the smell of my desperation has become a stench

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.

  • Allison

    2008/06/18 at 3:35 pm

    Your aim achieved!

    No doubt you had every idea of the reactions you’d get from yesterday’s post.

    Excellent proof for your advertisers that your readers are engaged.

    Cheers to that.

  • HDC

    2008/06/18 at 3:35 pm

    Bacon? Won’t somebody think of the bacon?

    Seriously Heather, more power and love to you as always. I read yesterday’s post with a serious WTF? But ya know what? It ain’t anybody’s life but yours. If it helps you to get up everyday, be a good mom, be a good wife, and generally get through the day, then HOORAH, go fer it. Ain’t you figured that out yet, girl?

  • SarahThe

    2008/06/18 at 3:33 pm

    here’s hoping you cleanse doesn’t land some worms in your edamame.

  • SarahTheBadSpeller

    2008/06/18 at 3:34 pm


  • Janet

    2008/06/18 at 3:37 pm

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

  • cadleized

    2008/06/18 at 3:37 pm

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

  • robinv

    2008/06/18 at 3:38 pm

    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!

  • Heather Piper

    2008/06/18 at 3:39 pm

    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.

  • southernfriedgirl

    2008/06/18 at 3:39 pm

    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.

  • Sheila

    2008/06/18 at 3:40 pm

    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.

  • RachL

    2008/06/18 at 3:41 pm

    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.

  • dale

    2008/06/18 at 3:41 pm

    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.

  • Erin N

    2008/06/18 at 3:42 pm

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

  • Julia

    2008/06/18 at 3:43 pm

    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”. 🙂

  • Dani

    2008/06/18 at 3:43 pm

    People are being way uptight. I love meat one of my best friends is vegitarian and we coexist quite well. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve your health.

  • sarah

    2008/06/18 at 3:43 pm

    Good for you! the first days are the hardest. If you can get through this cleanse, you can do anything!

  • Starwoodgal

    2008/06/18 at 3:53 pm

    I hope you feel better soon. Looking forward to reading about the results of the cleanse.

    I’m trying to give up coffee and you’re right. The headaches suck big time.

  • Jessica

    2008/06/18 at 3:53 pm

    Personally, I think this is great. I am not a vegan or a vegetarian, but I have tried both at various points in my life, in addition to attemps at giving up gluten, giving up processed foods, etc.

    I think it is really important for all of us to make changes to our diet to see what works FOR US. I did a yoga detox week one time that involved some cleansing, and then later, adding foods back in slowly. It taught me what my body can tolerate and what it can’t. And I know that I feel much better (more energy, less heartburn, less headaches, fewer food cravings), wheN I am eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods. ANd that does include meat and dairy, but in smaller portions than fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains.

    Good luck — I’m interested in what your experience will be like! Also, Michael Pollan’s books, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” are fascinating. You should check them out.

  • Rebecca

    2008/06/18 at 3:44 pm

    Everybody should read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan — should give every eater pause…and tell you Heather, you’re on the right track (even if your reasons for cleansing are totally other)! Plus, a good friend told me that sugar is actually responsible for the slave trade! Yep. That’s what she told me. That’s probably worth a Google search.

  • Megan

    2008/06/18 at 3:44 pm

    Good luck!

    I will be happy to have an extra drink with my dinner tonight to make up for the cosmic alcohol deficit. Oh, and maybe an extra piece of bacon too. And ham. Definitely ham.

  • lush

    2008/06/18 at 3:45 pm

    My decision to “be all abstinent and shite” for an entire year inspired the same sort of reaction in several folks near and dear to me. I supposed they were concerned that I would turn into some sort of asexual zombie or something. As if. (Of course, I failed miserably at that goal. So who knows?) My point being, I don’t think this cleanse is going to make you any “less Heather.” So folks should relax and enjoy the opportunity to experience vicariously something they wouldn’t try at home.

  • Lesley

    2008/06/18 at 3:45 pm

    The headache could be caffeine withdrawl (if you’re a coffee or tea drinker). Hopefully it won’t last long.

    To counteract any sugar cravings, blended fruit drinks or a fruit salad (berries, grapes, cherries, apples, bananas) can help. I’m going through this terrible ordeal of sugar withdrawl (principally from cookies and icecream) right now and find the fruit helps curb the desire.

    I hope my earlier post about soy products not being healthy for certain people, and organic meat didn’t seem judgemental. I’ve also been a vegetarian and now I’m an organic/free range meat eater cuz beans don’t agree with me and soy is bad for my thyroid and hormones. 🙂

  • Melissa W.

    2008/06/18 at 3:45 pm

    I hear ya on not feeling well and finally doing something about it! It feels good to take a break from “processed”-“fast food-ized”-America for a change. I used to rely on caffeine to wake up, get going, etc. But I stopped and imagine that – I’M AWAKE! It’s amazing the things we become dependent upon without ever realizing it…

    Kudos to you and your stand!

  • Clara

    2008/06/18 at 3:46 pm

    I have thought about a cleanse myself, so I’m glad you’re sharing.

  • Priya

    2008/06/18 at 3:46 pm

    Ok…first….. I LOVED the shirt!!! second… I don’t see how it can be anyone’s business what you eat or don’t eat. But then life wouldn’t be much fun without such people.

    Frappuccino with rum…DAMN…. I have to try that!! All the best with the diet.

  • Tammy

    2008/06/18 at 3:47 pm

    Seriously? People were you giving the gears over a little cleanse? And potential vegetarianism? Wow. Boundary issues indeed.

    (For the record, the Bacon Is a Vegetable t-shirt is my favourite vegetarian fashion item. The same site used to sell a tee that said “Baco-vegetarian” and it was even more awesome.)

  • Jackie

    2008/06/18 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time- but first-time comment, right here!

    Good luck on your cleanse! You’ve inspired me to do the same, starting Monday. As always, I’ll be reading (but maybe just looking for support for the next couple of weeks). I’ve tried something similar in the past (not as strict) and I felt great! Way more energy, more rested, lighter, clearer thoughts…just thinking about it is making me excited to try again!

  • Agent Scully

    2008/06/18 at 3:48 pm

    I hate ignorant people who feel the need to share their opinion on something they know nothing about. Go away!

    I’ve been using to track my daily food intake and, since becoming a Vegan, I found that I am consuming up to 140% of the daily recommended protein a day. How’s that as a big FUCK YOU to all those “but the meat! the dairy! you’re losing your protein!” Ha. Wankers.

  • Brook

    2008/06/18 at 3:48 pm

    It’s amazing, the things that people choose to get all riled up about. I was a vegetarian for a long time, and people often took it as a personal affront.

    Eat what you want! I hope to hear more about the cleanse, because I’ve been thinking about it; and frankly, I trust you more than Oprah.

  • Meat Hustler

    2008/06/18 at 3:49 pm

    Hey… you… lady.

    Yeah, I see you lookin over here.

    *Opens trenchcoat – it’s lined with crisp, tasty bacon.*

    I got what you need.

    You know where to find me.

  • Dave

    2008/06/18 at 3:50 pm

    I’ve been a vegetarian for awhile now, and your meat is murder shirt always makes me laugh. If it wasn’t pink I would’ve bought one myself. If you send it to me for a weekend, I would totally wear it to a vegan restaurant just to see the looks it would get. There is very little in this world as insufferable as a crusader with no sense of humor.

  • the dalai mama

    2008/06/18 at 3:50 pm

    Rock on. I think it is great that you are intune enough with your body to know that you haven’t been giving it the best stuff that it needs. Just because we can eat meat doesn’t mean we should eat it or at least not eat it to the excess that we do in America. I mean really who needs a 32oz porterhouse steak?

    I think it is awesome you are cleansing your body and talking about it. I am anxious to hear how it all turns out. Maybe I will have to try it.

  • bohica

    2008/06/18 at 3:50 pm

    I love the taste of meat.

    But I feel best when I’m not eating it, and my diet consists mainly of vegetables, a few whole grains and a bit of fruit.

    Anything white is shit. Meat makes you feel like the animal you’re eating. Ya, it tastes good, but at what cost? I’m back to veggies in huge amounts and my innards are just so much happier.

  • Random Diva

    2008/06/18 at 3:51 pm

    I cant wait to hear how you feel when the cleanse is done as I have been so wondering if I should try it too. But damn, shouldnt I quit smoking first? One glorious drug at a time baby! Nicotime, THEN Caffeine, lol

    Seriously Good luck with it. Its not an easy one I am told!

  • Jacquie

    2008/06/18 at 3:51 pm

    True about the toxin release making you feel shitty, and I’m sorry to tell you that it might also make your breath stink. I’m jealous of how you’ll feel after that, though. Good luck with the caffeine detox – can you have green tea? The little bit of caffeine that’s in it might get you over the headache hump, but I don’t know if that’s allowed – the cleanse police might come after you. Hang in there!

  • Julie

    2008/06/18 at 3:51 pm

    I once gave up ALL products with sugar and yeast for a week. I was the most unpleasant, grumpy person for that week. I had headaches and felt sick most of that time. But I did lose 5 pounds!

  • Lesley

    2008/06/18 at 3:52 pm

    Regarding wheat: One thing you might want to try after the 21 days is sprouted whole grain bread, if it’s available. I’m allergic to wheat gluten and most refined flour but sprouted grain bread is different. It looks and tastes (and toasts) just like other breads without all the side effects. It’s very tasty. Silverhills Bakery produces it where I live (Vancouver).

  • Mandy

    2008/06/18 at 3:52 pm

    THANK YOU for responding! My skin was starting to crawl at all those “stern advice” comments. Especially the ones that seemed to infer that you’re doing this cleanse because OPRAH DID IT. Like you can’t possibly have your own brain.

  • Mel

    2008/06/18 at 3:52 pm

    Good for you!

    I hope that you find the humour in the ‘bad’ comments that crop up sometimes. They should mind their own damn business.

    Down with gluten – up with veggies!

    Meat is overrated 🙂

  • Chantel

    2008/06/18 at 3:52 pm

    I decided to go on a somewhat-healthier version of Atkins a few months ago and people came out of the woodwork screeching at me, telling me how unhealthy it was.

    It’s easiest for me to cut out all processed carbs cold turkey. If the carbs I eat come from green veggies, and the protein I eat comes from lean protein? Why are you yelling at me?

    You do what the hell you want to do, mama! More people should try to do these sorts of cleansings and/or modified diets once in a while!

  • Elasha

    2008/06/18 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Heather,

    I am really interested in seeing how you do, or how this diet makes you feel. I would LOVE to do something like that, but I have a teenie problem…I hate most vegetables…hmmmm.

    Good luck girl and keep us posted!

  • Jessica

    2008/06/18 at 3:55 pm

    OHhhhh, and I totally second the recommendation for sprouted grain bread! It is FANTASTIC.

  • Kate

    2008/06/18 at 3:57 pm

    I’ll be so curious to read more about how it’s going. Sounds intriguing. There are a lot of great reasons to try it (which you have noted), but I would also add to the list the personal challenge of it. Call me weird, but I’m always thinking of habits that I could tinker with in my life and wondering if I could do it (e.g., on the diet front, what if I tried to eat the (modified) diet of my 10-month old?… oatmeal for breakfast, sweet potatoes and prunes, only milk and water as beverages, etc., etc.) Haven’t tried that one yet (and let’s be honest – never really will), but it would probably be a lot healthier. Good luck!

  • lisa

    2008/06/18 at 3:57 pm

    couldn’t agree more about the comments about personal boundaries. What gives people an inkling that they have the right? I’ll never understand the Internets.

    But I am really curious: would you share what you’re eating, aside from the obvious veggies? thanks.

  • Marianne

    2008/06/18 at 3:57 pm

    The headaches are probably caffeine withdrawal. I gave up caffeine for Lent a couple years, and the first week was pure hell – I was headachey and bitchy and generally a foul person to be around. After that, I felt great!

    And it’s really remarkable how much people think they have the right to moralize other people’s dietary choices. Why can’t we all just keep our thoughts on our own plates?

  • Liz C

    2008/06/18 at 3:58 pm

    Yay, Heather! I changed my food intake for reasons similar to yours. I now call myself a ‘flexitarian’ and my guideline is to get less than 10% of my calories from animal products (read: bacon). I always disliked cooking meat and now I rarely if ever have to (except for bacon).

    It’s really not as difficult as people think, as long as you have access to decent vegetation. And, BTW, I’ve lost 15 lbs. And my blood pressure dropped back into the normal range. I’m pushing 50 — I need all the help I can get.

    I still love me some decaf coffee, but now I drink it with soymilk. I burned my liver out years ago so I don’t drink much anyway. No big. My remaining vices are hot sex and bittersweet chocolate. I can live with that. 😉

    Go for it! You’ll find a path that works for you.

  • Katie!

    2008/06/18 at 3:58 pm

    Hooray for you. Making steps in positive directions, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, is huge and should be celebrated.


  • Lauren

    2008/06/18 at 3:59 pm

    I’m a vegetarian who would totally wear that tee into a vegan restaurant!
    This cleanse… I’m very interested to see how it goes for you. I’ve been curious about the whole gluten issue for awhile now. I think i may do some research about it this afternoon.

  • Di

    2008/06/18 at 4:00 pm

    Babe, do what you want. It’s your bod and life. I’m just glad you are trying it before me so I know what to expect! Heh. Feel better – headache is prob. caffeine withdrawal. I had that when I gave up drinking coffee and colas.

  • Kristan

    2008/06/18 at 4:01 pm

    Ah, see, I thought this was going to be a post about how many emails you got over the past 1-2 weeks wondering where the heck you were and why you weren’t posting hilarious things that made me laugh out loud at work! But I guess after 2 million emails, you probably blocked my address, huh?

    (J/k. I don’t actually stalk Dooce. I just think about it.)

    As you well know, ignore those who partake of the Hate-orade, and everything will be just fine. 🙂

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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