After 5 days on the Gut Flush Cleanse by Dr. Junger, my sister provides the final verdict:
The weigh in: Energy! That was VERY apparent. Also feeling pretty darn happy on days four and five. Physically I lost 4 pounds, and I noticed that my face seemed brighter. My skin was rosier. The puff under my eyes when I wake up was gone. I also noticed that the allergies I’ve had that usually block one or the other nostril at night had disappeared, and therefore better sleep. Yes the sleep. I slept like the dead (except when getting up to pee) and I had some weird and vivid dreams. I’m not sure if this was cleanse related but it was unusual so maybe. My husband was convinced that he’d gained weight and the scale confirmed it on Day three, but by day five he said that weight was gone plus another two pounds. And maybe it was my imagination but his waist looked slimmer. My co-worker suffered none of the blah that I did at any point, but she eats consistently healthy, without the curbs and breaks I take. She did tell me that her pants that were previously too tight for her were now fitting loosely and she was thrilled.
The Aftermath: I’m on day two of my non-cleanse, it’s 7:17 and I haven’t had my glass of wine. I want to feel full of energy at work tomorrow like I did on days four and five, so I’m abstaining for now. Can’t say there won’t be a glass in my hand this weekend though. I’m finishing up leftovers from the cleanse, but I must admit I sprinkled a little grated cheddar and sea salt on the vegetable frittata tonight, and it was better. So, I’m not going hard-core anymore, but I’m inspired to stick with Dr. Junger’s general guidelines for now because I really loved how it made me feel…at the end anyway. “The first three days are the hardest.” That’s what a few friends who had completed different cleanses had warned us, and they were absolutely correct.
The Questions: If I were to give feedback to Dr. Junger or to Dr. Oz who posted this cleanse on his website I would request that portion amounts be included in the recipe. Some recipes made LOADS and could feed four, and others were rather anemic for even one person. I would also prefer that the recipes clarified between canned coconut milk and the refrigerated coconut milk that comes in the carton. I assumed when it called for “full fat” it meant canned, and when it asked for “unsweetened” it meant the carton, but some recipes said neither. It just said, “coconut milk”, so there was some guess work. The importance of strictly following the recipes versus going by the general do’s and don’ts was not exactly explained. For example, sweet potatoes were on the “Eat these foods” list, but they were not listed as a possible snack, and they were not in any of the recipes, so I didn’t eat any, even though I love them and would have welcomed one. I wondered if the timing of the meals was crucial as well. It seemed like the recipes started with a lot of fat on the first two days, then the fat tapered down quite a bit. Was this coincidence or a progressive meal plan tailored to allow your body to cleanse itself more effectively? I followed the recipe schedule as strictly as I realistically could, only rearranging a meal due to work, and I’m curious now if that was even important. Still all in all, it was a little five-day adventure, and I feel pretty darn accomplished for having graduated alive and well. Who knows, next year maybe I’ll try the Whole 30, but between now and then, there will be wine, there will be ice cream, and there will be donuts piled with maple glaze and bacon.
800 arrow note: Dr. Junger recently released two new books, “Clean Gut” and a new cookbook, “Clean Eats” (proceeds go to charities supporting children’s nutritional health). Some of the above questions could be clarified in those resources. Another option for learning more about this cleanse is to contact a member of the Clean Team on Dr. Junger’s website.
HUGE thank you to my sister for sharing her cleanse experience with all the 800 arrows readers.
Back to my sister’s experience on her first cleanse.
Day Four: Pretty sure the Cleanse Fairy visits cleansers the morning of Day Four because I woke up feeling ten years younger. Revitalized, energized, empty…but in a good way. Dare I say, clean? I hop out of bed to make the chocolate ginger shake. Now I love ginger, my husband does not, but we agreed that this was a pretty nasty shake. I may have used too much ginger. And my blender isn’t the best, so the ginger wasn’t as liquefied as I would have liked. I would probably microplane it first then add it to the blender if I were even to make it again, which I probably won’t. My sudden burst of energy led to a productive morning of spring cleaning the house, then preparing the vegetable frittata.
We went off schedule on this one. Sunday lunch was supposed to be the same Thai chicken soup from Day two, but I decided to save those leftovers for dinner on day five since it was a work day. More time to cook and chop on Sunday for the frittata. I’m actually having the rest of the frittata for dinner tonight and I can honestly say that I’m not looking forward to it. The coconut milk in it was all wrong. I would go with almond milk instead, and perhaps that would save it.
But we choked it down and had higher hopes for the acorn squash wedges with the Asian broccoli salad.
Now, if I hadn’t over steamed my beautiful farmer’s market broccoli and if we had quadrupled the amount of that delicious Asian dressing, this would probably have been a winning meal. As it was, we had fleeting tastes of the dressing and a lot of over cooked veggies (totally my fault…I likely saw something shiny and completely forgot about all the steaming that was going on). So it’s probably unfair to pan the meal, but I doubt I’d make it again.
I WILL make that dressing again though. So we were hungry after eating, but this was nothing new to us. We were old pros by now. So we went to bed with familiarly empty tummies and looked forward to Day Five. Graduation Day!
Day Five: I woke up again feeling absolutely wonderful, and totally confused. I had been looking forward to the last day SO much on days one through three, but now I was a little sad it was ending. My head spun with thoughts of how we should eat when we’ve completed this cleanse. Do we just go back to our old ways? We shop organic and farmer’s markets, we cook light and use healthy ingredients. We indulge in junk food enough to feel satisfied but not so much as to be sick or significantly overweight. But there’s still another cleanse day ahead and a work cleanse day at that, so putting my ponderings aside I blend up our purple shake. This was probably my favorite of them all, and more like the smoothies that I make myself on non-cleanse days with the healthy dose of nut butters and the blueberries. After drinking, I still felt empty in that good way, and off to work I went. As the morning progressed, I anticipated that 9:30 hunger, the weakness, the slurring words, the utter lack of brain power, but it never came. I was fine. Flew home for lunch to power down the Euro nut shake, which was supposed to be for dinner, but I tweaked our schedule slightly to make Monday night dinner an easy leftover. I think I made that shake wrong. Too much nut butter. We don’t have hazelnut butter available, so I went with cashew butter and some almond butter to substitute. It was good, but it was REALLY rich and thick. I had to eat it with a spoon. My husband LOVED his (I’d made them that morning and put his in a thermos for work.). He thought it was more like a dessert which was just fine with him. My portion was smaller than what was recommended because I gave my husband a little more than half so he wouldn’t go hungry at work, but I felt satisfied enough to last my second leg at work. So, everything went smoothly, my husband came home and we had our final cleanse meal with the Thai chicken soup again. There was no more complaining, no more wishing for the foods we couldn’t eat. We felt just fine. Never full, but usually satisfied.
800 arrows note: Stay tuned for a wrap up of the 5 day experience, over all thoughts, pounds lost and some great questions…… if we only had access to those celebrity doctors that put together this fun, food experiment!