Ten days of detox felt pretty damn good
Detox promises to give digestive system a good kicking
Bridgette (Jett) Horszowski (in the black and white top) doing pilates at the Pilates Plus Qi Rooms in South William Street Dublin. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien
‘Detoxes are rubbish – they’re all gimmicky, with that maple syrup.” This is a common reaction when I tell people I’m engaging in a 10-day detox. Celebrities have given detoxing – along with The Ivy, Burberry and marriage – a bad name.
Collins English Dictionary defines the detox as a “treatment designed to rid the body of poisonous substances” and helpfully suggests “alcohol and drugs” as examples.
According to Bridgette (better known as Jett) Horszowski of the Qi Rooms pilates studio on Dublin’s South William Street, it’s not just drink ’n’ drugs our bodies need to detox from.
Modern life is a minefield of substances that slow us down (simple sugary carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta) or unduly speed us up (caffeine, sugar and fizzy drinks), and Horszowski’s alkaline detox is designed to give the body a break from the rigours of Noughties life.
It will, I am promised, give me more energy, improve the quality of my sleep and give my digestive system the kick it needs to function properly. (This would be some feat; I suffer from irritable bowel syndrome that worsens with stress and, as a result of the antidepressants I have been prescribed, my sleep is broken and unsatisfactory, with vivid dreams.)
Before starting, Horszowski emails guidelines and explains how the diet will work. It doesn’t sound too bad – no wheat, no dairy, no sugar, no caffeine, no red meat, low gluten and no alcohol, but substitutions can be made: porridge for breakfast with Kara coconut milk; spelt bread and brown rice or spelt pasta.
There are eight in our group. We meet one chilly Saturday evening in the Qi Rooms to pick up our Chinese herbs (which will, allegedly, keep cravings at bay and improve sleep) and have the first of our acupuncture sessions, with the aim of staving off sugar and caffeine cravings.
We have been told to start our new ways of life that morning, and by 5pm I have a crippling headache – with a seven-cup-a- day coffee habit, caffeine-free living won’t be easy – and am nervous about this new way of life I have signed up for.
The intro session is the easiest thing I’ll do all week, despite the fact that the acupuncture proves surprisingly painful – “that’s because you’re so blocked up with toxins”, says Horszowski, perkily popping pins into my flesh. There is more than one repeat offender in the group, which is heartening.
Day two and the most disgusting part of the detox is imminent: the liver flush. As part of the regime, we are to drink a revolting mixture of grapefruit and lemon juices, garlic, grated ginger and olive oil, once a week, on a relatively empty stomach and to avoid any activity for a few hours afterwards.
Being told to avoid post-liver-flush activity quickly reveals itself, as a point, to be somewhat moot. I feel so nauseous that I can barely stomach Breaking Bad ’s routine violence and I feel queasy well into the evening, when I force down some chicken and vegetables with brown rice. I feel the absence of soy sauce (which contains yeast) keenly, but I endure.