Experiment Report: The Cleanse

No coffee. No wine. No meat, poultry, or fish. No eggs. No dairy. No sugar. No gluten.

What's left? 

I found out what, for a week in April. I decided to try my first-ever cleanse. I'd heard friends talk about them with unexplained enthusiasm. To me it has always seemed like a crazy undertaking for people who aren't as hungry as I am.  

But, with bold intentions of using my sabbatical to try new things, and with an extra layer of winter insulation firmly glued to my midsection, I figured I had nothing to lose. Or rather, I had a few pounds to lose. Why not jump on the cleanse bandwagon? How bad could it be?

Actually, I feared it would be quite bad. I imagined the tedium of eating vegetables and drinking smoothies for an entire week. I imagined hunger. Deep, stabbing hunger. I imagined failing and having to admit to everyone that I couldn't hack it. 

I'm pleased to say that none of those things occurred. The cleanse experience completely surprised me!

Here are some details about my experience, for anybody who might be curious.

The smoothies were quite filling, packed with enough greens to make them super healthy, but enough fruit to make them sweet and tasty. I drank a smoothie every day, usually for breakfast. I know it looks awful in the picture above, but truly it tasted pretty good!

I developed a new love for quinoa. I made quinoa tabouleh (pictured above.) I made broccoli pesto and mixed it into quinoa. I used some leftover quinoa to make a breakfast cereal by stirring it into some almond milk and heating it up. Quinoa is a very tasty, filling, and versatile food. 

I wasn't hungry. In the first few days, to be sure, I felt the urge to eat. To chew and swallow a wider variety of foods. But even I had to admit that this was different than actually being hungry. I was just missing the habit of constantly snacking. (A handful of almonds or dried apricots came in handy at these moments, and were on the cleanse "acceptable" list.)  

I gave myself permission to add a few items to my menu that weren't technically on the cleanse list, but felt "cleanse consistent." Examples:  a drop of maple syrup in my quinoa breakfast cereal. A spoonful of hummus with my lunchtime quinoa. A few scoops of guacamole on gluten-free veggie chips.  I followed the spirit of the cleanse if not always the letter of it's law, and used common sense and moderation to adjust it as needed to get me through the week. 

The outcomes:

1) I felt great by the end of the week. I have trouble putting my finger on exactly what felt different, but I know I felt different. Better.

2) I lost about 6 pounds. It was a great jump start heading into summer.

3) I broke some habits that needed breaking. My pot of coffee every morning, and my glass of wine every night, were strongly ingrained habits. It was great to break the habit, and realize that I really don't need those things. I am sure I will go back to some coffee and wine, but with the knowledge that I really don't need them every day. It's possible for both to be occasional treats, rather than everyday habits.

4) I discovered some new recipes that I plan to continue as part of my post-cleanse diet. I've already made the quinoa breakfast cereal, the green smoothie, and the quinoa tabbouli several times each, post cleanse.

5) I feel a renewed sense of what's possible. I can change my habits. I can resist the glorious muffin at Cafe Borrone. I can lose a few pounds. I can eat collard greens (in a smoothie.) 

Several people have told me they can see the difference around my waistline. Maybe they're just being nice. Either way, I feel motivated to keep up the momentum and weave some of these healthier habits into my post cleanse daily routine. 

All in all, this experiment was a resounding success!

If you've been curious, and on the fence about a cleanse, I encourage you to give it a go! You might be surprised.

And, if you are interested in the particular cleanse I used, you can check out The Yogi and the Cook, the website of the yoga teacher who ran the cleanse I participated in.


  1. Wow, it is amazing how much we can change in just 7 days. Can you share what cleanse you used?

    1. Hi Jac, The cleanse I participated in was run by a local Yoga teacher. She is also a nutritionist and has her own cleanse plan, including recipes, suggested meal plans and educational information. I edited the post to include a link to her website where you can see more about her and her services.

  2. Nice writing style. Breezy and easy to read, but it didn't convince me to try a cleanse. Dad