Is This Vegan Detox the Best Way to Recover From Holiday Binge Eating?
While the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated for its positive themes, that doesn't make the day immune to its fair share of darker moments: the generous scoop of stuffing, the extra heaping of mashed potatoes, the extra dousing of gravy, and the slice of pumpkin pie despite the declaration that you "can't even."
In an effort to aid the righting of those wrongs, DeliverLean, a South Florida-based gourmet food delivery service, has launched revAMP. The revAMP program is an organic, gluten-free, vegan detox cleanse that promises to "expel impurities and toxins that can slow the body down and cause weight gain."
DeliverLean reached out to see if I'd be interested in trying out a five-day preview of their regimen. My personal experiences with strictly juice-based cleanses had been generally positive. While I was thrilled with the physical results, I'd found that the sensation of chewing was something that I was quite fond of. And so I was intrigued by the fact that revAMP is not a juice cleanse; it features a wide range of items including soups, salads, fruit, vegetables, grains, and even cacao. This seemed like an opportunity to achieve similar results to the juice-only cleanses without the potential atrophy of my masticatory muscles from disuse.
While our friends at the Miami New Times provided a summary of the offering, the internet simply wouldn't be complete without an excruciating hour-precise food journal of the experience.
Preparation The standard five-day revAMP schedule runs from the receipt of the overnight parcel on a Tuesday morning through a Saturday night. For the purposes of the preview, DeliverLean shipped a kit for Saturday arrival, allowing for additional review and preparation time.
In addition to the neatly packaged and labeled foodstuffs that would constitute my week of ingestibles, there was a support package ("AMP It Up Kit") that included a "gratitude journal," a T-shirt, a dry skin brush, bath salts, and a scented candle. These items were instantly earmarked for impending Secret Santa gift exchanges.
Having already completed several juice-based cleanses, I knew the first step was to avoid scheduling social activities for the duration of the program. While it is TECHNICALLY possible to be social during a detox, I, like many other city-dwellers, do not live in a feminine hygiene commercial. The first step is acceptance.
The second (optional) step is to put a vacation auto-responder on your email to tell your friends and family that this is not a great week to be invited to that spontaneous meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
The third step is to say goodbye to the foods you love. My death row "last meal" request: whelks (sea snails), scallops, and Japanese fried chicken (karaage). While the revAMP FAQ suggests "avoiding animal protein, alcohol, caffeine, gluten and dairy for 2-3 days leading up to your detox," the pre-existence of this type of dietary discipline would make the revAMP program substantially less valuable to me.
I settled for trying to eat a reasonable dinner and getting a solid night of sleep. Discipline is a much more difficult proposition when under-rested.
Day 1 - Monday 07:20 a.m.: Woke up and weighed myself. Decided to omit the "before" photo.
08:30 a.m.: My first encounter with the Chia Fat Flush, a tart citrus drink with plump chia seeds. Chew? Swallow? Chew until tired and/or bored, then swallow.
10:15 a.m.: Cacao Breakfast Crunch: sprouted buckwheat and fruits with coconut milk. Never been big on coconut milk, but it really tied the whole thing together.
12:15 p.m.: Informed my office-mates that I would be detoxing for the week. Implied implications: (1) I would be declining all invitations for lunch, and (2) I could not be held responsible for my behavior. Retreated back to my office and ate salad.
01:30 p.m.: Shut the door to my office. The door features a printout of Elmer Fudd, a finger held to his lips, with the caption "NAPPING."
01:35 p.m.: Napped.
03:20 p.m.: Ginger kale chips: delicate dried kale chips with zucchini and sunflower seeds. This was a solid mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
06:55 p.m.: Broccoli soup with hemp seed and leeks: a light blended soup with a sweet tinge that was to be either sipped cold or heated. I chose heat.
08:30 p.m.: Ate a few bites of salad left over from the weekend. While I could have gone without, there are minor allowances in the FAQ that begrudgingly accept a small amount of additional consumption.
09:30 p.m.: Dozed off watching TV. Slumber is preferable to hunger, always.
Day 2 - Tuesday 08:10 a.m.: Chia Fat Flush, we meet again. Again, chew, get tired, swallow.
09:20 a.m.: Kale Berry Coconut Smoothie: light berry flavor with a strong coconut component.
12:50 p.m.: Feeling pretty vigorous.
01:00 p.m.: Co-workers ordered Korean fried chicken. One co-worker, being particularly sensitive to my plight, remarked how it tasted even better than usual. I'm sure it did.
01:30 p.m.: Gave a presentation as I self-consciously wondered if everyone noticed that I was slightly irritable. I opted to fly through the presentation as quickly as possible, liberally skipping slides and glossing over explanations.
03:40 p.m.: Raw Cacao Truffles: tasted like Almond Joy, or at least my recollection of Almond Joy, having not consumed said confection in over a decade. A well-conceived indulgence by the DeliveryLean team (hat tip). Pairs well with citrus-tinged seltzer water.
06:15 p.m.: Green Garden Soup (zucchini, leeks, asparagus, and celery): While the soup was already finely blended, I took the opportunity to finely mince the minute bits of celery with my teeth.
08:45 p.m.: Detox tea: slight licorice odor and an herby body.
10:15 p.m.: Ate leafy snack that was included for consumption at any time. It felt like carrying an item in Mario Kart. The timely deployment of a scarce resource could be the difference between success and failure.
00:30 a.m.: Sleep.
Day 3 - Wednesday 10:15 a.m.: Chia Fat Flush. I already know it's a bit tangy for the first thing in the morning, so I opted to dilute it and just swallow the seeds.
12:05 p.m.: Way behind on eating, but I wasn't remotely hungry.
01:30 p.m.: Superfood Chia Pudding: finally consumed my breakfast. Coconut seems to be more than a bit player in this production.
05:15 p.m.: Again, I found myself not being very hungry.
05:30 p.m.: Grapefruit, Pear, Raspberries, Lemongrass: decided to eat my snack because it was preferable to carrying it home.
08:00 p.m.: As I reached into my cupboard for some tea, I briefly made eye contact with the Japanese rice crackers I'd procured over the weekend. I guiltily looked away and quickly shut the cupboard. I'll be back. I promise.
09:45 p.m.: Go Green Soup (Haricots Verts, Celery, Zucchini, Spinach, Basil, Parsley): rich blended soup with a spicy finish.
02:00 a.m.: Bonne nuit.
Day 4 - Thursday 08:30 a.m.: Living above a restaurant is mostly convenient, but waking up to the astringent odor of onions grilling was decidedly inconvenient.
09:00 a.m.: Chia Fat Flush: starting to feel like Groundhog Day.
01:40 p.m.: Salad for a late lunch. The trend of suppressed appetite seemed to be holding.
03:05 p.m.: Raspberry Lime Kale Chips: spoke too soon. Barely made it to the snack. The brittle nature of the kale chips made a spoon extremely utile.
06:30 p.m.: Got in the elevator to leave for home when I realized I left a juice in the office fridge. I remarked to my horrified co-workers that I'd lost nearly 10 pounds in the last four days. They seemed grossed out.
08:30 p.m.: Cauliflower Curry Soup: very light and not quite as viscous as I'd hoped, but still very pleasant. The curry flavor almost convinced me that I wasn't starving myself.
08:45 p.m.: The commercial for the Papa John's Frito Pizza came on and it is looking pretty good. I'm getting beer goggles for food.
09:55 p.m.: Detox tea.
02:00 a.m.: Went to sleep, trying to block out the voice of Peyton Manning talking pizza. Zzz... Omaha... Zzz... Omaha.
Day 5 - Friday 09:15 a.m.: Chia Fat Flush: I'm not going to miss you.
11:00 a.m.: Screw you, Instagram. Screw you, Thrillist Fat Kid Fridays.
11:15 a.m.: Inspirational instant messaging.
Me: I'm eating tomorrow. Looking forward to it.
Friend: I love that you're looking forward to food.
Me: Third world problems, first world context.
12:15 p.m.: Satisfying breakfast: the grains-with-coconut-milk concept started really growing on me.
02:35 p.m.: Satisfying lunch: finally, some real food. Yeah, I just said that. The portions seem to be ramping up in an effort to recondition me for the real world.
02:55 p.m.: Felt pretty full and was still grazing on lunch.
03:10 p.m.: Felt hungry again, but my energy levels were off the charts. I'm unsure if that was due to nutrition or the excitement that I only had 12 more conscious hours in this gastronomical halfway house.
06:15 p.m.: Quick inventory indicates that I still had two juices, a soup, and a snack. Is it possible that I won't finish everything in the pack?
08:00 p.m.: Caught up with friends at a modern soul food restaurant. While they dined on duck wing and pig tails, I quietly nibbled away at a nutty, rich chocolate cluster. Fried stuff smelled good, but I wasn't tempted. I didn't miss food, I missed the freedom to choose.
09:30 p.m.: Another friend showed up and ordered sweetbreads. I love sweetbreads. Tauntingly, they offered me a sliver. I pointed out that nobody ever brags about almost completing a five-day vegan detox. You have to run through the tape.
11:50 p.m.: Comfort Soup (Leeks, Celery, Sweet Potato, Coconut Milk, Parsley): made it back to my apartment with most of my sanity. Beelined to the kitchen to heat up my final blended soup. The soup was rather filling. The parsley kick was much appreciated.
00:30 a.m.: Detox tea. Indeed, there would be a leftover juice.
01:30 a.m.: Sleep. Freedom beckons on the other side of twilight.
Day 6 - Post Cleanse 09:15 a.m.: Awoke and did the final weigh-in. The final count was a weight loss of just over 10 pounds, enough to drop my BMI by a whopping 1.5 points. While BMI isn't a perfect measurement of health, it is still a staggering number.
09:55 a.m.: Began furiously trying to make plans for meals that day. I remarked to a friend: "I haven't eaten anything yet, but I think I'm already less irritable. Just because now I can choose."
It would have been easy to go ahead and rapidly reacquaint myself with my favorite entrees, but I felt the same way I do after buying a really nice pair of shoes -- they look great until you go out, have fun, and ruin them. In the same vein, I wanted to eat everything, yet I wanted to eat nothing.
Conclusion While the results were extremely effective in my personal instance, I would conjecture that they are far from typical. While there is clear value provided by DeliveryLean in the selection, sourcing, packaging, and delivery of the meals, the value is relative to the time and discipline someone is willing to invest in this way of eating. The revAMP program that was previewed costs $625 ($125/day). To some, that is an outlandishly staggering cost. To others, that's a bargain-basement price requiring far less discipline than juicing.
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