By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
Right now I’m wondering what in the heck I was thinking when I agreed to this. A few days ago, while having a wonderful lunch at a favorite restaurant, my friend asked me if I’d do a “three-day cleanse diet” with her that she heard about from a nutritionist on The Today Show. The cleanse is supposed to help rid the body of extra sugars, salt and processed foods. She figured there’d be strength in numbers and that, if both of us were doing it, we could help each other stay on track.
I’d heard about these types of cleanse diets before because they’ve become a trend with celebrities, and magazines love to talk about what famous people eat or don’t eat. But when my friend described this one, it sounded pretty harmless: fruit smoothie for breakfast, spinach salad for lunch, a grapefruit, some unsalted pistachios for a snack and then fish or a lean protein for dinner, along with as much steamed broccoli as you want. And it is only three days. I can do anything for three days, right? I even talked my husband Tom into doing the three-day cleanse with me. We both have a multitude of Christmas indulgences to repent for.
But here’s the thing: You can’t add salt, sugar, condiments or anything else tasty to these menu items. And you can’t wash it all down with anything other than water or green tea. My husband likes green tea, but I think it tastes like something you would wring out of a linebacker’s sweat sock. So I’m skipping the green tea and having plain old water.
I’m nearing the end of Day 1 of the three-day cleanse and wondering why I ever thought this plan sounded doable. When I agreed to this during lunch with my friend, I was drunk on pasta and feeling guilty for inhaling my entree the way I did. I figured a little cleansing would do me good. And I’m sure it is doing some good, but it’s making me miserable right now. If I were not bound by the honor system and the strong desire to see if this cleanse diet actually does anything, I would jump up from this computer right now, sprint down to the kitchen and dive head-first into the biggest bowl of forbidden Froot Loops you’ve ever seen. Then I’d chase it with a couple glasses of sweet tea. Oh, if only.
As much as I hate to admit it, this little three-day experiment is revealing something I didn’t expect. I may be a little addicted to the processed foods, sugars and salt that I thought would be so easy to give up for a few days. Because the truth is I’m not feeling a gnawing sense of hunger. I’ve eaten enough food today to avoid feeling hunger. It’s my brain that’s not satisfied. It wants a certain taste – a salty chip or two (or 20) and then maybe a hit of chocolate – and the fact that it can’t have those tastes is what’s making me feel so frustrated.
During dinner tonight, I was shocked at how many times I felt the urge to reach for a salt shaker that wasn’t there. I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about how much better the meal would be better if it just had a mound of cheesy rice on the side. After dinner, Tom and I watched television to get our minds off the dessert we both desperately wanted to have, but that didn’t help. Every few minutes, we had to quickly change the channel because we would groan every time we saw images of juicy burgers from Red Robin and decadent platters of pasta from Olive Garden. Tom finally gave up, leaned back in his recliner and fell asleep at 7:30 p.m. He figured he couldn’t fall off the wagon if he was unconscious.
I went upstairs to tuck the kids into bed and realized I wasn’t nearly as sweet to them as usual. Every little thing seemed to irritate me, and they, too, sensed that their mother had somehow morphed into a grumpy bear they did not wish to poke.
After the kids went to bed, I decided it would be best to put as much distance between me and the kitchen as possible. I went to bed at 9:15 p.m. with a good book because I knew the book’s drama wouldn’t be interrupted by images of Dairy Queen’s frosty treats.
I won’t go to sleep tonight hungry, but I am definitely frustrated and surprised at just how dependent I’ve become on those daily indulgences. Can I make it through the next two days without caving to cravings? Will the next two days turn me into a shrew who desperately needs a chocolate fix? This detox experiment might be good for me, but it’s no cake walk. (Wow, cake sounds really good right now.) Stay tuned for the results.