The current wife and I have embarked on a 21-day “cleansing diet”. This is not to be confused with a “weight-loss” diet, although some modest weight loss is expected as we will consume fewer (but healthier) calories than the standard American caloric intake of approximately 15,000 per day (not including chocolate eclairs on special occasions). This cleansing diet falls waaaaay short of that. I believe this diet includes something like a robust 28 calories per day. At the time of this writing, we are 10 days into the adventure.
The idea behind this three-week cleansing diet came after someone (and it wasn’t moi) read the book Clean by Alejandro Junger, M.D. In brief, Dr. Junger asserts that our habit of eating three squares a day, especially the “All-You-Can-Stuff-in-Your-Pie-Hole” buffet and “Super-Size-Me” portions, offered nationally by several purveyors, interferes with our body’s ability to eliminate toxins. In fact, our standard diet is the source of many of these toxins. The toxins thus build up and cause inflammation in various organs, joints, muscles and bones. In other words, everywhere.
The only way to give the digestive system the time required to seek out and eliminate these toxins is to give it a three-week vacation from heavy lifting. Fasting would be one way to accomplish this but fasting does have some downsides including gnawing hunger and death. Dr. Junger considers these side effects too extreme. Let’s hear it for Dr. Junger!
The restrictions of the cleansing diet are strict. Basically, if it tastes good you can’t eat or drink it. Here are a few of the no-nos: caffeine , dairy products, alcohol, red meat, starches, sugar, artificial sweeteners, tomatoes, peanuts, corn, oranges, bananas, strawberries, breath mints, shellfish, eggs, chocolate eclairs. There are many more, but this covers the food categories that make up most of my routine diet.
One of Dr. Junger’s favorite targets is milk. He claims that milk is “poison” and should be banned. One of his strongest arguments against milk is that humans are the only mammals who continue to drink milk beyond infancy AND, the milk we drink after infancy is collected from a different species (mostly cows but also goats and sheep). Personally, I’m pretty certain that if cats had opposable thumbs that they would regularly sneak into the barn and milk a cow or two. Just sayin’.
Well, you may be asking yourself, after all of these food restrictions, what’s left? I’ll tell you what’s left: kale. Apparently, there are no fewer than 63 different recipes for kale. This amazing fact means that for 21 days we can eat a different and, according to Dr. Junger, “delicious” meal at each setting, as long as it is made with kale. (Is it mere coincidence that Junger rhymes with hunger? I think not.)
Actually, we can add certain things to the kale to spark the taste buds. And, since breakfasts and evening meals must be in liquid form thus requiring heavy-duty blending, we have invested in the world’s most expensive blender, the Vitasmasher Platinum 2000, or some such.
This blender’s friction at high speed actually turns raw vegetables into hot soup; no other cooking required. If you let the thing run on “high” for more than 12 minutes, anything within a three foot radius actually swirls into a fourth dimension. The safety instructions are very clear on this. Naturally, a blender this powerful isn’t cheap but we were able to finance it through the company, which takes monthly payments directly out of our bank account. We will own it outright in 2031.
Our typical daily meal schedule during the cleanse looks like this:
Breakfast: A delicious shake of kale, coconut water, almond milk, blueberries, cashews and ice plus a tall and refreshing glass of extra pure water.
Lunch: A delicious raw kale salad (no dressing) with almonds, carrots, plain grilled chicken and sauteed kale plus a tall and refreshing glass of extra pure water.
Dinner: A delicious hot pureed soup of kale (substitute spinach from time-to-time if you are zany), avocado, broccoli, millet, Pro-Biotic liquid and onions. Garnish with a sprig of kale plus a tall and refreshing glass of extra pure water.
Our digestive tract cells are thus freed from their normal routine of trying to digest mostly solid, somewhat masticated, food and so breeze through the liquified kale with time to spare. With this additional time, the digestive cells, not ones to fritter away free time, go hunting for mucus-encased toxins. See, as a protective measure, the body coats toxins with mucus to defend against the toxins until they can be eliminated. In essence, our bodies are filled with eensy weensy mucus balls with a crispy toxic center. Well, what self-respecting digestive cell wouldn’t want to consume these little puppies?
If one doesn’t occasionally cleanse the digestive tract in this manner, the walls of the gut (intestine) grow thin to the point of wearing through. When this occurs, one has a “leaky gut”. According to Dr. Junger, a leaky gut allows undigested food to escape the intestine and roam freely in the body looking for some excitement. Sensing an intruder, the body’s infection-fighting cells spring into action, surrounding the partially intact Big Mac and “stab it with their steely knives” just like in Hotel California. While they are busy doing this, these white blood cells can’t also protect the body from various germs or viruses. So, you get sick frequently. Ergo, one cleanses the gut to eliminate aches, pains, crows feet, liver spots, indigestion, colds, flu, chronic maladies, depression, hearing loss, nearsightedness, erectile dysfunction, flat feet, scaly skin, vertigo, bunions and warts. Sorry to report that hair loss or growth is unrelated to gut health.
Finally, here is what I can report from the front lines of the cleansing adventure. First, the feeling that “something is missing” is overwhelming during my waking hours. Second, the absence of a morning coffee causes headaches and the intense desire to strangle Dr. Junger. (These symptoms usually abate after lunch. I think it is the grilled chicken). When reading a copy of the Wine Spectator magazine, I tend to audibly whimper. Food commercials piss me off. A social life is nearly impossible. Kale is decidedly green, both coming and going (no matter how many blueberries I add to the blender, the shake is still green). The carton of Dulce de Leche ice cream in the freezer actually calls out to me by name whenever I pass the fridge. I constantly think about mucus. On the plus side, post meal clean-up is a snap.
The book recommends that one take a “before” and an “after” cleanse photo. It was while looking at my “before” cleanse picture that I agreed to embark on the program. Clearly, I had nothing to lose.
Observoid of the Day: If it were true that “we are what we eat”, most people would look like Mr. Potato Head.