Cleansed 

Forget eggnog and fruitcake. Intrepid reporter Matthew Frank spends his holiday season on a three-week mission to rid himself of bodily toxins—and actually likes it.

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While I eat mostly local and organic foods, it doesn't necessarily mean my diet is healthy. I tend to go on weeklong bacon binges, and I save the fat to fry my garden-grown potatoes and locally raised eggs. I spread butter or dollop sour cream on anything that might otherwise be healthy. (I'm the only person, as far as I know, who has smeared butter all over a Taco del Sol burrito and pan-fried it.) A gluten allergy has forced me to give up the beer and breads I used to consume copiously, but I still pile my gluten-free pizza high with salami and two layers of cheese, and wash it down with whiskey. I've enquired about a meal plan at Sa Wad Dee. I have an unhealthy, and nightly, relationship with Tillamook's Chocolate and Peanut Butter ice cream.

So I recoil when I see the list of foods I can't eat for three weeks. They probably account for 80 percent of my diet. Here's what's off-limits:

All pasteurized animal milks (yogurt okay)

All pasteurized cheeses

All corn products

Potatoes—red or white

Tomatoes

Commercial eggs (organic okay)

Citrus fruits (lemon/lime okay)

All fruit juices

All dried fruit

Peanuts/peanut butter

Pork and grain-fed meat

Any processed food

All fried foods

All caffeinated teas, coffee (green and white tea okay)

Alcohol

Shellfish

All gluten-containing grains

The list of foods I have to better incorporate is considerably shorter:

Steamed vegetables

Fruit

Fish

Seeds and nuts

Oils

"The key points," the instructions read, "are to eat fresh, unprocessed, whole foods. Eat vegetables of all colors daily along with lean meats and fish. When possible, eat local, seasonal and organic foods. Avoid all common inflammatory foods such as wheat (gluten), processed foods, dairy products, refined sugars, fried foods, alcohol and coffee. To promote healthy digestion, remember to chew your food well and avoid any beverages 15 minutes before and after meals."

The "chew your food well" part strikes me as particularly odd. I'm supposed to chew each bite of food 36 times.

"You really want to churn it up so it's easier to digest," Martinez says.

Apparently, everything that goes down the hatch needs to be the consistency of baby food. I think that if even my dog can master delayed gratification then I can, too. Then again, training him to be composed when there are treats in my hand required Prozac.

There's more to my new diet than just restrictions and chewing. I'm supposed to drink a tablespoon of extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil every morning. That's followed by the "Master Cleanser" drink, a mix of unfiltered apple juice, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, honey, grated ginger, salt and cayenne pepper in eight ounces of water. Plus, I'm to drink smoothies every day chock full of MediClear powder, a protein supplement used as an adjunct in liver and colon detoxification. (In all, the cleanse costs $295, including three consultations and all of the supplements.)

click to enlarge Martinez and Friess prescribe me three different homeopathic remedies from the row shown above. I take them in a specific sequence three times a day to help detoxify my liver. - PHOTO BY CATHRINE L. WALTERS
  • Photo by Cathrine L. Walters
  • Martinez and Friess prescribe me three different homeopathic remedies from the row shown above. I take them in a specific sequence three times a day to help detoxify my liver.

Other dietary instructions: Before meals, drink a half spoon of organic apple cider vinegar (this gets my digestive enzymes flowing). Once a day, take a B vitamin supplement. Twice a day, drink a glass of water with a teaspoon of probiotic powder. Three times a day, take five drops of three different homeopathic remedies. Drink half of my body weight in ounces of water—about 85 ounces.

I'm a beanpole already, and I wonder if this diet will have me wither away entirely.

•••

The caffeine-withdrawal headache doesn't fully manifest until the third day of the cleanse, which happens to be a Monday, a deadline day at the Indy. Beyond the creative constipation I'm suffering from, staring at a computer screen for eight hours as needle-nose fish swim around my brain and poke my right eyeball—that's how my migraines typically feel—is absolute misery.

"There's a huge effect that coffee has on the central nervous system," Martinez tells me. "The body starts to shut down the central nervous system in order to be able to accommodate all that stimulation, so it makes complete sense that your concentration would be less, though initially it does create a ramped-up effect."

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