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My attempt at the master cleanse

Maclaine Chadwick | Fulcrum Staff

Illustration by Brennan Bova

Lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper—not the most appealing combination, yet they are the ingredients comprising the fad diet known as the Master Cleanse. You may have heard of it as the “lemonade diet”, but no matter what it’s called, I have one word to sum it up—gross.

When I first thought of the idea to take on a fad diet and review it for the Fulcrum, I couldn’t wait to get started. I was excited about using my status as a journalist as an excuse to do something radical and shocking, all while detoxifying my mind and my body. My co-workers were skeptical as well as fearful for my health, but I was lovin’ it.

Enter phase two of my idea: doing research. I knew that the lemonade diet involved drinking only the aforementioned concoction for ten days. Might be difficult, but nothing that some good old-fashioned discipline can’t keep under control. What I didn’t know was that consuming laxatives twice a day was recommended under the diet’s guidelines as well.

Laxatives? Not going to happen.

So, I decided to forgo the laxatives. I’m only doing this for a story anyways, right? No need to—sorry to get graphic here—crap the bed over a diet that I’m simply curious about.

Next up on the research docket was discovering that I could lose up to 15 pounds. Obviously that is to be expected as a result of not eating for 10 days, but something about seeing that fact on paper really resonated with me. The other thing that struck a nerve in my already rumbling belly was that I would likely feel low on battery life in the form of shakiness and feeling faint.

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

“No, Maclaine,” said my inner workaholic. “You’re going to do this and you’re going to do this right. For journalism!”

One of my biggest fears was the hunger, especially the growling stomach I knew I would be facing on the first day. Since I basically decided to do this on a whim, and had skipped the “ease in” stage recommended by the book—a three day process of consuming only fruits and veggies, then juices and soup, then only orange juice—I figured I would conserve as much energy as I possibly could for that first day by staying in bed until 1:00pm. My logic proved flawless for about ten minutes, because as soon as I started my early-afternoon beauty routine, I was craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The next step was to actually buy the ingredients, so down to Loblaws I went with the dread of the next ten days weighing heavily on my mind. What I hadn’t considered before was any sort of stigma associated with being willing to put oneself through this process for no reason. When I got to the grocery store, I was faced with buying all sorts of other food so that I didn’t look like a crazy person. If it wasn’t for purchasing what I will refer to as my “sanity groceries”, the master cleanse is actually a good way to save money on food—the cashier-in-training accidentally rang in only one lemon instead of six. Point for me!

Once I invested real money into this diet—fourteen dollars to be exact—I knew I had to go through with it.  So into the water bottle went the juice of one lemon, two tablespoons of maple syrup, a dash of cayenne pepper, and some water to dilute whatever nastiness I was about to consume.

I toasted to my bravery, and took a swig. Strike one under the nastiness column was for the texture—it was like sipping on a melted slushy, not quite syrup but not quite juice either, with a fleck of cayenne pepper brushing on by once in a while. Strike two was obviously the taste—I could have handled the lemon on its own and the dash of cayenne pepper was almost tasteless, but the maple syrup was, surprisingly, the worst part of the drink. The final strike for me was the aftertaste—the sourness of the lemon seemed to dry out my mouth and the pepper stuck to my tongue.

The next 45 minutes of my Master Cleanse experiment were a rollercoaster of emotional reflection. Did I want to continue torturing my taste buds for the next ten days? Was it worth the risk or the lack of energy? Could I turn down food?

The short answer to all of the above was no, because shortly after drinking half of the lemonade, I found myself at Shawarma Byte getting a chicken wrap with extra tahini sauce. Who was I kidding; I’m satisfied with my body and I love food way too much to give it up for a story.

Bottom line is this: If you have taste buds that can withstand the weirdness, are down to take a laxative, or if you are comfortable walking around on the brink of collapse, then the Master Cleanse is definitely the diet for you!