Aspen Times Weekly: Liquefied — Cleanse Cravings to Find Clarity
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: You’re invited to a dinner party.
HOW TO DEAL: Advise the host of your situation. May as well bring a batch of homemade almond milk to pair with dessert so you’re not a total buzzkill.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: A friend wants to meet for coffee.
HOW TO DEAL: Acknowledge that it’s silly to order herbal tea and suggest a hike instead. Only fools gossip in Aspen cafés, anyway!
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: You’re out of toothpaste (or TP). Do you dare enter the grocery store?
HOW TO DEAL: Stick to the mission, avoid eye contact with candy in the checkout line, and make a swift exit. See why it pays to plan ahead?
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: You walk into said grocery story right as chocolate chip cookies emerge from the bakery oven (true story).
HOW TO DEAL: Run for it!
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: You chow all three allotted flex foods by 2 p.m.
HOW TO DEAL: Give yourself a break. Another handful of berries or cup of almond milk won’t derail your progress.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: A walking Purium success story tempts you with air-popped popcorn during Game of Thrones.
HOW TO DEAL: Go ahead, grab a handful! That guy lost more than 30 pounds (after three rounds) with this occasional cheat.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Your editor writes a killer cover story on Bloody Marys.
HOW TO DEAL: Make brunch plans, two weeks out. And lock your liquor cabinet, just in case.
THE DISCLAIMER made me squeamish as soon as I said it. Yeah, I’ll come over, but I won’t eat your homemade shrimp curry. Also, I’m not drinking. I’m on a cleanse. So…I’m kind of a drag right now.
Friends I’ve known since my first days in Aspen assured me that they could care less about my consumption habits. They just wanted to hang out. And one may have been secretly thrilled to hitch a ride with a designated driver.
“So, uh, glass of water?” our host asked when we arrived, after he cracked open a beer for the third musketeer. He watched me unpack a plastic baggie of fresh spinach with dried garlic and a plastic container of sliced cucumbers marinating in lemon juice and cayenne pepper. “What do you need?”
I was exactly halfway through the Purium 10-day Transformation Cleanse, and determined to not blow it. I’d spent most of the week avoiding social interaction and postponing plans — program participants consume a vegan-powder shake, handful of amino-acid pills, or a flex food such as a half-avocado, handful of berries, or celery, every two hours — and I found it fairly easy, if a bit isolating. Now that a dear pal was hitting the road for a few months, my conscience wasn’t about to let me stay home with Netflix and vegetable broth. As it turns out, watching your bros finish a bottle of Milagro while you sip on green superfood drank has its own merits.
Meanwhile, on the East Coast, my cleanse accomplice was facing a more extreme obstacle. “Saturday I went to a bridal shower,” says Amy, who hemmed and hawed about showing up at all. “I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to be that girl who sits there, drinking water.”
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It was worse than she anticipated. Instead of the typical, and, perhaps, more manageable, whirlwind of passed appetizers, specialty cocktail bar, and titanic dessert buffet, the party revolved around a coursed, sit-down dinner. Fortunately, the host overheard Amy telling the bride that she was on a cleanse, which buffered her reaction — somewhat.
“Her eyes went crazy,” Amy recalls. “‘What do you mean, Amy can’t have a glass of wine?!’ Before I let them make a judgment, I told them: This is day six of a 10-day cleanse, I won’t be eating with you guys, so go ahead and enjoy. One girl had seen the article (“Suck It Up Buttercup!” Apr. 28, Aspen Times Weekly). It brought up a lot of questions.”
Still, the aroma of roasted meat and sound of clinking glasses were torturous. “I felt like such a major b*tch,” says Amy, who soldiered through the hours-long ordeal behind an empty place setting. “The food looked so good, and they all had their little glasses of white wine. That was the hardest day for me.”
No doubt, food is an important part of our lives — it’s necessary for survival, for one, and often the centerpiece of social interaction. According to the 2015 American Time Use Survey (ATUS) conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend an average of 1 hour and 8 minutes of every weekday consuming food and drink, and slightly longer — 1 hour, 17 minutes — eating on weekends and holidays. Concerning food preparation and cleanup, we spend about 34 and 37 minutes on weekdays and weekends/holidays, respectively. If these numbers seem low, consider that the ATUS is self-reported, and respondents might not always factor in social engagements where food is a backdrop. Regardless, that’s upward of 428 hours per year on eating! (As personal consumption patterns change over time along with American habits of eating and food preparation, researchers don’t attempt to estimate time spent eating or drinking over an average individual’s lifetime.)
Cleansing, fasting, and restrictive dieting removes solid food from the equation for a stint. So what happens when we voluntarily opt-out of one of the few activities that bonds us as human beings? Such sacrifice makes room for weirdness, that’s what.
“I just got done with a nine-day cleanse on Tuesday,” chef Susie Jimenez told me recently. I’d spied her telltale shaker bottle while sitting as a guest on her “Spice It Up” radio show the week before. “I know every single person who works at the grocery stores from Aspen to Carbondale because I spend that much time shopping, looking, and finding inspiration,” Jimenez adds. “I spend more money on food than anything else, including my mortgage. My life revolves around it. Even when I was doing my cleanse I found myself consumed by what I was going to eat when I was off my damn cleanse.”
The Purium Tranformation Cleanse isn’t difficult, necessarily—though it may be inconvenient; you will make multiple restroom stops thanks to 100-plus ounces of water daily — yet pesky, mindless, and often relentless cravings are a real threat. Which is the point: Purium’s main objective — and the goal of other nutritional cleanses — is to quash cravings and eliminate poor eating habits to start anew with a clean slate.
Unfortunately, that’s a tall order when faced with a constant stream of food media and marketing. In my email lately: “11 Appetizers that Bring the Bacon!” “Cook Like You Live in France,” “The Future of Noodles in America,” and a promo for Rustique Bistro’s seasonal, Thursday-night, three-course fried chicken dinner for $26. On Snapchat I saw a parade of white chocolate-covered strawberries dusted in edible gold and massive wedges of red velvet cake. I didn’t dare visit the hardware store — that free popcorn gets me every time.
A cruel irony: embarking on a regimented cleanse such as Purium frees up time for activities that have nothing to do with food or booze…which may be doubly dangerous as idle time is known to increase cravings for pizza and candy. To stave off empty desires, I turbo-cleaned my apartment and donated lots of stuff to the victims of that devastating house fire in Glenwood Springs. What I didn’t realize while clearing closet space: I’d have to brave a gauntlet of enticing restaurants and shops to make the delivery.
I ask Amy, who started a long-awaited home-renovation project with her newfound leisure time, if she’s found peace with practicing restraint though Puirum.
“I’m noticing my habits — to reach into my drawer to eat M&Ms or walking to kitchen to open the fridge, but for what? Why? I’m not really hungry. Last night (my fiancé) Michael made pasta, and I freakin’ love pasta. My stomach was full of spinach and broth, but I wanted it. It’s all about resetting your craving clock and learning to crave the healthy things.”
I mention how I feel sorry for my abandoned (sparkling) kitchen, concerned about being cold all the time, and slightly sad about depriving myself of life’s great pleasures every day. I could easily continue Purium for another 10 days — energetically, I feel fantastic, and I’ve dropped enough weight to gloat about it — but at what emotional cost?
Ever the optimist, Amy cuts through with her voice of reason. “Don’t be sad,” she declares. “We’re at the home stretch. On Thursday (when this is over) I’m probably gonna go to the meat market and get a cheeseburger.”
Amanda Rae will not be celebrating Cinco de Mayo on Thursday. Not because she’s off tequila; because she’s American. firstname.lastname@example.org
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This weekend we go local. After the bacchanalia that was the Food & Wine Classic last week, we turn to Snowmass for a kinder, gentler wine gathering as the 19th Snowmass Wine Festival gets underway.