This spring, during a junk-drawer clean-out, an orange gift card appeared like a Ghost of Wellness Past. A relic from an erstwhile juice chain, it called up the early 2010s, when liquid fasts reigned in fashionable circles. Detox was a buzzword, even as nay-saying doctors noted the body’s sufficient systems for such housekeeping. The methods, be it cayenne-dusted lemonade or hold-your-nose shakes, served as a secular rite: self-purification alongside a whittled frame. “Day two, you are the grumpiest bitch in the world,” the actor Piper Perabo told Allure in 2013, “but by day three, you’re so high, it’s awesome.”
It wasn’t long before critics sniffed out hypocrisy within the health posturing. How could body positivity, then coming to the fore, coexist with hypocaloric (and paradoxically costly) programs that left people woozy with hunger? The practice, as Goop’s former chief content officer Elise Loehnen said in a viral video this past March, “had become synonymous with dieting and restriction”—a cycle so dispiriting, she swore off cleanses upon leaving Gwyneth Paltrow’s company in 2020. Loehnen then described dipping a toe back in, via Kroma’s five-day “reset”—a do-over term for what the genre itself could use.
Developed by self-professed “wellness visionary” Lisa Odenweller and launched last summer, Kroma is centered on next-gen staples: adaptogen-spiked lattes, bone broths, superfood smoothies. Unlike fresh meal plans (Sakara, Provenance), this kit arrives as powders to be blended with water or nondairy milk. There’s a Pantone serenity to the design; the packets are travel-friendly (I mixed the grain-free porridge at a coffee shop) and foolproof for multitaskers (tasty miso broth for lunch). Participants can also choose to layer in, say, greens and fish. “What we’re doing with Kroma is bringing that functional-medicine bioindividuality into the conversation and saying, ‘It’s not one size fits all,’ ” medical director Will Cole, MD, tells me from his cactus-adorned telehealth clinic. Dubbing the easy-to-digest broths a “gut siesta” (he often sips a cup midday), he sees the “reset as a springboard, a leaning into nourishing things.”
Still, diet culture clings. When Amy Schumer—an investor, with Paltrow and a cohort of tech and food bigwigs—posted a video praising Kroma, comments were divided. (“I was waiting for the punchline the entire time,” one read.) To wellness advocate Jessamyn Stanley, who touches on religious fasts in her book Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance, it’s all in the framing—away from negativity, toward an inquisitive kind of upkeep. “A recalibration seems like something that all of us should do from time to time. Stop the presses,” she says. “Try again.”
But can a five-day reset stick? “We have a habit memory system that doesn’t change when we make a new resolution to live in a healthier way,” says behavioral scientist Wendy Wood, author of Good Habits, Bad Habits. Workable strategies are key; a survey she conducted found that people who buy precut produce eat more of it—a practical alternative to “expensive powders.” (Kroma’s bulk-size jars get prominent placement in its post-reset guide.) Edwin K. McDonald IV, MD, associate director of adult nutrition at the University of Chicago, is focused on another barrier to entry: A trained chef, he teaches cooking classes in hospitals, sharing real-world skills while touting the microbiome-friendly benefits of a varied, plant-rich diet. A jump start can be helpful, he says. So can tapping into a powerful motivator: “Feeling good.”