After months of debauchery, I decided that I’d had enough of my disgusting eating habits (peanut butter from the jar anyone?) and that it was high time for a cleanse! I had the best of intentions for following the Master Cleanse. I had lemons and pure maple syrup and cayenne pepper — enough for days! But things didn’t go quite as expected (as they never really do).
For the 25 people in the world unfamiliar with the Master Cleanse, it was conceived of by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s, and revised in the 70s. Burroughs believed that consuming only maple syrup-sweetened, cayenne pepper-spiced lemonade for 10 days would detoxify the body and remove excess fat. The cleanse is still widely practiced today, despite the obvious chinks in its proverbial armor (lack of nutrients, losing water weight vs. fat). On the cleanse, the practitioner can drink as much of the lemonade concoction and herbal tea as desired. There are 3 phases to the cleanse: ease-in, cleanse, ease-out.
This is my tale.
7:00am: Up and at em! While the idea of drinking lemonade doesn’t sound like the most delightful thing on this great big planet, I’m resolved to do this! At least for the 4 days until my scheduled pancake breakfast with favorite-landlord-ever, Errol. I decide that I will cheat, just a little, and allow myself coffee (decaf! almost exactly like herbal tea!), sweetened with maple syrup, of course.
7:30am: Lemonade! This stuff doesn’t taste so bad after all!
9:45am: More juice!
10:00am: I’m so very sleepy. I take a shower and decide I will take the day off to recuperate from the ever-so-strenuous cabin weekend with handsome beau.
11:00am-5:00pm: Squeeze, squeeze, more juice. At some point in the afternoon, I realize I have forgotten to add the cayenne. I watch the entire Pillars of the Earth miniseries, plus a few episodes of Mork & Mindy, season 2.
6:00pm: It can’t hurt to have a few almonds, right?
7:00pm: Maybe a little coconut oil (Don’t ask, because I really have no answer as to 1. why this seemed an acceptable exception, and 2. why it sounded appetizing.)
7:35pm: I really don’t feel very good.
8:00pm: Trying simultaneously not to vomit and to fall asleep so I don’t have to experience how awful I feel. At this point, the idea of maple syrup is enough to cause dry heaves. Eventually I fall asleep.
8:00am: Lemonade? Please god, noooo! I’m still extremely put off on the idea of maple syrup. I opt instead for coffee with almond milk, plus water and my daily vites.
9:00am: Running errands, depositing money in the bank. Stop off at Trader Joe’s to stock up on lemons and maple syrup. Still not able to stomach the combo, I buy a few bottles of 100% juice. I know it’s a stretch, but I need to consume some calories, and I’m thinking the lemonade will not be palatable today.
12:30pm: Decide to walk 3 miles to have coffee with a friend, in lieu of driving. Beautiful day for a walk! Plus, it’s the perfect weather for my Wellies.
1:30pm: Arrive at coffee shop. Friend Elizabeth is eating a sandwich that I sort of want to rip out of her hands, or at least gnaw on the mostly-empty condiment packets to suck out the last traces of Miracle Whip or yellow mustard. I resist, and a lovely conversation ensues. I buy a Naked Juice, because it’s juice. Perfect.
2:30pm: For the past hour, my stomach has been jump-n-jivin, and now I start to feel really off. I ask friend Elizabeth if she’ll drive me home. I have tunnel vision, and feel like I’m going to vomit, right on the curb in front of Dunn Bros. Grand Ave. I feel embarrassed like a 3rd grader who’s just puked on the classroom floor. In the end, I prevail in not vomiting, and feel fine by the time I’m dropped off at home 10 mins later. There’s also some time spent in the bathroom, and I will not go into any detail in this department.
4:00-5:00pm: Sweet, blessed nap.
6:00-11:30pm: I’m feeling pretty energetic and spend some time working on websites, catching up on bills, getting stuff in order. I feel fine! I’ve also consumed a handful of almonds, drunk some black tea with almond milk and syrup, and splurged on one green olive.
7:30am: Coffee to get me going, and vites. I have enough supplies to last a few more days, but am still hesitant about drinking the lemonade again.
8:30am: Begin work. Feeling energetic and good! Stomach feels hungry, and I may start the day with more of the Trader Joe’s juice, just until I can verify my stomach isn’t going to reject anything.
8:45am: Lemonade still entirely unpalatable. Drink Trader Joe’s juice instead.
12:00pm: Handsome beau comes over for lunch and I successfully refrain from eating from his plate (well, all but one carrot, anyway).
2:00-3:00pm: Nap, obvi.
3:00pm: Decide to take a walk and realize that I will most likely pass out from lack of nutrients. At this point I realize the cleanse has become a silly exercise in starvation, and that it’s time to stop.
4:15pm: Walk at Hidden Falls (see pics below).
5:30pm: Return hateful Master Cleanse ingredients to Trader Joe’s in exchange for fruits and veg. The idea is to do the ease-out by way of eating mostly raw for a day.
6:30pm: Delicious soup, salad, and rice dinner.
7:00pm: Plus a little peanut butter. Which makes me feel ill and I throw the dregs of the bottle away.
8:00pm: Clean out refrigerator and cabinets of all trigger and splurge foods (generally speaking, the ones I have difficultyeating in moderation).
So the conclusion here is that the Master Cleanse is probably not for me. Had I not been so horribly nauseated on Day 1, this may have had a different, and later, outcome. But, as it is, it may be a long time before I can use real maple syrup on anything, let alone subsist on it for days on end.
I do like the idea of a periodic fast, and intermittent fasting has gained a lot of momentum in the past few years. My reasoning behind attempting the cleanse was to regain some mindfulness about what I eat, how much, and how often. For a long time I’ve advocated many small meals, but working at home and having the kitchen never further than 10 steps away means that eating was often out of boredom, or to break up the monotony of sitting at the desk.
My weakness is grains. I cut down, only to find myself imbibing a carb-heavy diet mere months later. I also struggle to find balance, as my diet has been gluten-free for several years. Because I already limit what I choose to eat, I’m extremely loathe to adhere to even more severe dietary restrictions — both for myself, and for those who cook for me.
As with everything, this is a learning curve. In the future, I’d like to do an actual cleanse, perhaps a prepared juice cleanse, or even the Master Cleanse — properly prepared for! I don’t know that 3 days is enough to make much of a difference in my eating habits right now, but it has got me thinking differently. It was nice not to think about food prep for a few days, or to think about food at all, really! It was also highly interesting to know that I can really go a lot longer, and do a whole lot more than I’d have thought on very little food.
I’d love to hear your experiences with intermittent fasting or cleansing — share in comments!