I did a one-week “cleanse” in July and am finishing, this weekend, a one-month version.  Personally I think “cleanse” has become one of those words, like “cultural fit” (in my work life), which is so commonly used, in so many different contexts, as to be almost entirely devoid of meaning.  So let me be more specific.

I worked with Katie Den Ouden of Rooted Wellbeing, who I recommend whole-heartedly and entirely.  For a month I eliminated all dairy, gluten, sugar, soy, meat, alcohol, corn …  I did not, in the end, eliminate caffeine entirely though I reduced it significantly.  Shocking myself, I only cheated once or twice in the whole month period.  I really didn’t want to.  Katie provides detailed recipes – most of which I found delicious – and a lot of support.  I’ve had some complications this month that have nothing to do with the cleanse diet, and Katie was right there to help me think through them, suggest options, and make me feel basically not-alone in this endeavor.

Some changes have been really, really easy for me.  For example, shifting from drinking two venti skim lattes in the morning to one cup of brewed coffee with rice milk and a tiny splash of agave.  So easy.  And a big money saver too!  I don’t miss dairy or gluten anywhere near as much as I thought I would.  I don’t miss meat at all; I have not craved it one single time in a month.  I do miss sugar, and one of my “cheats” was when I had a bunch of M&Ms at Grace’s birthday party.  But you know what?  They didn’t taste that great, and I felt lousy that night.  So, the next morning, back on track.

I start my day with water with lemon in it, take probiotics, and don’t eat breakfast until I’m hungry (another Katie philosophy that I love, after years of having breakfast forced on me by any advice I ever read).  Breakfast is almost always a green smoothie, with flax seed and chia seeds in it.  Delicious.  And I have a whole serving of greens without even noticing it.  You remember, perhaps, how Whit does not eat fruit or vegetables of any kind.  The kid won’t eat raisins, or apple sauce, or buttered corn on the cob, or carrots with ranch.  Not any of the childhood standards.  Yet you know what he simply adores?  Kale chips.  Yes.  He can’t get enough.  All four of us have developed an addiction to them.

For almost a year now Grace has actively wanted to be a vegetarian.  I occasionally press her to have a bite or two of hamburger, worrying about her protein consumption, but in general I haven’t been very heavy-handed on the issue.  She was an enthusiastic supporter of almost everything I cooked all month, and has embraced lentils, beans, and chickpeas as part of her diet.  That has been one aspect of the cleanse I had not thought much about: it makes me cook a lot.  But I like cooking, so it’s not a problem, though occasionally finding the time has been a challenge.

And the results?  Well, I feel really good.  I sleep better (though I’m still having caffeine, I’m having much less, and I suspect the sugar and alcohol elimination has contributed significantly here) and my eczema has entirely cleared up.  Several people have commented that my facial skin looks good.  On the whole I feel much more comfortable digestion-wise than I have in a long time, and a general sense of malaise that had descended over me in recent years lifted.  I didn’t start the cleanse to lose weight, and I never weigh myself, so I don’t know if I have, though there hasn’t been any noticeable change (this is always peoples’ first question).  I haven’t gotten sick yet this fall, and am hopeful that this way of eating will improve my beaten-down and beleaguered immune system.  I know I wrote about being tired, and of feeling quiet and inward, but that was about an injury I sustained and my general state of mind, not about my health from the cleanse.

As I near the end of this experience I feel, more than anything, reminded that what we eat really, really matters.  I have been careless about this before and am grateful for the reminder.  I am committed to incorporating many of these changes on an ongoing basis.  I am deeply thankful to Katie for all of her help, support, and inspiration.  I highly recommend her services to anyone who wants to remember the power of what we eat, and wants to reconnect with the sense of well-being that should be a part of our lives.

12 thoughts on “Cleanse”

  1. I did something similar for two weeks thanks to a natural health practitioner I’m seeing. He looked at my blood work and symptoms and made the suggestion. Well, as I re-introduced foods I learned dairy was wrecking havoc on my body. Headaches, shooting pains, eczema, sinus congestion, acne. . . you name it. I thought it would be hard to say goodbye to dairy, but no. The focus, clarity, and well being satisfies me most.
    Also, my youngest daughter (8) does not like meat of any kind. After watching Forks Over Knives I relaxed about it. Now you have me wanting to try kale chips!

  2. Thank you for sharing. Thank you. I think I need something like this. I appreciate the way you preface it with “cleanse” is such a general term now. I also appreciate little details. (Although I’d want to keep my latte). When you describe how you feel, mentally and physically, that is the key. I will check this out.

  3. Like MK, I’m so grateful to you for explaining exactly what your cleanse entailed. I always say I’m the world’s least healthy vegetarian (totally sugar and caffeine addicted, she writes with her Diet Coke and Reese’s PB Cup by her side) and I’m really drawn to both the idea and the process of a cleanse.


  4. Oh yay and congratulations! As someone who has spent almost a year now gluten- and dairy-free, 7 months sugar-free (including alcohol) and 4 months without meat I know first-hand what a difference a clean, healthy diet can make physically, emotionally and spiritually. Because I did have sensitivities/intolerances these changes have helped me lose over 50 pounds without “dieting”. I think there needs to be an emotional readiness for these things, whether it’s a cleanse or a permanent change – if it’s about “should” it doesn’t work as well.

    I love that Grace responded so well to what you made (it gives me hope as Ada grows). We are huge kale chip fans too – and I just got a recipe for a raw kale caesar salad that’s deeelish.
    Wishing you continued peaceful sleep, glowing skin and bountiful energy.

  5. I heartily second all of the above congrats. This is so inspiring!! I did a cleanse this summer and I felt amazing. It’s so great to hear you say that what we eat REALLY matters. Like any self-care, it’ so easy to say that we are wasting time, that we’re being silly or too self-indulgent. Thank you for the reminder that it’s important and life-changing.

    I also believe that our food choices are a vote – as to which farming practices are important, how animals should be treated, and what values we support.


  6. This is so inspiring! I’ve flirted with the ideas you describe (and which I just read about on Katie’s fine website) many a time, but have yet to commit. I wonder how a 4- or 7-day cleanse would affect nursing. I won’t be finding out any time soon (focusing on other healthy habits first), but it is so nice to have a tried and trusted resource to turn to when the time comes for the “next step.”

  7. Great post, Lindsey, I have been gluten- and dairy-free for six months, though finding it hard to transition the entire family to meat-free. Hungry teenage boys with nighttime commitments do not feel like waiting around for the lentils to soak, etc. etc. I’m sure we’ll get there, it’s just going to take a bit more pre-planning on my part…

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