Read about Julie's motivation -- and what she's getting herself into in part one of 21 days to health: the detox diet explained.
Not a good start. A quick scan of my crammed cupboards reveals that, as of today, I have nothing to eat but Joshi-approved green tea and an egg. The diet insists on breakfast, but it's got to be gluten-, wheat-, dairy-, sugar-, caffeine- and yeast-free, ruling out regular bread, coffee, black tea, milk, cereal and fruit. Wheat and dairy encourage the presence of mucus in the gut, while sugar and yeast make you bloated and lethargic. I boil an egg (a maximum of four per week) and head for the health food shop.
There, I find a Joshi-endorsed nirvana. I load my cart with yeast-free spelt grain bread, soy milk, canola oil margarine, pumpkin seed butter to replace peanut butter, plain bio-yogurt (contains healthy bacteria to aid digestion), tofu and gluten-free granola (turns alkaline in the body). I can have one or two teaspoons of honey daily and small amounts of goat's or sheep's milk cheese, too.
A quick rummage in the freezer section reveals wheatgrass juice. One ounce has 30 enzymes, 70 per cent crude chlorophyll and is the nutritional equivalent of 2.2 pounds of fresh vegetables. I try it -- yup, it tastes like grass all right -- but Ann Wigmore, in her groundbreaking The Wheatgrass Book (Avery, 2002, $14.99), says the chlorophyll can protect us from carcinogens like no other food or medicine can.
I'm convinced. At the supermarket, I grab mountains of green, leafy vegetables, plus massive bags of carrots, celery and beets for my new juicer. Everything should be from a farmer's market or organic -- if vegetables are picked unripened, says Joshi, they retain little nutritive value. I steer away from mushrooms and the nightshade family of vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumber, potatoes and eggplant), which form acid once metabolized. I add a few lemons, too; Joshi recommends starting the day with a kidney flush of warm water and a slice of lemon. Although acid, the benefits of a lemon's astringency outweigh the acid effect.
To be fair, he did warn me I'd feel awful for a few days. I wish I had put money on it. My three-day headache due to caffeine withdrawal and the release of liver toxins lasts only slightly longer than the bone-deep fatigue. I'm cranky -- substituting chicory for coffee is just wrong -- and, according to my seven-year-old, I smell funny. I can believe it. Toxins exit through the bowel and the skin. I try Joshi's fast-track weekly liver detox cocktail for breakfast in the vague hope I'll feel better. I juice 300 millilitres of grapefruit and lemon juice, 200 millilitres of water, the juices of two garlic cloves and a small piece of fresh ginger, then add 25 millilitres of extra-virgin olive oil to make sure it's absorbed by the liver. I cringe but sip it as instructed until the last ounce, when everything in me rebels. I recall Joshi's calm, sensible voice: "You won't feel tired after awhile. You'll have less artificial food and sugar, so your blood sugar will drop slightly, but your body is detoxing, then it will catch up."
On Day 4, I wake up without a headache, and I feel a bit kittenish. Is it working? To my delight, my digestive system is no longer sluggish. Joshi had suggested a multipurpose enzyme to aid digestion, along with the herbal laxative senna, a good multivitamin and calcium. Better yet, my sad worship of Tim Hortons and sour cream doughnuts has come to an end.
I'm feeling good. I adore Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, so lentils and beans are a joy to use. We've also switched to brown rice and brown rice pasta, but we only eat it at lunch; any later and the body stores rather than uses the energy. My skeptical husband is hooked. He is determined to trim his manly belly and get his blood pressure under control. I haven't lost weight yet, but according to Joshi, "depending on your body, you may not lose weight on the scale, but unlike other diets, you're maintaining muscle mass, you're digesting better, burning calories and your metabolic rate is improving."
I sinned. I had a glass and a half of wine on Day 9 after firmly telling myself that I would be virtuous. Within an hour, a headache hits like a head butt, and I feel thick-tongued and washed out. I e-mail Joshi to confess my mistake. He is firm with me. "Your body doesn't want those things now. If you give it these things, it will repel them. If you go off the diet for one day, it's not the end of the world. It's about being sensible and taking responsibility."
I also learned a valuable lesson on Day 10: straight, undiluted beet juice should not be considered breakfast food.
I feel so good about myself. I'm listening to my body and doing right by it. Unlike before, I'm not eating without restraint or out of boredom, guilt or distress because food has become an interesting fuel and a means of preserving my health. I feel bursts of energy and mental clarity. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of the weekly grapefruit-and-garlic cocktail, but I do feel the benefits.
I have lost track of what day it is, but I'm in the detox zone. I adore eating fish every other day, and with lentils, chicken and Joshi's back-of-book recipes, our diet is varied. I can even have an occasional cocktail, but it should be vodka or gin because both are unfermented and don't encourage yeast growth. I will also follow the recommendation to detox again in six months. My waist is definitely trimmer, my skin looks great and I feel like Mrs. Incredible.
We go out for dinner to celebrate. This is difficult to do. Restaurants do have chicken and fish, smothered in gorgeously rich sauces, so it takes a determined detoxer to manage the menu. My husband gives up and orders the wickedly good veal Marsala with fettuccine; I piously go for the salmon, although it sits in a puddle of acid-creating red pepper and gorgonzola sauce. We are defiant and order bread and red wine. On the way home, we sheepishly admit that we feel bloated and uncomfortable.
My husband has lost 20 pounds and he's feeling great. He manages lunchtime by taking leftovers or salads with salmon, chickpeas, chopped celery and shredded cabbage dressed with olive oil. Business lunches are tough, but every menu has a lesser evil lurking among the hamburgers and fries. "I'm sleeping so well, like when you're in your teens and you wake up full of life," he says. "I feel younger and lighter." He struggles with his sweet tooth but manages it with bio-yogurt, honey, bananas and the occasional stick of sugar-free gum.
I have lost inches, feel strong and, best of all, sleep well. My husband has noticed. "You don't snore like a bear anymore," he announces. I'm thrilled. Without a bloated abdomen, it seems, there is less pressure on my diaphragm. But there is more -- words every woman should hear at my age. "You are looking great in your bathing suit. You sure don't look 40."
Thank you, Dr. Joshi.
Want to learn more about the detox diet? Buy Dr. Joshi's Holistic Detox (McArthur and Co., 2005) online today.