After careful consideration and a lot of research, I made a decision after the holidays to embark on a cleanse/detox. I will start by saying that I have never done anything like this before, mostly because I don't believe in fad diets, or any diet for that matter, and also because I'm not sure, with all my health issues, how good it would be for my body.
However, I had been having some new digestive issues and some of my other autoimmune symptoms were acting up sporadically here and there. I also really overdid it and made some consistently bad food choices over the holidays and I was trying to get my food cravings under control. The digestive issues were not anything severe that impaired my daily living, but I am slightly paranoid about my family history of ovarian cancer and I am at the age my mom was when she was diagnosed. The most overlooked and under recognized symptoms of ovarian cancer are the digestive issues I was having such as bloating, gas, and constipation. Since I have never had any issues with these symptoms before and was suspicious about my diet being the culprit, I figured I could eliminate the ovarian cancer concern, and therefore another doctor trip, if I tried something like a detox or cleanse.
I did a lot of online research and decided to do the 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by J.J. Smith. I thought this plan would be best because Ms. Smith is a nutritionist and I already have a lot of green smoothie experience. I also felt that it was a safe approach because it incorporated all the essential nutrients and foods groups (vegetable, fruit, protein, and carbohydrates) that I thought were important. I also liked that the plan included healthy snacks in between the green smoothie meals. I bought the Kindle version, which got amazing reviews on Amazon, and you can find the book HERE. In my opinion, its worth every penny!
I started the 10 days on January 1st; not because it was a new year but because it would be easier to keep track of what day I was on when I was making the recipes. I also knew that in terms of my work and medical appointment schedules, my load was lighter for that period of time.
I am not going to go into every single detail of the plan because I feel that its not fair to the author to put all that information here and therefore risk affecting book sales. But the basic outline of the program is that for 10 days, you drink a green smoothie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each day she gives you a different recipe and you can either make your whole batch for the day or divide it in two like I did. If you have a regular blender, you will need to divide it in two as it will not all fit. I was in the market for a new, really good blender anyways after seeing a nutritionist.I found a Blendtec on Amazon at a steep discount and it was also worth every single penny. This thing is amazing! Anyways, you DO NOT need a fancy blender for this plan or to make green smoothies at all.
Each recipe is specifically formulated to maximize results. This was designed as a weight loss program and even though that was not my primary objective, I was curious to see how the results would be. The book claims that if you adhere to the exact program, you will lose between 10-15 pounds.
In between your meals, you can have snacks and she actually encourages this in order to maximize your metabolism. The snacks are limited to hard boiled eggs (I don't do eggs at all!), small amounts of unsalted nuts and nut butters, apples, and raw vegetables. That's pretty much it. Only water to drink except for the recommended detox tea which you can find in any grocery store. There is an option to add a plant based protein powder which I did. I use Vega protein powder. The plan also encourages the use of a supplement to help you go to the bathroom if you are having trouble, but I never needed to use it.
Overall, I was compliant with the program. When I started with detox symptoms, I did add more protein powder than suggested and I was OK with that as I felt my body needed it. I also stopped the detox tea after the first few days as I realized it was causing a severe migraine, separate from the detox headaches I was getting. I felt that it really wasn't worth it. If I ever do the program again, I would search for a different detox tea. I also had a few extra bananas during the 10 days as there were a few times my blood sugar dropped more than I was comfortable with and I felt like I was already getting enough apples in my diet at that point.
So for me, it was a good program. It was also incredibly difficult, especially days 2-6. I had joined the Facebook page with the same title for some support and I saw that detox issues were not unusual. I had a mild-moderate headache days 2-5, stomach pains days 2-6 (to the point where I took Prilosec every day, which helped), and severe muscle pains around days 3-4. I would read on Facebook that by day 6, everyone would start feeling fantastic but for me, that really didn't come until day 9, although days 7 and 8 were much better and day 10 was the best day for me. You're probably wondering why I even stuck with it when I was having all these issues. Well since I had been consuming so much junk, especially dairy, gluten, sugar, etc., I knew that this was part of the process. Also even though I initially felt lousy, I saw those original digestive issues begin to ease up and that motivated me to keep going.
During the 10 days, I also knew that I didn't have a lot of social obligations and that made it easier to resist temptations. My husband was incredibly supportive of the plan. I told him I wasn't cooking for the 10 days and he made a huge effort to not bring temptations around me. I did end up cooking on two nights for him because honestly, I missed doing that for him and I missed the aroma of food. Not too much aroma from frozen fruit and vegetables! I also backed off my exercise regime a little in order to give my body the rest that it needed during the process.
The only negatives that I could find with the program were that they added stevia to the recipes. Anyone who makes green smoothies knows that the fruit gives you the great taste and sweetness, and you don't need stevia. There was maybe one recipe that benefited from it as the fruit used was not as sweet. The stevia is optional so if you do follow this plan, check the taste of your smoothie before adding the stevia. Also, the amounts of fruit used was actually much more than I was used to. Although I read comments on Facebook from diabetics who seemed to do OK with it, I wondered for someone like me, who has PCOS, if that much fruit hinders the weight loss amount.
In the book, there is also a chapter about what to do after the 10 days is over. I am two days out now and gradually, I am reintroducing more foods back into my diet. This phase is very important to me because I want to try and identify which foods may be giving me issues. My plan is to still keep gluten, most dairy, soy, corn, GMO-laden foods, most processed foods, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and a few other things out of my diet for now. I am still having at least one green smoothie a day for a meal and will probably continue that indefinitely as it is such a great way to flood my body with nutrients.
So, here's the benefits that I got from doing this program for 10 days and then continuing a clean diet afterwards:
1. I am sleeping SO much better, its not even funny. Best sleep I have had without sleep medication/supplements in years.
2. Since day 10, my energy level has skyrocketed. Its almost scary for me because I am so not used to it. It has only been a few days so I don't know if it is a fluke or not, but time will tell.
3. I got sick out of the blue around day 8 with a cold, including a low grade fever, that has been going around. I stuck with the plan, even though I desperately wanted chicken soup, and less than 24 hours later, my symptoms were gone. It was freaky. I have never bounced back that fast, even pre-Sjögren's.
4. My sinus and allergy issues have improved some.
5. At this point all my digestive issues are almost completely gone.
6. Food cravings have diminished dramatically.
7. For a variety of reasons, I was having some anxiety issues and right now, the anxiety is significantly better. My mood also seems more even.
8. I have a little improvement in my joint pain. I cannot directly relate this to the cleanse at this time like I can with the other improvements, but its worth noting.
9. Candida issues have improved.
10. I lost 8 lbs. Many people on the Facebook page would be disappointed with that. For me, that is a very reasonable and safe weight loss amount for 10 days. It's a journey, not a race!
If you decide to try this cleanse, please feel free to contact me or ask any questions in the comment section below. And check with your doctor. I did not, but you know what they say: do as I say, not as I do!