Where is Heather and what have you done with her body?

So a lot of people have some pretty strong opinions about my diet. WHO KNEW. I don’t think I’ve written something so controversial since I announced that I was pregnant and was flooded with some angry email about why? WHY? Why go and do that? NOT THAT! NOT A HUMAN BABY! Because then I’d change and this website would become nothing but teddy bears and Martha Stewart craft projects (which I have nothing against, I just tend to glue my fingers together). I’d lose my edge and write about nothing but play dates and which breast pump was easiest on the nipples. And I was all, let me get this straight, I have a choice between keeping you as a reader of my website or bringing precious life into this world? Hmmm. Let me think about that one.

Now I’ve got people worried that if I choose to give up meat something similar will happen. Perhaps I should mention that I was a vegetarian for almost eight years, from the beginning of college up through the time that I moved to Los Angeles. During those years (Dad, please turn your head for the rest of this sentence) I left the Mormon Church, had premarital sex, smoked pot, and said fuck for the first time out loud. So you can pretty much blame all those corrupt vegetables for the apartment I have reserved in Hell.

No, I am not going to become a preachy vegetarian, or, depending on how I feel after this cleanse, a preachy VEGAN. THERE I SAID IT. I may just give up animal products all together, I haven’t decided yet, but it seems just that much more tempting because the word pisses so many people off. It’s as if the definition of the word for many people who eat meat is I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG. And although I’ve met some pretty insufferable vegans in my lifetime, ones who spend their lives being very angry at anyone who eats differently than they do, the majority of the ones I know are lovely, thoughtful people who have made a personal choice. And of course they are the ones who are making the most convincing argument for their lifestyle.

(I should probably point out that I’ve met some pretty insufferable omnivores, too, but most of them spend their lives being very angry at anyone who has a bigger penis.)

Do I think that a 21-day cleanse is going to solve all my problems? Of course not. I never said it would. It is a start, a first step toward something bigger. I have physically felt like crap for years, and considering how I feel right now on day three of a cleanse it’s pretty obvious I’ve got some serious problems with my diet, in particular with caffeine. I have a headache that started yesterday afternoon and continued up until about an hour ago, a headache so awful that I thought jabbing my hand with a knife might be a more pleasant distraction. I normally drink about four to five cups of coffee every morning, plus two or three Diet Cokes in the afternoon. And then the sugar, THE SUGAR, and oh, the alcoholic drink I have with dinner that sometimes ends up being the alcoholic drinks I have with dinner. I’ve got some major changes to make concerning what I put in my body, and knowing my mind and habits, I decided that this cleanse would set me in the right direction. When the 21 days are over I’m certain I will add sugar and caffeine and alcohol back into my diet, albeit in smaller, more thoughtful quantities than a 32-oz Frappuccino spiked with rum.

Will I add gluten back into my diet? I don’t know yet, that depends on how good or bad I feel at the end, or if adding it back causes some serious problems. And as for meat, I still don’t know but I am open right now to the possibility of giving it up. That’s been the weirdest thing so far about this experience, how reasonable this diet seems as I’m eating. Many people in yesterday’s comments suggested that this is a “deprivation” diet, and I could not disagree more. I’m blown away by how much there is to eat, and it almost feels like I’m cheating. All three meals I had yesterday and the two I’ve had today have been totally filling, and not once have I craved a sugary dessert. Do I feel like shit? OH DO I EVER FEEL LIKE SHIT. I feel like I’ve simultaneously got the flu, a cold, and strep throat. But I’d heard this might happen early on as the body rids itself of toxins. And I’m going to allow my body some time considering how badly I’ve treated it for so long.

As far as giving away my Meat is Murder, Tasty, Tasty Murder t-shirt? Never, although I could be tempted to send it to a vegetarian who promises to wear it to a vegan restaurant.

  • Rachel

    Hi Heather,

    You and your body rock. Do whatever you want with them. :)

    Best wishes, and thanks for sharing your life with us!

  • http://sarahthe.wordpress.com SarahTheBadSpeller


  • EmelineGreene

    I quit using flour & sugar about three months ago–I was addicted, using flour and sugar like a drunk uses booze (to not feel, numb out, etc.). It has been the most bizarre and amazing thing I have ever done for myself. Ever. Go, Dooce. There’s peace on the other side.

  • http://seriouslybecause.com Amy

    Interest. Nothing like a good m/s mixed with banter about butt holes to really question what kind of people are living on this planet with you. By the way, we live near Destin and it was a huge deal that you were there… we posted about it and everything. Isn’t it HEAVEN!!? I mean, uh, celestial place, or mystical realm…

  • http://shmaytalk.blogspot.com/ Taylee

    Ha-Ha! People kill me. Honestly…who really gives a shit that your doing this cleanse? They’ve all got small penises anyways, just shake it off.

    Your going to learn one of two things during these 21 days of hell, and it will be hell I assure you. One- You did in fact need 21 days to realize the crap you’ve been putting into your body and you will make a conscious change with what you do from here on out. OR, Two- You will be a miserable bitch and you will dive nose first into a chocolate cream pie 1:00am on day 23. You will then just think yourself crazy for depriving your tongue of yumo entertainment all three weeks. Either way…

    Something tells me you will survive.

  • Karen

    I think it’s a great idea. All of it. But I’m a vegetarian health nut martial artist Buddhist, so…..

  • http://www.life-up-north.com Jimmie

    Heather, I am totally in support of this 21-day cleanse thing. I ordered Quantum Wellness as well, and I’m looking forward to it getting here. I want to try the cleanse, but I’m afraid of not being able to find things to eat. If you have found some great recipes or websites devoted to this sort of thing, would you mind passing it along to me? You can e-mail me if you don’t want to post it on the main page. Thanks!

  • http://www.sinequanon.typepad.com cheriwan

    Those with celiac salute you and your cleanse.
    I am inspired and strengthened by this site: http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/
    It’s hard, and harder to explain to ANY human as to why I choose to not only shy away from gluten products, but why I can’t even have bread touch my toaster.
    I’m interested to hear about how you fare on this cleanse. Once I got through with it, I had never felt worse in the first two weeks, slept better in the second two weeks, and had more energy in the last two weeks.

  • Ellen

    Unfortunately I have not the self-control to take on a challenge like that although there are probably plenty of products that I should remove from my diet. Good luck, and just think… every time you opt to eat a healthy vegan meal you piss off some uptight, close-minded omnivore. Props.

  • Anonymous

    Although you’re a stranger to me, I’m proud of you for doing this cleanse, in the way that only the internet allows. I have done a few cleanses before, and each one made me feel like shit, too. But now, ten years after I first started taking my health seriously, I’m so much healthier. I used to have chronic sinus infections, I had mono TWICE, and I even got scarlet fever. Really. So, my health has come a long, long way, and it’s directly due to changes I’ve made in my diet.

    I’m not a vegan, though I respect you for considering it. I just recently gave up meat, and my reasons were because of the amount of land and water it takes to raise meat in this country. Meat eating, at least in the every-single-meal way in which Americans eat meat, is completely unsustainable, and I don’t think we realize how little time is left until we are forced to reconsider our national diet. Until that time, though, the people who insist on consuming meat daily will continue to do so until we’re in crisis. Humans don’t need meat to survive, that idea is a very recent one in our national psyche (and I suspect it has more to do with the national meat lobby than honest diet advice). I’ve learned to ignore the unsolicited negative reactions I get from strangers and friends alike – even my own family at times. You’re choosing to eat in a way that’s better for your body and for the future of our food security, and I’m happy for you.

    All the haters will realize you were right when meat prices skyrocket, anyway. Oh, and if you want to have another kid, go ahead. Have ten! Because you can feed ten kids on a vegetarian diet for about the same environmental cost as one or two on a meat-eater’s diet. When did child bearing become such a point of anger, anyway?

  • Roxie

    I was a vegan for about a month in college, and then a vegetarian for about nine months after that. While it didn’t work out for me, it was a very interesting experience in my life and I think that everyone, at some point, should try veganism and/or vegetarianism for a period.

    About the cleanse, I am jealous. I’m still breastfeeding my daughter and we might get pregnant before she weans, but I hope I have a few months to do one in between! Good luck with yours!

  • Manny

    It’s amazing how the tweaks in your diet can make a difference. Like you, I also drank 4 cups of coffee a day and 2-3 cokes. I also skipped breakfast every day. I started having stomach discomfort and it finally got bad enough that I went to the doctor. I was told that I have gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD which is really just a fancy way of saying hey man, your diet sucks (or HMYDS if you’re into acronyms). I cut out coffee and soft drinks completely, started eating breakfast, and ate more fruits and vegetables. I lost 13 lbs in 6 weeks and I’ve kept it off ever since by just sticking with my diet. I sleep better at night also. The first 10 days was the most terrible caffeine withdrawal headache but after that was gone, I felt great. Do whatever makes you feel better.

  • Chelsea

    Good luck with the cleanse diet Heather, I wish i had the strength to do it myself, but i just know i’d cave after like, an hour or two. Although I did stop drinking coke a few weeks ago, and had the similar caffeine withdrawal headaches – don’t worry, they go away and then you feel (and look) a MILLION times better!

  • http://mizstizzle.blogspot.com Miz

    Props to you and your self discipline! I would probably turn into the hulk if I cut butter, caffeine and alcohol out of my diet abruptly! (Such a “true american” eh?)
    I find it amusing that people get so heated about food posts…thanks for sharing your quest for a cleansed body! I MIGHT contemplate an attempt at cleansing..but I’m not sure if the world is ready for a real live hulk to bring mayhem to the streets!!

  • Sheri

    Good luck on the fast; I’m not familiar with this particular one. If you take any meds for depression, anxiety, etc., make sure it doesn’t cleanse them out too. Caffeine headaches suck!!!

  • http://typeamama.blogspot.com Liz

    vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, and then there’s those folks who only eat raw things: raw-vores? ickyvores?

    Whatever. How do you feel? Oh yeah, LIKE SHIT. But satisfied, it sounds like. Day 3, as I recall, is the worst re headaches and flu-like symptoms. Things get steadily better from here.

    I once ended a cleanse by buying a Three Musketeers, I wanted the taste of chocolate so bad (and I was in Cortez, Colorado, so the choices were slim). I took a bite and nearly threw up. Ooopsie. In retrospect I should have known it would have been a bad idea, but I was all happy and high on life. Anyway, if you do decide to integrate a few things back in post-cleanse: baby steps.

  • http://500miles2nowhere.blogspot.com Keri

    Good grief. I’ve been a vegetarian for years. I am still alive.

    I’ve GOT to get one of those shirts. If only to wear it in front of my family who think that my husband and I are freaks for our vegetarian ways… I’ve lived this way for over 15 years now and my mother is still trying to slip me tuna and chicken in her cooking.

  • Samantha

    Hah! I was vegan for almost two months recently and got the same kind of flack you got. Lots of people assume you’re instantly an expert on everything you’re supposed to eat, or that you suddenly define yourself by what you eat–which just seems weird to me. I’m still vegetarian and even that seems to go against the grain in a big way.

    Good luck! There are tons of vegan/vegetarian websites out there with REALLY TASTY recipes.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/zeenes zeenes


    I am so proud of you!

    I have been vegetarian for seven years and vegan for a little over a year, and I can say without a doubt that making those choices were the best (and the hardest) things I have done. I made those choices for me, the animals, and the environment, and not anyone else. I’m not a militant vegan…this is just how I am choosing to live MY life. It feels good, and it’s amazing how clean your body feels as a vegan. My headaches went away for the first time in years.

    Please keep updating us, and if you need inspiration, there are LOTS of great vegan blogs. Email me if you want some support or good recipes! I’ve got tons of vegan food photos on my flickr site, too. Best of luck!

  • T

    You just made me love you even more than I already did.

    I wish you the best of luck and strong will during your cleanse – YOU CAN DO IT!

    YAY DOOCE! woot-woot!

  • http://www.digitalcatharsis.com the mighty jimbo

    i have written volumes on the shit i’ve taken from meaty types on being a vegetarian. i have no idea why my love of salad is so damn threatening to so many people.

    it’s like, dude! i’m the one NOT trying to eat your hamburger. chill!

    i’m not sure on the whole vegan thing – i never did go all out. but i AM sure on the benefits of whole foods. the more processed, corn syrupy crap i remove and replace with stuff i can recognize (and spell), the better.

    unfortunately, however, my old age has moved me from an uncaffeinated life to one in which i wish i could have it delivered directly into my bloodstream. this is the vice i so wish to do without.

    that and chips and salsa. i’m such a whore for chips and salsa.

    and i was serious about the recipes. i’ll send a few good ones your way.

  • JLS

    You go girl!

    I did a cleansing diet just before my pregnancy (4 years ago), and THANK GOD. I ended up on bedrest, and if I’d had to start giving up caffeine at that point (instead of having given it up some months before), I’d have just hung myself in the bathroom.

    But seriously, it changed the way I approach food. At the very least, it was educational. And while I do occasionally eat meat (a few times a month, but not more), and sugar, and alcohol (just red wine these days), all of those things have been (ever since) occasional, instead of awful addictions. (Confession: back to being addicted to coffee. I wouldn’t have survived my twins’ early months without it, and I’m okay with having one thing I’m well and truly hooked on).

    All this to say – huzzah for you! Good luck! Keep us posted. The first five days is the worst – it’s cake after that.

  • http://www.aplanetnamedjanet.etsy.com Janet

    Good for you. I wish you much luck in completing this cleanse. I know I couldnt do it.

  • http://treebythesea.com Jen

    So happy you’re going vegan. Most people who go vegan rarely come back from it because they feel so much better. I always wondered why you weren’t veggie when you have such an obvious love for animals.

    I’ve been vegan for a year a half. If you stay vegan, prepare for some nasty people to say nasty things to you, but also know its the best thing you can do for yourself, your body, your family, your animals, and your environment.

    Check out blogs for help. I’d figure that be the first place you turn, but seriously, vegans are a happy bunch and love to help each other. I’ve been reading http://www.vegandad.blogspot.com lately–he’s great.

    PLEASE keep us posted on your progress. Its one thing for Oprah to do this cleanse and post crap on her site that tells us nothing about it, but you’ll keep it honest. Just wait for your pooping to change!

  • Another Sarah

    Good for you, Heather. I know giving up any one of the things you have mentioned will probably make you feel great. I’m a firm believer in baby steps and have always found taking small steps leads to success and the more dramatic the change the less likely a person is to have long-term success. I learned that way back in college in a training, planning, and periodization class and it made sense to me so I live by it. If you can make these profound changes all at once and have long-term success with it then good for you! Who cares what anyone else thinks.

    I gained a good bit of weight last year during a personal crisis. I have turned to weight watchers to shed it (damn you skinny bitches!). WW doesn’t suggest not drinking diet soda but it does suggest drinking a lot of water which means I have no room left for coffee or soda. Just that small change has made a tremendous difference in how I feel, my energy level, and make skin looks fabulous.

    I wish you luck and happiness.

  • http://www.cadleized.blogspot.com cadleized

    32-oz Frappuccino spiked with rum…why didn’t I think of that?

  • Anonymous

    If your reason for not eating beef is really because, “you can no longer justify the barbaric treatment of those animals” then you might as well eat that hamburger, or decide to give up a lot more than just eating meat. Google: “Beef by-products” and you will find many everyday items that would be hard to avoid. They are in everything from asphalt to yogurt to drywall and many medicines. Give up all of these and then okay to giving up eating meat.

  • Leslie

    You go lady, lady. Do what you do. That’s why we read you. We love you for who you are. The others can go screw themselves.

  • robinv

    remember, and this goes for all of us dooce fans….what you eat is none of my business.

    I stopped eating meat for a few years in the 90s. The reactions I got were amazingly callous, rude, weird, insulting and yes, I did eventually enjoy pissing people off by not eating meat.

    The coffee headache will take about 10 days to stop messing with you and then it is smooth sailing!

    Good luck with your big adventure!

  • lori

    i’ve thought of your post (from yesterday) several times, being struck by the desire to be a better you, in all the capacities that “you” show up during the day. really struck.

    i wish you well on the cleanse and diet restructure. my monkey is not depression and constipation, but crohn’s disease and migraine headaches. since having part of my innards removed, the awareness of what makes the machine run better is very clear to me. yet, i still screw up, re: stomach issues all this week.

    i don’t know that i could give up coffee. hang in there!

  • pinkieyardbird

    I cant’ stop thinking about putting some Malibu Rum in my Frappuccino…

  • http://www.verymerryseamstress.com Heather Piper

    Bacon, HDC, right on.

    Seriously, did you see Top Chef where they made bacon flavored ICE CREAM? When I die, I hope my family is kind enough to bury me, face down, in a vat of bacon flavored ice cream.

  • Stephanie

    I think this cleanse is going to only be a positive thing for you, once you get past the first ten days. I also think that your eating habits (whatever they may be) should not contribute to a reader’s opinion of you. You said it well when you admitted you had met insufferable vegans as well as omnivores. None of us are saintly in the least. I am a vegan myself and while I personally think that my lifestyle choice is the best decision I can make every day, I don’t proselytize to the rest of the population. I respond amicably to eager, genuine questions, but I know that I will most likely not ‘convert’ anyone. For me, it’s about living the lifestyle and enjoying it, and if that happens to inspire someone, then great.

    Best of luck!

  • http://fontofuselessknowledge.wordpress.com/ Elizabeth

    Stick with the cleanse!! I’m speaking as a true Meat-a-tarian (I’ve raised livestock) and I think what you’re doing, and whatever you choose to do at the end of 21 days, will be a great benefit. Several years ago I did South Beach and the first 2 weeks changed my life and made me rethink what I put in my body. I absolutely still eat meat, but I’m much more conscious about all the other stuff too.

    Also, no idea what you can and cannot eat on you cleanse, but my husband, on a strict diet himself, absolutely LOVES Pioneer Woman’s Spanish Green Beans. It’s a veggie, right?! So what if it has two ounces of bacon, you could always substitute that out. I swear, these beans will keep my husband from noticing that he’s not eating any meat, they are that good.

  • southernfriedgirl

    I am neither vegan nor veggie but I’d love to know where you got that T-shirt as it will just make me cackle endlessly to wear it. If you could let me know, I’d appreciate it.

  • http://mom-o-matic.blogspot.com/ Lotta

    Do it! But buy some ThreeLac to take with your cleanse. It helps kill all that yeast overgrowth that occurs from eating too many sugar and carbs.

    We just gave it to our son and noticed a HUGE difference in his behaviors. No more hyperactivity or aggression. It’s wild what that nasty yeast can do.

    (And no I don’t sell this stuff.)

  • lizinsumner

    To heck with the diet/cleanse thingy….I’m, like, totally afraid that you’ve bruised CoCo’s poor, little psyche for life with that “hair-cut”!! Next time, try to feather it a little or something, pleeeeze?? No wonder Chuck looks so alarmed….he’s, like, “Dude! If MY hairdresser did to me what yours did to you…..!”

  • Sheila

    How have you managed to attract the world’s largest collection of people who don’t understand personal boundaries? Why do they all think that because they read what you write, that somehow makes them one with you and thereby personally affected by your dietary choices? What a wacky bunch of readers you have, but I guess I shouldn’t be too harsh, since I’m one of them… but you go ahead and eat or don’t eat whatever you want, its all good with me.

  • http://tryyingtoevolve.livejournal.com Lindsay

    Hey, no judgment from me. But . . . what about bacon?!

  • Anonymous

    regardless of your diet, i hope the destin tourism board covered your trip to their lovely beaches, because i suddenly want to go there. and i’ve NEVER had an interest in going to that part of florida before…

  • RachL

    Good for you! I’ve heard that cleansing diets do wonders for the body AND mind – its all about how you go into it, so it sounds like you’ll have good results.

  • http://www.spynotebook.org/courtney Courtney

    I gave up caffeine, and though it was painful, what with the crushing headaches, I am so glad I did. My anxiety levels went down dramatically. I still occasionally have a sweet tea or chocolate and love the rush and hate the fall and nervous dreams later, and oh how the smell of freshly brewed coffee tempts me, but I’ll never go back.

    Best of luck with your diet and feeling better!

  • Sari

    I don’t eat dairy or gluten not out of choice but because I have Celiac disease and am allergic to casein. So, anyone who takes the lifestyle up out of choice? Mad props to you, especially if you can maintain it. Ignore everyone else. It’s your body, do what you want. :)

  • dale

    Good for you! I was vegan for 16 years (hopefully not a mean one) and am now gluten free and a meat eater. I’m moving back to vegetarianism tho….and I think this diet sounds like a good move. I might try it too. Thanks for doing this publically. It helps to motivate me.

  • T

    Oooo, I remember that headache…so wretchedly, wretchedly ill I seriously thought I would die…but I didn’t. Hang in there, you will get through it and feel better for it. I did a similar cleanse when I was 28 (now almost 40?!?) and it was a good thing but sooooo hard to get through, the sugar crash was worse than caffeine withdrawal. With age comes wisdom (at least I hope) and I am more conscious of my choices now (but still have some tea in the morning, sometimes soda at lunch, and occasionally, some meat and dessert when I want). I don’t drink anymore, but as a stay-at-home mom with three children under six,drinking on the job would be an occupational hazard…I digress…21 days will go in a blink of an eye and will open your eyes to a world full of possibilities and a spirit of gratitude for your body you never dreamed of…you go, girl!!

  • Dana

    Hah! I’m not in the LEAST bit surprised that everyone came out of the woodwork for that post. It’s like you came out in support of gay marriage or something. Why DO people get so threatened when people make changes that effect only them?
    I quit eating meat about 10 years ago and my father still tries to trick me into eating chicken. WTF?

    Good luck, and I hope the headache lets up soon for you.

    I quit smoking yesterday. Help me.

  • http://www.notappealing.com Erin N

    I don’t eat meat, and I only miss it sometimes. Good luck!

  • http://www.foreverkaili.blogspot.com Elizabeth J. Rago

    Dooce, I’m in complete support of this cleanse. While you’re at it, can you cleanse your website of the John McCain ads popping up? They’re heinous.

  • http://injennifershead.com Jennifer

    Personally, I’m an omnivore. Sometimes I consider going carnivore, but I really love my tomatoes. I couldn’t go vegetarian and certainly not vegan, but if you can-more power to you. Hell, if you decided you wanted to forage for nuts in the woods, my opinion really wouldn’t matter. I come here because your writing entertains me. I identify with a lot of it. I’m not so full of myself that I think that I can tell you how to live your life. I am just grateful that you share it with us. Thank you.

  • Julia

    Hee hee, HDC, that was my first thought too. I came to post to ask exactly that: WHAT ABOUT THE BACON!?

    But you can always eat the fake bacon stuff. Soy bacon. Might be good. Not my cup of tea, but I’m also not doing a 3 week “cleanse”. :)