What I Learned from My 7-Day Detox

Going through this detoxification was a very enlightening experience. I learned quite a bit and will be making changes as a result. All of it was good.

Background: I undertook the University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine’s 7-Day Detoxification to Promote Health program. To find out how the first three days went, take a look my earlier blog, “Kickstarting Change with a Cleanse.”

Day 4: Modified Fasting

When I last wrote, I was in the middle of the morning of the fourth day, which is a modified fast. The foods consumed are water, tea, juices, and broth (along with any regular medications). There’s an option for a bowel cleansing regimen, but in light of my afternoon dress rehearsal for Listen To Your Mother, I opted out of this.

The surprising thing was that I had absolutely no trouble with fasting. I never felt hungry per se, just a bit light headed. The tradeoff was some very acute mental clarity and a continuation of that extremely joyful mood from earlier days. The only surprising (and interesting) side affect was that my eyes felt dilated, and were super sensitive to sunlight. I did not work out except for an easy 2-mile walk in the morning and went to bed early.

Bowl of vegetable soup
This recipe for Dr. Connelly’s Vegetable Soup came from the cookbook, Nourishing Traditions

Day 5: Adding in Fruits and Vegetables

Shockingly, I did not wake up starving on the morning of Day 5. But as I added back in fruits and vegetables, I did get hungrier and hungrier. Hmmm…that seemed a little bass-ackward to me; shouldn’t I have finally felt full? Especially as this was a rest day, with no workout.

I had an “oops” moment when Hubby and I went to see a movie in the afternoon. Anything ordered to eat was to be lunch, and I scanned the Alamo Drafthouse menu for a veggie option. It was only after I’d scarfed up about half of my hummus and vegetables that I realized–duh–hummus is made of chickpeas, and chickpeas are legumes.

Why did this matter? On the third and fifth days, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, and mushrooms are eliminated from the diet. Well, if that’s the worst of my detox sins, I’m probably OK.

Day 6: Including Those No-No Items

Back to the menus of Days 1 and 2 for the finale. This diet really isn’t all that different from the way we normally eat, so it didn’t feel like that much of a stretch. Except I found myself getting really, really hungry. Of all the days, this was the one where I had a fading moment in the late afternoon, where I just couldn’t focus and had to rest a bit.

Snacks seemed to be a must, and I ate a lot of fruit and drank quite a bit of tea. It was during that fading spell that I found myself thinking about a nice gluten free pizza from Eastside Pies (specifically, the Olivia–be still, my heart). What I realized was that this craving was entirely about comfort, not hunger. A nice, warm, gooey slice of pizza was going to be emotionally satisfying, not stomach filling. I’d had two workouts that day, yoga and a trip to Camp Mabry with Hubby, and perhaps a little more movement had put me on the energy edge.

Image of article about working out at Camp Mabry
Screen shot of my article on The Austinot about working out at Camp Mabry.

Day 7: Wrapping up the Detox

Again, I was repeating the diets of Days 1, 2, and 5. With two workouts again this day (boxing and a walk), I needed more snacks and so an afternoon trip was made to our neighborhood JuiceLand. Which, by the way, also offers their own cleanse programs, lasting from one to ten days in length (I can’t imagine what these cost, though they sure would be tasty and easy to do).

This was an extremely productive day. That mental clarity and new energy lasted all seven days. I got lots done. Normally, I do my boxing workout in the morning but I’d overslept so I hit that in the evening (pun intended). How would I fare with this workout at the end of the day, before dinner? When I heard we had two 3-minute sets of burpees in the mix, I was sure I’d peter out. Nope–didn’t happen.

My Take-Aways from this Detox

You’ll note that I didn’t mention weight loss in my daily wrap-ups. That wasn’t what this cleanse was about, but I sure did make note. I lost 4 pounds.

Now, that may not sound like anything much but, for me, it was huge. I haven’t been able to lose four pounds in the last year. Why? I don’t know. This cleanse, however, tells me that my weight loss problem lies with something I am including in my diet, as nothing about my exercise changed (if anything, I actually exercised LESS than normal).

What Not to Eat

The detox revealed some not-so-great things that had slowly crept into a more pronounced nutritional role in my diet.

  • Corn. Since having my gluten intolerance diagnosed, I’d dropped bread completely. But what I wound up substituting for bread was corn. My favorite snack? Fritos. All-time breakfast love? Potato, egg, and cheese taco wrapped in a corn tortilla. Let’s talk tostadas. (You get the picture.) And researchers have found that some people with gluten sensitivities can also develop problems with corn.
  • Potatoes. Dear Lord, potatoes make me happy. I have never met a variation on a spud I didn’t like. But they’re nutritionally a starch, and I should eat them sparingly. Again, they crop up as a menu option when little else was gluten free. I’m going to cut back on the white potatoes and emphasize sweet potatoes for that starchy craving.
  • Cheese. My family jokes that cheese is a nutritional group of its own (and ice cream deserves its own special segment in the food pyramid). We had a word–“choverload”–that specifically referred to the giddy, happy feeling experienced after eating queso. While I’d cut back significantly on dairy, our guilty pleasure is walking to a local Mexican food restaurant to have some queso. We were making that walk far too often.
  • Eating Out. Again, this is really about treats and not about hunger. It’s just fun to go out, and we like to do it. Unfortunately, portions are usually too big and quality too low. I didn’t realize how much we were hitting restaurants up until we went seven days on this detox–still, we managed to go out twice, though I made careful choices, in both the restaurant option and order.
Man in front of JuiceLand
We love to go out; we just need to make it a healthy choice, like grabbing a snack at JuiceLand.

The Positives

  • I don’t need to eat nearly as much as I thought I did to function well.
  • A primarily fruit-and-veggie-based diet makes me feel good, physically and mentally.
  • My skin looks better and my eyes brighter when I cut out meat (“flesh foods”), cheese, and refined sugar.
  • It’s easy to skip coffee and alcohol, and I really, really like a mug of tea with honey.
  • I can lose weight with a few simple dietary changes.

My Action Items: I’m going to keep to the Days 1, 2, 6, and 7 diet as much as possible without being completely nutso about it. And I think, once a month, I’ll do the entire 7-day program as a refresher course.

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4 thoughts on “What I Learned from My 7-Day Detox

  1. Congrats on finishing! I have been on an ultra low carb plan for almost 2.5 weeks (with a blog post in draft about my first 10 days). It’s become second nature to me now to reach for the things I know I can eat, instead of the crackers and my beloved Noosa Yogurt. And good lord, the Pirate Booty.

  2. Yay you! I had a similar experience when I did this detox. Days 1, 2, 6, 7 were no problem and I found myself creating new vegan meals that I really liked and not missing anything on the taboo list. My comfort food is pasta, bowls of spaghetti, and I did find myself craving that after the fast day. Overall, I felt lighter and healthier. I lost 3 pounds, which was not the point for me, but proved the same point as you. I’m with you and trying to keep up the habit in general (by eating like Day 1 all the time) and going back to the 7 day detox maybe every 8-12 weeks. And, like you, I’m allowing myself flexibility. If I eat like this all the time, then I allow myself 1 day a week to have a glass of wine or rice or whatever as part of a normal eating out experience. I’m glad we both saw benefits from it and hope we can keep it up.

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