When I hear the word detox, I tend to get slightly winded and have a knee-jerk-reaction eye-roll. My instinct is to shy away from these all-juice-cleanse, sans-everything, crash diets that don't usually seem to make any difference whatsoever. Not to mention the fact that I’m a trained chef who very much likes to eat, you know, the good stuff — like bread and cheese, possibly some overly salted meat.
So when my buddies at Provenance Meals approached me with their take on a detox diet, I wasn't exactly champing at the bit to try it out. But they convinced me to look at it as a cleanse, with whole grains that would regulate my PH balance rather than strip my body of every ounce of tolerance I had left. The meals they wanted to provide weren't about missing out on the good stuff life is made of; they were more about adding nutrients. So I cocked my head, brushed up the last few breadcrumbs on my counter, and began my much-anticipated cleanse week.
Provenance’s cleanse is set up to give you three meals a day and a snack at 4 p.m. each day for seven days. The smoothie every morning was great for me because I tend to eat that anyway... but it was the portion sizes that took a bit of getting used to. I'm not going say I'm fat, but I ain't a small girl, and I definitely don't shop in the petite section. So when I see any type of regulation when it comes to "how much" I immediately default into deprived mode. Over the week, I got used to these portion sizes, which I came to realize were actually totally rational. The bigger challenge was getting used to all these bright colorful vegetables filling me up instead of a big hunk of protein.
The second day of the cleanse I went out for sushi. By the time dinner came I was craving mainly healthy food, so it wasn't a hard decision to make choosing a few pieces of sashimi as a light dinner. After eating less protein in my diet for just a day, I realized just how little I needed and I seemed to crave more vegetables. Even the soy sauce tasted a little artificial to me! Who was I becoming?
The main difference was eating plant-based for lunch. I could really feel how much lighter I felt and how much more energy I had. The post-lunch food coma was long gone and in fact, I doubt I'll go back to eating protein for lunch ever again.
By the third or fourth day I was a little blocked up (apparently a good sign of detoxing) but nothing some ginger tea and exercise couldn't help, so my friend Ilana invited me to take one of her HITT classes at Kore New York (a boutique studio in the heart of the West Village) the next day. I mean, I figured I was practically angelic at this point — may as well go all in. So there I was: working out and eating clean, the complete antithesis of my usual “carpe-diem” attitude when it comes to food. But hey, I felt bloody amazing.
The hardest part about this whole thing, really, was not drinking. Sigh. I'm not necessarily a heavy drinker, but two to three times a week, who doesn’t like a glass of wine with a meal or a cocktail with the girls while commiserating over First World problems?! By the time Friday came, I was ready for some much needed R&R, and I could feel the inner child in me sulk as I watched all my mates enjoy their vino with dinner.
Somehow I made it through to Saturday, and my energy levels were soaring, so I was pretty motivated to keep going. Along with these wonderful meals which were, as I mentioned, generally plant-based for lunch and fish with vegetables for dinner, Provenance also provided digestive enzymes. Having never been a big vitamin hoarder myself, I was quite intrigued by this idea. Digestive enzymes essentially aid in the digestion of nutrients (duh) but more specifically allow the food you eat to be used as energy. I mean what’s the point in putting all this effort into making a salad if your body isn’t really accepting all that good nutrition anyway?
So It’s about two weeks later as I write this, and I have to say, I’ve stuck with the plant-based lunches, the Kore workouts and I’m still taking digestive enzymes. I’ve also lost five to six pounds, and I feel great. You don’t necessarily need a meal kit to help you jump-start these kind of cleanses (although this was particularly helpful for me), but making a few healthy changes to your daily lifestyle can be just as beneficial.
Natalie Lobel is a Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal who enjoys navigating the food space with a compass and a wooden spoon. You can follow her food adventures and diet experiments on her Instagram @natlobel.