Elm City Market

Elm City Market (Thomas MacMillan Photo)

I spend a good portion of my day surrounded by things that are good but not very good for you. And for a long time, I rolled my eyes at health nuts, and drank at least four ounces of Booker's and smoked two packs of American Spirits Perique Blend. Every day. If and when I ate, it was a bacon cheeseburger. (There was a long period before this that was even less healthy, in which 8 oz of tropical-flavored Pedialyte, taken from 5 'til 7:00 pm, constituted my breakfast.) I flirted with health food, sure, but it wasn't a priority, and as soon as I hit my goal weight (again), I went back to my bacon-and-bourbon-bad-is-good diet plan.

Essentially, every day was like Thanksgiving for me, minus the gratitude and family members, of course.

Until I experienced what usually turns people into health nuts: the Epiphany-Inducing-Illness. For some people, this is something more concrete — a pre-cancerous diagnosis, or some kind of injury. In my case, it was several months of memory loss, fatigue, wild mood swings, dizziness, rapid weight gain, and a host of other symptoms. First I thought I was preggos, but no. Then I thought I was anemic. Then it was my thyroid. Then, after a series of clinic visits, I dragged myself to a naturopath, who put me on a Blood Type diet — which meant no dairy, no refined sugars, no caffeine, no wheat, no soy, and limited my alcohol intake to three glasses of wine a week.

That's a really hard wagon to be on. And I obviously slip off of it. And the "occasional" gluten-free snickerdoodles and nightly nightcaps all add up.

Which is why I thought about going on a cleanse, and then (oops) mentioned it to my editor, who then assigned a cleanse story. (I suppose I should be grateful it wasn't a colonic.)

Here's what I ate.

Hot water with lemon for breakfast, herbal tea as a snack, and vegetable-based stew as a meal throughout. Also, I let myself have a martini, but skipped the gorgonzola stuffed olives. I figured clear liquor was as good a diuretic as any, and it had been a long day.

Here's how I felt.

I got jealous of grilled cheese sandwiches fictional characters ate on television. I got angry when the office kitchen smelled like pizza dough fried in butter. I made co-workers tell me all about what they were eating.

And I smoked twice as much as usual, because I couldn't stop thinking about food. (Or running to the bathroom, for that matter.)

If you're a masochist with the capacity to fly into a rage over grilled cheese sandwiches, then this is the diet for you.

After about five days, I was down seven pounds. I wasn't very hungry any more.

Obviously, that called for whiskey.

•Edge of the Woods, 379 Whalley Ave. (203) 787-1055, http://www.eotwm.com.

•Elm City Market, 777 Chapel St. (203) 624-0441, elmcitymarket.coop.

•Thyme and Season, 3040 Whitney Ave. (203) 407-8128, thymeandseasonnaturalmarket.com.