By Megan McCafferty
October 04, 2010

diet-veggiesIve never been on a diet, so how did I get talked into giving up my favorite food and drink for a weeklong detox? “Ive gotten 15 people to try it, and they all cant believe how much better they feel,” swore my friend Alyce, the second of two members of my book club to tell me about The Diet That Changed Her Life. “My energy is insane! I feel fabulous.”

I liked the idea of feeling incredibly, fabulously, insanely energetic. And, while I didnt really need to lose weight, indulging at various dinner parties recently had left me feeling sluggish and bloated.

The detox, I reasoned, would be the perfect way for me to hit the reset button before the holidays. The Diet (in generic because, hey, Im not a paid spokesperson) is simple. In: filtered water, green tea, nuts, brown rice, beans, fresh produce, and organic chicken, fish, and low-sodium vegetable broth. Out: coffee, soda, alcohol, sugar, dairy, flour, and anything processed or junk-foody.

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The meal portions—2 cups vegetables, 1 cup broth, 1/2 cup rice, 4 to 6 ounces protein—seemed adequate enough. But I was put off by The Diets insistence that I replace breakfast and snacks with a protein shake that has ingredients like rice-protein powder, ground flaxseed, and borage oil. (I still dont know what that is.)

Things didnt start well. I was in a bad mood going in. “Ive never seen someone get so cranky before she started a diet,” said my husband (who, for the record, dropped out on day one). Could I survive a whole week without chocolate or diet soda? Heres how it went down.

Next Page: Day one [ pagebreak ]
Day one: Detoxing isnt cheap! One pound of rice-protein powder (for the shakes) costs $20. “Thats a good bottle of wine!” I kvetch to my husband. “Or two good enough bottles!”

Ravenous by lunchtime, I order some steamed veggies and brown rice at a Chinese restaurant. My waiter forgets the brown rice. Im seriously like, “AM I GONNA HAVE TO POKE YOU WITH THIS CHOPSTICK?”

Day two: Went to bed with a headache, woke up with a headache, spent entire day trying to work through a headache. Like a hangover, but without the drunken shenanigans. This sucks.

Day three: I cant take another protein shake! It tastes like the stuff you drink before an X-ray. I beg my friend Alyce for support. “Youll get a burst of energy soon!” she insists.

Day four: No headache! And are my taste buds suffering from a sort of dietary Stockholm Syndrome or do the shakes really taste less like barium and more like TCBY when theyre made with mangoes, bananas, and cherries? I hardly miss the fizzy artificial sweetness of my favorite diet soda. Shocking.

Day five: Holy flaxseed! Alyce was right. I feel awesome. I havent crashed in the afternoon like I usually do. And chard, spinach, and other veggies taste absolutely delicious when theyre sauteed in olive oil with fresh ginger, garlic, and lemongrass.

Day six: Felt fantastic all day, until my computer ate my novel in progress. DISASTER! Normally, Id scream, then down a glass of wine. Instead, I stay calm and work out the problem with my tech-savvy husband. “Youre not as moody this week,” he observes. If only I had known about mood-altering foods during my adolescence.

Day seven: Im not at all tempted by pizza and birthday cake at a party. Ive made it a week without cheating! OK … so … um … now what?

One month later: I went into this detox thinking Id bitch my way through a decaffeinated week of steamed veggies and brown rice then go right back to normal. But Ive had so much more energy and so much less gastrointestinal rebellion that I didnt want to give it up completely. So, Ive kept up with the best parts of the diet.

Ive gotten more creative cooking with fresh herbs, mostly organic produce, legumes, fish, and poultry. And Ive put my coffeemaker away and gifted my last case of diet soda to a friend. But theres no way I could give up red wine and dark chocolate. Not when all those antioxidants are so good for me, right?