I blame the Barefoot Contessa’s pomegranate martinis, or maybe my friend Colette’s decadent shrimp dip, or maybe my all-Nigella Christmas dinner: roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, vanilla cake with six eggs, homemade ice cream. In the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, if it had sugar, butter, cream, or alcohol, I crunched, wolfed, chomped, sipped, slurped, or guzzled it.
I spent New Year’s Eve in bed with a cold, a beached bariatric surgery candidate with a tsunami-sized sugar crash. I felt like little goth gremlins were jumping around inside me, opening beer bottles with their teeth, and applying layers of fat to my stomach and butt, like Jackson Pollack on fast forward. I picked up my January issue of Whole Living magazine — Martha Stewart’s monthly mind/body manifesto. Fifteen little glasses of jewel-colored smoothies on the cover and the sunny promise: “A Fresh Start: Make This The Year You Detox Your Life.” Martha is the only person who can make a kale and parsley smoothie look like something you’d serve to guests.
I pounced on the 28-day Whole Living Action Plan. I am going to do every tahini-mango-collard green minute of it. Everything looks so pretty — all toasted coconut flakes on glistening grapefruit and hot babe with killer yoga butt doing cat/cow in a sunbeam. She appears as serene as if she’d just had five orgasms. I’ll have what she’s having.
I do a leveraged buyout of the produce section. My son picks up the magazine with his Dorito-orange fingers and reads the list of no’s for Week 1: No added sugar, processed food, alcohol, caffeine, wheat/gluten, eggs, dairy, peanut products, fruit juices, soy, and corn. You can’t eat anything, mom, he says, overstating the obvious.
Day 1: My E-newsletter tells me to begin a week-long media fast: no TV and cut back on online time. (Note to self: must make time to put in my daily entry for the HGTV Dream Home. Martha will understand.) I do my Yoga Release moves before work. Walk for 10 minutes in sub-zero weather. I am purity in the making! I am seriously late for work, what with all the chopping, steaming, and blenderizing. My body is a temple. Lunch: Millet bowl with black beans and vegetables. Who knew that bok choy was so delicious? Shiitake mushrooms! Sunflower seeds! I feel the goth gremlins in my gut wipe the beer froth from their mouths with the backs of their hands. They sense something is not right. No sugar has come down the dumbwaiter.
Day 2: Mid-afternoon: a headache kicks in — a jackhammer to the frontal lobe. Must be dehydrated. I uncork my green smoothie — kale, parsley, apple, banana, water. Imagine drinking green sludge with little particles, as if someone were lining your esophagus with Post-Its. Hideous. I drink the whole thing.
Day 3: Am supposed to choose a mantra to repeat when stressed. I steal from yoga teacher: “Everything is already OK.” I look forward to my morning back strengtheners because I can fantasize about yoga babe: is she wearing a thong under those yoga capris? Soft porn for poor sod working moms like me. I breeze by Dunkin’ Donuts — no latte for me. Bad dairy! Still have wicked headache. Call husband. He tells me to drink a lot of water, walk on the treadmill at the gym, sit in the sauna, and take a hot shower. Works like a charm.
Day 4: Not only can I pronounce quinoa correctly, I even eat it hot for breakfast with cinnamon, honey, and a splash of Mimiccreme, an almond and cashew cream I found in the scary section of the supermarket where women who don’t shave under their arms go. My mind is clear of all negative thoughts and emotions. Deepak Chopra will want to blog about me.
Day 5: I have to opt out of the champagne welcome for our new ad sales rep. Sorry, I’m detoxing, a shadow of the Prosecco-guzzling gonzo I was at the company Christmas party, Dumpster-diving into the Godiva chocolates.
I go to the market every day. Audrey Hepburn with a reusable grocery bag. Tonight, brown rice pasta and pesto. My son grabs the pesto jar and reads the ingredients. Parmesan cheese, he announces, and tosses it back in the fridge. I consider putting him up for adoption on CraigsList: 15-year-old with excellent reading skills: cheap! I can feel the toxins skulking out of my body like petulant party girls who can’t get past the velvet rope and have to settle for a triple stack at the Greek diner. At night I notice my tongue is a scary shade of moss green. Stress! “Everything is already OK. It must be the lentils.”
Day 6: In my E-mail, the voice behind the sustainable green curtain bellows: “You’ve been good all week. Treat yourself to a spa treatment.” I E-mail my friend Melissa: “Princess Nails. 2:30 p.m. Be there.” Mani-pedi. As hot stones are rubbed all over my oiled calves and feet, I close my eyes and realize I have not thought about sugar all day. I go home and whip up a carrot mango smoothie. It tastes sweet and cold, like drinking a popsicle.
Day 7: I make the almond chicken soup with collard greens, sweet potatoes, ginger. Top with a squirt of fresh lime. I am my own Thai restaurant! Every night, I get my sugar fix by reading the current Saveur, in which top chefs name 100 of their favorite things: tonight it’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s molten chocolate cake. I think of my grandmother, who told me she would read cookbooks during the war to daydream about the food.
At the end of week 1, I can honestly say I feel better. More peaceful. Calmer. My insides — mind and body — are quieter. Only a couple of goth gremlins are still hanging around to see if I will cave in and hide in the shower with a spoon and a pint of Cherry Garcia. Next week I get to add back in wheat, eggs, dairy, and soy (one each day); see yoga babe do plank, boat, and crow; and swap frustration for gratitude. Check back in this space in three weeks to see if I have resisted sugar, alcohol, and all the bad boys for 28 days. I promise to tell the truth.