Post-Cleanse Disorder

pancakes-and-bacon.jpgIt came to me in a Saturday morning Skype. My four-year-old nephew looked into the computer and asked what I had for bweckfist. I said I ate breakfast in the form of a second dinner the night before. His parents laughed. Though that late night enchilada plate from our local Burrito King wasn’t all giggles.

I wouldn’t be hungry until lunch. A pattern was threatening to form. Two nights prior it had been pancakes and bacon from the Burrito King hours after a sushi dinner. Family faces stared at me in the video window for elaboration. I heard myself inventing then blaming it on Post Cleanse Disorder (PCD).

My sister and brother-in-law did the Master Cleanse a month before we did. Leo laughed, feigning pain, “I know what you mean, man.”

Our stomach’s egos were out of check; too prone to temptation. I should also mention I had an accomplice in the Burrito King missions: our buddy H-berg, who claims he can take at least twice as much as me when it comes to things of an intoxicating persuasion, but whom I impressed early in our friendship by demonstrating I could eat at least as much as him. I haven’t revisited the Burrito King for solo midnight pancakes and bacon. These things taste much better in good company.

greenbeans.jpgWhen H-berg came over for dinner last night, I was determined to give no case for two meals. I cooked bacon, then green beans in the bacon fat, even adding butter for good measure with garlic. Broke the bacon in bits over baked potatoes with clouds of sour cream and shredded sharp white cheddar. Center stage sat tri-tip steaks with a red wine butter reduction. Towards the end of the meal, we poured the twice-cooked bacon fat unabsorbed by the green beans over the remaining potatoes in place of butter (or with it, more precisely).

The green beans tasted like hot dogs. The baked potatoes made us smile and cower. The meal was a success, and afterward we retired to the living room to sit. And stay sitting for some time.

This morning I called my dad to brag about the use of bacon fat. He told me to pop some vitamin D for the cholesterol. I told him we’re doing this while we can still get away without thinking about cholesterol.

But now, after finishing an entire tray of bon-bons before cooking a sensible meal this evening, I’m brought back to my auto-diagnosis of PCD to help explain why I might be exhibiting such excess.

It’s not that I don’t otherwise appreciate bacchanalias. But it’s worth noting that today marks a month since I completed ten days of Stanley Burroughs’ The Master Cleanse

I never thought I would do “the cleanse.” I actually vowed – even considered signing affidavits – declaring my stance against it. I love food. How can someone in love with food deny it for ten days? Would you deny yourself love? Would you?

I do my Yom Kippur fast-and-walk once a year. A day. No sweat. I know I can go without food. But ten days? Never, I thought. Until my wife decided she was going to.

This was her second cleanse. The first time I went along eating throughout, unaffiliated save as a surrogate set of taste buds. She vicariously ate through me. One summer day at South Street Seaport she spontaneously asked me to eat a hotdog for her. Fixated on my every bite. Then kissed me for secondhand flavor vapors after I finished.

lemons.jpgHaving done “the cleanse,” that doesn’t seem so bizarre now. But it’s strange being the only eater in the equation. To not be going through the same intense experience that the person you spend all your time with is going through. It gets awkward. So I figured I might as well join in this round.

There were other reasons too. Why the hell not, for one. And it’s supposed to be good for you, so let’s see if it is.

Aside from the tedium of having to juice so many damn lemons and the ennui of not-exactly-eating the same thing all day, every day for ten days, the cleanse really wasn’t so bad. I ran every morning. Had energy throughout the day. And missed food like a mo-fo.

I took enjoyment in smelling, in seeing, in whatever other sensations I could access without eating. I stared down a bag of Chex Mix in a liquor store and could taste each rye chip, pretzel, squiggly cracker and Chex piece inside. Weird. Like a mutant first realizing his powers. Your senses go superhero. I tasted the scent of carnitas every time we passed by a taco truck. Hyper alert.

As elected, that came to pass. We graduated to all the food groups again, starting with a strict diet of organic vegetables and fruits. Within four days post cleanse we were having shrimp tacos. Meat was back the day after. That first week followed as such:

chart.jpg To go from getting full off two glasses of orange juice to two dinners in a couple weeks has been an experience of variety and velocity. At this point I’m wondering how overall effective the cleanse was for me.

Sure, I deprived myself of junk, alcohol, and purged the demons of everything I’ve consumed through those ten days. Lived healthier than a new-age ‘friend of John’ on a fitness binge. Shed a few. Felt efficient. But now I’m swinging on the other side of the pendulum.

Pancakes and bacon for a midnight snack? Sweet and savory. Dinner and desert and next morning’s breakfast all at once? Brilliant. But not the healthiest trend. Fortunately, just talking about it seems to be the first step to overcoming the delicious symptoms of PCD.


Louis Gropman loves to eat, has always loved to eat, and is probably eating right now. If not, he's either writing or humming to himself. His non-fiction Notes From the Driver's Seat and Inaugurate the Day will appear soon, either by those titles or in alien form.