A month ago when I visited my family in North Carolina, I found myself with lots of time to chat with my Aunt Mary while I waited for the snow to melt in NYC. We were sitting at her kitchen counter, her munching on jalepenos, talking about food and toxins, when she told me about her liver cleanse. For a few years, she said, she had 15 extra pounds on her frame she just couldn’t get rid of. She felt uncomfortable in her clothing, but even though she ate whole, healthy foods, it wouldn’t drop off.
She found a holistic doctor through a friend, who tried a few different things unsuccessfully, and then finally put her on a liver cleanse. Aunt Mary dropped five pounds during the cleanse, and then continued to drop ten pounds after. I was intrigued. What did this liver cleanse do to make her gain back her ideal weight?
The idea, she told me, is that once you get all the toxins out of your liver and fatty tissue, your body is able to kick up your metabolism to where it should be, instead of struggling to deal with lingering preservatives, pesticides, and high-fructose corn syrup.
I was pretty inspired by this, so I started doing some research. At first I just found a lot of wonky, first-person articles about a 2-day cleanse, which involves eating olive oil and some supplements and being in extreme pain. No thanks! I wanted to find something a little bit more credible, less painful, and longer and more thorough.
And then I saw someone tweet about the Clean Program, by Dr. Alejandro Junger, who is certified MD and a New York Times best-selling author. I went to the website, and liked what I saw. The Clean Program has been recommended by Vogue, Elle, US News, People, Martha Stewart, Donna Karan, and Gwyneth Paltrow, among others. I definitely don’t live and die by US News and People, but their recommendations tell me it’s not a complete sham. The before and after pictures and testimonials were compelling evidence as well.
Here’s the rub: It’s a bit expensive. Ok, really expensive: $350. But this is what you get:
- 3 shakes supplements to create two shakes a day for breakfast and dinner (You can have them by themselves, but I’ll be adding in recommended stuff like almond milk and berries.)
- Lots and lots of other supplements to have with every meal
- Recipes using approved ingredients for your lunch meal.
- A whole support website with videos and forums
What I like best is that they have plenty of guidance and information, and it seems that it goes nicely with my beliefs about food. In an introductory video, Dr. Junger explains that Americans have a cycle that involves too much processed food, too much sugar, emotional eating, and toxins. Yup. So the program is supposed to get you out of that cycle, get the toxins out of your body, and give you more energy and wellness. That is exactly what I’m looking for. Finally, the website offers a list of all of the ingredients, which I looked up on my “Don’t Eat It!” iPhone app. They all checked out.
I was convinced. I put in my order, and now all the powders and supplements are taking up a whole shelf in the fridge. They came in on Tuesday, but something like this takes a lot of planning. So I waited until today to sit down, look through the literature, pick out some recipes, plan my meals, and go grocery shopping.
Most of it was food that I can really use and will last me into next week at least: almond milk, apples, garlic lemons, coconut water, carrots, pine nuts, and kale, to name a few things. But the tamari sauce, the whole head of napa cabbage, and the celery gave me pause. I don’t want to waste food, and all this very specific shopping goes against my new rummage-and-cook philosophy.
Yeah, a few things worry me. Let me just list all my fears about the Clean Program right now, and get them out there:
1. That it won’t be enough food. Is two shakes and a lunch meal a day enough? What if I’m working out every morning or going to yoga?
2. That my body will freak out while I’m detoxing and my work performance will suffer. Symptoms of detoxing include headaches, tiredness, and nausea. Eek! Hopefully since I’ve been eating well for a while, it won’t be bad…
3. That I’ll cheat and have takeout when I’m stuck late at work or have drink this weekend. I’ve already proven with my “No sugar” month that I’m a huge cheater. This is going to be even harder!
4. That I just bought a bunch of food I won’t eat.
Look, I’m really going to try to stick with the program and do my best. I’m going to deal with hunger the ol’ “Can’t leave my work desk for lunch” way and say no to people trying to give me food. I’ll still be creative with my meals. I’ll just be more creative now that I have new parameters. It will be worth it!