08/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Detox for Fun and Profit

Just kidding. But I can promise you'll feel a lot better. However, I felt dreadful on the first day of a recent detox. This had nothing to do with the detox itself and everything to do with what I had eaten the day before. I was following, as usual, my pre-diet tradition of a "last meal" where I eat everything I normally don't allow myself. I started this one with the consumption of mayonnaise in three forms: fries dipped in it, coleslaw, and a tuna melt (with white bread and American cheese), and ended with an ice-cream sundae. I eat with this kind of wild abandon about twice a year.

My dear friend Kathy Freston, author, activist, and a devoted vegan with a gift for gently nudging un-repentant carnivores away from the consumption of animal products, would not be surprised that I felt so miserable after consuming so much animal fat. I was sluggish and couldn't breathe well. But I would soon emerge from my low-energy haze by following Kathy's body, mind and spirit detox, taken from her recent book "The Quantam Wellness Cleanse."

The ante got upped when another friend approached me about a new detox she wanted me to try, from Dr. Jeffrey A. Morrison, and New York- based M.D. who specializes in environmental medicine, which focuses on the presence in the body of heavy-metal toxins, chemical sensitivities and food allergies. There was no way I was going to do two detoxes in a row, so I decided that in a very unscientific and impossible-to-formally-study way I would do them simultaneously. This is not as unsound as it sounds. There were many similarities in these two experts' approaches. Both are proponents of a nutritional approach to prevent and cure disease. And both plans eliminated the major toxic culprits of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy and gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley that is difficult for some to digest).

Like all detoxes, both plans are intended to cleanse. The Morrison Center's specifically focuses on achieving optimum health by identifying food allergies and sensitivities and testing for the presence of toxic levels of metals in your system. Food sensitivities can also be gauged in Kathy's plan. Assuming you feel great and are experiencing no digestive problems after completing either detox, you can identify food sensitivities by slowly adding in typically problematic foods and seeing how your body responds to their renewed presence.

But eventually the two plans diverge. Dr. Morrison believes that the protein from meat and poultry is quite necessary for optimum health. Kathy believes a plant-based diet can supply all the protein one needs (and that "conscious eating," intended to cause no harm to environment or animals, improves mind and spirit as well.) I leave others to fight this battle as I am not an expert, but as I have not eaten meat or poultry in 15 years I did not include it in my plan.

(For purposes of full disclosure, and in case the meat police are watching, I have "slipped" on chicken a few times -- airplane meals are especially dangerous for me -- still eat fish and wear shoes made from cows. I used to pretend the cows were already dead anyway from all the meat eaters, so you might as well use their skin. Sadly, they are mostly from cows raised in India and very poorly treated. So vanity still trumps humanity. I vow, when I can afford a full season of Stella McCartney shoes, I'll go whole hog, so to speak.)

While neither of these plans are specifically for weight loss one can be expected to drop some weight on both. The problem for me, and don't hate me, is that I don't need to lose weight. So, I was encouraged to eat extra helpings of millet and such. Woo hoo! No, seriously, there were very tasty recipes in Kathy's book. But I lost a couple pounds anyway, one from each breast I think, an area that can ill afford the loss. A pound from each hemisphere of my derriere would have been more welcome.

So, how did I do? Well, I gave up wheat and cane sugar years ago as it's bad for asthma, which I developed in my thirties, so I didn't feel the seismic shift in energy that many feel when they give these up. But I did feel a big difference from eliminating dairy. Basically, I could breathe again. And yes, I did feel good that no animal had been mistreated or killed so that I could eat Greek yogurt (yes, newborn male calves are often "raised" for veal or destroyed).

But it was my one addiction that got me. My sweet tooth did not go away when I eliminated cane sugar. Artificial sweeteners are my Waterloo. Specifically, cow-killing-toxin-filled- no sugar added- ice-cream. I only made it ten days before I broke. We all have something we turn to at the end of tough day (or even an okay one, actually ), a little comfort we give ourselves. And that's mine.

Yes, I know, by most standards, I still have darn good eating habits. And I do cut myself some slack. I eat lots of stuff sweetened with agave, stevia, and other things that don't mess with my pesky blood sugar level. But really, if I would just meditate every evening (an important part of Kathy's plan), I probably wouldn't jones for sugar every night. But all that sitting there not thinking is really exhausting for me. It's just easier (and faster) to eat. Progress, not perfection, as they say.