21 Day Cleanse Diet

Vegetables for the 21 day Cleanse Diet
Vegetables for the 21 day Cleanse Diet

I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately. No surprise there, right? However, I’m not thinking about which dessert to make next, but rather how I can eat in a healthier, more responsible, and sustainable way.

A few months ago I saw the movie Food, Inc. Nothing in my life, in all my time cooking professionally and working in restaurants, has had such a profound impact on the way I think about food. This movie rocked my world. I’m not going to get preachy about it, but if you have any interest in learning about where the food you eat comes from and the impact it has on your well-being, please see this movie.

About a month later I saw an interview with a woman named Kathy Freston, the author of the book  Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness. She was talking about how what we eat can affect our health and well-being and about a 21 day “cleanse” diet to reset the system. I’ve always wanted to try to do some sort of cleansing diet but I’ve been put off by the ones where you only eat one type of food (the soup diet! the cookie diet!), prohibit carbs, or where you only drink

lemonade with cayenne pepper for 10 days. Consequently, I’ve never done it because I know I’d only last about six hours. But this one made sense to me and I filed it away in my head for a later time.

That time is now. The basic premise is for 21 days you follow a diet that does not include refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, wheat gluten or animal products. Avoiding these things gives your body a chance to heal and reset itself from the damage you do by eating them.
Yes, this means no cheese, eggs, meat or milk,  no bread or pasta (unless it’s gluten-free), no wine, no coffee, and no sugar which is pretty much an ingredient in everything. I ended up buying Freston’s book Quantum Wellness Cleanse: The 21-Day Essential Guide to Healing Your Mind, Body and Spirit which is the companion to her first book and details the cleanse day by day so I could have some guidance on the particulars.

People keep asking me why I’m doing this. First, because I want to see if I feel better. Second, (and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit this) I would like to lose a little weight. But a big part of it is for the challenge; I really wanted to see if I could stick with this for 21 days (without cheating) and for the challenge as a cook. It’s a lot harder to cook great food when you don’t have meat, cheese, eggs, and things with wheat gluten to fall back on. I wanted to see if I could make food that people would want to eat, even if it was vegan.

Will I eat this way for the rest of my life? No. I love food too much to limit my choices in this way. On the other hand, I now know it’s possible not to need to have some sort of animal protein with every meal and that even one cup of coffee a day can lead to caffeine addiction.

So, if you’re interested in this and wonder what the heck I’m going to eat, you’ll be able to follow along here. It is possible and honestly, not that difficult. Click on the links below to follow my progress.

Week 1: Preparation, shopping, vegan product reviews and day by day meals and observations.

Week 2: Questioning the diet, recipe epic fail, observation and day by day meals.

Week 3: Did it work? How do I feel? Cleanse Diet wrap up.

If you’ve found this page via a search on the 21 day cleanse, please take the time to check out some of my vegan recipes.


  • Shelby Reynolds

    I too was profoundly impacted by Food, Inc. Prior to seeing it I was dabbling with some vegetarian eating, but have surprisingly continued on the same path since watching the movie. I can’t quite get that cow stomach thing out of my mind and meat has lost a lot of appeal. I too, fully expect to not be a vegetarian for years to come, but I can’t argue that I feel better and healthier as I select vegetarian options. Kathy Freston’s cleanse is a great one. I love the emphasis on the things you can eat as opposed to the things you can’t. And, I loved your comment that, as a chef, you must think harder about food prep… it’s tricky when you exclude so many items, but oh so rewarding when it all works out. I look forward to some of your hopefully upcoming veggie posts!

    • formerchef

      Thanks Shelby.
      I’m sure in many ways it may be easier for you to eat vegetarian in Bangkok than in the US, especially if it’s just beef you are avoiding. Plus wheat gluten isn’t as common there either. On the other hand, I know that if you were avoiding shellfish too, that would be substantianlly more difficut there.
      Yes, there will be many more vegetarian options to come on the blog. Surprisingly (to me), I already have quite a few vegetarian recipes here, though not vegan and gluten free.

  • Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy

    I had a very bad stomach flu at the beginning of January, and for almost 10 days I ate almost exactly as your cleanse diet recommends, though I introduced one coffee and one sugar 1x a day after the 4th day…I can say I felt more in tune with my body than ever (thanks to the flu) but I did feel lighter!

    • formerchef

      Sara-I’m wondering how I’m going to feel once I’m done with the 21 days and if I’ll go back to all my old habits. I’m a little wary of coffee now, though at times I still crave a cup more for the ritual and the taste (light and sweet) than the caffeine. I may start with decaf.

  • cat

    I will be following this! I just started my own revised diet, based on much of the same principles.
    Homemade yogurt was my first task and it was a success.
    Last night, I made black bean soup. So my eyes lit up when I saw your Black Bean Soup with Avocada Salsa post in my inbox today. I feel like we are on the same wavelength, so I’ll definitely check back in to see what recipes I can borrow from you.

    Thanks for sharing.


  • Joy

    Thanks for posting about this, Kristina! Due to my on-going health issues, I really would love to try a cleanse and see if it would help. And yes, I need to lose weight, too. Right now, I’m just eating more veggies and less meat, but it would be a good change, if not a challenge, to try what you are doing. I’m looking forward to your progress with this. 🙂

    I watched Food Inc. and I must say it was enlightening, albeit horrifying, to see the practices in the food industry in North America. I grew up in the Philippines, and for most of my life there (at least in my family), we knew where are food came from, how it was raised (animal or plant), and how it was harvested for our consumption. I didn’t assume otherwise when we moved here. I’m actually interested to do some research on the food practices here in Canada and see if they are any better than in the US. I’m just hoping not to be heartbroken by bad stories.

    • formerchef

      Joy-Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I’ll be very interested to hear what you find out about food practices in Canada. My suspicion is that in terms of “industrialized food” it’s not much different, but I’d like to know.

  • Angela@spinachtiger

    I’ve been on various fasts, the caffeine would be my challenge. I only drink two espresso in the a.m. with organic milk. Then it’s water. But, I’ll be curious at your end to see how you fare. I have a few recipes such as broccoli soup, carrot soup, bean soup that can be easily modified to fit in. But, oh my eggs are my staple. That would be hard. I, too, was impacted by the movie, Food, Inc.

Make my day! Leave a comment.