Findings from my family “cleanse”

pineapple on the beachThis week marks the one year anniversary of the Webb “cleanse,” better known as the Webb “curse” by those who elected to join me for my 10-days of no added sugar, gluten, starchy vegetables, highly processed foods, artificial sweeteners, dairy or alcohol.

The main goals of the “cleanse” were to encourage us to read food labels, gain a better understanding of what’s in our food, try foods that we might otherwise not, eat more vegetables, and feel extra energized and healthy.

I’ll admit it was a challenge (for me, giving up my glass of wine was agony, and I’m pretty sure my brother would have preferred a birthday cake versus a birthday pineapple), but many valuable lessons were learned.

One of the participants, my friend Howie, kept a detailed journal of his observations, struggles, and food intake that I’ve been meaning to share with others with dietary restrictions who can relate to his experiences. I was reminded of it this week after finding out that he’s in the midst of his second Webb “cleanse.”

Thanks, Howie, for keeping the tradition alive!

Here are Howie’s entertaining journal entries from 2015. I’ve highlighted some of his more significant findings.

The Webb Family Cleanse:

Howie’s Food Log (June 4, 2015 – June 12, 2015)
*For reference, my daily diet typically consists of no breakfast, a sandwich and chips, or sushi, for lunch (I never bring a lunch to work), and something like pasta, hot dogs and fries, Trader Joe’s prepared meal or some kind of Asian fare for dinner.  I cook very little.

On weekends, I usually have a sizeable and unhealthy brunch (almost always cheese eggs and hash browns, sometimes French toast or some other delicious, sugary item). I’m not much of a snacker, although I usually have dessert after dinner (ice cream or chocolate).

I usually drink water (no soda); tend to have one or two drinks on Fridays and Saturdays, sometimes on a weekday (like if I go out to watch a game or attend an event). Also, I take a Vitamin D pill every night.

For a frame of reference, here’s what I ate on June 3, 2015 (highly unusual because I was visiting New York and wanted to indulge). This is probably the least healthy day of eating I’ve had all month, but it was delicious:

Morning: Webb family fruit shake; Whitefish (no mayo) and sweet cucumbers on an everything bagel from Black Seed Bagels; Small hot chocolate while meeting colleague
Early afternoon: Tomato and mozzarella on focaccia bread (from Hale and Hearty); peach Snapple
Late afternoon: Junior’s pastrami sandwich on onion roll (with cole slaw and Russian dressing); two pickles
Evening: two Trader Joe’s blueberry waffles with syrup
Dessert: cookie dough ice cream

And then this ridiculousness began…

June 4, 2015
Breakfast: nothing
Lunch: met friends at The Well-Dressed Burrito (which is not a good place to go if you’re trying to avoid starch and rice); ate a steak salad (no dressing), side of black beans, bottle of water
Dinner: went to friends’ house to pre-game before attending concert (not ideal if you’re trying to avoid drinking); brought brown rice salmon and tuna rolls from Whole Foods, edamame from home; bottle of water (our friends had ordered a bunch of delicious tacos from a solid Mexican place; I ate a little bit of chicken from one of the tacos, but not the shell); attended a concert, but didn’t drink alcohol; no snacks or dessert

Notes: I feel like the pieces of steak were marinated in something, but not sure. Ordering something special at a burrito place is ridiculous. There’s no point in going to a burrito joint if you can’t indulge.

June 5, 2015
Breakfast: nothing
Lunch: met colleague at Teaism for lunch; ate baked salmon in a yellow curry sauce (which got all over my pants), collard greens and a side of kale chips; drank a cup of hot green tea
Dinner: grilled shrimp with garlic and basil (side of reduced fat soy sauce), a few pieces of a brown rice salmon roll and seaweed salad; for dessert, ate a peanut butter Larabar

Notes: I still feel like I’m eating too much food. Even if you’re eating healthier foods, portion control is obviously still important. I ate way too many shrimp. Also, it’s basically impossible to partake in this “cleanse” unless you cook your own food; almost all prepared foods have some kind of sugar or preservative or sauce. 

June 6, 2015
Breakfast: garden omelette (onions, tomatoes, veggies, no cheese); drank water
Snack: Peanut butter chia bar
Lunch: Pistachio nuts, black cherry Larabar; drank water
Dinner: Drank sparkling water with lime; tried a few pieces of cold smoked Alaskan salmon (at a bbq; where someone handed me an open beer that I subsequently handed to someone else; it’s embarrassing to show up to a bbq with these kinds of dietary restrictions; you might as well say hello and then turn around and leave)
Post-dinner snacks: peanut butter chia bar; banana

Notes: I went to the Nats game at noon. There is literally nothing you can order in a baseball stadium that meets these dietary restrictions (unless you get water).

June 7, 2015
Breakfast: a few pieces of roasted seaweed, 1 hard-boiled egg
Lunch: Went to Southern hospitality with friends. Ate a tuna nicoise salad (no dressing) with sweet potato fries and a little piece of steak from my wife’s salad
Snack: applie pie Larabar; a few bites of kale and cauliflower salad
Dinner: baked tilapia with brown rice, spinach and chia seeds; a few pieces of a brown rice California roll; a bite of my daughter’s scrambled eggs (no cheese)
Dessert: peanut butter Larabar
Notes: I’ve been exercising more regularly than usual. When you exercise, you want to eat healthy; when you eat healthy, you want to exercise. Hooray psychology. Also, I am now reading the labels on every piece of food I purchase, so congratulations. I used to only look at calories, but now I’m looking at sugar, which is the point, I guess. You win, Captain Carb-free.

June 8, 2015
Breakfast: none
Lunch: lamb gyro salad (no sauce)
Dinner: a few pieces of Trader Joe’s brown rice California roll; a hard-boiled egg; kale and cauliflower curry salad; piece of baked tilapia with spinach
Dessert: peanut butter cookie Larabar

Notes: I really want a slice of pizza.

June 9, 2015
Breakfast: none
Lunch: brown rice tuna sushi roll from Whole Foods; snack: PBJ Larabar
Dinner: brown rice salmon roll from Trader Joe’s; one hard-boiled egg; fistful of steamed carrots and broccoli
Dessert: pineapple upside down cake Larabar

Notes: I usually eat a good-sized lunch and a big dinner + dessert, but no breakfast or snacking. This diet is making me want to eat smaller meals throughout the day because big meals aren’t really possible. I guess that’s the point. But I don’t like it.

June 10, 2015
Breakfast: raspberry chia bar
Lunch: lamb gyro salad (no sauce)
Snack: cappuccino Larabar
Dinner: brown rice tuna roll from Whole Foods; hard-boiled egg
Dessert: lemon Larabar

June 11, 2015
Breakfast: banana
Lunch: spinach salad with shrimp, beets, tomatoes and onions
Snack: choc chip cookie dough Larabar
Dinner: cup of fruit at a rest stop off of I-95

Notes: We stopped at Chesapeake House off of I-95. There were literally zero options at the fast food chains. Wendy’s, KFC Express, some deli and Pizza Hut. I went to the damn convenience store and got a little cup of fruit, which is pathetic.

June 12, 2015
Breakfast: nothing
Lunch: TBD, but rest assured that it will be something healthy. I won’t have access to a computer later, so you’re getting this log now.

Final Notes: I’ve lost six pounds, so there’s that. I will no longer eat processed foods from grocery stores without checking the ingredients, so congratulations, you’ve turned me into Michael Pollan. I rarely drink soda as it is, but now I’ll prob stay away from other sugary drinks too because they’re just not worth it.The alcohol part of this was easy because I usually only have a drink or two on the weekends. The rest was not easy. I need dairy and I need bread and I need sugar. I like sandwiches and pasta and cheesy eggs and hash browns and Thai food and ice cream. And so I will be indulging in those things with some regularity over the next few weeks.

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