We have been experimenting with a cleanse diet for the last three weeks. There are several cleanse diets out there and we used one a friend has done for years. The rules are as follows:

*No caffeine, alcohol, drugs of any kind, processed sugar, table salt (sea salt only), meat, dairy, processed foods, unnatural preservatives, all oils (except flax and olive).
**Avoid acidic foods, peanuts, white vinegar (until you can eat wheat)
***Daily routine: plenty of water, 2 T. flax seed oil, daily vitamin and detox tea (twice daily)

Day 1-2: All veggies and fruits
Day 3-7: Juice fast (only veggies and fruit, all pureed)
Day 8: Plus soft fruits and veggies (squash, melons, etc)
Day 9: Plus veggies and fruits
Day 10: Plus beans
Day 11: Plus nuts
Day 12: Plus granola
Day 13-14: Plus rice
Day 15-20: Plus corn
Day 21-29: Plus wheat/barley
Day 30: Ease into normal eating

Towards the end of the juice fast I started feeling more energetic and sharper. I found at times during the Day 14-20 that I would lose my appetite altogether if I was eating something bland. The biggest challenge was finding creative meals to make, which showed me for better or worse how much I depend on a little bacon to season a soup, some eggs and cheese to add substance to a meal, etc.

We ended the cleanse reluctantly about seven days early. My job required me to take an impromptu trip to Los Angeles last week. Although I tried to eat as close to the diet as possible, I am sure the pureed potato leek soup had butter in it and the Thai dinner had soy sauce. Jay was having a hard time the whole way through, so we decided it was time to wrap it up.

I have learned that my addiction to coffee was pretty damn intense. I can’t wait to start drinking it again, but I also think I will be aware of how much I drink. The days of 4-5 cups are over. I also cultivated a better appreciation for tea. I started a very  healthy habit of making a large fruit shake every morning with flax seed oil, which I plan to continue. All of this combined to give me a spring in my step each morning.

I also discovered how much social activity revolves around drinking. One can’t easily meet up for a “tea” at 10:00 at night. When Friday finally comes, it doesn’t feel as satisfying to ring in the weekend with juice. And having friends over for board game nights was awkward when we couldn’t offer them any delicious dessert items. It makes me savor every morsel of bread, every tender fork of meat, and the richness of cheese.

Next year I plan to repeat the cleanse in January, when social activity tends to be quieter. I am not one to really eat myself silly over the holidays, but I think an annual cleanse to get back to the basics of what we should be eating is something worth pursuing annually.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson