely confirmed.

This spring I will participate in a month long digestive reset as a part of my yoga therapy training program. If you are interested in learning more visit my Ayurvedic teacher Mona Warner at Janati Yoga.