I Did a Cleanse

And All I Got Was This Blog Post

I am going to tell you a little secret.

I did a cleanse.

I know that when most people do a cleanse they tell the whole world about their liquid intake and the corresponding liquidness of their output. They love to talk about their deprivation and how pure they feel.

But not me. I found the whole thing mildly embarrassing. And it is very difficult for me to admit that I cut out food – for days -- not just hours. I am the one usually scoffing at all you cleansers and food group eliminators. My mantra is: embrace healthy food don’t deny your body.

But it was 2 weeks before my 40th birthday, I had a dress. A stunning vintage orange dress and a party planned. And I had a friend who sells cleanses, and since selling cleanses seems to be akin to being indoctrinated into a cult – it is all she could talk about.

One day my husband interrupted my litany of hysterical jokes about cleanses and said: You should do one.


In my marriage we have an unspoken rule not to discuss my weight. This seemed like a brazen attack on that airtight rule. He continued, carefully: “I mean, how can you say it is so ridiculous when you have never done one?”

I thought about that. And I thought about The Dress and The Birthday and The Party. And I decided why not? If I hate it, I can always eat a cookie.

So I ordered up the powders and potions and pills. And got my blender ready.

I drank blueberry, chocolate smoothies for breakfast and lunch and had actual food that you chew for dinner (only protein and veggies). The company supplies little brown wafers that are full of chromium to take the edge off between meals. I started calling them my communion crackers as I prayed that they would fill me up. After a few days I had an unhealthy relationship with them.

My friend called me daily to see how I was doing – I started to avoid her. She was all chirpy and happy. Don’t you feel great? She would ask. And then would deflect my whining with some B.S. about my body getting rid of the toxins.

You know what I did feel? Smug. Very smug that I was existing on very little solid food so I kept going. And then the 48-hour no solid food regime started. For two days straight I was only supposed to drink this intensely-flavoured berry liquid concoction. And I did – for The Dress.

My friend called me and said: I’m not hungry at all. Don’t you feel the mental clarity? I love cleanse days!

I told her that I did feel incredible focus – so much focus that if an antelope happened to go by I could probably take it down with my bare hands.

I didn’t feel free of toxins. I felt ridiculous.

Here’s the thing. Your body is built to get rid of toxins, at no point in my two week cleanse did I believe I was doing anything good for my liver, kidneys or organs I was trying to lose weight plain and simple. And I believe that most people who cleanse are trying to do the same thing. Call it what you will – trying to stop the bloating or refreshing or whatever. We all know that cleansing is a diet – it is a way of regulating your intake so you lose weight.

I already eat mostly organic food, I don’t drink or smoke. I just eat too much. My weight, and my muffin top are not fueled by toxins in the air or the kind of food I eat, they exist because I put too much food in my mouth.

And yet, people who are on cleanses walk around with an air of superiority, listing off reasons why it is healthy to cleanse yearly – or like my friend, monthly.

So I asked noted nutritionist and author Rosie Schwartz what she thinks, she said: “They're trendy but when you consider the human body is well equipped for detoxification in the first place, they're unnecessary and sometimes risky. And contrary to popular belief, promoting diarrhea doesn’t offer advantages for your health.”

I finished my 10 days, feeling superior and never wanting another smoothie. My friend seemed incredulous that I didn’t like eating the same thing every day, that I considered the smoothie powder a processed food. And then it hit me. There are two kinds of people in the world – those who like food for the pure joy and those who could take all their food in a pill and be happy.

I didn’t like cleansing and didn’t feel like I got any “cleaner”. I was also left with a nagging feeling that I had set a bad example for my kids. One, because they wanted to know why they couldn’t also have milkshakes for two meals a day; but also because the message that not eating food was somehow better than eating food is against everything that I believe we should be teaching our kids about making healthy choices.

But the burning question – which you all want to know, is how much weight did I lose? Five pounds in two weeks. And it all came back in the next two weeks.

But you knew that already didn’t you?

Experts who are educated in nutrition say that if you do want to cleanse or just feel better, don’t follow some complicated plan or buy a kit. If Follow some simple advice:

Avoid processed foods

Eat mostly fruits and vegetables. And make them organic.

Avoid alcohol

Exercise But you knew that too, didn’t you?

Have you ever cleansed? Do you think I am completely wrong and you loved the experience?

Emma Waverman writes frequently, candidly and often with typos on the parenting blog www.EmbracetheChaos.ca, which is part of the MSN.CA (Microsoft Canada) portal. She is the co-author of the bestselling family cookbook Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them published by Random House which she wrote when it became obvious that her first of three children was going to exist on beige food for his entire life. Her lifestyle articles can be found in various publications including: The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine and Outpost Magazine. But more often than not, she can be found lurking on Twitter at @emmawaverman. She lives with her three kids -- aged 11, 7 and 5, and husband in Toronto.