It was towards the end of last year that I finally came to terms with something I'd been ignoring for a while: I eat like an average 20-something. Not an average 20-something model in Williamsburg or SoHo, but rather just an average New York 20-something, one who has both too little time and too little energy to cook a big healthy meal after a long day. I, the skincare fanatic, the yoga lover, the wellness freak, do not eat well at all when left to my own unregimented devices.
It began to get to me. I was sluggish, grumpy, and generally kind of felt gross. I knew I needed a change, but even more than that, I felt that I needed some sort of reset to get me out of what I felt was a hole I had already dug myself into. So when I discovered the Level II Detox from celebrity-beloved meal delivery and wellness brand Sakara Life, I figured why not do it? I would get to try something outside of my comfort zone at the very least. And so, on one of the busiest weeks of my year, I embarked on one of the hardest challenges I have ever faced: eating a preset diet with no meat, dairy, nuts, soy, grain, nightshades, glutens, caffeine (I don't drink coffee anyway,) alcohol, sugar, pesticides, and "chemicals and toxins," whatever constitutes those.
I fully expected the side effects they warn about—sluggishness, headaches, weird bowel movements, etc. How could I not? This is a diet where they send you multiple days of Sakara Life meals to just ease into. You have to take supplements along with it. Yet, I experienced no negative symptoms. In fact, the detractors were all quite minor, such as the fact it's incredibly difficult to get used to eating vegetables for breakfast. (Learning to heat up the breakfasts was a big help.) Every side effect I experienced was personal, from sucking it up and eating vegetables I hadn't before, to just not buying a bag of chips, or not having a glass of wine.
Eventually, however, one of the side effects took over a little too much. I was losing more weight than I wanted to, and fast. It was making me feel weak. On the fourth night, I had to supplement my diet with something other than nutritional broth, and in talking to Whitney and Danielle after the diet, I learned that's perfectly okay. When I asked them afterwards to give their advice to other people who experience the same thing while on the detox, they gave this answer:
"This detox was designed by a functional medicine doctor to help your body reset. Though fat loss is often a side effect, it’s not the main goal. Our goal is to help all your systems reboot and work at their best. Depending on your metabolism and how much weight you have on your body, each person and body will react differently. The key is to use this process to learn more about your own body and to get in tune. There is nothing more essential to individual health than body intelligence. If you see that you're burning fat faster than you personally prefer, it's okay to supplement the program with non-starchy vegetables, leafy greens, seeds, and high quality fats. We recommend steamed broccoli, carrots and spinach, pumpkin seeds or raw sunflower seeds, avocado, and coconut oil. That way, your body will still be operating in cleansing mode but give it more outside energy to burn."
Bodily intelligence was something that they mentioned frequently in our preliminary interview, and although I didn't understand it at first, I understood it more when as days went on. I was more in tune with when I was hungry and when I wasn't, what I was craving and why, and my general well-being. The duo spoke to this when I, afterwards, asked if anyone had reported surprising side effects:
I went into the Level II Detox a skeptic. The Instagrammable packaging and celebrity endorsements made me wonder: Was the Detox was more about paying for a picture than it was about your health? The $400 price tag isn't something everyone can afford, certainly. And it's not like it's impossible to cut out all the things the Detox cuts out without a meal plan. Reflecting upon it, the care that Sakara Life takes into making sure its "Sakaralites" are eating food that tastes good was the difference. I could eat just cauliflower and taro root for a week, I'm sure. I'm also sure I wouldn't enjoy it. As Sakara Life is a meal delivery service, they work with chefs to make their meals better than anything you could make at home. That extends to their Level II Detox, and is why it is cost-prohibitive as it is. It's like having a personal chef for a week.
It's well-known that our guts detox our bodies for us, and tend to right themselves without help or aid. Not everybody needs a Sakara Life Level II Detox. You can just as easily slowly start eating healthy and acheive similar results to the ones I did, where I did have more energy and lifted brain fog. Those are just the results of a good diet. For me, the detox was valuable, however, in that it shook something loose inside of me that was saying I couldn't eat healthy, and it served as a radical change to my red meat, cheese, and grain diet. Deprivation likely had something to do with it, but the detox actually allowed me to start eating healthy without making a gradual climb or small substitutions, and then ease back into a diet healthier than one I'd had before. Would I pay to do it a few times a year, like some people do? Probably not. I'm just not that focused on my food, which is an absolutely personal choice. But would I recommend it to someone who is incredibly nutritionally focused, or, like me, looking for a challenging fresh start from which they can grow? Yeah, I think I would.
The Sakara Life Level II Detox, $400, can be purchased here.