Health & Family

Day 1: A reporter on the Lemonade Diet

I came to the Charlotte Observer in June as a Kaiser Media Fellow to report on healthcare for the summer. I quickly found myself covering topics like de-stressing breathing techniques, whole foods diets and juicing. Detoxification diets, or “cleansings” seemed like an extension of all these purifying techniques. What better way to report on them then try one myself?

I'd been craving a real detox since mid-way through graduate school last year in New York, when I'd had too many vending machine meals, too much coffee, too many cocktails.

I chose the Master Cleanse, or Lemonade Diet, because it was cheap, easy and relatively reputable. It reportedly cleans the kidneys and leaves one feeling more healthy and rejuvenated.

It's been around since the 1940s, and I've known of enough people who have done it successfully. All you need are fresh lemons, cayenne pepper, grade B maple syrup (available at specialty stores), and purified water. And will power.

Before launching the diet Monday, I may have overdone things Sunday. That night, I dined on a vegetable calzone and ice cream. Please don't tell anyone back in New York that earlier that day, I indulged in a Bojangle's biscuit dripping with butter. I usually eat much healthier than this, and the decision would come back to haunt me. More on this in a moment.

When I got up Monday I diligently prepared my first glass of lemonade and downed it for breakfast. Then I prepared my bottles for lunch and dinner. I felt good. I was more focused at work and on the tennis court. I liked the taste of the spicy lemonade and it helped kill my appetite. But I was cold throughout the day—I believe because my body wasn't digesting much of anything, and metabolizing food keeps the body warm. To warm up, I microwaved the lemonade at work and discovered it tastes really good as a hot drink. So I drank some hot lemonade before going to bed, too.

This morning I woke up feeling nauseous. I think the calzone and biscuit were still hanging around in my system.

And the thought of lemonade for breakfast made me want to retch.I knew from my reading that the detox diet appeared to be working. The toxins in my body wanted out. I stuck my tongue out in front of my bathroom mirror, and it was covered in white. That's the mucus (another toxin) that my body wants to eliminate. (Did you really want to know that?)

I can't wait to see what happens next. If you're still with me, check back tomorrow.