My Experience with the Clean Program Elimination Diet / by lee tilghman

21 days...of:

  • smoothies for breakfast and dinner and one cleanse-approved lunch a day
  • no peanut butter
  • alcohol (which wasn't an issue - I don't really drink anyway)
  • no collagen or red meat
  • no coffee or black tea
  • no eggs
  • no oranges/grapefruit/strawberries/banana
  • no soy, gluten, or dairy of any kind (not even ghee)
  • no nightshade vegetables (goji berries/tomatoes/peppers)
  • no sugar (not even honey and maple syrup)
  • no white rice or white potatoes

The Clean Program at first seemed like a lot. I was overwhelmed and really nervous to start. How would I make it? I loved eggs. I loved peanut butter. Would I be hungry all the time? Would I feel anxious? Uncertain? What would I do without all the foods listed above? How would I COPE with the world?

These questions ran through my head. But these exact questions were just proof that I needed to do this cleanse. I strapped on my big girl boots, focused on the things I COULD eat, and knew I was making the right decision. 

I knew I needed this cleanse because my digestive symptoms were SO BAD. 

Despite being a very healthy eater, I was still dealing with copious amounts of:

  • bloat
  • hives/itchy skin (especially at night)
  • uncomfortable gas
  • missing periods
  • IBS-Constipation (the.worst)
  • minor blemishes on my face
  • sugar addiction
  • hunger soon after eating a full meal
  • not feeling satisfied after eating
  • dietary/body imbalance
  • loss of focus/short attention span/fuzzy memory
  • food cravings
  • dependence on certain foods (Go Macro bars, peanut butter)
  • 3pm slump/cravings for a snack (no matter what - I wasn't listening to my body, I was eating out of comfort/boredom/low energy)

I realized that in order to reset my system and really start from the inside out, this cleanse would be the only way, and it would be worth it. I knew I'd feel amazing by the end, and I was right. Actually, within 4 days, I felt pretty freakin' amazing. 

So..what did I eat on the cleanse?

 

My Honest Experience

To give you guys the broadest range of my experience, I thought I'd outline some of the milestones that stood out to me most. I kept a journal during the process, so I'll share some highlights below. 

  • Day 1: Easy Peasy. Feeling positive the first half of the day. I exercised this morning and felt like I was pushing myself too hard so I backed off. You're supposed to go light on the exercise during week 1, silly Lee!  Later in the day I had a headache. Upon going to my.cleanprogram.com and reading some threads within their community this is very common. It's a sign of detox. I was pretty hungry this day. Knew I needed to bulk up my smoothies with more fat/protein to stay satiated longer. I go to bed at like 8:30, I am sooooooo tired and fatigued. Common symptoms of detox.
  • Day 2: Energy is still low. Quite anxious. Smoothies for breakfast are fine, but I realize how much I miss chewing at night. I feel left out/uncomfortable when eating at my boyfriend's house who is not on the cleanse, he's eating a regular dinner and I'm eating a freaking smoothie. Woe is me...
  • Day 5: I realize I've been very regular (bowel wise) for 5 days straight without taking any nightly magnesium supplements This has never happened to me in my entire adult life. I feel light and clean and clear. 
  • Day 6: Skin is clearing up. Energy levels are up. Spirits are up. I'm feeling good. Starting to eat cleanse compliant snacks around 3pm though.
  • Day 10: It's not "easy" to cleanse. Still craving actual food for dinner. But realizing how easy it is to just eat a smoothie (clean up minimized!) Took a killer yoga class and we did twists and slow vinyasas which definitely assisted in the detox-ing. 
  • Day 12: Almost 2 weeks in!! I am definitely feeling the positive outcomes of the cleanse, including ZERO bloat/gas/stomach discomfort of any kind since starting. However, I realize how important it is for me to bring cleanse-compliant snacks for myself if I'm heading out the door- I get really fuzzy/anxious when I'm hungry. Making a conscious effort to up my protein/fat for lunch so I don't get so snacks around 3/4pm. 
  • Day 13: Honestly, I feel amazing. I traveled this day and prepped HARD to make it to my trip could be cleanse-friendly. This took time and preparation but so worth it. I'm determined to finish strong! I exercised a lot day 13-16 on a running trip with Adidas so I ate plenty of cleanse compliant snacks when my body asked for them. Cashews + almonds were my best friend.
  • Day 16: The snack-cravings in the afternoon are wavering away! I have also added chicken to my diet for lunch, which helps in keeping me satiated through dinner so without even realizing it, I just keep going through the afternoon without needing a snack. Woot woot! I also had a helper comb through my household and skincare products and eliminate any products that were endocrine disruptors. There goes half my makeup shelf. Also, by dinner time I am kind of sick of the protein flavor. It's not something I'm craving. But I do it anyway. 
  • Day 17: Sick with the flu, but this elimination diet thing is probably the best way to heal fastest! Smoothies when you're sick are super good for you, they're cold/cooling on the throat, and they give your body a break from digesting so it can focus on making you feel better ASAP! Bone broth for lunch with some chicken sausage and veggies. Getting really good at making big thick smoothies for dinner and putting them in a bowl so it feels more like a meal/nightcap. Adding frozen cauliflower and avocado is a game changer. MMMmmmmm!
  • Day 21: Wow. I can't believe I've come this far! I low-key almost quit this morning..All I wanted was a bowl of cereal (I'm still sick...carb cravings) but I didn't quit 'cause I'm not a quitter! I also realized today....I love the way I look and feel. My clothes fit great. I haven't weighed myself this entire cleanse because I want to focus on how I feel rather than a number on a scale. I feel strong. Capable. And I am so ready for this to be over and to start eating some of my favorite foods again (PB, I'm looking at you!)

So...would I do it again?

HELL YES.

I think I'm going to follow Dr. Junger's advice and do this 21 day elimination diet once a year. The pros totally outweigh the cons. They give your body a break and let you really hone in on your habits (the healthy ones, and the not so healthy ones. Hey, we all have 'em!) This cleanse is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to honestly look at your habits, your dependences, and giving your body a break. I'm partly writing this post for myself so I can remind myself why I did it, so for next year when I feel scared/anxious to embark, I know it'll be worth it.

Overall, I feel:

  • lighter
  • energized
  • bloat/gas/IBS-C symptoms GONE! (this was my biggest joy)
  • more self aware
  • more aware of what I'm putting IN and ON my body
  • more SATISFIED after eating
  • not afraid of adding more protein + fat to my meals
  • knowledgable about how lunch should be our most caloric meal of the day
  • less reliant on the foods I depended on for comfort and safety'
  • like I just did a big "spring clean"...I feel rejuvenated, whole, and ready for the world.

Next phase? Reintroduction.
That means I slowly and one by one re-incorporate all of the foods that I once eliminated. THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE CLEANSE. You cannot just start eating everything you eliminated all at once- that would completely defeat the purposes of the entire cleanse. 

I will be starting out with re-introducting eggs. I will eat them 1-2x a day for 3 days,  wait 2 days and eat cleanse-approved foods only, then eat peanut butter 1-2x a day for 2 days, wait 2 days, etc, until I've re-incorporated everything. This is a long and meticulous process but its the only way to tell what your body is allergic to. When we eat these foods regularly, our body is getting so much assault it's hard for it to detect what's actually causing the trigger. 

I hope this was helpful. If you guys have any more questions just ask below. This post is not in any way sponsored by Clean Program - this is my honest and truthful opinion. And yes, I recommend it to EVERYONE I know.