Your Body Cleanses Itself

Juice Cleanses Are Not Necessary! from 100 Days of #RealFood

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I understand my stance on “juice cleanses” may not be the popular one (especially this time of year), but let’s face it – your body cleanses itself. I almost *cringe* every time I hear someone’s practically starving themselves by not actually eating any regular food and only drinking green juices and the like. Maybe they think they’ll feel great and it will help them lose weight (even if it’s just water weight) – but, in my opinion, not eating (i.e. chewing) any food for a few days sounds pretty extreme and like the opposite of “fun” to me.

Extreme Diet Trends

Leave it to us Americans though to once again take the enjoyment out of food. We are one of the few countries that obsesses over counting this or limiting that or not pairing two particular foods together at a certain time of day (this last one I never really understood?). What happened to just eating a variety of whole foods – and simply stopping when you feel full or, better yet, satisfied – and actually taking pleasure in the whole process?? I am pretty sure that’s the way things were meant to be, and also, by default, it would help us to avoid some of those unwanted chemicals and additives (i.e. toxins found in highly processed food) in the first place.

A Professional Opinion

If you look at the facts, all of this isn’t really just “in my opinion.” I spoke to a local Colorectal Surgeon, Dr. Robert Stevens, who specializes in colons (obviously) – one of the organs people are attempting to “flush the toxins out of” with juice cleansing. I know Dr. Stevens personally (and trust him), and he verifies that your colon, liver and kidneys make up your very own amazing detoxification system. Imagine that – we are already equipped with all the right parts to naturally rid ourselves of unwanted toxins and feel good! Not to mention that not eating for a few days can cause dehydration, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and even colon damage (yikes).

Dr. Stevens tells me, “The most beneficial natural colon ‘cleanse’ is dietary fiber. Consuming the whole fruit or vegetable (not just the juice) is the best way to ensure that the contents of the colon are adequately evacuated along with any toxins that might remain.” As I learned during my own recent experiment, juicing can be expensive, time-consuming, and also does not provide you with the whole vegetable because “juicers” actually remove that fiber he is talking about (which can leave you still feeling hungry afterward, as it did for me).

I want to make it clear that there’s certainly nothing wrong with drinking a green juice, but it should not be considered an adequate substitution for regular food – especially for days on end.

No Evidence Cleanses Work

Not only is the act of giving up real food during a juice fast/cleanse basically the opposite of human nature, but there is also little to no scientific evidence that it actually flushes out any toxins in the first place (as confirmed here and here). Have you ever seen a credible, peer-reviewed study that proves these cleanses really work? If so, please do share it with us in the comments.

So some probably won’t like that I am saying all of this – and others may actually thank me (you can finally chew your food again – yay!) – but either way this is where I stand. In general, be careful about extreme diet trends and remember to eat a variety of wholesome, healthy foods that you can actually take the time to enjoy. :)

In Summary

Why i don't like juice #cleanses from 100 Days of #RealFood

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155 thoughts on “Your Body Cleanses Itself”

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  1. From the time I was in high school I got debilitating stomach cramps, intense diarrhea, and pain so intense I couldn’t go to school, walk and even breathe. It felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife on fire. I worked out, ate healthy, and stayed away from fast food. It continued when I was in college. I didn’t drink or use drugs. And still after college, about every other meal I ate gave me the worst pain of my life. I had no insurance and no one would see me. I cried every night and was almost to the point of suicide because I was in so much pain. I hated living. I hated eating. I saw doctors at my college who only prescribed me pain meds but didn’t know what was wrong. After I graduated I got a good job with benefits. And I’m actually in the medical field (in medical school also). I had multiple stomach surgeries, biopsies, etc. everything came back “normal” I was at my wits end.

    Then I had a friend suggest a whole juice cleanse a few days a month. That maybe something had happened in utero that caused my intestines to not absorb whole foods. Or perhaps my body was attacking itself and just needed a day off. A break. I was hesitant because nothing else had helped. I tried making a smoothie but didn’t like the texture and it made me gag so u got a juicer and just juiced. Added veggies and fruits. I did this for one weekend… after the weekend I went back (hesitantly) to eating regular foods. I was totally surprised that the whole first week I only had only about 5 episode of stomach pain, compared to the 10-12 that I would normally have. So I did it again the next weekend. Only juice, each week, the pain got less and less. Now I have less than one episode a month.

    I know there may not be a lot of medical information on juicing, but there isn’t a lot of information on many medicinal topics, because people don’t fund the research. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t help people. Please be open minded because coming from someone who was almost about to kill herself from the pain, to pain free and about to become an MD, I can attest to the benefits of juicing, at least for me. I truly believe juicing saved my life.

  2. The thing that bothered me about the post was actually nothing to due with juicing and/or fasting. What bothered me was the comment that people in America need to stop counting calories and restricting foods and simply enjoy eating whole foods and stop when they are satisfied. I think that is an extremely simplified and black and white look at an every growing problem with America and obesity. It is also irritating to hear that from a woman who is thin and has stated that she has never struggled with her weight. I know that from my own experience, I am an over-eater and compulsive about food. Even on a whole foods diet, I was overeating. I require more structure to my eating habits in order to eat the right portions. I still eat whole foods and limit processed foods as much as possible. But I also track what I eat. Its not enough to simple eat whole foods and enjoy myself. I will ENJOY myself too much!

    1. I understand your comment because I’ve struggled with compulsive eating. The idea of ‘eating what you want and stopping when you’ve had enough’ is almost foreign when we’ve learned not to trust ourselves because we’re afraid we won’t stop.

      I’ve been listening to and reading books by Geneen Roth – and she talks a lot about getting to a point where you can understand when your body has had enough. It’s been a life-changer for me.

  3. Great post! I also feel Americans subscribe to WAY too many diet trends and ridiculous rules. I have a friend who doesn’t eat any carbs after 12pm (why??) and so many other restrictive rules. Simplifying our diet by eliminating processed foods and eating whole foods is the solution to many health problems. Juicing is not a necessary part of a healthy diet – especially if one is eating healthy already.

  4. Non Alchoholic fatty liver disease is caused by our livers not being able to cleanse itself because of body pollution caused by processed foods and food additives. The liver can only process so much! This disease is reversible, through eliminating processed and some other foods so the liver can begin to heal. Juicing is also a powerful way to heal the liver in addition to the diet changes. An ultrasound has shown that I have this disease and I have been using juicing as a supplement to my diet to inprove my liver. Juicing is not an all or nothing thing, and there are cases where it is very beneficial.

  5. While the body does cleanse itself, I personally believe that in today’s overly polluted world (pesticides, water, microwaves, etc) that sometimes the body may need a little extra help. Particularly if people are not always able to eat organic. The information from the gastroenterologist may carry a lot of weight with some, but after being in the healthcare field myself as a RN for over 10 years I am sad to say that I don’t put a whole lot of stock in what traditional western medicine has to say anymore. They focus on symptoms, not root causes and profit, not cure(just look at the number of people who are frequently hospitalized only to be put on more and more medication with each admittance). The saying that applies for computers holds true to the human body…”garbage in, garbage out” and sometimes there is so much garbage from our environment and daily habits that we need to do something more unconventional and dare I say extreme to change our course. Not looking for an argument, that’s just my two cents :)

      1. Very nicely put! I don’t have a peer-reviewed study, but I did only juice for six days and then almost only juice for 15 more, and my personal experience is that juicing is amazing! It’s too bad Lisa doesn’t like it. It’s certainly an excellent way to kickstart a real food diet/lifestyle.

    1. Totally agree!! Though I would take exception to the word extreme and say what is extreme is not so much juicing but the SAD diet. When you think about it, never in our history have we, out of our own volition, consumed such a nutrient-poor, toxin-loaded diet as we do today.

  6. Wow, people need to lay off! This is her blog, if you want to offer your opinions and have such a problem with what is being said, start your own blog.
    Personally, I am a huge fan of green smoothies if you feel you must do a few days to cleanse your body. It keeps the integrity of the fruits and vegetables in a drinkable form. And, contrary to what most people will tell you, there is no need for a vitamix or other super expensive blender to go do greens and fruit. I’ve been using a $30 black and decker for over a year, 5 times or more a week with no problem. I know it will need to be replaced down the road, but I just hate that people think they have to go out and buy ac $300+ blender if they want to try green smoothies.

  7. I agree with a few key points you have made here: 1. Juicing as a way to loose weight or “detox” after unblanced living/eating is ineffective. 2. Americans do have a way of taking food (what should be a pleasurable form of nourishment and connection) and making it into an arduous ordeal, one more thing on the to-do list or even self-punishment. This is because we don’t have a food culture of our own. 3. Yes! The body does have amazing organs and systems for detoxifying iteself, but here’s the thing – how many people actually give these organs/systems what they need to accomplish this?? Americans are chronically over-fed and undernourished, getting far less whole, high quality food with the fiber and nutrients they need. They are dehydrated and most don’t get enough movement – both of which are critical for moving the colon and flushing the kidneys.

    While I truly applaud your effort here, I think periodic juicing and adding whole food blending to the daily routine are fantastic and certainly NOT fads. Man has been fasting for literally thousands of years for both spiritual and physical reasons. These are old traditions – perhaps bolstered by the benefit of modern technolgy these days – but old nonetheless. I think you know this. Perhaps your post was meant to start debate and draw traffic/comment. Well done!

  8. While I also respectfully disagree with this, the comments here are over the top. Sounds like a lot of arrogant know it alls, those of which have no clue about diseases. If your colon, liver or any other organ is in distress and not functioning properly, what’s wrong with juicing as a supplement to healthy diet? No one said they live on juice only.I’m sure the majority are attempting to stop taking or lowering medication

  9. Hi there,

    I feel that you are being attacked, and as this is your site you are entitled to YOUR opinion. I have no stance on juicing , however I am in agreeance that the trend is spreading. It is a trend simply because it is something that has gained extreme popularity relatively quickly. If you find it beneficial then, no one is going to stop you from juicing, however, on this site, the author feels it is unnecessary. The purpose of this site is to speak about the importance of REAL food, Food, not juice. I do not feel like this was an attack on people who use juicers, and I’m sorry so many feel the need to correct you about your post and your opinion.

  10. Thank you for this! I know people who cleanse all the time and they are the most unhealthy people I know and seem to get more unhealthy with each cleanse. I have tried to talk to them about it but their mind is made up and they continue to cleanse. It truly is a shame that the myth continues. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

  11. I have to respectfully disagree with most everyone here! I think Fasting with plain old H2O, as opposed to a juice fast, is the way to go. Fasting, intentional and/or unintentional (lean times), has been going on since prehistoric times. It’s simply giving your digestive system a time to rest so that your immune system can better take care of business elsewhere your body.

    There are numerous scientific studies showing the benefits of doing a water fast. And there are numerous ways to conduct a water fast, such as doing a 1 day/week/ or 1 day/month fast, or skipping breakfast every morning, or doing an intermittent weekly fast, or even just doing a straight everyday fast for an extended period of time.

    I’ve being doing a 30-day water fast once every 2 yrs., and also intermittent fasts during every week of the year. It’s not easy, especially during the first few days of starting a fast, but I believe it’s absolutely the best thing I’ve ever done healthwise for myself.

    I think the author of this article needs to do much more research into the history and the benefits of doing a fast. You’ll be surprised to learn how much healthier those people who fast really are, and also that there’s strong evidence that it will also keep cancer at bay, and actually cure most cancers. The latest research has shown that since most cancers require glucose in order to survive….denying it food for a awhile could give the immune system a chance to kill it!

  12. Yea for the truth! Cleanses are ridiculous and potentially dangerous. Your liver, kidneys, lymph system etc. are what cleanses your body, not some ridiculous combination of cayenne and lemon juice! If you eat a healthy, balanced diet of whole foods and exercise regularly you’ll do your body far more good than downing juice multiple times a day. Eat the dang apple and get some real nutrition!

  13. I LOVE this. I really hate the juicing/cleansing movement because it just seems unnatural, but haven’t been able to articulate exactly why I felt that way until I read your post. I’ve had several friends who went through a few days of only drinking juice, but then they went right back to eating the way that they used to, so it wasn’t a long-term healthy change. I think it’s best to eat whole, natural, unprocessed foods. It may be more difficult and less extreme to just have things in moderation, but it works.

  14. THANK YOU for this post!!! As a registered dietitian and nutritionist who believes in whole foods and mindful eating I cannot thank you enough for sharing this thoughtful and intelligent post with the world!

  15. Bravo for posting truth, even when you know you’re going to make some people angry. Trying to give your body a rest from that pesky digestion? Should we also give our hearts a rest from that pesky beating? :)

  16. I couldn’t agree more! I feel like you don’t see this stressed enough because everyone’s always about these “cleanses” in the New Year. Reducing sugar, caffeine, and other junk can definitely be “cleansing” to the body, but there are no need for extremes!

  17. Also read a small pamphlet book called “Cleansing or surgery” by Embassy of Heaven. I did the kidney cleanse and had stones falling in the toilet. I added one more day and it was a gallbladder cleanse. The next morning I had gallstones in the toilet!! Amazing!!

  18. It’s unfortunate that you are spreading your misconceptions on a site that is read by so many. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the responsible thing to do would be to post both sides of the debate along with your opinion. Obviously I believe in the benefits of juicing and cleansing. I completely disagree that it’s a “trend”, but enough people have posted about its benefits, so I won’t be redundant. It’s excellent that you got a professional opinion, but as with all things pertaining to my health, I would never wholeheartedly accept the opinion of a single doctor. If I did I’d be pumping my body full of unnecessary pills and chemicals on a daily basis, and isn’t the whole purpose of this blog to stop doing that? I hope the people who read this blog have the common sense to do their own (complete) research and form their own opinions. We all have to listen to our bodies and do what’s best for us.

  19. I agree – your body cleanses itself just fine….IF everything is working properly and you generally avoid processed and inflammatory foods. A lot of people use cleanses because they feel off, instead of making long lasting dietary changes, or investigating possible larger health issues. If your body isn’t detoxifying well naturally, a typical out of the box cleanse isn’t the answer… green juice is supportive, but you’ve got to really address the underlying issue and give more support than that (like Gerson does, or many practitioners can help with).

    From a seasonal eating standpoint juice cleansing in winter unless you live somewhere really warm can be incredibly depleting to your system.

  20. I would add reason to #6 to your list- these juice fasts often serve as a socially acceptable way to go on a 1980s style crash diet. Unfortunately, just like the crash diets of olden days, you risk losing muscle and gaining back more fat as soon as you return to eating normal portions.

  21. Great Post. Cleanses are completely unnecessary. The best “cleanse” is veggies. And by “cleanse” I mean just incorporate them into your meals every day. There is so much bad advice out there, it is refreshing to see someone with your reach speak about this.

    I have no problem with someone making a green juice for an alternative way to get nutrients, but people that do these “cleanses” following over-eating days (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc) drive me nuts. Pointless.

    Keep it up!

  22. Most likely, we all have some sort of digestion/absorption issues. Juicing is a great way of getting nutrients to the cells without having to go through the process of the entire digesitive process.
    Juice cleanses/fasts can help reboot your system, so that it can take a “digestive rest” from all the processed, chemically laden, genetically modified food thats out there that we all ,most likely, indulge in at least occasionally. Why not give the body a rest with organic vegetable juice?
    Even if you are the most purist of eaters, it sure wouldnt hurt to add some vegetable juices to your diet. You can get 7 servings of vegetables in one 16oz glass. For alot of us, that’s pretty hard to eat that many vegetables in a day. And if you havent tried one, dont knock it til you do. You would most likely see how great it makes you feel and even look, not to forget the benefits that happened on the inside.

  23. Thank you. I don’t understand the whole “cleanse” thing either. What toxins are you “cleansing” anyway? Do you sprinkle poison over your cereal flakes? Do you lick the asbestos in the basement? I don’t get it. Just eat good, whole food and enjoy it!

  24. We juice daily, actually twice daily. But as a supplement to the whole, clean food we eat. I also suffer from an auto-immune disease. And the more educated I become the more I believe in the “food as medicine” philosophy. I am on a lot of drugs to prevent long term damage, and lots of medicine to manage the current state of my condition. But have found that the best way for me to manage my pain is to eat whole healthy food. Moving to your eating plan turned the volume down on my pain from a 10 to a 6 or 7 most days. However, juicing as a supplement (rather than a fast) has helped further with managing pain (I refuse to take narcotics) and has also REALLY helped with managing the side effects of the medication I have to take (which STINK!!). I have also found that too much wheat can trigger a flare – So I make all of the bread for my family at home and only eat it myself very rarely. (It is hard to pass up a cream cheese sandwich with your raisin bread!)So I really believe that juicing can have a place in a balanced eating plan. But balance is the key – as in any other eating plan. I can’t speak to juicing for anyone in a “normal” state of health but it does have value for those of us with something to heal.

    1. Cry, I too have an auto immune disorder that was not diagnosed for years. Like you, I have pain but refuse to take narcotics that are given out like candy. Would you be able to share any of your ideas that have worked with you? I have found a personal trainer who is actually a physical therapist that uses stretching along with body movement that has helped ease pain but I want more relief!!! I have been eating whole real food for about 5 years, not completely, but trying. Thanks for any suggestions if you see this.

      1. DeeDee – wonder if the host of the website would be willing to pass our emails to each other privately? Don’t want to bore everyone here with our plight. :) However, this is an ongoing search for me to find the “thing” that works for me. The more I work at it, the more I realize that what works for some people doesn’t work for me. I am not yet regulated on my medication, so the docs are tweaking away. I am just trying to impact the parts of this I have control of (which isn’t much but diet and exercise). So physical therapy is a big help, but it is really tough because as we work on one set of joints and they get better, another set of joints fail. I think I could spend 4 hours a day in PT and that is just not reasonable. A good massage therapist helps with pain. Eliminating processed food has had the largest impact (thank you Lisa!!) — there is literally no cans or boxes in our house except the occasional organic, BPA free tomatoes and beans. It is a lot of work in the kitchen but has dramatically reduced my daily pain. I have also found that eliminating most grains from my diet has helped. I am not advocating that for everyone but for me, it has helped. Any wheat, corn, etc. in my house is used to make from scratch bread, waffles, etc. for my family — and is all organic so I know they are GMO and pesticide free. I hope that gives you a few ideas. They may not work for you but sometimes all you can do is try things and see what helps!

  25. Your post is inaccurate.
    A juice cleanse is not a trend, for some it’s life saving. Please read the book “The Gerson Therapy”. Many people have cured cancer and other illnesses by doing juice cleanses. Please do some thorough research…ask an alternative medicine practioner. Speak with someone at the Gerson Institute.

    1. Hi Nikki,

      A fad is something where the number of people doing it increases rapidly. So, yes fasting or juicing is a trend or fad because the number of people doing it has spiked very fast. Some people are just doing this because everyone else is, and some are doing it for health reasons. That in no way implies anything good or bad about it.

      I think that Lisa was pointing out that only consuming juice for an extended amount of time is unnecessary and potentially harmful. I am sure that there are many people who for health conditions do need to add juice to their daily diet- as some people mentioned below. Lisa has voiced her preference against this, however did not say that add juice to a diet was harmful or that no one else should to it.

      I am also skeptical about “The Gerson Therapy”. I am not saying that it doesn’t work, as I am sure there are cases where it does. I would just prefer to see a long term peer reviewed study done by them.

  26. A Vitamix blender keeps the fiber and makes it into juice. I have blended veggies and trust me the fiber is in there. Pure juice without fiber causes a sugar spike.

  27. My husband and I have been juicing daily for about 3 months. We don’t do it to cleanse, or detox, or even to lose weight, but simply because it tastes great and is healthy. Just to clarify about the fiber being taken out when you juice. There is still plenty of fiber left in the juice; the pulp has the insoluble fiber that you wouldn’t absorb anyway. And if you are worried about losing that you can add it to some muffins and have all the fiber you desire. For those of us who don’t have the luxury of cooking all day long because we have jobs it is a great way to get a good infusion of delicious nourishment.

  28. I completely disagree. The Bible calls us to fast. It does not say “if you fast”. It says “when you fast”. One if the huge benefits of the green drink fast I do is that my mind becomes so extremely clear. My face and countenance become so bright that many people ask me why I look so alive. My energy is off the charts. The first 3 days is hard but after that its amazing. Green drinks are very high in anti-oxidants and appear to be the key to weight loss. The more anti-oxidants you can eat the more the weight falls off. When your body has plenty of nutrition it will let the weight go. I also eat a pureed black bean and vegetable soup in the evening on the fast.

  29. I’ve been reading The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas and I was wondering if you have ever heard about it or read it. I’d love to hear/read your opinion. Thank you for all your info on real-food. I do as much real food as I can (for now) and I realized that I no longer crave “crap food” as I always called it. Your blog and FB page have been such a help to me. Blessings!

  30. I don’t juice, and I agree with most of what you say. I can see how there might be some benefit to having a healthy juice once in awhile for re-balancing. But so can starting the day with warm lemon water, limiting a couple of your meals to mostly whole fruits and vegetables (with some – in my opinion very important – healthy fats and protein and possibly grains thrown in for balance). My issue with “juicing” is that I see a lot of people go from very unhealthy diets straight to juicing (and I can definitely see how that could lead to some of the health problems mentioned, not to mention I don’t prefer to spend most of my day near a toilet!) The body needs time to adjust slowly so for that reason I believe introducing small, sustainable changes over time is a MUCH better option for long-term, healthy weight loss. I’m a firm believer in real, whole foods just like 100 Days!

    1. And I just wanted to add that I do think we should pay attention to our bodies if they’ve simply had enough food. We tend to believe we always need three meals a day. One thing I think juicers get right is that we don’t *always* need that. That’s why after the holidays I opted for lemon water, Greek yogurt and berries — no grains — for breakfast, lunches with lots of veggies, and balanced dinners. Helped me get back on track.

  31. I don’t totally agree with the article. I juiced for a month for cleansing purposes and weight loss. 5 days out of the week I juiced (M-F) and ate healthier meal options on the weekends (sat,sun). Not only did I drop 12lbs, but I felt a boost of energy during the week, more focused, and a sense of clarity. My taste buds changed and I appreciated the taste of food more. I also shrunk my stomach and ate less as the month went on. Got rid of my digestion issues (bloating/gas/heartburn). I’m currently on a seven day cleanse with only juices. If I get hungry I drink a juice and the pains go away. I don’t feel like I’m starving or dehydrated since I drink lots of water in the process. Now, as far as those who do it for a longer period of time without food, I’m not sure about going that long without food.

  32. I think humans are predisposed to limiting their caloric intake periodically. Hunter and gatherers, various religious backgrounds all had some sort of fast. We do not fast anymore so now we diet. :) Either way a day or two won’t hurt and could probably help.

  33. I agree with your post. I do like to juice occasionally though because my picky three year old will help me make it as I tell her about romaine lettuce, spinach and carrots we are putting in — things she will otherwise will not eat. She will drink all of the juice and ask for more. If nothing else, I figure she is “getting to know” these veggies in a way that is acceptable for her right now. She even took a bite of raw romaine and raw carrot the other day while juicing, unprompted — she didn’t like it, but she drank the juice! Baby steps, I guess.

  34. I don’t normally weigh in on things like this but the comment about Fat Sick and Nearly Dead got me. I too had chronic hives like Jor had but could not afford and was not willing to drink only juice. Instead I bought a dietary fiber cleanse and ate clean for two weeks. I cut out all processed food and ate only natural organic food. I had hives for 6 months and was about to be put on drugs for lupus because the multiple medications (10 pills a day) were not stopping them. They were barely controlling them. The cleanse tho is what finally got rid of them! It’s been over a year and I have not gotten them back– also unusual for chronic hive sufferers. So I agree with this post. Eat clean eat fiber and let your body do what it’s designed to do!!!

  35. Lisa-

    My husband & I started eating real food on January 1 and your blog has been my main resource. I won’t call it a “real food challenge” because we intend to eat this way from now on. I cannot tell you how much better I feel. I am not sleepy in the afternoons since I don’t have sugar. I am full after I eat but not overly stuffed. I don’t count anything. I just eat good, clean food when I’m hungry. I am overweight and I can already tell that I have lost a few pounds. I haven’t weighed, though, because I don’t want to be tied to a number on a scale. I cannot thank you enough for this blog. It truly is life changing. I just feel so ignorant that I have ignored what really is a crisis, as far as my eating habits go, for so long.

    I drank diet cokes daily, and haven’t had one since New Year’s Eve. I realize 9 days isn’t a long time, but I don’t even crave it. No splenda in my coffee? That’s okay, too. We are loving oatmeal with 100% maple syrup, tons of fruits, veggies, quinoa, etc.

    Thank you again!