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[00:00:00]

Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.

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Hello and welcome to Maintenance Phase, the podcast that detoxifies your brainstem, your ear buds, ear holes.

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It was such a strong start, quite confident. The key is confidence. There's no doubt that you're going to say before you say it every time, every once in a while, you come on and you're like, I've been working on this tag line.

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And every single time it is a surprise to me.

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I started working on that tagline when I started speaking the sentence, I am Michael Hobbs. I'm a reporter for the Huffington Post.

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I'm Aubrey Gordon. I am a writer, a columnist and author, a lot of things. And now a podcast or look at that.

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And both of us are on Patreon at Patrón dot com slash maintenance phase or Media Face.com or lots of other places where we have T-shirts and all kinds of other cute stuff in the description. Yeah. And if you want to design a T-shirt, you can design a T-shirt, you can pay for it. And it gets to be I mean, let's face t shirt like you say, Mike. Aubrey, can I tell you what we're talking about today?

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I don't know if I'm gonna be able to follow along, because for the last two days, I've only been eating cayenne pepper and water and I'm a little lightheaded, just just spicy water.

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It's really not far what we're talking about today. We're talking about the master cleanse.

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This thing, I, I have no idea what an actual, like, master cleanses. I know what a cleanse is. Yeah. But the whole master cleanse thing is new to me.

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It's just the name that this dude gave it. Oh, it's like Saran Wrap, his kind of plastic wrap in Saran Wrap, right?

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Oh, it's like Band-Aid for adhesive bandages. Yeah. OK, I thought it was something that people came up with after a long peer reviewed literature process.

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Oh, Mike, I feel like I'm about to disappoint you. It's a very predictable ways. I'm going to keep pretending I've never done the show before. Oh, it's really interesting. Yeah.

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So had you heard of the master cleanse at all before? I was like, we're doing it. Maple syrup, lemon juice.

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I am like deeply familiar with cleanses as a thing that I feel like did not exist when I was a child. And then all of a sudden it existed and it was everywhere. And everyone that I follow on Facebook was doing one. Yeah, a couple trips to New York ago. I ended up at an Airbnb in the Upper West Side or the Upper East Side, whatever the side is that like super duper posh and the grocery store near my Airbnb, I went there once and I saw that they were selling a Detoxify cleanse kit and it was like a little lunchbox full of sort of everything you needed for a week long cleanse.

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And it was fucking eighty five dollars. Yeah, I was livid. I was like, isn't the whole point of a cleanse that you're not eating? Why would it cost eighty five dollars to not eat for a week.

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Because someone can make money off of that. Eighty five dollars. My because people have bills to pay. I mean it's a fucking great scam if you can get it. I mean if what we're talking about is like cayenne pepper and lemon juice and syrup and shit, these are not expensive ingredients.

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No, they're certainly not. And I'm curious, do you have a sense of when everyone in your life started talking on Facebook about their Cleanseas and detoxes and everything, like, was it the last five years? Last twenty years?

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It was like 2009 to 2012. Brown there. It was like Obama won. And we're like, OK, everything's fine. Now we can focus on, like, detoxifying our bodies. But I could be wrong.

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No, you nailed it to the wall, man. Yeah. So here is what you need to know about the master cleanse is sort of a rise in popularity. The master cleanse has been around since the 40s. Oh, but I did the like Google Trends. I think it's called search where you can like see when words get mentioned and there is this humongous spike in twenty seven, there's like a little bump in seventy six, which is when the creator of the Master Cleanse published his book, The Master Cleanser.

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His name is Stanley Burroughs. He died in 1991. So he's he's long gone. He originally created the master cleanse and called it the lemonade diet in the 1940s, which like doesn't that sound very, very Sprite? Yes. So the master cleanse basically like enjoys a little bit of popularity in the seventies, but it's not until the mid two thousands that it really takes off that we see that huge like twenty six, twenty seven spike. And that is around the movie Dreamgirls.

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Oh was there.

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I've never seen that with their klinz stuff in there.

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There's no content about Cleanseas in Dreamgirls, but Beyonce goes on Oprah to promote it. Oprah asks her what she did to prepare for the role and Beyonce said, oh, I did the master cleanse for two weeks.

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Oh, see, now we're back to being like Oprah.

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Why Oprah? So from there, from Beyonce mentioning it on Oprah Abbud. Of people, a bunch of celebrities start doing it and it starts showing up in like InTouch and US Weekly, Madonna's doing the master cleanse. Jared Leto does it. Gwyneth Paltrow takes this as an opportunity to announce that she already did it.

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Famous health and wellness, voice of reason, Gwyneth Paltrow. She was just like it was too artistic to I don't recommend that. She says it made her hallucinate. She's like guys, you know, I've read the peer reviewed studies. I just don't see the evidence. It's like, wow, Gwyneth, thank you. Totally.

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So when we talked about Hailo Top, I was like, really clear. That was not a ruiner episode. If you like your hailo top, you can keep your Halo top. This is for sure, a Ruiner episode.

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So just like being prepared for the master cleanse is a pile of a hot garbage.

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So this is you like rolling into Stalingrad, like tanks blazing, just like yuckier cleanse. It's all bullshit. Yeah.

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So I feel like we should start out with what the master cleanse is. I feel like I was going to ask you what you think it is, but I feel like I just got that answer and it's visi water. Yeah.

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Isn't it just literally water and like maybe orange juice or cayenne pepper lemon juice or something. It's just like lightly flavored water, right?

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Yeah. Basically the master cleanse is a diet in which the people who take part in it forgo food for ten days. You're not eating, you're only drinking and you are subsisting on this homemade mixture of water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and some kind of sweetener, usually maple syrup. But he also says it's OK to use molasses or sorghum or sort of like any of those kind of like liquid sweeteners, the flexibility, lose weight, eating whatever you want, as long as it's molasses, sorghum, maple syrup.

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So on top of that, there are also these sort of ease in and ease out periods of like three or four days on either end rate. Things are like tapering down on solid foods and then tapering back up. Right. I love the idea of tapering because it's like, look, if you didn't taper, this might be bad for you and unsustainable.

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Yeah, totally. So there are some specifications about this. He says you can't use honey as your sweetener, but his explanation for that in this book, in the Master Cleanser, the book is that it's just bee vomit. So you're basically drinking like very tart, very spicy sugar water. So does it follow the structure of like three meals a day?

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Is there like a breakfast, spicy water or lunch, spicy water dinner or you just drink it throughout the day? Or how does it work?

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He doesn't necessarily say how many times you can have it. I think he recommends like six glasses or eight glasses a day, what he wrote a whole book.

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And he doesn't say how many of a drink in a day. Nope, sure doesn't.

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Most of the research that I found on this was basically like if you follow the cleanse and drink basically every time you're hungry for most people, that will account for about six hundred and fifty calories a day. Oh, and those calories are one hundred percent from carbohydrates. They're one hundred percent from sugar. Right. Which is really fascinating for a cleanse because many cleanses and detoxes define sugar as a toxin. Right. So the only there are like three other things that you're permitted to drink.

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You can drink mint tea, which you're only supposed to drink sparingly and you're supposed to drink it because as he said in the book, during the cleanse, you will have, I quote, many mouth and body odors that are relief.

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So get ready to stink and cover up for it with mint tea, which doesn't even seem like it would be all that effective. I love mint tea. It doesn't make anything smell better. Yeah, no, it doesn't go to your armpits.

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So you can and should on the master cleanse, drink a laxative tea, according to the author. OK, so part of this is like many cleanses. There's sort of a colon cleansing aspect to this. They recommend that you drink laxative teas or that you do a saltwater flush where you wake up in the morning and drink a ton of saltwater and then just shit your brains out for the rest of the day.

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Do they think toxins means like poo in your butt?

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Is toxins like that with toxins means so like many cleanses, there is no point at which Stanley Burrow's defines what toxins are.

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He only wrote a whole book. I there's no room. He ran out of space. It's also I feel like I should say, if it is a book, it's a very short book was like fifty pages. OK, so the idea behind the master cleanse is that cayenne pepper dilates your blood vessels. The combination, the sort of abrasive combination of cayenne and lemon juice helps cut through mucus and other quote unquote through waste material. You're also doing a saltwater flush or drinking laxative tea and that, quote unquote cleans your digestive tract and that the lemon juice is your source of vitamins and minerals.

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OK, and he actually says repeatedly throughout the book that lemon juice has all the vitamins and minerals you need so you won't feel. Hungry almost claims, which is such a bold lie, the idea that you will never feel hungry while you're just drinking a lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup is truly bananas to me.

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But it turns out the secret was lemon juice all along. No dirth necessary.

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There are a ton of reported side effects, as I'm sure you can imagine. Not just that people get super angry. They also get muscle aches and pains. They get these intense cravings for food. They get headaches, they're fatigue. Many people report nausea, vomiting. Many folks end up dehydrated from the laxatives and the saltwater flush.

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People also get cold sores and yeast infections. It's basically just like a laundry list of things.

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So what you're saying is that the human body needs food and water to survive? It's really tricky. Yes. And then if you've got a yeast infection and a cold sore, you're on the right track.

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Many, many, many health care providers have warned that these are a gateway into disordered eating and or full on eating disorders. And for people who already have eating disorders, which is sort of a shocking number of people in the U.S., these often are sort of the first step to a relapse or they just are the relapse rate. Marie-Claire did a whole piece on what they call juicer execs.

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Oh, yeah, that makes sense. Which is sort of like the folks who start doing these detoxes and cleansers and juice fasts and become what they say is, quote, an epidemic of malnourished rundown young women, some of whom have stumbled into full fledged anorexia or bulimia. Yeah, it's sort of this idea that you're doing all of this clean eating, you're doing all of this sort of like clean living kind of stuff. And it's also just a sort of socially sanctioned eating disorder.

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I mean, it is sort of palatable to talk about juice cleanses in quote unquote, polite company in a way that it is not to talk about, like eating disorders.

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Yeah, absolutely. So they talk to someone who talks about like having had an eating disorder and covering that up with Juice Fast's. She's a blogger named Carrie Adams. She had been engaged in like binge purge, sort of eating for years when she first started doing a juice cleanse. And this is their sort of story about that from Marie Claire. Quote, I was like an addict who found a new drug, says Adams, who got positive reactions from friends during her juice fast quote.

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People said, Oh, good for you. That's so healthy. It's society's most accepted form of eating disorder, right? It's also of a short duration, too. So you can always tell yourself that, like, this isn't an onramp to an eating disorder, because I'm only going to do it for ten days. But I can see that ten days kind of getting prolonged, if that's something that you're predisposed to.

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Well, and I will say Stanley Burrow's recommended doing the master cleanse any time you were sick, any time you gained weight. Oh, and three to four times a year as me.

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Isn't that a real bummer?

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Like over a month. A year. So the idea is not to stay on this for all time. The idea is that your body is dirty. You do this, you pull out a bunch of toxins and then it clean. But then after like three more months, you do it again because the body needs to sort of re up this detoxification process itself. The idea. Yes.

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So he also says that in severe cases and I don't know how he defines severe cases. Right. And he doesn't really say in severe cases, he says you should do the master cleanse for up to 40 days at a time.

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Oh, don't do that. I mean, I would argue if he's saying, like, you should do it every time you gain weight, I would imagine he would recommend to me 40 days a time, four times a year.

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But think of all your mucous membranes, Aubrey. You'd have no more mucus than your body. You're always complaining filled with mucus today.

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Mike can't record constantly, just like Logi with you at the beginning of the pandemic this year, I read a bunch of books on the black plague. And this whole thing does seem like what medicine was before science, where it's like, well, your cousin died of plague and you're starting to show the symptoms. So light a fire in your home and then eat a frog and then go upside down. It's just it's like total like black magic.

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No, totally. I mean, like so the idea of sort of raiding your body of quote unquote toxic materials is absolutely not new. That's where we get animals. That's where we get bloodletting. All right. Yeah. It is also sort of linked to fasting, which has been practiced by a lot of people for lots of reasons and lots of places and times. But overwhelmingly, you're exactly right. Right. Like this is where we get leeches, right.

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Know as a treatment method. It's like balancing the humour's rate. I don't know if you ever read up on that stuff. Up, down. Charmed. Strange. Yeah. It seems like from that perspective it seems worth talking about like. Detoxes work at all? Yes, this is my next question. What do they do, Aubrey? So contemporary cleanses and detoxes sort of defined the idea of toxins really differently. Some of them talk about heavy metals in your bloodstream.

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Others, again, say that sugar is a toxin. Most of them, like the master cleanse, don't define toxins at all.

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It's also interesting because the kinds of people that are the most likely to pay eighty five dollars for a cleanse kit or whatever are also the kind of people that are like already eating organic, already eating lots of fruits and vegetables already with a sort of quote unquote, good diet. It just seems like the underlying principle here is that eating at all builds up toxins in your system. It's not even that like, oh, I've been eating fast food, so now I need to do a detox.

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Right.

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And it's like food is toxic and your body store is toxic materials, all of that kind of stuff. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. So a lot of detoxes and Cleanseas sort of marry the idea of detoxing with weight loss because they argue that toxins are stored in fatty tissue. So losing weight is essential to removing toxins. There is actually some evidence that adipose tissue, which is just like fat tissue in your body, does store remnants of like industrial chemicals more than other kinds of tissue in the human body.

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But there is no evidence that, like what you eat changes how your body stores those toxic. Interesting. Most of those toxins are things like BPA and radon and asbestos, things that actually have upstream solutions that are rightly policy based, not based on what you eat. But again, we're not going to pursue those because they're way more tricky to figure out and because they don't actually give us any juice for like, I'm the kind of person who's on a planet.

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Right.

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This is my problem with all of these kinds of toxification diet kind of rhetoric is that we absolutely are being fucking poisoned all the time in the United States. We are subject to all kinds of weird fucking hormones and chemicals with measurable effects. There is actual evidence for a lot of these theories. And yet we're like crawling through the desert toward these solutions that are like weirdly individual and have nothing to do with, like, the fucking pipes in Flint, which is the actual way the toxins get into our bodies is through like political corruption.

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And yet it's like, no, no, no, no. I want the one that only has to do with what I eat and has nothing to do with any broader systemic issue at all. Like it's about me and my toxins.

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Absolutely. And again, like it's also hard to talk about cleanses and detoxes without talking about the performance of it.

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All right. Even if you believe to your core that this is the right thing for you, that it's making you healthier, all this sort of stuff, there is also a social element of differentiating yourself from people who don't know enough or who aren't disciplined enough or whatever. Again, like regardless of intentions, making these cleanses and detoxes into events that happen on social media or into things that you talk to your friends and family about and all of that kind of stuff, like all of that sort of like pulls it into the realm of performance.

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Right?

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I am one hundred percent OK with admitting that I would not be able to do this. Like I I don't have a whole ton of willpower around food because, like, my body needs it to survive and I would not make it ten days of not eating. Look, man, I also wouldn't make it if there was like a breathing detox. Yeah.

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So on this question of like, do cleanses or detoxes work from every source that I could find, every sort of credible source that I could find a full throated. Absolutely not. There's a great meta research review in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics where they say, quote, To the best of our knowledge, no randomized controlled trials have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of commercial detox diets.

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And nice. There's one study from the Seoul Women's University in Korea that studied the master cleanse in women with overweight BMIs, and they found that those women lost weight. Surprise, surprise. You don't eat solids for ten days and you weigh less at the end of this year. And those results were the same as the placebo group it reminds me of. Earlier this year, the New York Times ran an advice column where somebody wrote in and said, if I get an email on a list that I'm not supposed to be a part of, should I reply all and say, please remove me from this list?

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And The New York Times published an entire column that just said no.

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And all this like blank space. I feel like it's the same thing with this, that all of this like Harvard peer reviewed literature, it should just be like a full page that just says don't. Yeah, that seems like the obvious conclusion. Like don't do this. Absolutely. There is one thing in this matter. Research review. They did find one cleanse that has been studied. It was a detox diet called the Hubbard. Purification rundown when there's a Hubbert involved, it's science fact, it's good you got on to that quicker than I do because I had to read forward to figure out that the research that was conducted was conducted by the Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education of the Church of Scientology because it's L.

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Ron Hubbard.

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Steve Thomas.

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I was joking that L. Ron Hubbard has a beatbox and Scientology studied it and they were like, it's good.

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What what's this thing from our leader who we never question is also good.

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I thought I was just interrupting you and bugging you with my joke. That's actually true. I absolutely thought you have caught on because I was like, no, it's truly L. Ron Hubbard.

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They had folks do the Hubbard purification rundown for thirty one days and they said in that time that Participants' IQ had increased by six point seven points.

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So super scientific. It makes you smarter and thinner.

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I found this one and I was like, oh, this is like one of those restaurants where they bring you a check and they also bring you like a little cookie. Like what? A little treat. Like, oh, you study the master cleanse and you're like little reward and L. Ron Hubbard as a tax on carbon.

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So there is one case that I was able to find where there was sort of this anecdotal example of a number of folks sort of foregoing tested treatments for their chronic illnesses in favor of detoxes know.

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So there was an example of a man in Australia who gave up on dialysis in favour of a detox and super unsurprisingly, still totally tragically, he died very predictably.

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So like that's the really tricky sort of underbelly of all of this, is that it is sort of like fun and wacky. But it's also really sinister to tell people with chronic illnesses, which Stanley Burrows does throughout his book on the master cleanse. He's repeatedly like this is strongly recommended for diabetics. It's strongly recommended for people. DropZone, which is AVMA, which is sort of like fluid retention in your body. He's like, not only should you do it, you should do it for a month and a half.

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Right. Like it's just tying a woman to the train tracks, you know what I mean?

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Like, just straight up Filani. I mean, he seems like an egregious case, but even if you're just a sort of artisanal, small cleanse company, you're still contributing to the sort of overall understanding that cleanses are good for you and toxins are bad for you.

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Yes, absolutely. And even when you say, like, I feel like there are a handful of sort of like cleansing detox companies out there now that have gotten wise and we'll do the like check with your doctor if you have any of these conditions. Right. Right. But for the most part, that is a pretty cynical legal liability to a CIA cover your ass move right now to engage with that, as if everyone has a doctor, as if everyone has access to this stuff is pretty disingenuous, right?

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Certainly in the US, look in Denmark, tell people whatever the fuck you want.

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If you want to gain the being Fonz's, fuck it. Just aggressive like those motherfuckers that socialized medicine. Tell them whatever you want. Lie to me.

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So here's where I think it gets like really extra super fun. Can we dive in to the master cleanser by Stanley Boros? Yes.

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I want you to read me bad things and then we shout at them. I'm going to read you so many bad things. That's that's this show in its purest form.

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It's a really great I'm really excited to make fun of all of those bullshit.

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So I feel like normally you and I have to do at least a little bit of digging for the wacky side of the story. Yes. You do not have to do any digging with the master cleanse. It is wacky from jump. So there is an opening quote on the title page that I assumed was from the Bible or like from some intellectual powerhouse, some something.

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The quote is this Let no man refuse to listen and be healed lest he bring suffering to those who look to him for guidance.

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Oh, does it turn out to be like a Tracy Chapman lyric or something? No. So I looked this up. There was one citation of this quote, and it was the master cleanse.

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So he just made it up. Stanley is quoting Stanley Bird.

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That's a move, dude. That's great. Come up with something wise.

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And in your book, he's Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor, like he's the Columbus, right. He's playing every role in this book.

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So throughout the book, he uses this kind of language. It's like really science, but also sort of biblical, used some concepts from the Declaration of Independence, a bunch.

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Are we sure that he is not Kate Bush like a concept album? Totally, totally does.

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So we. Here is an example of that, this is the opening of the introduction, so when you open this, this is the first thing that you read in the master book. You ready? Give it to me.

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Man's mastery of disease will only be final when ignorance and fear are overcome by proper observance of all the laws pertaining to the creation of bones, flesh and blood while working knowingly but against so much going, working diligently with the master cleanser and master builder brings humanity closer to perfection of the human form. Through eons passed and on even into the present man has been held and still remains in bondage of misery and suffering. While witchcraft and quackery have run the gamut of the healing field of misinformation.

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Why does it sound like it's in all caps?

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But it is really weird, right? He keeps talking about like a more perfect body. He talks about the like. He uses the phrase, These truths are self-evident. This is Dwight Schrute reading Mussolini quotes.

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It totally is. It also like the other thing that jumped out to me while I was reading it as I was like, this sounds like Dianetics. Yeah, it does sound quasi religious, doesn't it?

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Yeah, it sounds like sort of it's writing the line between, like, the science, but there's no science and like evangelism, but there's no religion. Like the religion just is the cleanse.

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I think there's this idea that sort of society used to be more erudite and we've dumbed things down. And, you know, you can read old excerpts from books and they're like much more sort of complex sentences and much larger vocabularies than now. But there's also something interesting about the way that that erudition was used to cover up just blatant bullshit. Yeah, that's right. At the sentence level, it sounds intelligent, but then when you zoom out like the paragraph level, it's like this doesn't make any sense.

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We're talking about water with cayenne pepper in it. You're trying to sell me water, bro.

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It is the lemon water that they give you at, like, Red Lobster. Congratulations. You went to IHOP, they gave you lemon water and you poured your syrup into it. Masterclasses.

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This is also where he gets into heavy sales pitch territory. Nice. So here's what he has to say about the Glenns quote, When we finally become sick of being sick, then we are ready to learn the truth and the truth shall set us free. This diet will prove that no one needs to live with his diseases. Lifetime freedom from disease has become a reality.

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Look, I'm not overpromising here. All I'm saying is you will never get a disease again if you do this for ten days.

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I'm not making any bold claims. He also says that the program he likes her claims repeatedly that this is like something that has been tested repeatedly, but he absolutely never says where or when. Right. He says, quote, The program has been tested and approved for over 20 years and all sections of the continent as the most successful of any other diet of its type in the entire field, all caps, nothing can compare with its positive approach toward perfection in the healing field.

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Is this guy like a no fat guy? Now, this kind of rhetoric only leads to like weird men's rights shit.

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So he also has lays out sort of the hypothesis of the book. This is where I was just like every muscle in my body clenched. And this is where he's like, here's what the cleanse accomplishes and the problem that it's solving. Right?

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Disease, old age and death are the result of accumulated poisons and congestions throughout the entire body. These toxins become crystallized and hardened, settling around the joints, in the muscles and throughout the billions of cells all over the body.

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Sure, he goes on to say that, quote unquote, lumps and growth of all kinds form all over the body as homes for fungus. OK, the fungus is the fungi are fed by these toxins and that they particularly form in your lymphatic glands, he says. Germs and viruses specifically, exquisitely, the germs and viruses are not the cause of any illness.

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The germ theory of disease bullshit not into it. Yeah, I mean, I guess this was a time before Google scholar, but all of the things that he's saying were like easily disprovable. Right? Like, if what was causing poor health in the US population was growth of crystals in our joints, you'd be able to see those on x rays or something like these would not be the things being spouted in the introduction of some crank diet book. There would be like journal articles written about these things and conferences dedicated to them.

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Right.

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Someone somewhere would have observed the thing that you're talking about seems big.

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Yes. He also says that because germs and viruses are not the cause of illness, that's just like a thing that we came up with as humans. He argues that there is actually only one disease, Women Diversity Council culture.

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Where is he going with this?

[00:30:08]

I just want to know what you think. The what disease? I'm just free associating or what? Like this low rent. Ben Shapiro.

[00:30:16]

What he say? No, he says there's one disease and he calls it toxemia. Oh. So if we get toxins out of our bodies, we will be cured of all disease and symptoms. And he does say repeatedly, you will be cured of death.

[00:30:33]

When I read that quote, I was just like, oh, my God, this is like jet fuel doesn't melt steel beams. Yes, this is if it's a globe, why don't we fall off it? Yeah, we're just like, oh, honey, this is some real flat earth. Aw, shit, dude.

[00:30:48]

I have a relative who's into, like, deep into conspiracy stuff. And the last time we actually got into an argument, he was saying that, like, the Illuminati has to exist because it's a group and other groups also exist.

[00:31:01]

So he's like, look, if you believe in the Boy Scouts, you have to believe that the Illuminati is real. I was like, I don't know me at this point.

[00:31:09]

Also defined believe in the Boy Scouts.

[00:31:14]

Things are getting rough over there. That's a bad example, actually.

[00:31:17]

So throughout the book, Stanley also claims that allergies, asthma, colds, flu, clogged arteries, high cholesterol, heart disease and any illness that happens in your lifetime is a result of failing to cleanse these toxins from your system.

[00:31:34]

He says that if you are upset at any point, it is because you aren't following the cleanse. Right? Right. He says you should be having two to three bowel movements a day, which I don't understand where those bowel movements are coming from by data.

[00:31:49]

Yeah. What are you what are you bowling? And he says if you if that's not happening, then you should double down on your salt water flush, which is you're supposed to drink a quart of lukewarm salt water.

[00:32:01]

That sounds dangerous. That's a lot of salt water. It's bad news. Don't do that. Any time he talks about sort of like the physical discomfort or like hesitation that you may have, he says, and I quote, Remember, this can't harm you. Only toxins and unhealthy tissue will be eliminated.

[00:32:18]

Oh, my God. Yeah. It's like dating Johnny Depp. It's just like all this, like abuse or language.

[00:32:26]

It's so gross. Yeah. If you aren't doing it right, it's your fault. Yeah. He also says that the master cleanse will cure addiction. OK, quote, The usual cravings experienced and suffered in breaking away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco no longer present themselves during and after this diet. It is truly a wonderful feeling to be free from slavery to these many habit forming and de vitalizing articles of modern living, coffee, tea and the various cola drinks as habit forming beverages are also readily conquered with the marvels of the lemonade diet.

[00:33:03]

Unless what you're addicted to is looking super hot, that's the way it's going to promote the hot but like meme I know on the toilet all the time in your bathroom.

[00:33:18]

Toward the end of the book, he gives a bunch of recipes for sort of like how you should eat outside of the master cleanse. And honestly, it's like not that bad. It sounds like a pretty decent vegan food, honestly.

[00:33:28]

So he's uncancel. It's like garbanzo bean salad. Sounds nice. Listen, it's similar to moon juice, right? Where I'm like, let's just say it's a good recipe. Yeah.

[00:33:38]

Just as a little treat for you. There are a number of recipes at the end of the Master Cleanse book that include our old pal Caravedo in the 1930s.

[00:33:48]

Care up so much care of.

[00:33:51]

The only thing I hate more than karaba is the germ theory of disease, which is incorrect.

[00:33:58]

Yeah, nothing to worry about.

[00:33:59]

They if they're going to kill you, why are they so small as part of sort of looking into this cleanse, I.

[00:34:11]

I found a ton of examples. There's actually a whole book that is a collection of people's experiences on the master cleanse where they just do like a diary, a daily diary of their experiences on the master cleanse. I was like, oh, this will be fun. It was not fun. It was mostly release. What were they like? They're all these sort of glowing reviews. But they all also talk about like a lot of nausea and diarrhea. I broke out a ton.

[00:34:37]

I feel hungry all the time, but that's just the toxins leaving my body. So it's just like a bunch of people constantly talking themselves into restriction that their body is like very rightfully resisting.

[00:34:51]

The biggest one of these, which we'll talk about in a minute, was written by Jeffrey Steingarten for Vogue. OK, he's often a judge on Iron Chef America. He's, I think, a well regarded writer and food critic and all kinds of stuff. He does this sort of diary of him and his wife doing the master cleanse. He writes about trying to write, which is his job, but finding when he writes that 90 percent of the words he types has errors in them all.

[00:35:17]

He talks about feeling woozy and weak and not standing or walking particularly well. He talks about finally sort of breaking his fast and eating a piece of melon and a bite of smoked salmon and then promptly vomiting. Yeah, quote, The master cleanse is not truly difficult, but for 10 days it will deprive you, if you're like me, of a powerful source of happiness and it's ruinous to your social life, at least the fraction of it conducted over dinner, which for me is most of it.

[00:35:48]

Yeah.

[00:35:48]

On the other end, I lost 12 pounds, which I gained back within another week because I went back to normal eating and that's how the body works.

[00:35:54]

Quote, Most have reappeared over the past three days. Let's call it four pound. Well, and then he goes on to say he's going to do it again.

[00:36:03]

And that's like most of these stories is like this was a horrible experience and I hate it and it was terrible. And I'm going to do it again.

[00:36:11]

It's weird how resistant people are to the extremely well supported dietary advice that he'd like, make reasonable modifications to your diet and exercise that you enjoy and can sustain in the long term. Yes, but this weird thing where, like, I have to do something fucking bananas for ten days and then gain the twelve pounds back and then do something bananas again, it's just so weird to me that people think that that's a more reasonable option than just like, hey, maybe I'm not going to do fried foods anymore or something.

[00:36:41]

Yeah, that's right. I mean, you will get the maximum benefits that you would get from whatever detoxed through eating more vegetables and drinking more water. Yes.

[00:36:50]

Herea why are we doing all this shit? To avoid just eating vegetables. And if you already vegetables. Congratulations, you did it. You're done.

[00:36:58]

Yeah. What's this like yo yo ing like sort of deliberately yo yo ing. It's just very strange considering the evidence that yo yo diets are bad for you is like pretty voluminous. Yes.

[00:37:09]

And also like the facts of human behavior and sort of the soup of like capitalism plus diet culture that we're living in means that most diets are yo yo diets. Sorry. Yeah. Even if you call it a cleanse, even if you call it a detox, even if you call it a lifestyle change, most of the things that we associate with fat people, things like diabetes, things like hypertension, all heart disease, all that kind of stuff is linked just as strongly, if not more so to weight cycling.

[00:37:36]

Yeah.

[00:37:36]

So what's your relationship to cleanses? Have you ever done one?

[00:37:39]

I've never done I mean, like I will say, it's a fat lady cleanses always felt sort of beside the point. Yeah. They were something for thin people that like first order of business is like lose weight. And then once you've lost weight, then you can cleanse your body and treat it like a temple or whatever. But until then, you like putting out cigarettes in your intestines or whatever. If that means you're full and you don't eat food, it's just like it has always felt like sort of the providence of thin people and particularly like the vast majority of people who I know who have done the master cleanse have been like other queer women.

[00:38:14]

I don't know what that's about. I mean, you live in Portland, you to have some cleansing lesbians. I live in Seattle. I know what it's like. Lesbians, lesbians, clinic cleanse, cleans beans, cleanse me.

[00:38:25]

So the last thing I wanted to talk about before we sort of close out is just to be really clear. There is a ton of criticism of the master class, right? Harvard University Medical School is very clear, like they have a whole thing on cleanses and detoxes, including, I think on the master cleanse. They say it will and I quote, disrupt the native intestinal flora, microorganisms that perform useful digestive functions. A person who goes on this diet repeatedly may run the risk of developing metabolic acidosis.

[00:38:56]

Severe metabolic acidosis can lead to coma and death.

[00:38:59]

Oh, not great. There are plenty of people who do it and it doesn't kill them. And also it can so be aware of that.

[00:39:06]

But then, OK, this goes back to something. I mean, we mentioned earlier, you know, people in Portland that do this. I know people in Seattle that do this. Yeah, I'm pretty magnanimous about this stuff on a personal level, like if I'm at a cocktail party and I'm chatting with somebody like, how's your week been? And then like, oh, you know, I'm a little tired. I'm doing a juice cleanse. I'm not going to, like, yell at them in that moment or be like, did you know, I try to just be like nice to people and not sort of do the well actually thing on an individual basis.

[00:39:33]

I'm more interested in sort of the way that these things are regulated, the way that they're subsidized or not subsidized, whatever. So like, what is your approach with something like this? Like what do you do with your Portland queer lady friends who do this?

[00:39:47]

I mean, I do the same thing. If you want to do it, you can do it. If you want to know what I think about it, I will tell you what I think about it. But if you don't ask me, I'm not going to volunteer and be like the human embodiment of an Internet reply guy. Well, actually, like, no, nobody wants that. Nobody needs that. It's hard enough to have a body. Yeah.

[00:40:06]

I mean, I will say I think there's one case in which I might decide to say something to someone individually, and that is if we had had a conversation in the past about them having disordered eating, if they had brought to me, yeah, I struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating. And then they also brought to me, I'm doing this juice cleanse. I might have a very light touch conversation with them about like. So how does this square with your dessert eating stuff?

[00:40:32]

Like it's not feel like a trigger for that because it's not feel like, you know what I mean. Like just have like a genuine exploring conversation if they were open to it with their consent, all of that kind of stuff. And if we had that kind of relationship, this is like an incredibly delicate conversation that they need to be in the driver's seat. Right.

[00:40:52]

I mean, now that now that we're talking about it, there have been times when with close friends, I've said like, well, it sort of seems like you're doing this sort of faddish kind of diet thing. And it seems like you've done a lot of these before. And ultimately, they really haven't made you happy. But also, like, I would not do that with somebody that I'm not close to. That's some like there's like three or four people in my life that I would do that with.

[00:41:13]

But that's not some like I'm next to you at a dinner party and I'm going to fucking intervene on your behalf. Right. Same here. There's like people I can count on one hand. Yeah. This is not a an intervention style thing to your point earlier. Right. Like, this is not the kind of thing where it's like, look, you need to sit somebody down and tell them the hard truth. Right.

[00:41:30]

And that also comes from you having information about them. Right. Because I think a lot of these sort of well, actually conversations are people waiting for an entry point for them to, like, play a tape about like actually the peer review literature from Harvard. Whereas the more important thing, if you're going to even consider broaching the topic or in any way bringing this up, you have to first gather a lot of information about that person of like, have you done this before?

[00:41:57]

Is that something they're for going other treatments about? And like, unless you're somebody's medical doctor or close friend, it's not like in your wheelhouse to gather the kind of information that you would need about the person to do a kind of intervention like this. Yeah, I've been doing a lot of research about the sort of the new atheist movement and the way it had basically curdled into like men's rights and white nationalism over ten years. And I think the central problem with that movement was that it had a political ethic, but not a personal ethic.

[00:42:27]

And it was all about sort of being the smartest person in the room and not really thinking about the way that that was going to affect other people's feelings. And I think that, like, it's important to have a political ethic, but you also need to have an ethic above most other considerations of not being a dick and ruining people's day. Right.

[00:42:44]

And also say like so as someone who has had not insignificant struggles with disordered eating in the past and particularly like restrictive disordered eating. Right. Like I am a fat lady, this is what people expect of me. And at a certain point, I just started doing it. You just like stop eating. You don't eat when people can see you. There were a couple of people who tried to talk to me about it where we didn't have that relationship.

[00:43:07]

And it made me feel like I wasn't going hard enough on my eating. Oh, really? That I was like doing a bad job of having an eating disorder if people were noticing.

[00:43:17]

Do you see what I'm saying?

[00:43:17]

So, yes, we further underground, like, sort of made me want to disconnect from those people because I was like, they're onto me and that's not safe. I got a thing going here and I don't want you to interrupt it. So I think it's also worth noting, like part of the reason we're saying don't talk about it isn't don't care about people, but it is like take stock of the relationship that you have and be aware that these conversations can also very genuinely backfire.

[00:43:43]

Right.

[00:43:43]

Although, on the other hand, if you see a store selling these things for eighty five dollars, burn it down.

[00:43:49]

That's one. Commit an act of terrorism.

[00:43:51]

Mike, totally chill, allegedly. What's the what are the words that people say so we don't say allegedly. So Mike is telling you I'm not. Listen, if he's going to do this, I'm a good person. Don't be a dick at dinner parties. Property damage. Do it. Burn it down. I wanted to close out with a quote that felt not only sort of hopeful to me, but also feels like why I enjoy doing this podcast so much and why it feels important to me because it's balancing out your mucus levels.

[00:44:27]

Finally, after your lifelong journey.

[00:44:29]

So this came from a great New Yorker piece called Improving Ourselves to Death. So this references and includes a quote from Will Store, who is a British journalist and author who is sort of written about this sort of like almost like cult of self-improvement stuff that's happening now.

[00:44:48]

Quote, If the idea of the optimized self isn't simply a fad or even a preference, but an economic necessity, how can any of us choose to live otherwise? Store insists that there is a way, quote, This isn't a message of hopelessness. He writes, quote, On the contrary, what it actually leads us towards is a better way of finding happiness. Once you realize that it's all just an act of coercion, that it's your culture trying to turn you into someone you can't really be.

[00:45:19]

You can begin to free yourself from your demands.

[00:45:22]

Oh, I like that. I'm sitting here in my sweatpants with my halo top ice cream in my giant cold sore thinking about myself.

[00:45:30]

You know, I'm going to keep it.

[00:45:33]

I just feel it goes like really like that is actually genuinely how I feel. That's why I collect diet books. That's all of that kind of stuff. Right. Is it's a very like the emperor has no clothes, right. That you stop when you don't have to engage in the same way. It's the great and powerful Oz. Right. Right. That's why this stuff all feels really important to me, not to make people feel bad for doing it or having done it, but just to say, look, there are very clear reasons why all this stuff is the way that it is.

[00:46:02]

And in this case, it's mostly so that people can make money and mostly so that people can feel better about themselves in the short term and then feel worse about themselves more.

[00:46:12]

And so much of the cure for this is just showing grace to yourself. Absolutely. Your habits aren't perfect. Fucking nobody's habits are perfect. Maybe you're not as thin as fucking Gwyneth Paltrow or is like athletic as I can't name an athlete, but like, it's OK. Like we're all doing our best. Instagram isn't real. Eat what you feel like eating. I don't know. It's just like forgive yourself for not having this perfect life that fucking nobody else has either, frankly.

[00:46:37]

Absolutely.

[00:46:38]

And also like, it is not your fault for falling into a trap that was set for you. Oh, totally. Yeah. That's not actually on you. There is no reason to feel bad or guilty about having engaged in the stuff in the past. This is a real no better do better situation right now. You know, you can decide what to do with that information. That is your call.

[00:46:58]

Now, I think the main thing that we've taken away from this episode is listen to whatever Gwyneth Paltrow says. She was right.

[00:47:04]

No, my.