Last Thursday I skipped breakfast and had pizza for lunch. I had pizza for supper too, if those stale circles of hard dough anemically sprinkled with cheese and sold shrink-wrapped and frozen can be called “pizza”.
I wish I could say this sort of behavior is abnormal for me. It’s not. My diet all too often resembles that of a foraging goat; I eat everything I can get my hands on (so long as it’s full of protein, carbs, and salt) and wash it down with copious amounts of coffee. For the past ten years or so, this diet has worked fine for me. I’m not one to fix what’s not broken.
One thing about the internet is that there’s always this diet advice floating around, unsolicited, interrupting me when I’m trying to browse my daily stream of deep theology and tired jokes on Twitter. Apparently there’s a thing called a “Paleo Diet”, and because I know nothing about the Paleolithic era (or nutrition) I like to assume that this diet consists of only eating dinosaur burgers. I saw a morsel of diet wisdom last week that said “Don’t eat a meal that has a TV commercial.” Some of my favorite foods ever have commercials, so obviously that’s not a plan I can endorse. People are always talking about “gluten free” meals, and that makes me a little bit sad inside. Gluten is one of my favorite foods.
I like food, a lot, and long after my stomach is full I keep putting food into my mouth-hole because it tastes so delicious on my tongue. Then I get profoundly sleepy and pass out on the couch. The next day I go to the gym and hope that this cycle will result in a relatively healthy, attractive physique.
But somehow I found myself on a juice cleanse last weekend.
If you’re unfamiliar with a juice cleanse, the idea is that you reset your body systems by drinking only juice for a set period of time (in our case, five days). Your stomach will flush away all the pizza-gremlins that have taken up residence there, and your tongue will forget how heavenly fats and salts and coffee taste and will be reawakened to the natural beauty of plant-flesh. This is the concept.
I began this endeavor Friday morning with a bubbling vat of green slime before me, criminally mislabeled “breakfast”. I gulped it down eagerly, imagining Twilight-worthy abs beginning to form beneath my shirt. I chased it with the blood of a grapefruit and an orange, the Romeo and Juliet of liquid-based food tragedies. At lunch one of my colleagues piled two hamburgers between slabs of bread and drowned the whole mess in barbecue sauce, and I smugly sipped a few ounces of green slime from a glass jar whilst daydreaming of a beautiful future for my midsection.
The next day, Saturday, I slept all day. At least that’s all I can remember. It was better to be asleep than to face the living nightmare that was a juice cleanse. The green slime was no longer a welcome elixir; its foul stench assaulted my nose and turned my stomach. I slept fitfully Sunday night, and when I tried to stand up in the morning I felt weak. In that moment, something inside me broke.
They had promised me energy. Clarity of mind. Healed emotions. Healthy cravings. They had lied.
I was weak, miserable, depressed. Guilty over my insatiable desire for food. Guilty that I wasn’t having the wonderful results everyone else apparently had.
Curled up in the fetal position on my bed that morning, I began to take stock of my life. Here I was, halfway through a beautiful summer weekend, too weak to get out of bed. All desire for life gone. Absolutely miserable. And all for some vague promises of a “body reset” and “emotional health” and “mental clarity”.
That’s when I made a decision.
If there was such a thing as beauty and happiness in the world, this was not the way to find it. My body and food are soulmates, created for one another. Plant flesh was profoundly overrated.
And so I ate.
Suddenly, the heavens opened and golden sunlight streamed down onto my frail frame, reinvigorating me. My mind cleared, my heart began to beat again. I was more alive than I’d dreamed possible. In that moment, I swore that I’d be more judicious in my pizza/burger endeavors if it meant I’d never have to drink plant-flesh-juice again. I’d even learn to drink more water than coffee, because supposedly that’s a good thing.
And I regret nothing.
In a twisted way, the green slime had the promised effect. I did find mental clarity, happiness, and health. Not in completing the juice diet, but in failing. That’s when I realized how beautiful life and summer and food really are.
It had been there all along, and it only took two days of The Worst Juice Cleanse Ever for me to realize it.
[ image: shutterbean ]
published May 15, 2013
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