My Big Fat Christmas Detox!

By Emma | January 2 2013 | 26 Comments

detox diet

I’m not sure what made me do it – perhaps being asked in the warm afterglow of a delicious soul food dinner, complete with homemade jerk chicken and brownies. In that moment I’d have probably said yes to just about anything. But, as just about everybody said to me in the following weeks, “You signed up for a December detox? Are you mad?”

Out with the tea and cake, in with the liver flush juice (top image) – a mix of grapefruit and lemon juice, water, garlic and olive oil, taken at weekends.

And so, just as everyone else was getting into the swing of things with office lunches and mulled wine and minced pies, I was getting to grips with the rules of my new alkaline diet – no red meat, wheat, alcohol, caffeine or sugar, and limited dairy – and paying €100 for the pleasure. The benefits? Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, regulating periods, helping with PMT, a surge in energy…and weightloss.  I’m not gonna lie, that last part had me hooked.

Old desktop essentials…

 detox diet

New desktop essentials…almonds, herbal teas and fatigue fighting Chinese herbs!

It’s not just a diet, though – the 10 Day Detox Programme at the Qi Rooms includes a whole host of other services including 5 yoga and pilates classes, 2 acupuncture and group advice sessions, and online support through a Facebook group. We were also given two types of Chinese herbs to take throughout the programme – one for energy, and one to aid sleep.

To my great surprise, I really enjoyed the programme. Where others reported headaches in the first few days, the worst I suffered was a vague lack of energy and focus. This went away in the middle of the course and I felt really good for several days – happy and alert. My diet was usually eggs for breakfast with some form of gluten free bread, soup for lunch and chicken or fish with vegetables for dinner. I snacked on almonds, drank lots of herbal tea and was never hungry.

detox diet

The Facebook page was a great resource for sharing recipes and for general support

I also slept the best I had in years – thanks, apparently, to the acupuncture, which also helps minimise cravings. It worked, too – the only cravings I had were when I could see the end in sight. And they were for fairly innocuous things, like a cup of green tea, rather than a loaf or an entire cheesecake.

So what will I take away from the experience? I eat too much wheat, and while I love pasta and bread far too much to give them up completely, I’ll minimise my consumption and try gluten free or low gluten alternatives, like sourdough, rye and spelt. I drink too much caffeine, and will replace coffee with green tea where I can. And I feel great when I get a better night’s sleep, so this will be prioritised in the new year.


What I really liked was the group support, the acupuncture, the gentle encouragement of our lovely group leader, Jett – honestly, like having your own personal cheerleader – and, yep, managing to lose a few inches in the process. I’m actually considering another stint in January…and am seriously tempted by the Detox Retreats to Portugal next spring. You can find out more about these on the Qi Rooms website.

What do you reckon, completely bonkers or would you like to give it a try? Maybe you’ve done a detox yourself in the past? I’d love to know what you think – do tell us in the comments!

Read about lots of our other detox stories here!

Diet & Wellbeing , ,

26 Replies to "My Big Fat Christmas Detox!"

  • Jean says:

    Detox diets are medically meaningless. Anyone thinking of doing one – especially an expensive one – should ask their GP about it or do a bit of research. The Bad Science blog by Ben Goldacre has lots of info about why they are mostly scams.

  • CB says:

    I’m with you on this Jean. If you stop eating rubbish you will lose weight and feel better, paying money to be told to starve yourself for a week is entirely foolish. Bodies detox themselves naturally and anyone who tells you there is a build up of ‘toxins’ that you somehow need to remove is a charlatan.

  • Ems says:

    Also with Jean on this!

    And I most definitely recommend the Bad Science Blog. Ben also has 2 wonderful books, Bad Science and Bad Pharma that I couldn’t praise highly enough. We are sold a lot of crap nowadays for no other reason that to make millions from our outstanding naivety.

  • Ems says:

    Also with Jean on this!

    And I most definitely recommend the Bad Science Blog. Ben also has 2 wonderful books, Bad Science and Bad Pharma that I couldn’t praise highly enough. We are sold a lot of crap nowadays for no other reason that to make millions from our outstanding naivety.

  • Tina says:

    Jean and CB – what you are talking about are all the fasts etc extreme diets that are commonly (and wrongly) called detox diets and they’re quite different from this one. What Enma did is an alkalising diet, avoiding all toxins (hence detoxing) while still eating loads (like she said, she ate eggs, meats, spelt bread etc so not starving!).
    Alkalising diet is scientifically proven to be good for health, in fact it’s used for treating many diseases, including cancer. There is a lot of research in this area if you look it up.
    I did this course too and felt great and will definitely do it in Jan again. Great way to clean up your diet!

  • Kitty in the City says:

    Us Irish don’t have enough alkaline in our diets. I did the Dr Vogel Detox Box a few years ago. I felt great after it, but more than anything I learnt to avoid processed food and general bad stuff. Having said that, my bad habits have returned a little and need to start making some changes again. I am currently trying to drink lots of warm water with lemon, and cider vinegar in water before a meal. I know my demon is booze more than anything.

  • Emma says:

    Thanks for all your comments ladies! I love Bad Science and am a big Ben Goldacre fan too :) This particular programme involved
    eating a more alkaline diet, which is easier on the stomach and the liver – I was never hungry and ate loads of really nutritious healthy foods. I had the opportunity to do pilates and yoga classes and two acupuncture sessions to help with cravings – a lot of the drug rehabilitation programmes also use this technique. I found it great value for money, an enjoyable and positive experience and would highly recommend!

  • sally says:

    this all sounds logical and good apart from the ‘Chinese herbal medicine’ part. I have nothing against the idea of herbal remedies from China it just seems like there’s no information or understanding on what they actually ever are. It’s like there’s a blind faith in ‘Chinese Herbal Remedy’ without ever knowing what you’re taking or why

  • miam says:

    I think a bit of common sense is lacking in these faddy diets. Northern Europeans generally eat far too much red meat and processed wheat, and they should be consumed in moderation. As for the “scientifically proven” benefits of an alkaline diet,this is not true and of course common sense would caution anyone to forgo regular cancer therapy to just change their diet; but eating more fruits and vegetables and staying off the booze and red meat will obviously be beneficial in such a scenario. Of course, before any person embarks on a drastic change in diet they should have a checkup and receive advice from their GP and this should be mentioned in the article.

    WebMD have a good balanced article about the diet here and they refer to the risks and benefits of such a diet and how not to be conned into parting with your cash.

  • Ola says:

    Cutting out red meat, caffeine and limiting wheat and dairy will hardly be the “drastic diet change” that needs to be checked with a doctor… they are all general health guidelines for what we should eat, anyway!

    I agree with Sally about the “Chinese herbal medicine”, and, personally, I think I would try to do the whole thing myself rather than paying for a programme… but I still think that it sounds interesting and logical, so if you’re willing to pay, why the hell not?

  • Tina says:

    Miam – I did not suggest that someone should use alkaline diet instead of a medical treatment, not sure what made you think that. There has been scientific studies that have shown that chemotherapy is more effective if the person follows a healthy alkaline diet. And several academic journals have published studies on the subject. I’m not sure what your understanding of alkaline diet is but it is pretty much just a healthy diet free of processed foods, red meat, caffeine etc, high in dark green veg, unsaturated fats, lean protein etc.

  • miam says:

    Tina, I apologise, I wasn’t referring to your comment specifically and I’m a bit tetchy about these things as I have a PhD with 10 years working in cancer research and when I see these branded diets which essentially are just healthy eating it annoys me as many people can believe the pseudo science behind the effects that they are seeing as opposed to just losing weight and quitting smoking/drinking. Cancer research has of course discovered that many food stuffs have anti cancer properties (turmeric saffron among many others) and more investigation is ongoing and definitely warranted into this area. The alkaline diet seems to mean different things to different people. In the extreme case, it’s a long term change which does exclude a number of vital nutrients which is classified as an extreme diet and would require supplementation, hence a GP visit. In the less extreme version, which seems to be referred to here, it’s a healthy positive change. Again, like others I would voice concern about Chinese herbs. What exactly are they? are they regulated? etc.

  • Tina says:

    Miam – that’s ok, I see where you’re coming from now and completely understand! I think, all these words are used in so many different ways and for marketing purposes only it’s difficult to know what they actually mean. This particular diet is really just healthy eating, detox in the sense that all the so called ‘toxic’ stuff is left out. Not very drastic though considering today’s typical diets it can be a big change to people! As for the herbs, they’re only a small part of it. I personally found them great but even without them the diet and the classes alone are great.

  • miam says:

    Tina – coolio! Sounds good, now in saying that I’m definitely going to be living quite the penitential January to atone for sins of Christmas.

  • Siobhán says:

    Just wanted to say that I did the 10-day detox diet with Jett at the end of November and I thought it was great. It’s probably misnamed as a detox because as Tina said it is an alkaline diet and certainly not a fast or in any way faddy – just really sensible eating. Although you could certainly do this on your own – I know I couldn’t. I really valued the group support, the acupuncture, the online forum and just knowing that there was a bunch of other people not allowed to drink coffee/tea/alcohol etc. Call me a wuss but knowing that I had to meet up with the group kept me going as I would have stopped on day two otherwise. Also I found that it made me think about my reliance on wheat and sugar and certainly since the detox I’ve lost my constant sugar craving. I felt the entire process cleared my head and allowed me to reenergise during a very stressful time. I ain’t going to lie as it was tough to do but oh so worth it and I’d definitely do it again.

  • Atkin says:

    “Minced pies” lol!

  • Emma says:

    Ha! Well spotted Atkin :)

  • CoffeeSusan says:

    Interesting discussion, and some v informative links.

    My view is that a lot of these types of programs can be successful for people because of the accountability factor – we can make plenty of excuses to ourselves, but when we’re paying and have a weekly/whenever meeting with others it’s a different kind of motivation.

    Good luck to everyone with any lifestyle changes they’re planning, one of my goals is more broccoli, and only a moderate amount of coffee.

  • Em says:

    My new years resolution is to just not eat as much rubbish as I normally do, nothing fancy.

    I’m a bit wary of cutting dairy out completely- I’d simply replace full fat milk with Super Milk or the likes because then you get your calcium. Gran is forever telling me there’s no point in being the skinniest girl in the room if you have bones made of rice paper. And she’s 96 and still going strong so I figure she must be doing something right!

  • Ros says:

    I made a comment here yesterday and it was moderated and never appeared – I wonder why?
    I just pointed out the dangers of trying to change the pH of the body, and posted a link to the death this year of a young healthy Dublin man who followed an alkaline diet. (google it) Massive organ failure followed.
    I also posted a link to the story of a 18 yr old Irish woman who took Chinese herbal slimming pills a few months ago and had her whole colon removed 5 days later.
    And that maybe it was irresponsible of to promote an alkaline diet and Chinese herbal pills.
    But it never appeared. Why?

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