I’ve never understood the cleanse craze. Why start a diet that is unsustainable long-term? You can’t live off shakes for the rest of your life. Even if you do lose weight, why not just eat a little less and move a little more?
With vacation season upon us, I realized my mostly “clean” diet is light on fiber and a little high on wine. (I’ll still argue that wine should be considered a fruit.) I’m doubtful my daily cup of detox tea is ridding my system of toxins.
CHOOSING A CLEANSE
I decided to give my liver and kidneys a break and do a cleanse. I considered a few important things when selecting a cleanse. It had to be:
- Simple: I love to cook but don’t have hours to spend in the grocery store and/or the kitchen.
- Specific: I need a plan with meal options and manageable restrictions.
- Natural: Artificial sweeteners, even Stevia, inevitably cause bloating and taste awful.
- Short: Let’s be real. Weekend = Wine.
My research led me to the Kaeng Raeng Three-Day Beginner (Non-Soy) Cleanse: Three 24-32 oz. shakes per day. You can mix them with water, ice, non-dairy milk, fruit and/or veggies. They are high in fiber and pea protein. You can also eat as many raw fruits and veggies as you would like. I can do anything for three days, right?
No meat. No dairy. No grains. No caffeine. No alcohol. (Apparently wine is not considered “raw.”)
COMMENCE OPERATION CLEANSE: DAY 1
7:15 a.m. I made my first shake using the blueberry-blackberry-banana flavored packet, ice, water, blackberries, and half a banana. The result was a lovely purple-blue smoothie that I could only hope tasted half as good as it looked. And—shocker—it did! It was a huge shake and took me almost an hour and a half to finish. But at least I wasn’t dreading the next one. Shake One, Day One? Check.
12:05 p.m. A mild headache just before my usual lunchtime, I fired up the blender again with the mango mix, adding fresh mango and strawberries. This one didn’t taste as good, but it was drinkable. My headache persisted and I was a little sleepy, but I was surviving.
3:30 p.m. Mid-afternoon I found myself craving something non-sweet. Actually I wanted a thick slab of ham and big slice of Gouda. But…no! I cut up a pile of fresh veggies instead, and then headed out to take the dog for a walk.
7:25 p.m. I wasn’t looking forward to another shake for dinner, but the biggest surprise on day one was not missing my evening wine. I made a spinach salad with tomatoes, celery, cucumber, red pepper, cilantro, lime juice, a little bit of avocado, and some cracked pepper. It was the best salad I’ve ever eaten. And, while I definitely didn’t want shake three, I choked it down. It was a mentally taxing day, but my body felt good.
CONTINUE OPERATION CLEANSE: DAY 2
6:45 a.m. I woke up from a great night’s sleep rested and ready for a run. This is highly unusual; I have a closer relationship with my snooze button than I do with some of my family. Being up and ready for a four-miler before 7 a.m. is unheard of. After my run, I whipped up my breakfast and lunch shakes since I had a busy day at work and no access to a blender.
12:00 p.m. Shake two of the day, and I’m feeling great. Energized, alert and even productive.
3:45 p.m. I’m not sure what happened since noon, but I can barely keep my eyes open. I’m struggling with another full day without real food and reconsidering whether I should call my cleanse a two-dayer and be done.
6:05 p.m. I finish my dinner shake and look forward to a salad later. I’m on the fence about whether I’m going to stick it out tomorrow or not. And the smell of the burger my husband is devouring beside me is not helping.
CONCLUDE OPERATION CLEANSE: DAY 3
6:50 a.m. After another good night’s sleep, I woke up ready to finish the challenge. I knew I had another busy day ahead, so I packed up my breakfast and lunch shakes, an orange and some veggies. The day went fast, and the shakes went down easier than the first two days.
4:25 p.m. My energy level is high, so I did some weight lifting and embarked on a hilly eight-mile bike ride. Knowing the end was near definitely helped.
6:45 p.m. I finished my last shake (woo hoo!), had a cup of tea and ate a veggie salad topped with lime juice and cracked pepper. The hubby had hot dogs for dinner tonight (this is what happens when I don’t cook), so temptation was not an issue. I did, however, crave a glass of wine tonight but opted to head to bed early and finish strong.
POST-CLEANSE: DAY 4
I’m proud I stuck it out. In hindsight, the three days went relatively fast. My skin looks great; I dropped a couple pounds, and I have more energy. But long-term health is about the choices you make every day, not just three days. My goal for the remainder of 2016 is to implement sustainable healthy eating choices so I have cleanse-like results every day of the year.
COMMENTS FROM KAITLIN
Cleanses may be tempting as a quick-start to weight loss, but I have two major concerns as a registered dietitian. First of all, cleanses tend to be very low in calories and do not typically meet the minimum daily requirements for an individual’s nutrient needs. Plus, it’s not realistic to sustain this restricted eating pattern, which means it’s not realistic to maintain the weight loss. I would prefer to see individuals make a commitment to a lifestyle change toward better nutrition and increased physical activity. Short-term changes result in short0term weight loss; long-term changes result in long-term weight loss.”–Kaitlin Anderson, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian, Community relations Coordinator, Rochester Hy-Vee Stores
Sarah Oslund is owner of Inspire Writing & Consulting, inspiremn.net.