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...
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.
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!