Detoxing! | Vicki McLeod


Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Anniston, Salma Hayak, Beyoncé, what have these celebrities got in common? They all say that they take part in detox juice diets to keep themselves looking and feeling good. It makes sense, they are consuming fresh, organic vegetable juices containing, amongst many other things, beetroot, spinach, garlic, ginger, carrots, celery and kale which all have amazing benefits to your health.

Gwyneth’s website GOOP recommends a system reboot for a quick cleanse, ideally three to five days long. They say that eating clean (veggies and fruit) and cutting out sugar, wine and carbs will give your brain and gut some much-needed recovery time, plus you’ll shed a kg or two, too. Salma swears by them as well, she says that a three day, fresh-pressed juicing diet refuels her body with all the nutrients, vitamins and enzymes needed to function optimally. Beyoncé goes for the hardcore approach, the Master Cleanse, also known as the lemon juice cleanse, first formulated in the ‘40s as a fasting diet to detoxify the body. From drinking 6-to-12 glasses of water mixed with lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for 10 days or longer (depending on physical condition), and flushing the system with internal saltwater baths and laxative tea twice a day, you get a thorough detox.

This is all very well and good, but you know what? The preparation of the veg and fruit takes time, time that I don’t have right now, so unless a personal chef presented themselves to me, the likelihood that I would ever, EVER do one was more or less at zero. Enter, stage left, professional medicinal chef and integrative nutrition health coach, Emm Millar.

I’ve known Emm for a few years, she is a lovely, warm and caring person and a damn good chef. During our lockdown this Spring she contributed enormously to the Facebook group “Majorca, Mallorca. At home together” sharing her recipes and humour with the members of the group who lapped up her ideas for new plates of food. When we were coming out of lockdown Emm noticed many of the group struggling with stress and anxiety, she’s not shy to say she also had some fairly challenging days, so she decided to put together a “Rest and Reset” week.

Personally I had piled on the pounds in lockdown: I had learnt how to make sourdough loaves and cooked up a storm in the kitchen with lots of cakes and biscuits but of course these yummy things had to be eaten, right? No need to waste them! A conservative estimate would say that I had added a 7 kilo “cake baby” to my midriff in the lockdown. I didn’t feel bad about the weight gain, but I also knew that this was a boat I had to turn around rapido. But coming out of lockdown I didn’t start to lose weight, despite being more active and going back to the gym. The problem? I was still eating the same stuff that I had got used to in the quarantine. I knew something had to change. But I was not prepared for how much a five day diet could affect me.

There’s plenty of opinions about detoxing, some say it is the best thing ever, others claim our bodies don’t need to do it. The principles behind Emm’s plan are that your body will receive all the nutrients that it needs to function optimally through the juices that you take during the week. Without the need to process the fibre in the vegetables, the consumption of the juice gives the body the opportunity to turn its attention to accelerating the disposal of old and damaged cells, encouraging the production of new ones and allowing the digestive system itself to “Rest and Reset”.

When Emm explained the plan to me, five days, some plant based food at either end and then just juices for three days in the middle I had to have a moment. Hang on, I thought, it’s just juice? I’m going to be really hungry and I won’t make it. I won’t. In my mind I had my doubts. Vicki, I told myself, you have to eat a tonne of food, you just won’t do it. But I believed in Emm and decided to give it a try, knowing that if I was struggling I trusted her enough to be able to tell her that I was failing.

A group was formed, 15 other people decided to follow the plan at the same time, so I wasn’t alone. An impressive shopping list was produced and Carina from Frutas Ramon in Santa Catalina was asked to make up crates for collection. Each person took away three crates of fruit and vegetables for the five days. That’s three crates per person, I don’t think most of us would get through three crates in a month. And the preparation began. I looked on as everyone else got to it with their juicing because Emm was doing mine, all I had to do was receive it and consume it. Simples. The three key juices between them contained apple, celery, zucchini, cucumber, kale, lettuce, lemon, parsley, avocado, banana, spirulina, carrot, pear, sweet potato, ginger, turmeric, beetroot, red pepper, celery, ginger, and orange. Their properties include lowering blood pressure, helping with allergies and asthma, supporting the organs, full of antioxidants, rich in iron and vitamins, magnesium, calcium, calming for the nervous system, and reducing inflammation in the body to name a few.

“Plan some time to relax,‘’ Emm told us, “Don’t take on any new projects this week. Choose a good book to read in the evenings, walk on the beach ,organise for a massage or a pedicure during the week, even if you are also working you can implement some of these things in the evening. You don’t want it to be a stressful experience”.

Day one began, thankfully with some food! After the juice of a lemon in a cup of warm water and a green smoothie I was allowed to eat a very tasty chia pudding. All good! Lunch brought a quinoa salad with a stunning turmeric dressing and then dinner was courgette noodles with pesto. Encouraged to drink plenty of water, day one was a run up to the real thing. Days two, three and four were just juice and a delicious vegetable broth. Spaced evenly throughout the day in order to keep the body’s blood sugar levels balanced we drank our juices at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm. Still drinking at least two litres of water on top of that plus the broth if you were feeling like you needed it. I found drinking the broth warm when my family were eating their dinner helped me to not crave whatever they were eating. Day two coincided with my household entirely running out of food and I had to go to the supermarket. What I would normally have pìcked up (cheese straws from Lidl, if you haven’t had them yet, where have you been?) and then sneaked a bit on the way home stayed in the packets and was delivered to its destination intact. I felt very pleased with myself for that.

By day three my body was achy and tired. I didn’t get the expected headaches but my legs were sore and I eventually took some paracetamol to cope with the pain. Apparently muscle tightness is a reaction to a detox, the muscles may become tight and sore due to toxin irritation. The legs can be the worst affected as toxins accumulate in the legs. Back pain may increase due to toxins in the lower intestine. The blood vessels that draw nutrients from the colon are very close to the nerves of the spine. Other reactions include nausea, bad breath, headaches, and skin breakouts. But none should be long lasting or extreme, you don’t need to “tough it out”. Day four, by the evening, I was feeling okay, happy and light, but excited for my next meal which was to be the following day. That night I actually dreamt about eating it! Day five dawned and I decided to try out something which the other members of the group had done, a liver flush: a blend of orange juice, olive oil, pepper and garlic. The idea being to drink it down and get the bile ducts in the liver going. I’m not going to lie, it was nasty. But exhilarating to do it.

The biggest surprise though for me was the complete lack of hunger. It is as if a switch has been turned off in my head, or my gut, I’m not sure which, but it’s been a revelation. The feeling of not being in control of my eating has gone, I feel much more in tune with myself and my hunger. I know that I can get back on track and lose the kilos that I had acquired before. Yes I have lost some weight this week but now is the time to concentrate on not falling back into those bad but delicious habits from before. For my health and my wardrobe, these things have to be addressed! Other members of the group mentioned similar experiences, not feeling hungry and having been through some detox reactions, we were on the whole feeling very bright and happy by Friday. Another group member, Hannah said “I’m feeling soooo good! Loads of energy, feeling quite clear and focused.”

I’ve finally done a juice cleanse and I will definitely do more. Now the idea is to integrate some of the juices into our daily lives, the green smoothie at breakfast for example. Whichever way you do it, get some more veggies in your diet as you have to agree, the power of plants is not to be messed with.

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