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Don’t reach through the screen and smack me, everyone who had to shovel and drive through tons of snow these past few months, but I miss cold winter running. Day 3 of this 21-day cleanse was easier on the no-coffee front. The headache was faint and faded early after a morning green drink.

I ran a slow 6 miles around Prospect Park with the sun high in the sky and beaming. Just a few weeks ago runs were timed to catch the warmest hour of the day when possible, and already it’s back to seeking the cool shade of early mornings. I was a little dizzy post-run and seriously craving calories, but that’s because I unwisely chose to run on a mostly empty stomach. At least I was prepared when I returned. Hello, bowl of creamy coconut yogurt with currants and ripe avocado.

One of the things I love best about doing a cleanse is how it seems to sharpen the senses. Maybe it’s just psychological, but I feel like I’m tasting things more fully and appreciating my food more. These meals aren’t very different from my usual diet because I’m already gluten free and vegan, but removing the processed go-to snacks forces me to put more thought into what I reach for when hungry, which inevitably results in healthier choices.

Other than cutting out processed carbs and refined sugars, more attention is going to choosing foods that are alkaline over acidic. According to my Crazy Sexy Diet book, a healthy diet will be 60 to 80 percent alkaline. In reality, most diets fall around 20:80, leaning heavily on the acidic side. In a nutshell, heavily acidic diets strain the digestive system, liver and kidneys while increasing the number of free radicals in the body. Alkaline foods fuel the body with antioxidants that stabilize free radicals and support the cells. Entire books written on this topic, The Acidic-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health, for example.

My aim is to hit that 80:20 ratio, which requires knowing which foods are what to begin with. There’s a cheat sheet in the book and this chart on Greenopedia is also useful. Without referring to the charts, I don’t know of any easy ways to tell because it’s not always obvious. Honey is acidic. Raw apple cider vinegar is alkaline, but other vinegars are acidic. Meanwhile chickpeas, black beans and some legumes are slightly acidic. Arranging a mostly alkaline plate feels kind of like playing Tetris, which I rock at.

 

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