Based on the book Clean by Dr. Alejandro Junger, M.D., the program’s premise is to eat a smoothie for breakfast, a healthy solid meal for lunch, and a smoothie or soup for dinner. I won’t go into the science behind removing toxins from your diet to allow healthy digestive flora to grow, but basically your body digests liquids more easily than solids which frees up time for your body to spend healing itself. It all sounded pretty crazy, but the effusive testimonials from Clean fanatics about how much their health—not to mention their lives—improved following the cleanse was intriguing. The benefits of abstaining from everything I enjoy for three weeks suddenly seemed worth the inconvenience. My attempt to fast was sincere but, alas, one doomed to failure.
After ringing in the New Year with a couple bottles of bubbly, I awoke to a bleary new reality: no caffeine. It took a full five days to exorcise the devil’s brew from my system. My wife still tells people that we almost got divorced after the first day of quitting our Starbucks habit.
Most of the fruit smoothies were tasty, even fulfilling. But I was constantly picking raspberry seeds from my teeth, and my lips were stained purple from blueberries. Smoothies also take time to prepare—a commodity in short supply when you have demanding young kids and a blender so worthless that pudding would be a challenge to puree. Soups sound good, too, right? Not the raw ones required by the program. A particularly chunky cucumber and garlic disaster comes to mind. But I was committed to the program and forced them down the hatch.
Although the program wasn’t meant to be a weight loss diet, I felt lighter. I felt great, actually. My mind was sharp and my allergies disappeared. I was sleeping well and I was as regular as an atomic clock. However, all good things come to an end. One thing the book didn’t mention was how difficult it is to have a social life while cleansing. Without the context of the book, the diet sounds crazy, and that’s how people looked at me when I tried to explain the principles.
So after two weeks of living on liquids and the Whole Foods salad bar, my cleanse ended a week early. However, I resisted reverting to most old habits. I still don’t drink caffeine, and I quit chewing a pack of gum a day. I don’t eat after 7 p.m., and I’m no longer dependent on Claritin. Maybe the Clean program isn’t so kooky after all.