As I read out the list of forbidden food for my new diet to my friend Lauren, her eyes widen, and then she giggles. No red meat. No dairy. No wheat, yeast, sugar, condiments, alcohol, nuts, coffee, diet soda, deep-fried anything and definitely no fruit. They're all too acid-forming and the effect stresses the digestive system and makes waste elimination sluggish. Plus, I add loftily, the resulting toxins are stored as fat and cellulite. She laughs again but surreptitiously checks her thighs.
I hope I sound more confident than I am. I'm 40 and wonder if it's time to stop riding the coattails of good genes. Apart from post-baby Weight Watchers five years ago and hesitant forays into the low-carb world, I've never really needed to diet. I work as a writer, coach soccer in the village of Carp near Ottawa, raise two kids under seven and volunteer at their school. But lately -- probably due to diet and stress -- I feel weary by mid-afternoon, when the brain-fog rolls in. And judging by my resistant roll of mommy blubber, I'm not quite the 30-something I fancy I look like. Maybe a thorough new-year cleansing will usher in fabulous, slimmer year for me.
Lose weight, look younger, feel great
Enter the rising star of cleansing diets, Dr. Joshi's Holistic Detox: 21 Days to a Healthier, Slimmer You -- for Life (Hodder Mobius, 2005, $24.95). Among other things, author Dr. Nish Joshi promises that by balancing your body and flushing fat-soluble toxins from your liver, you'll drop 10 pounds, feel and look younger, be more energetic and, best of all, eliminate cravings.
But it's a strict, 21-day diet of soy products, grilled chicken, turkey, brown rice, steamed vegetables, green tea, lentils, beans, olive oil and fish (except swordfish, tuna or seafood, which can have heavy metals such as mercury and lead).
Just me, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss and Cate Blanchett
I need expert opinions: glamour queens Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett all follow Joshi's plan religiously, resulting in clear-skinned, slim and energetic perfection. They gushingly call him a miracle worker. I've never met a celebrity-endorsed miracle worker before, but I am ready.
Page 1 of 2 -- On page 2, learn how a detox diet really works and what it does.
Joshi is a 40-something Briton of Afro-Indian background who was raised on a strict vegetarian diet, liberally dosed with ancient ayurvedic medicine from his mother. An osteopath by training, he grew frustrated by the confines of traditional medicine, so Joshi opened his own holistic health clinic several years ago on upscale Wimpole Street in London, England.
His warm, lush voice comes down the line, and within minutes I want to confide everything. Instead, I ask about the detox program, which he says is not really for weight loss, although that's a common benefit. "There is no portion control. It's not about becoming thin or dropping dress sizes. By changing your diet, you can change the way your blood works and the effect it has on your body. I just want you to be healthier." Little wonder his first detox client, Diana, Princess of Wales, said she loved him.
A thorough cleaning - with a rigorous regimen
But the diet, I point out, is rigorous even by Atkins diet standards. He chuckles indulgently -- he has heard this before. "People are busy, they have steered away from eating fresh food, and they're spending less time looking at the nutrients they are eating. You have to encourage purification all the time, like cleaning the clutter off of your desk."
The human body is healthiest in a slightly alkaline state -- a state in which it digests, burns energy and wards off bacteria and cancer more efficiently. Yet our diets are loaded with fat, sugar, salt and preservatives, all of which create a super acid state called acidosis. The results, he says in his book, are: "a lot of miserable conditions such as inflammation of the joints, dermatitis, muscle tensions and spasms. These acidic deposits often lead to sluggish digestions. Waste products then accumulate and don't all get broken down, so they end up being stored as fat. This is one of the main reasons why people find it difficult to lose weight." Throw in alcohol, toxic fumes, pesticides and stress and your body becomes a reservoir of improperly filtered garbage.
A natural glow
By ruthlessly cutting out acid-forming food, consuming green, leafy vegetables and drinking vegetable juices and water, however, the liver flushes itself and the body becomes alkaline and releases toxins. With the exception of bananas, which release sugar slowly, all fruit is also eliminated. "If you starve the body of fruit sugar, it will produce less insulin," says Joshi. "You'll therefore encourage the body to break down the fat and release more toxins, and you'll start to change your dimensions. People will notice you are looking better. You will teach your body not to crave those bad foods anymore. You will glow, I promise." Right. I'm ready to begin.
Find out how Julie did with part two of 21 days to health: the detox diaries.
Page 2 of 2 -- Is a detox diet right for you? Learn what writer Julie's motivations were for taking part.
Want to learn more about the detox diet? Buy Dr. Joshi's Holistic Detox (McArthur and Co., 2005) online today.