Detox days

Constantly at war with the highs and lows that come from a bad diet? It might be time for the vegetable juice . . .


On a cold and wet Sunday evening, a pleasant chap announces himself at my door, the refrigerated box under his oxter containing my food for the next three days. I use the word “food” in the loosest possible sense; the contents of this box are as cold and wet as the weather. The previous Friday, I committed to a three-day vegetable juice detox then promptly forgot all about it. Now my juices are here, and as I watch the nice man deliver 12 coloured bottles directly into the fridge, I hear rumbling. I part the curtains and look up at the winter sky, but the warning sound emanates from within my own wretched and hostile stomach.

It’s for the best, really – for reasons of work, I’ve spent much of the last six months living out of a suitcase, sporking steaming globs of suspicious matter off a plastic tray at 30,000 feet, or traipsing through airport lounges in search of breakfast in the form of a microwaved cheeseburger. The novelty of travel is fleeting and while you eat with your eyes, you travel on the bag. That, for me, is where the effects of jet-lag hit home. Any sustained downtime over the last half-year always brought with it an epic – and deeply unpleasant – uprising in my digestive region. I have signed up for this counter-insurgency of vegetable juice because god knows, the time has come to quell the revolution.

Day 1
I wake at 7.45 having dreamt about a plate of boiled potatoes. I would like to place on the record that never before in my life have I dreamt of buttered Golden Wonders, but the heart wants what it wants. Sighing, I head for the fridge and instead drink, or chew (as prescribed, in order to get the saliva flowing), my first juice. This one is avocado-based, and quite delicious. I sit down to work.

The next two hours are bad. At a conservative estimate, I think about food 20 times an hour. That’s 40 portions of French fries, five roast chickens and three wheels of Laughing Cow cheese (my Achilles heel). Also, I want coffee. Usually, I drink three to four shots a day, of Ethiopian yergacheffe, from the kiosk across from Jury’s hotel in Ballsbridge. That guy makes great coffee. He’s just down the road! I want it so much . . . But more than for weight-loss, the idea of these cleanses is to flush away the toxins in meat, dairy and of course caffeine, and allow the stomach to regain a kind of equilibrium. Eventually, the coffee-craving passes.

3pm. Is it just me, or is it incredibly cold? My mother has joined me on this detox and, self-pitying swine that I am, I text her after juice two – “I’m cold + hungry”, with accompanying sad face. Incredibly, I don’t hear back, and it later transpires that she has been out playing golf. Movement?! In the outdoors?! Sitting by the radiator, sulking, I am stunned. And hungry. The second juice contained kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, wheatgrass and parsley juice. The third had beets. Both, I had been warned, were the least palatable of all the juices, owing to their purer vegetable content, but they felt substantial. So why am I shivering?

By 5pm, my hunger – and much of the self-pitying – has passed. The previous hours I had been struck by how cold I was, but now I feel rather good, if a little tired. I have passed through something, and the remaining two juices are dispatched between 5pm and 8pm, and are more than enough. By nine I am in bed, and asleep by nine-oh-one. It is recommended that you sleep a lot and don’t exercise too much during these detoxes. Only a show-off would consider playing golf, for example.

Day 2
An interesting turn of events: I wake up at 8.30am on day two feeling nothing short of sensational, and best of all, not remotely hungry. Neither have I dreamt about food. As all pessimists must, I mistrust this good feeling, convinced that an equal and opposite degree of heartache lies ahead. At 10am, after an hour’s work, I drink the first juice and it’s great. At 2pm I look up from the desk and realise I have missed lunch. I drink the second juice and get back to the job at hand. By “dinner”, I realise that the much-feared caffeine headache has never arrived, and neither have any serious hunger pangs. Compared to day one, this has been one of the all-time great days. To bed!

Day 3
Here’s the thing about me: at the best of times, I am a moody divil. Not a sulker, per se, although there is a bit of that, but a man constantly at war with the highs and lows that come from an undisciplined diet. I don’t eat a huge amount of junk, but after lunch most days, I am struck by intense weariness. I cannot function without coffee in the morning, and after I get hungry and before every meal, there is only a short window during which I must be fed before my condition deteriorates into terminal h-anger. Today and yesterday, however, I have felt . . . even. The juices on day three are tasty; I savour them, and although they are supplemented with a handful (okay five handfuls) of un-salted almonds, this transgression is PERMITTED.

The aftermath
It’s over! For the past three nights I’ve slept soundly, and upon waking this morning, feel clear-headed and happy. I’m not a medical professional but it’s fair to say that on some level, the detox has worked. The greatest disappointment of all is how small my appetite is. Now that the moment is here, the visions of an epic day-four breakfast that had sustained me throughout the lows of Day 1 have passed. I order two boiled eggs with unbuttered brown toast and tea – much as my mother did by playing golf on Day 1, by ordering the breakfast of an ageing Mother Superior, I am showing off. And I enjoy coffee far too much to consider giving it up. But here’s the point: during the three decades that preceded my first juice cleanse I would never have considered that breakfast order, and if you’d like to tame your appetite and find a way of considering afresh your eating habits, day one starts right here . . . good luck! Three-day cleanse, €75 including delivery. See
John Butler 


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