El Blog

Cleanse

“Let’s start is the showstopper, shall we?

For the next three weeks, my path to enlightenment goes like this: I am to wake up, head to the bathroom and give myself an enema.

You heard me. Warm water, chamomile tea and eight drops of lemon juice. I am to hold it in for fifteen minutes, lying on a towel on the bathroom floor, passing the time by reading some sort of spiritual literature. I opt for The New York Times. This is followed by a shower and a breakfast of 8 to 12 ounces of clear vegetable broth.

At other points during the day—I cannot say when because this is copyrighted, proprietary information—I will consume fruit juice, vegetable juice, herbal teal and finally, more broth, just before bed.”

—David Rakoff, from TAL’s episode 259: Promised Land

This is what my brain experiences when I think of cleanses, fasting, juice diets, etc. David Rakoff, lying on a floor, fetal position, probably naked, reading The New York Times, holding it in.

Or I think of that documentary, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” and how I talked my parents into buying an expensive juicer last Christmas and how it’s now sitting in my house, gathering dust, during this past Christmas.

I think about Robert Lustig, the pediatric endocrinologist whose lecture on sugar went viral (around 4.1 million views so far) and how he’s so impassioned, he sorta lost it on The Diane Rehm Show when this dietician called in to basically say, “A calorie is a calorie,” and it’s just a matter of exercise and not over-eating, blah, blah, blah.

It’s not often that a guest scolds a caller AND gets away with it. Definitely one of the more dramatic radio moments I’ve encountered.

Lustig also mentions that if you juice a fruit or vegetable and then drink it, you do your body harm because you’re separating the juice from the fiber. Lustig likens it to a hair-catcher in a bathroom drain. Nice, right? It slows down the hair…sugar…so your liver has time to process away the calories. Without that extra time, the liver will get fatty. NPR’s Ira Flatow interviews him here.

Having shared all this, I am once again reconsidering a cleanse because someone I know and respect is not only going through one and actually leading a two-week group detox that starts on the 5th. You can read all about it in this post, “Fourteen Days Till Fabulous.”

This person is Monique Costello, a gourmet cook who’s owned and run her own restaurant, writes up her own recipes which we publish once a week for years, has been featured on The Food Network, is making her passions about health and eating into something more formal as she is now an integrative holistic health coach and most importantly, has cured her own health problems by adjusting her diet.

I’ll be keeping in contact with Monique about this detox and writing about it. I’m absolutely curious. I’m still quite skeptical, though. Does the body really need “a break”? Is this because back in the day of hunting and gathering, we used to literally go through periods where food was scarce, and consequently, would do what we now call fasting or cleansing or detoxing?

Out of all the stories, books, documentaries and conversations, it is perhaps this one idea that I find most compelling. What are your thoughts? Have you, like David Rakoff, found yourself on the bathroom floor, patiently waiting, reading material in hand? Or do you pour a little apple cider vinegar into your cup every once in awhile? Or perhaps do you literally fast because you can’t afford the luxury of lots of food every single day and you notice that you are more healthy that your cohort?

Photo credit: Rebecca Beckham

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