Monday, April 25, 2011

The GOOP detox: Day 1 of the 7-day cleanse

The official title of this post should be: "Why the [bleep] am I doing this to myself?!" However, some of you will get that just from the given title and, no doubt, will shudder at the notion of seven days so ill-spent. Well, I too used to be like you, spending my mornings enjoying full-fat yoghurt with honey and fruit, while happily already pondering dinner. But after a few weeks recently spent just so - outdoing myself week on week in gastronomic largess - I succumbed to guilt over consuming mountainous belly-expanding pork belly (of course with the crackling), and stuffed loins of lamb, and black pudding fatter than John Candy, and giant t-bone steaks, and endless cheeseboards groaning under shamefully over-generous servings of assorted vacherins, blues and cheddars, and, of course, copious good bottles from every wine-producing region you can think of...

You get the picture. After weeks of 'having a whale of a time,' as they like to say in those trashy magazines where they draw circles around celebrity love handles, I decided it might be a good idea to give myself a detox, and maybe even consider living a little more healthily than a French aristocrat who measures status by the number of body parts affected by gout.

So after a short surf on the interwebs, I came upon a detox that seemed both the kind of drastic measure I was seeking to reverse my recent indulgence, and also one not quite so punitive as those that seem to involve nothing more than lemon and/or cabbage water and a cocktail of natural laxatives. Gwyneth Paltrow was the suitably lean source of this wonder cure (on her blog 'GOOP'), it being the cleansing 7-day detox diet designed by some cardiologist named Dr Alejandro Junger.

You can find the details of its ethos and so forth on Gwynnie's blog - I was merely concerned with the fact that it seemed effective yet still let me eat foods with names I recognised as being from the natural world. In a nutshell, you cut out alcohol, caffeine, sugar, dairy, gluten, red meat, shellfish, processed foods, and nightshade veg (tomatoes, peppers and aubergines), and possibly more but my eyes wouldn't let me see the words.

Now readers, I too was horrified at the notion of no dairy and no gluten - two staples of my diet - however, many healthy peoples from faraway Oriental lands survive every day without such foods (as well as poor sods from bread and cheese country afflicted with various allergies and intolerance), so I knew I too could manage it. Wine, I love and hate you! In a way I was glad to say adios to this vice, which has become all too quotidian. The rest bothered me only a little. So with steely determination, I was resolved to GOOP myself for seven days.

And here we are on Day 1 (actually that was yesterday but I'm only finishing the post this morning). Having spent the princely sum of €77 in a health shop buying assorted vittles, followed by a similar amount buying organic fruit and veg at the grocery shop, I started the day feeling optimistic about the whole experience.

Breakfast consisted of a 'shake' of blueberries, almond milk, whey powder and some organic 'Super Greens' powder (chlorella, spirulina, barley grass and wheat grass). Once you get past the frog spawn appearance, it tastes okay. Although after the first few sips you start noticing the taste a bit more, as well as the slightly unpleasant consistency. Mine had the odd lump - I'm not sure which ingredient is the one that keeps coagulating but in the interest of keeping this shake down, I'll have to work that out by the end of the week.

Did I mention that only one meal of the day can be solid? Usually this should be lunch, but as today required me to eat dinner with my family, I decided I'd opt for a liquid lunch - this detox has taken all the fun out of that expression. I blitzed half a head of cooked broccoli with some garlic, spinach, rocket, alfalfa sprouts, olive oil, lemon juice, two and a half cups of water, a spoonful of pumpkin seeds, and a quarter of a teaspoon of sea salt. Again, on first acquaintance I was thinking, 'this isn't bad! Nice, even.' However, that quickly subsided as I noticed the tepid green mulch felt like, well, tepid green mulch to eat. Like some squelchy greens that had been chewed and regurgitated. I struggled with this one - now dreading future soup courses.

Dinner, as I said, could be solid, generally consisting of steamed something with steamed green veg. I had salmon with steamed spinach and a side of rocket dressed in lemon juice and a half tablespoon of olive oil. It was okay... in truth, I cracked and had a teaspoon of horseradish sauce. It was just so bland.. I was weak!!!

In between 'meals' you can have coconut water, warm water with lemon, aloe vera juice, herbal tea, and maybe the odd seed if you're peckish. After day one, in spite of some minor instances of revulsion, I have to admit that my skin is already visibly improved - even eliciting some comments to that effect - and I'm not starving. One down, six to go... this better be worth it!

Ed note: to see a post on all my 'GOOP' recipes and a brief account of how I got on click here

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