I’m on Day 2 of my first detox cleanse ever. I wanted to see what the hype was all about and to see how my body will feel – after 10 days of no alcohol, no sugar, no caffeine, no dairy, no gluten and no animal protein.

I must say, I love the food. The facilitator gave us a recipe book full of the most delicious vegan recipes. The food reminds me of high-end spa cuisine, salads with lots of seeds, nuts, and avocado, and breakfast porridges with dried coconut, the ubiquitous chia and hemp seeds, and fresh fruit. Green smoothies. Lots of turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.

After my usual interval training class at the gym on Monday morning, I was lightheaded and shaky and kept seeing floaters. I went home and made the Brain Booster Smoothie – walnuts, avocado, banana, blueberries and vanilla protein powder. I was still hungry afterward and ate a bowl of carrot-ginger soup. Today, the lack of coffee is causing me to drag. It’s been decades, literally, since I skipped coffee for days in a row. Thankfully, I have no headaches from withdrawal. But I feel like a faded dim version of my usual self. I didn’t realize I was so reliant on caffeine. I typically only have one cup of coffee a day. I love the aroma of coffee almost more than the taste.

Evenings are my big problem. I love to snack at night, especially on sweets. After the kids are in bed I scout the pantry and fridge for cookies, pie, cake, pastries. Ice cream is a less favored choice but it will do in a bind. Last night I looked longingly at the maple leaf sandwich cookies I’d bought earlier yesterday for my daughter’s lunches and thought briefly about ditching the detox. But I kept thinking about what Linda said, that the detox is like a computer reboot, necessary to clear out the hard drive – in this case, our liver and kidneys. I looked at the testimonials on her website about how great the participants felt at the end of the 10 days – “so much energy,” “no sugar cravings,” “better sleep.”

So I’m sticking to the detox as a matter of faith, hoping that I, too, will be one of the ones who benefits from this squeaky clean diet. I’ve already decided, post-detox I will continue to make these recipes, with a bit of meat here and there, and allow myself the moderate amounts of coffee and alcohol I usually consume. While I don’t really see myself giving up added sugar, the whole experience is a good segue to getting the family to eating healthier meals. Last night they were all clamoring for some of the cauliflower dahl I made. I shared, but gave myself a full plate first.

4/27/17. It’s Day 4 of the detox. Thank god. It turns out my smugness at evading the seemingly standard caffeine withdrawal headache was premature, as I was gradually beset by a combination headache-earache (left ear only) yesterday. The aches were slight but persisted throughout the day. Today they are gone and I feel good, strong and less foggy. I even played an hour of tennis this morning without seeing stars or getting lightheaded. This food is amazing, did I mention that? I guess they have to make it tasty or people won’t convert, or will only do so short-term. Like my friend Kristin, who said she had done one of these once and will never touch tofu again. Such a shame to be soured on a food because it was foisted on you in unappetizing ways.

I gave my friend Elizabeth a sample of my carrot-ginger soup because she said it sounded tasty. I also gave her, unsolicited, a small container of my green goddess smoothie. She made a face and wrinkled her nose when I brought it over to her. “Ummm, no thanks…what’s in it?” I told her it was kale, ginger root, pineapple, an apple, lemon, and parsley. “Try it! It’s good for you and packed full of vitamins,” I insisted. She dubiously took it from me. It’s been several hours and I’ve received no text with rave reviews. Either she hated it all or forgot about the containers and left them in her car.

Still craving cookies a bit. Maybe it’s time to make the Brain Boost Smoothie or banana cookies.

5/5/17. The last official day of detox, Day 10, was Wednesday. Today is Friday. So for many of my fellow detoxers who intend to continue on, today is Day 12. But for me, it is just plain “post-detox.”

A lot has happened between Day 4, when I last wrote, and now. The factual stats are:

  • my weight either stayed the same or increased a bit;
  • I did feel steady energy throughout the day, no peaks and valleys;
  • I learned I don’t need caffeine! Exhilarating to kick a 25-year-old habit;
  • I very much missed my carbs, cheese and sugar, although my cravings decreased slightly over the 10-day period.

I cheated a bit on Day 6 while cleaning up after my son’s birthday party. As I dumped the plates into the garbage I came across a plate with a half-eaten piece of cheese pizza that I KNEW was his. I had the briefest thought that I should toss it, even as I reflexively sank my teeth into it, savoring the taste of the cheese. I thought it would be just one bite – but no, I ate the whole remnant.

However, in a departure from my past “all or nothing” approach to anything requiring discipline, I got back on the wagon on Day 7 and ate healthfully until Day 9, when a good friend from out of town came to visit. A devout foodie who used to live here, she wanted to sample the latest and greatest in DC’s culinary scene. I took her to Chaia DC, a most delicious vegetarian taco place in Georgetown where we ordered the mushroom and asparagus tacos and I had a carrot orange ginger juice. When the first gulp of juice went down my throat I tasted the long-missing sugar and got an immediate buzz. Either they added sugar, or were using the same type of nectar-sweet navel oranges Whole Foods has stocked recently – hopefully the latter!

After Chaia, we went to 14th Street, where I had the most delectable scoop of Marionberry ice cream. That evening I had a 50th birthday party to attend. We went to a French restaurant. I chose the best I could, a seafood dish that I’m sure was bathed in butter. But I skipped wine and just a bite of the fruit tart they brought the birthday girl.

So Day 9 was a bit of a downer, but I resumed the diet on Day 10 and since then have continued to try to make healthy choices.

In sum: did I find the answers to what I sought in undertaking this cleanse? Generally, yes. I see that I have perhaps not more energy, but steadier energy – and that is a good thing. No spikes and dips because the cycle of caffeine and sugar has been halted. I’d love to continue with no caffeine and sugar, except for special occasions. I have not had coffee again, but have drunk decaf twice – and am not sure I need even that. I am making more mindful choices, reaching for the peanut butter or walnuts instead of cookies or chips, and not serving as the human garbage can for my kids’ leftovers. I’ve dedicated part of my Sundays to cooking batches of vegan-healthy food for the week – breakfast porridges, smoothies, lentils, hummus – so that it is close at hand and convenient to pack. I’m sharing the main course entrees with my family and adding a bit of lean meat only. I don’t know that I will entirely give up cheese, bread, and sweets – mainly because I don’t want to. They’ve been such a staple of my diet for so long. =) I will probably drink moderately, as I always have – perhaps a smidge less. (Even thinking I’ll cut back for Elizabeth’s upcoming 50th birthday party and alternate seltzer with wine for the night!)


But these are positive developments. Every little bit helps. I like food too much to cut out all that is fun and yummy – like the apricot fruit tart from Paul’s Bakery, a good cup of La Colombe, the blood-orange doughnut from Bread Furst, or the occasional scoop of honey lavender ice cream. As my friend Emily said, “perfection is the enemy of ‘good enough.’”