"See, I'm on this new diet where I don't eat for a week and when I think I'm going to faint, I eat a cube of cheese. I figure I'm one stomach flu away from my goal weight." Emily Charlton, The Devil Wears Prada.
Dear Reader, post Christmas and NYE and the food festival that is the holidays, you may be feeling a little as I do and riffling through your wardrobe for the wrap dresses (always so forgiving) and reminiscing about the delicious food eaten while wondering how to eliminate the gentle reminders of them. After much discussion with friends, I decided to try a detox-in the name of research of course. One of my best friends Queen Viv detoxes every six months. She comes out looking brand new and shiny and she believes that it helps her retain her youthful appearance (she looks at least 20 years younger than she is).
Another girl that I know flies to Thailand once a year for a detox. She swears by it although has made it clear that it's tough during certain stages. So when I was asked by Natural Detox Drinks whether I'd like to try their detox program, the first thing that jumped in my head was Emily's quote from the Devil Wears Prada. And then I enthusiastically cleared five days in my calendar when I wasn't eating out and hoped for the best. Here is my detox diary.
I started off very enthusiastically. I received my delivery yesterday from Natural Detox Drinks and am told that I will be doing the transitioning detox which is the less hard core version of the full juice detox. I'm secretly quite relieved because I've never done a detox-my lifestyle and job just isn't conducive to it.
I started off with a 200ml glass of the Kombucha drink as soon as I woke up. It looked a little like ginger cordial and tasted a little fermenty but it's pleasant and quite sweet. I followed this up twenty minutes later with lemon water through a straw-apparently I can have as much of this as I want. I'm not a regular coffee drinker so the start was fine, no gnashing of teeth or sniffing bags of coffee. I believe that coffee is the top hurdle for most detoxers.
Around 10am, I decided to crack open one of the satchels of drink. Apparently, I can have as much or as little of these drinks as I want provided I stay within my supply. I chose the chocolatey sounding one (of course) which was cruelly sitting next to my supply of butter, and I poured a glass. I took a sip. It's a little chocolatey, quite nice and sweet and again healthily pleasant. I then add 1.5 tablespoons of psyllium husks-apparently you need to clear your colon and this helps with it. I tried to say to myself "well it looks like coconut" but after a few minutes, the husks swelled and I was left with a pile of sludgey husks at the bottom of my glass which I ate by the spoonful.
I had an appointment around 2pm so I made sure to eat my only solid meal of the day. For the first three days of the five day detox, I have set out to eat one solid meal of vegetables prepared by myself. Fine, I told myself, I love broccoli and so I steamed myself some. Then I hit my first road block....salt! I season everything, not a lot, but I do season and I couldn't season this. Suddenly the steamed broccoli turned into something I ate simply to quash my growling stomach. Is this what life for athletes is like when they just use food for fuel and derive little to no pleasure?
After my appointment, I'm feeling vague so I pop open a coconut water. Apparently I can have the unsweetened coconut water and I feel better very quickly. I must admit though that I'm not a fan of any of those prepackaged coconut waters at the supermarket - they don't taste anywhere as nice as a fresh young coconut cracked open. On my way home I stop at the traffic light and I see a sushi restaurant. I involuntarily start drooling and suddenly a chant enters my mind "Sushi! Sushi! Sushi!" I'm picturing aburi scallop sushi and eel sushi and suddenly I can't think of anything else.
At 6pm when Mr NQN comes home, I realise that I've already had my meal of the day and that I don't have a meal to look forward to. I miss the social interaction and sharing and I prepare something for Mr NQN that he loves but I'm not tempted by. I look at him and ask him if "I can just watch you eat?" He agrees, but has no real choice in the matter as I stare at him with bulging saucer eyes. I sip on my shakes-I'm supposed to finish all food and drink by 7pm but finish instead at 7:30pm.
Afterwards, I have my shower and dry body brush. It's something I've done for a while now, ever since having it done in Daylesford at the Hepburn spa. Your skin needs to be completely dry and you use a natural fibre bristle brush. You brush with firm, quick strokes towards the heart, starting at the soles of your feet and working your way up (but don't brush your face). You then have a warm to hot shower and then at the end, turn the water on cold for forty seconds. I love it as it keeps your skin smooth and eczema at bay and Queen Viv swears by it in combination with a detox to remove age spots.
I go to bed at 10pm as suggested and instead of having a glass of sparkling mineral water, my usual drink, I drink still water. I nod off easily and before he turns out the light Mr NQN tells me "I love you"
I mumble back "I love you...sushi." He laughs.
I woke up really well today. I wasn't struggling to get up and I felt good all day. I was expecting to feel lethargic or at the very least, under nourished, but I had a lot of energy. I have however become quite obsessed with food, even more than normal. Suddenly, food takes on almost pornographic proportions and I ogle at roast chickens and sandwiches filled with cheeses. I really shouldn't be let out of the house...
My skin has improved even after one day-when I got back from Hawaii it was congested and quite frankly hideous because of the range of food that I ate. But now I hardly put on any foundation. My mood is better, I'm calmer and don't have that sense of urgency that I always seemed to have. I'm also forgetful too though and vague and recalling names of places or people is difficult. And this is just after one day...
I started off with my least favourite drink, the green smoothie and mixed some of the psyllium husks with the cacao smoothie and drank that straight away. That swells in the stomach and makes me feel quite full. I only know this because I noticed that it happened with the little that was left in the cup after some time. One thing that I think this detox needs is more support-while Charlotte from Natural Detox Drinks is definitely ready to answer any questions on the phone, I did feel like I should already know things like this. I also struggled with eating steamed broccoli for the first day and it was only once I called her to find out my options that she explained the foods I should eat and should avoid. It turns out that there is quite a bit I can eat, but the pamphlet given to me doesn't really give detoxers much hope or inspiration.
Dinner is my favourite meal and I save that for a treat so instead of having lunch and staring at Mr NQN while he ate dinner, I ate salad. I love salad anyway but missed eating caulislaw which I couldn't have because of the mayonnaise. Instead I had a green salad with tomato, cucumber, broccoli and Japanese non oil dressing mixed with some tahini. And for dessert? A roasted sweet potato which I ate slowly savouring every bite. I am late again and finish my drinks and meals at 7:30pm instead of 7pm. I'm in bed by 10pm and asleep by 11pm.
I didn't wake up quite as easily as yesterday although it could have something to do with the neighbours who had a party going on until 2am and apparently invited a yodelling gorilla. We had some last minute shopping to do in the morning so after drinking my Kombucha I took a bottle of water with me to the store and started to feel a bit tired and sluggish. I think I need to take one of these drinks with me to start the day as a replacement for breakfast.
My meal was lunch at Earth to Plate in Bondi Junction, permitted because I checked with Charlotte first. I don't know if I'm supposed to have raw vegan cakes but they're dairy, sugar, wheat, gluten and everything free so I figured that I could. I've had a headache all day today. It doesn't help that I'm testing out recipes which is almost impossible if you can't taste them. So far I take a taste and have to spit it out and rinse my mouth-disgusting I know but blogging waits for no detox. And yes, I'm aware that everything to do with detoxing and the associated whine is a bit of a first world problem.
It's past 8pm and I've still a headache and I've got thousands of images of food to go through as well as legal contracts. And tomorrow I say goodbye to solid food and go into two days of liquid only.
Crankypants are ON.
P.S. I ended up texting Charlotte to see what I could do and she said that if I was getting headaches, then I could slow it down by eating something high in fat. Croissants are out (:P) but I could have some avocado or something with olive oil in it. She also mentioned that day three is always the toughest day-something I wish I had known so I could have scheduled a treat or distraction then. Again, something to tell people what to expect would be great. But I resisted and went to bed early at 9pm. Mr NQN was fantastic, giving me a head massage.
I woke up better today and the headache was gone. This is also day one of the liquid diet. A delivery came at 10am of my liquids and this time it was two chiller bag's worth. I received a few new things which I was glad to see including a gazpacho, an acai drink, a herbal tea, kombucha and that green smoothie which I've had before. I started on the acai drink-it's sweet and rich with almond milk and really good and actually seems almost too tasty to have on a detox. The alkaline water tastes like...well water.
I think I've lost weight but not much (it has only been three and a bit days) and my skin looks clearer. I am calm although when hunger struck, I was observed yelling at the computer.
At lunch I had the gazpacho-not bad but to be honest, I'll take what I can get at this stage....
By 5pm the headache had returned and it was a challenge making food and editing photographs of it. I have one day left and I'm tempted to splurge and have a green salad. And then I laugh because since when is that a splurge? :P
My tongue had developed a furry buildup which was unpleasant. I texted Charlotte and a few hours later she texts me back telling me that I should go ahead and have a salad because it's not meant to be stressful or extreme. Out of desperation, I also devised a good sesame dressing in a small quantity that I could use on a single salad. I later learn that the tongue build up is a symptom of the detox working - that would have been good to know beforehand too.
While eating a salad looking like a castaway that was getting their first meal after months on an island, I remarked to Mr NQN that he must be glad that tomorrow is the last day. I was surprised when he told me that I've been much calmer ever since I started the detox. Admittedly, I don't feel the edge or urgency and I feel more relaxed but it got me to thinking, does eating things other than vegetables make you more aggressive? I don't think I could ever give up meat because I love eating it too much but if I've learnt anything from this it's that what you put inside you is like fuel and definitely affects the way that you feel.
Have I turned into my mother in law? I must go to bed...
The final day of detox and all I could think of was burgers. A nice soft burger bun filled with soft mince, two layers of melted cheese, tomato, lettuce, beetroot and caramelised onions and garlicky aioli and tomato sauce. I've been sleeping well each night until last night when I woke up at 2am and shouted that there was a spider on the bed and turned on the light and stared at the sheets for a minute before Mr NQN told me that it was safe to go to bed again. Then I woke again at 3:30am and I'm not sure why, especially since I've been sleeping so soundly.
I woke up a bit later than usual and it was a bit difficult. I have soreness in my right ankle as if I hurt it somehow during the night. Perhaps it was bitten by the imaginary spider... ;)
I'm feeling much slower today and without a lot of energy, a vast difference to how I've felt in the past few days. At the moment, my head feels heavy and I'm slow to react and can't remember anyone's name. I got a missed call on my phone and when I returned it, I had to ask the woman "I'm sorry but I'm having trouble remembering anything today - have we met?"
Important contracts are flying across my desk this week and I'm concerned about my lack of concentration for these so I spoke to Charlotte who said that because I was going through another detox phase being on mostly liquid that I could have a salad or something solid today so I had some salad and some steamed broccoli. I'm determined to finish it, even if it's limping over the finish line and eating solid food which some would consider cheating, I'm sure. I must admit that I craved something crunchy (my usual crave) so I ate a dozen organic tamari roasted almonds and chewed them until my jaw could chew no more.
I went to bed at 9pm with Mr NQN and we watched a movie and I fell asleep partway through. No dreams of spiders though. Oddly, I'm disappointed.
The day after detox
Even though I can technically eat anything now, a part of me liked the routine so I started the day with the kombucha and lemon water. I woke up easily and well rested and will probably continue on the psyllium husk in the shake routine as I have some left over. I'm going for dumplings tonight so today's lunch was pickled herring with dill mayonnaise and tomato salad which tasted incredibly good. It appears that I love my savoury foods. No cravings for chocolate yet even though I can have some. My afternoon snack will be half a mango and dinner will be dumplings.
Would I recommend the detox? Sure, I'm really glad that I did it and thought that I learned a lot about my body in the five days. I never looked at food as fuel, to me food was pleasure and it was probably just fortunate that I love vegetables and salads or I'd be morbidly obese with skyrocketing cholesterol. But like I'm careful about the fuel I put in my car, I should be more careful about the fuel I put in myself. And I found solace in coconut water. It provided energy when I was lagging. I still don't love the taste though and give me fresh any day ;)
The biggest difference was when I ate my meal at lunchtime instead of dinner time. I slept so much better when I didn't have a big dinner. I know that saying that tells you to feast at breakfast or lunch and eat dinner like a pauper but I always looked upon dinner as a treat after a work day. We usually eat just after 6pm but even salad meant my body was working on digesting it and the process was keeping me up. Although it will be hard when dining out with friends. After all, not everyone is free for lunch and some restaurants are only open for dinner. And somehow asking my friends to dine at 5pm might sound a bit odd...
The pros and cons of this detox
Pros: Most of the drinks provided by Natural Detox Drinks are actually very nice. The kombucha, acai and cacao drinks were my favourite and I'd happily drink those again. Apart from having better skin, I lost a bit of weight and felt calm and in an even mood. For the first two days I had bundles of energy and I felt as if I could do anything.
Also, Charlotte is very friendly and supportive over the phone and I could call her at any time (although I felt uncomfortable calling her out of office hours). And while the cost may surprise some, around $45 per day for a 5 day programme, the Natural Detox drinks detox is less expensive than others on the market.
Cons: There was not a lot of literature about what to expect or what you can or can't eat so a list with what to eat and what to avoid would have been great. For example, I would not have guessed that beetroots and carrot would be out but they are because they are high in sugar. Also I would have loved a list of what to do when you are having a craving. The pamphlet given is insufficient and is actually a bit different to what is on her website.
A more holistic approach beyond what you put into your mouth would also have been useful. I would have loved to have known, and perhaps everyone knows this except for detox newbies like me, that you will get a furry build up on your tongue, that your hair will excrete more oils and that you should dry brush twice a day (and telling people how to dry brush helps as it's quite specific). Scheduling "treats" like massages or treatments on difficult days like the third day would have also helped. Charlotte knows all of these techniques but it's only communicated to you when you phone her and ask her about this specifically.
There are recipe suggestions on the facebook page although these are not in a dedicated section. I think putting them on her website would be better.
Want a D.I.Y. detox?
Queen Viv loaned me her copy of Jane Scrivner's popular "Detox Yourself" book. It's a month long detox that is gentler on you than a liquid detox. There are lots of foods that you can eat and it goes into more detail about what you can expect and what you can and can't eat. The "can eat" list is long and you are allowed plenty of brown rice as well as some yogurt and milk (sheep or goat but not cow's milk) as well as a long list of fruit, vegetables and fish. There is also a recipes section with really scrumptious sounding recipes (ok they're not cake, but they're appetising sounding). The hardest part of this, and why I can't really do it is because of its length as it goes for a whole month and with my job, it can't be done but for most other people, I think it is quite feasible.
Three weeks later...
So it's now about three weeks later and things are interesting. The very first night I went head first into eating dumplings and I mean head first.... I think I may have even teared up I was so excited at eating cooked dumplings. Unfortunately, the mix of flour and meat was a bit too much and I felt myself reacting a little. So much so that when we hit a bar afterwards, I declined any idea of a cocktail as I knew that it would probably be far too much, too soon. That night, I couldn't sleep all night for having eaten such a comparatively large amount of food at dinner time (which was what I would have eaten before).
Since then, I've switched my main meals to lunch time which allows me to burn them off more. I still go out to dinner because dinner is as much about being with friends as food but I tend to eat a few bites rather than going for more. Unless I am going out for dinner, I still finish by 7.30pm and haven't gone back to sparkling water, now drinking just still. If I'm hungry I'll have a small salad around 6pm, otherwise I'll drink a green juice and perhaps some fruit or something small then.
I tried buying almond milk but am not a huge fan as they aren't as good as the ones that were made at Earth to Table and Rubyfruit. To be honest, I don't know if I can be bothered to make almond milk from scratch for an occasional cup of tea. I do miss Charlotte's drinks though, especially the kombucha, acai and cacao drinks. It's also very difficult to find green drinks at the supermarket-the closest I could find was one where the green was from spirulina so I've started making my own.
I'm still yet to activate my almonds though ;)
Do It Yourself "Green" Drink
Adapted from Dr Mehmet Oz
2 cups spinach
3 carrots (I used a purple carrot which gave it a distinctly non green colour!)
1 bunch parsley
1/2 bunch mint
3 cups unsweetened apple juice
Step 1 - Combine all ingredients in a blender and process. Strain, if the particles are too big making sure to press out as much of the juice as possible.
If you make this with orange carrots, the colour is a bright green, I promise!
So tell me Dear Reader, would you or have you ever done a detox? What was your experience like? And are you more of a food as pleasure person or a food as fuel person? And have you activated almonds?
NQN tried the detox as a guest of Natural Detox Drinks
Natural Detox Drinks