Hartley: The lazy man’s guide to eating healthier

Todd Hartley
I’m With Stupid

About four years ago, as some of you may remember, I did a health-food cleanse with somewhat mixed results. The idea was to start with nothing but fruits and veggies and then gradually add back in the heavy stuff, like quinoa and salmon. After a month of eating like that, or so I was told, I would not only be healthier, but I also would no longer crave red meat and carbs.

Wanna bet?

Needless to say, I didn’t stick with that diet, but I did lose 15 pounds in three weeks, and there’s no way I wasn’t healthier for having done it. So, as a short-term way to flush out the system and lose a little weight, I reckoned that a health-food cleanse is a pretty good idea. Brilliant, huh?

The problem, however, is that when you have to prepare everything you eat, as my wife and I did during our cleanse, you spend all day preparing everything you eat. You should have seen the effort it took my wife to make a bunch of pistachio-stuffed dates that I ate in about three minutes. You have your work cut out for you, too, because vegetables ain’t gonna make themselves taste good.

So you can see the dilemma I was faced with: I would do a cleanse again — right now I desperately need one — but the one I did was a colossal pain in the ass. What I needed was a lazy way to do the same thing without all the food prep — a way to cheat the system, basically. That’s how I came up with my greatest idea yet: the Larabar cleanse.

Here’s the way it works: Instead of braising kale and roasting cauliflower all day, what you do is eat Larabars. If you’re not familiar with Larabars, they’re individually wrapped, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan, kosher bars made of dates and other stuff mashed together. Preparation involves opening the wrapper. It’s the easiest diet in history.

Now, before you go and think that I’m doing this as some sort of Larabar promotion, you should know that I am, but it was my idea. I contacted the people at Larabar first.

I don’t like your run-of-the-mill energy bars that taste like sawdust or require a gallon of water to choke down, so when Larabars first hit the market, I loved them as a moist alternative to the crap I couldn’t stand. I also liked that when I looked at the wrapper for one flavor — Cashew Cookie — I read the following: “Ingredients: cashews, dates.”

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to actually do the Larabar cleanse, so I called the company, which is based in Denver. I spoke to a nice woman who directed me to General Mills’ business-proposals website, where I filled out a bunch of forms outlining my idea. It was so official that I figured the whole thing probably wasn’t going to happen, but just two days later, a woman from Larabar called me.

We talked about the idea a little more, and this was my pitch: I, along with my wife and my vegan neighbor as control groups, would eat nothing but Larabars and fizzy water (plus coffee for the ladies) for a week to see what it did to our health. The woman said she’d get back to me when she spoke to her people, and a few days later, 300-plus Larabars in a wide variety of flavors showed up on my doorstep.

Perfect. I emailed the lady from Larabar to say I’d gotten the bars and we would be starting the cleanse Thursday of this week so that we could finish Wednesday of next in time for me to write a column with the results. But no sooner had I sent the email than I remembered my friend was coming by Thursday evening with some elk steaks. It would be incredibly rude of me not to eat something he went to the troubling of hunting down and bringing to my house, so I had to add a caveat to the cleanse.

Here’s the way it’s now going to work: We will eat nothing but Larabars for a week, but we each get one non-Larabar dinner on a night of our choosing, to be offset by a vegetarian feast Thursday of next week celebrating the end of the cleanse. I took my meat night Thursday of this week.

I weighed in at 210.6 pounds just now. I wouldn’t dare ask the ladies what they weigh. Wish us luck!

Todd Hartley also invented the ipecac cleanse, but that one didn’t go very well. To read more or leave a comment, visit


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