My parents discovered Dr. Rau sometime between 2006-2009. I know this because my whole family systematically cycled through the one week liver cleanse once or twice during this time. I resisted the one week cleanse for years, literally years, as I wasn't convinced on the merits of "cleaning out" my body via food.

When I came home from Europe in December of 2008 I decided to give good ol' Dr. Rau a try. I was a little bit heavier than I like to be (somewhat to the tune of 25 pounds heavy) from a year of eating cheese and drinking beer (I suspected at the time I might also have a dairy allergy, but it took me about three more years and a test before I finally gave all of that up for good). I read the Dr. Rau book first and tried to understand his methodology. No stranger to naturopathy, nutritionists and holistic health I decided I had nothing to lose and gave it a try.

In that one week I was as miserable as I can remember. I ate three meals a day, completely prescribed by Dr. Rau. Without getting into the very dull details of what I was eating, the meals looked a little something like this: 1/3 cup of quinoa with 1/2 banana with 1/2 cup of rice milk. Half a carrot for a snack. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber for lunch. Etc. etc. One of Dr. Rau's favourite sayings in this book is after the cleanse people will comment on how good you look. This line has become a mainstay in our families repertoire when it comes to just about everything. Have people told you how good you look? This is usually followed by a hearty laugh.

The completion of my cleanse that winter was unremarkable. Besides feeling really hungry I couldn't honestly say I noticed a difference. I lost no weight, my skin did not glow as promised, I felt no lighter or happier. On the day after the cleanse was over I went out for Thai food with my friend Lisa. We drank cocktails, ate rich food and downed a bottle of wine. Probably not the pinnacle of smart choices immediately following consuming vegetables for a week.

In the fall of this year I found myself feeling particularly unwell. I blamed seven months of stress over the course of Karen's illness, eating poorly during that time and drinking way too much wine. My grief councillor called these "poor coping mechanisms". I was telling my chiropractor - who strangely I tell just about everything to- and he indicated that his wife, a GP, loved a book called The Hormone Diet. I wrinkled my nose because I don't believe in the word diet, but he persisted and said that his incredible medical doctor wife was a huge fan of the book and the prescribed eating in it. She said it had made a difference in her life and many others. I bought the book and dove in.

I figured I had little to lose in doing the ten day cleanse followed by the gradual reintroduction of foods, and that the super clean (but not totally restrictive) diet could be "doable" for the long haul. She encourages you to think of it not as a cleanse but as a "way of eating for life." Dr. Kara encouraged me to think of it as he practiced it: 80/20 - if the food changes worked for me to try to stick to them 80% of the time, and the other 20% of the time to enjoy and eat what I want.

My first day of the ten was simple, as I was nursing a small hangover from my brothers Birthday Beer Tasting, and I didn't think I could hack much more than crackers and hummus anyway. Day two to five were some of the most miserable I can remember: I missed sugar. I missed coffee. I missed peanut butter. I longed for simplicity in eating.
"Grabbing a bite" because a huge ordeal when I could not have any form of gluten, sugar, peanuts, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, or meat. I saw doughnuts everywhere I went. I was offered food every time I turned around. I felt slightly crazy. I felt more than slightly crazy.

Starting on day six I relaxed into the eating and realized if I was a little more organized I could avoid being hangry and still eat well. I wasn't often hungry. My overall sense of wellbeing improved around the week marker. At day ten I felt I could probably keep going, and I did. (But I did add an americano back in the mix, praying I showed no signs of inflammation or other body unhappiness). While I feel uncertain if I continue doing this forever (or 80% of the time, as it turns out) or if I do this for now, I will keep eating if it makes me feel good. It's not a cleanse, it's a way of life the book reminds me. Right.

People still aren't telling me how good I look.