I had always been into health kicks and cleanses and the idea of “being healthy” for the most part, but I usually interspersed this clean living with hearty chunks of happy indulgence.

Finding balance

And clearly I had gotten out of balance. I decided I needed to do something to build myself back up, and off I went to see my doctor and good friend Dr. Alejandro Junger. He had blood drawn for many tests, and when he called me a few days later to discuss the results, he sounded surprised… I was severely anemic, I was vitamin D deficient, my liver was very congested, my stress levels were sky-high (something about my adrenals), there was a lot of inflammation in my system, and my hormones were off.

"Although it was difficult and I was often stumped about what to eat, I followed the diet to the letter, and three weeks later, I was a different person, according to my blood work."

Dr. Junger said I needed to go on an elimination diet to clear out my system, heal my gut, and revive my body with good nutrients. Although it was difficult and I was often stumped about what to eat, I followed the diet to the letter, and three weeks later, I was a different person, according to my blood work.  Thrilled that I had accomplished the mission, I asked Dr. Junger when I could go off this incredibly strict diet. “Well, it’s hard for me to tell you this because I don’t do it myself all the time,” he said, “but this is the way you should try to eat for the rest of your life.”

Cleaner fuel for your body

The rest of my life? Without parmesan cheese and fried zucchini and pasta and baguettes and Pinot Noir? I could understand it for a limited time, but always? That was not going to happen, let’s face it. However, could it become my baseline? The way I would eat most days, with the occasional cheat day? Could I lean toward it more? I decided I could. I could certainly try. And in the past couple of years, this has become the way I strive to eat and the diet I go back to and adhere to strictly when I have been overindulging when I need to rebuild or clean out.

No matter what you want or need to cut out, for whatever reason, mealtimes should always feel happy. Not like a punishment. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that it’s all a process. “Falling off” your plan is part of it, not a reason to beat yourself up. It takes time to make these changes. It’s all good.