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{Totally unrelated photo of Nutmeg, but it looks like she is “reflecting” on something, doesn’t it?}

Well, friends, Joe and I have come to the end of our cleanse a few days earlier than expected. I have been sharing my thoughts and observations about the process on Espresso and Cream Eats, but I thought that this post might have broader appeal beyond just sharing my daily eats. So I’m re-posting this post from E&C Eats over here. I would love to hear your thoughts and have a great discussion on cleanses, health and balance, so feel free to share your thoughts below!

Yesterday, Joe and I decided to end our cleanse three days before the 21 day mark. We hadn’t planned on ending our cleanse early, but I figured I should share with you what led us to our decision to quit our clenase.

When I first became vegetarian, my mom cautioned me to make sure I was eating a balanced diet that was full of all the necessary nutrients I needed to thrive. She told me that if I ever started to crave meat, it was probably a sign I wasn’t getting something in my diet. During the 3 years that I was a vegetarian (I now eat a little fish, as most of you know) I never once craved meat in the “I’ve got to have it” sort of way. Sure, there were times when I thought I would like a chicken tender, but that was more about the crunchy breading on the outside, not the chicken itself. I always felt satisfied and nourished.

However, I had a completely different experience on this cleanse. And yesterday, while at the grocery store buying oats bananas for breakfast, I had a craving for Greek yogurt that was almost primal. I wanted the Greek yogurt. I needed to have it. It was such a strange sensation for me, since I rarely ever crave something that way (other than chocolate.)  

The first week I felt incredibly lethargic throughout the day. I thought that might have something to do with “detoxing” or cutting out caffeine. I powered through hoping I would feel cleansed and renewed with glowing skin in week two. During week two I did feel a little better, I slept really well, but as I mentioned, I was really tired at the end of the day. Joe and I were both ready to sleep at 9 each night! And yes, we usually go to be early, but we’re not usually ones to fall asleep on the couch at 8:45.

Additionally, I had high hopes that my skin would be radiating and glowing, free of blemishes (from the elimination of dairy) by the end of the cleanse. However, I didn’t notice any difference between my skin before the cleanse and my skin at day 18.

But the thing that really got me was the fact that my stomach issues were no better on the cleanse, in fact, I think they were the worst they have ever been. Strange, right? I occasionally suffer from a gassy stomach, painful bloating and just general discomfort (sorry for the TMI). I was hoping that elminating gluten and dairy might have positive results and be the solution to my issues. However, my stomach had never been more unhappy on the cleanse. I was constantly gassy, my stomach was always upset, and, despite eating a large amount of whole grains, beans, lentils and fruits/veggies, I was struggling with regularity.

I wanted to be able to report at the end of the cleanse that I felt like a new person, that I was refreshed and renewed and had a new outlook on life and the way we eat. But neither of us really feel any different, other than the fact that we feel lacking in foods that fuel us and make us feel our best.

Pre-cleanse I was a really clean eater. Other than my nightly dark chocolate, I didn’t have a lot of out of control eating habits and felt like I was doing a balanced job of eating for my body and lifestyle. Consequently, I didn’t lose any weight on the cleanse. Joe doesn’t eat bad, but he’s not quite as clean of an eater. He lost 3 to 4 pounds over the 18 days, which I think had more to do with the fact that he was snacking less often and eating healthier when we dined out.

So, that’s that! Sorry for the long post. But for those of you who followed along, I figured you would be interested in a full recap of our experiences. I had always said that I didn’t think cleansing was for me, but now I’m sure of it. I think it’s good to take a step back now and again and re-calibrate when it comes to things like overeating and eating too much sugar and/or processed food. If I were to do a cleanse of any sort in the future, I would think about structuring it by cutting out sugar and processed food and try to eat a smoothie every day in place of one of my meals. But I don’t think doing a long-term cleanse is something I’ll try again.

Have you done a cleanse? I would love to hear your experiences and observations!

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  • jamie

    thanks for sharing! i recently tried a smoothie-based cleanse and i kept thinking great results were just around the corner. it took me a while to admit it wasn’t for me and that i was beating myself up about it when i wasn’t an unhealthy eater to begin with! knowing what works for you is so, so important.

  • Katya Myer

    2 weeks ago I did a three day juice detox cleanse….I know it doesn’t stand up to your 18 day cleanse :) The first day was THE worst!! I was tired and had a headache most of the day and I was so hungry. The second and third days were good. I felt like I had a ton of energy (more that I normally do with coffee), I was sleeping well, and I wasn’t hungry between meals. After the cleanse, a friend of mine told me that my skin looked really good. I also lost 8 pounds in that time period and have managed to kept it off. After the cleanse, I started making an oatmeal green smoothie every morning and having a juice at least once a day (and I have cut out coffee). I have noticed I am energized throughout the day and don’t have the need to snack throughout the day like I was before the detox.

  • chelsy

    Madison, I commend you and Joe for even attempting a cleanse, much less sticking to it for as long as you did. I have absolutely no desire to do an actual cleanse, it has taken me months to slowly eliminate foods from my diet that I just don’t need, or that I obsess over. haha. Take for example, Truvia…I was so addicted I was putting it in everything from my coffee, salad (yes salad), vegetables…dear lawwd what was I thinking? I have a terrible sweet tooth, so I was substituting my sugar cravings with truvia. I know it’s zero calories, and a sugar substitute, but there was just something not right about needing it all the time! Now, I stick to 2-3 packets a day and give into my sweet cravings every now and then. In the end, I feel alot better. A treat once in a while is always good medicine, but eating healthy just makes me feel soooooooo good! :) Hope you and Joe have an amazing weekend!

  • http://www.keepitsweetdesserts.com/ Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    I tried doing a 3-day juice cleanse but after one day I stopped. I really disliked the juices (that was the biggest problem), and I also did not feel good at all that night. Decided it wasn’t worth it and that my own healthy clean eating can be just as good. I seriously commend you for doing the full 18 days.

  • Katie H.

    Thanks for the honest review! I have been toying with the idea of trying a cleanse, but I am also a pretty clean eater. And to be honest, I just don’t know if I want to put myself through the misery. From your experience, too, it just doesn’t sound like it’d be worth it.

    I really appreciate you sharing!

  • Sarah Vetter

    Thanks for the update on your cleanse! I consider myself a healthy, balanced eater, but I’m always curious about cleanses and have only tried one for a week or so. To be honest I just don’t think I have the self control! It’s a good reminder to relook at my overall diet and know that cleanses aren’t necessarily the answer.

  • Katie Hall

    I totally hear you! I haven’t talked much about it on my blog yet, just once post I think, but I was vegan for a few years and gluten free for quite awhile too. I have had pretty serious GI stuff for over 5 years now and I changed my diet in the hopes that I would get better- but I got much worse, the vegan diet was not friendly to my tummy! I am a big advocator of eating what your body tells you to, so I am really happy that you listened to the greek yogurt craving and realized that some cleanses just aren’t for everyone!

  • Melissa V

    So glad to read this, after 5 days I had to stop my cleanse because the grassiness, bloating and stomach pain were so bad! I really wanted to be gluten, animal,etc free and did not have cravings, just pain! So important to listen to your body

    • Madison Mayberry

      You’re not alone, Melissa! The whole experience really made me re-examine the idea of going on cleanses in general. I feel so much better when I just try and focus on balance vs. doing something extreme.