Day 1: I didn’t get a chance to grocery shop the eve of the cleanse as I was savoring a juicy, rare steak and a farewell glass of red wine with friends and came home way too late. But given that I literally decided to start the cleanse 12 hours before, I knew I would start unprepared. Before trudging to bed, I resolve to hit up Trader Joe’s immediately after work the very next day.
I wake up and force myself to chug a glass of water before my legs even touch the ground (which I never do). I forage in my freezer and pantry to see what I can put in my very first breakfast smoothie ever. I make a random smoothie with some frozen blueberries, a can of coconut milk, and add some flaxseed meal because that looks and sounds healthy. I try not to think about how old the bag of frozen blueberries is or that can of coconut milk, and I drink from a seemingly bottomless glass. Needless to say, it’s pretty disgusting but I force myself to finish it. Yuck. Time to go to work. I try to forget about the taste of plant in my mouth.
At work, I snack on some almonds (unsalted, raw) before I go to a yoga class at lunch. I was never an almond person (I’m not really a nut person) but I am pleasantly surprised by how tasty and filling they are. Go almonds. Superfood indeed. Lunch is ground chicken larb with raw cabbage (my favorite Thai dish) which the Husband and I made that weekend and which was in my fridge. I luck out in that all the ingredients are on the Elimination Diet list. At work, I watch a video on smoothies and gag silently as the smiling guy adds handfuls of spinach to his blueberry smoothie concoction.
On the way home I do my first Trader Joe’s run and stock up like I’m going to war (frozen pineapples, blueberries, mangoes and raspberries, unsweetened almond milk, almond butter, coconut milk, organic baby spinach, wild salmon, quinoa, organic chicken breast, lentils, and brown rice pasta). I find myself walking especially s-l-o-w-l-y past the cheese aisle, holding back a sob and looking longingly at the bread. But I know I am doing this for only 15 rather than the suggested 21 days, and so I feel determined and empowered. For dinner I make a lentil soup with pureed onions and cauliflower and it’s really not bad at all. Tasty, even. Already a soup person, I am liking the soup for dinner scheme of this cleanse. So far so good. Day 1 is over and I survived. No passing out or uncontrollable vomiting. Woo.
Day 2: Armed with better artillery, my next breakfast smoothie is frozen pineapple and blueberry, unsweetened almond milk, water and almond butter. I feel guilty as this is actually so delicious, so it can’t possibly be on track or healthy. This is also my first foray into almond milk and I must say I’m a fan. Buh-bye, skim milk. Forever. I’m hanging with almond milk now. Lunch is a quinoa, lentil and garbanzo salad, and dinner is leftover lentil soup. I am drinking water dutifully and the bowels are moving. At one point, no joke, I feel my insides move and produce a sound not unlike rusty pipes shifting or when they oil the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. Let the detox begin.
Days 3-7: Concurrently reading the book as I take part in the cleanse is nice, as it explains the reason behind eating and not eating certain items. This book is downright inspiring. Wanting desperately to become the best version of myself that I can, I fish around for my old retainer that I haven’t worn in years and stick it in my mouth before going to sleep. Damn, that hurts.
Because of the liquid meal at dinner rule, socializing becomes a tad more difficult. I agree to see the new Woody Allen flick with some girlfriends the first weekend. Minutes before meeting them, I glumly suck down an avocado and pea soup in my car. IN MY CAR…EATING SOUP… WHICH I HAD IN A MINI COOLER. Yes, I was traveling around with food in a cooler now. It wasn’t as wonderful as it was the day before since this was now cold and I had a steering wheel in my face, but again…determined and empowered. I meet them at the bar adjacent to the theater and order an ice water. Straight up. In the theater, my “friend” (just kidding, Sus!) orders and devours a personal pizza and I lean in so close to inhale the wonderful aroma of wheat, tomato and cheese, that our cheeks are almost touching. I need to chill.
The next evening, after a week straight of cooking and eating every single meal I decide to treat myself and eat out. That day I substitute my liquid meal for lunch so that I could reserve my sole solid meal (which I refer to as “my precious”) for dinner. The Elimination Diet allows this every so often (the more you talk about it, the more it sounds like a cult, right?). My thoughtful and loyal girlfriends agree to meet me at Cafe Gratitude on Larchmont, an organic and vegan spot which started out in the Bay, specializing in raw and cooked items. Upon sitting and taking a glance at the menu, I happily saw that I had may options to choose from. We decided to start with…you guessed it…nachos. Now these were as far as you could get from my haunting-nachos-by-the-pool-for-breakfast-in-Vegas incident, but they were actually not bad. And more importantly, they opened my eyes to my new favorite snack. Flaxseed Crackers with avocado. Flackers to be exact! For my main entrée, I happily gobble down a brown rice bowl with kale, avocado and organic vegan kimchi. I lean back, content.
The rest of the week progresses and to my surprise, I never feel hungry. I usually am STARVING around 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., but following the Elimination Diet, I only feel the most subtle of hunger pangs slowly start to arise. Instead of grabbing a snack around 3 or 4 p.m., I instead sip, Buddha-like, on my cucumber water and realize that I’m not hungry. I’m just bored.
Making every single meal by scratch teaches me to cook in bulk (two meals at a time). Lunch becomes not only my favorite meal of the day, but the highlight of my day where I can actually have solid (gasp!) food. I spend more time in the kitchen. I start to crave good music. Trips to the market become times of exploration and possibility. I develop a new-found appreciation of Whole Foods. I begin to watch less television. Cooking becomes less of a chore and more of a meditative activity. I wake up in the morning feeling rested and not exhausted. I start to have moments where I look around and actually appreciate small things around me. Time seems to slow down a bit. My commute seems shorter and my fellow drivers seem more cooperative. The broken clock at my gym continues to shock me each time the instructor indicates that the 45 or 60 minute workout is over (I have much more energy to expend!). Late night snacking becomes a distant memory. I feel lighter. What the heck is happening to me?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t turn into some radiant, happy health nut after a week and life becomes perfect. There are some days I feel so sleepy all of a sudden I feel I have to be a narcoleptic. Everywhere I go, I scope out the bathroom situation because I know inevitably I will soon have to pee. There are days I am mean(er than usual) to the Husband for no reason. My face starts to break out and I get the most painful extraction performed during a facial, and tears well up in my eyes for the most painful hour I’ve endured in a long time. Every social situation I come across, I start talking about this damn cleanse and what I can and cannot eat and I watch as people’s eyes start to glaze over.
Oh great. I have become a retainer-wearing, mini-cooler toting, constantly peeing narcoleptic with painful breakouts, who can’t stop talking about her detox/cleanse. Did I mention I still have my gut?
But the good definitely outweighs the bad and shocked, I realize the the first week has quickly flown by. Week one…OVER. Full of pride and feeling much cleaner, I shed a small tear of soy…whoops, I mean, joy.
Next up, Week 2!