I recently accepted the challenge to go for 7 days without any gluten, sugar, dairy, caffeine, or alcohol. That’s right, no fun stuff.
What’s left, you say?
Actually quite a lot. The best part of the experience was a re-education on clean food and how our bodies digest it. I’ve read myriad articles on healthy eating and I know the basics, but somehow the knowledge wasn’t translating to what I put in my mouth.
That was my main motivation for this brave stunt. I was feeling gross all the time. I’d say I was going to “be good” and I would eat two relatively healthy meals every day, but somewhere around 4pm, I’d start to slip. I made bad snack choices, ate pretzels while preparing dinner, and then treated myself to 2 or 3 cookies or pieces of chocolate after dinner, usually as a reward for the thankless job of cleaning the kitchen and tackling bedtime.
I knew I was carrying extra pounds. I could feel it when I ran and when I put on jeans. The jiggle was starting to make me feel uncomfortable, and causing critical whispers in my head.
I tried several times to say I would watch my eating for a few weeks– leading up to an event or trip– but I had a tough time sticking to portion control and healthy snacking.
My friend and wellness expert, Pam, suggested I try a cleanse several months ago but I wasn’t ready. One day I decided it was time.
There are dozens of cleanses, but Pam advised me on one called the “7-day Refresh” from a company called Clean. (By the way, I have no connection or allegiance to this company or product, I’m just sharing so you can benefit from my experience.)
I received a box with 14 packets of chocolate powder for shakes, 7 small bottles of a pomegranate-flavored “Boost” drink, and 14 packets of supplement pills. There was a helpful guide with directions, explanations, and recipes that made it look so doable. Looking through the box got me excited, like buying new school supplies in August. I was eager to try something new and feel better.
I was supposed to have a shake for breakfast, healthy food for lunch, and a shake for dinner. I figured I could do anything for 7 days.
I could, but it wasn’t easy.
The first day I made the shake with coconut milk, almond butter, frozen strawberries and a banana. It was ok. A little thick because I put too much stuff in and my blender is not fancy, but I was able to finish most of it. I swallowed the 4 horse pill supplements and instantly wondered why I so willingly popped random pills I knew nothing about. As I tried to suppress my gag reflex while gulping the pills, I reassured myself. Pam wouldn’t encourage a cleanse that would poison me, right?
My lunch the first day was green, leafy spinach with chopped up veggies and a hard-boiled egg for protein (eggs were the only exception to the dairy restrictions.) I learned how to make quinoa, which I substituted for the whole wheat crackers I usually have with my salad. I used balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt as dressing.
Guess what? It was delicious.
I didn’t feel deprived or hungry. In fact, I felt victorious. It all tasted great and I didn’t overeat.
But then came dinner. I planned ahead and got prepared chicken for my kids and gave them the leftover quinoa from lunch, and some veggies. (Only Jacob ate the quinoa, the other two acted like it was curdled milk.) But I didn’t like watching them eat while I drank my meal. Plus, the shake was not tasting good.
The next morning, I made my shake with different ingredients and convinced myself that it tasted ok, but I could barely finish it. Lunch was salmon, seasoned with olive oil, lemon, and dill, some greens and brown rice. Another tasty meal.
By dinner, I noticed that the shake powder smelled like baby formula and seemed to be getting thicker in the glass each time I made it. Ick.
In addition to the shakes, I filled a pitcher with 64-oz of water every morning and defied myself to finish it. I drank more water that week than I probably did in the previous month, because it felt like a contest I could win.
If I was starving and needed a snack, I could have a half cup of raw almonds, which was more satisfying than it sounds. I find eating things one at a time soothing, especially when trying to limit my intake.
I’m not gonna lie, by Day 3, I officially hated the taste and smell of the shake powder and was forcing myself to drink it. I was also feeling cranky. I was feeling deprived of solid food and bitter that I still had to feed my kids. But there was no way I was giving up.
Although I dreaded drinking the shakes, I looked forward to the challenge of creating a healthy meal that met all the criteria. Those cleanse people are no dummies. Of course if you’re drinking most of your nutrients, the solid food you’re eating is going to taste amazing. So you’re manipulated into discovering that many healthy foods are delicious, and you begin to crave clean foods, free of any additives and preservatives. Sneaky!
But those damn shakes starting feeling like a punishment. I completely acknowledge that I think my blender was not up to the task and if I had a better one, the shakes would have been thinner and more palatable. But honestly I tried every combination of almond butter, coconut milk, almond milk, fruit, and vegetables with that chocolate powder and as the week dragged on, it tasted worse.
I also admit that I didn’t keep up with the pills or liquid pomegranate boost drinks I was supposed to be using every day. It was hard enough making the time to plan all my meals and my family’s meals.
I managed to make it to the 7-day mark without fainting or hurling once.
Curious about the results? Did I lose weight? Did I get an energy boost and feel less tired? What was my mood like? What nutritional lessons did I learn? What did I learn about myself?
This post is already too long so stay tuned for the next one I survived a 7-day cleanse– THE RESULTS– later this week!