We are currently in the throes of the optimum time to start sorting yourself out diet and detox-wise.
At the gym, the New Years resolutioners have succumbed to sedentariness and realised their Christmas money-procured gym leggings are also supremely comfortable when binging on Netflix and Krispy Kremes. Conversely, it's still too far from summer for the last minute bikini dieters and their deluge of Facebook gym-check ins (completely with obligatory #IBIZA2014 countdowns -only 63 days to go guys!). There was a time when going on holiday didn't involve crash dieting and human rights violating physical exertion (I'm looking at you Metafit!) but that was in the halcyon days before selfies and Instagram.
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As such, I've started my own diet and detox. No carbs before… a hen weekend in Benidorm apparently. Preliminary research suggested kick starting the metabolism and rapidly eliminating toxins by juicing. There's also still a buzz around 'alkaline eating', which involves eliminating foods like meat, wheat and sugar as it's thought they encourage the body to produce acid. Eating more alkaline food claims to reduce the acidity of your bodily fluids, apparently treating a range of medical problems, but also aiding weight loss. Soulmatefood, most famous for their healthy-yet-delicious meal delivery service loved by celebs and sports stars alike, are the first in the UK to introduce a hydrostatic alkaline cleanse, so I was keen to find out more.
You can opt for a three or five day 'Perfect Cleanse', and the delivery date is normally a Tuesday. Keen not to spend a Friday night on a liquid-only basis, well a liquid that isn't wine, three days sounded perfect. The premise was simple - five juices at intervals of two and a half hours, light exercise, no coffee or alcohol, five glasses of water and a night-time detox tea. First up was a carrot, apple and ginger juice that was tangy and sharp, giving you a little jolt often much-needed in morning, especially when coffee is persona non grata. Around half 11 it's time for juice two: cucumber, kale, broccoli, celery, lime, lemon, pear, spinach and avocado. This was probably my least favourite juice as I always think kale is like that friend you feel obliged to invite to the party but you know they are going to be too loud and try to take over. It was by no means unpalatable, but as juice three was up there with the tastiest juices I've sampled it was definitely one you just wanted to get out the way. The much-anticipated third juice of the day was lemon, cinnamon, chilli and ginger. I was expecting to make a 'your granny drinking a Jägerbomb' face. The reality was it smelled like apple pie (McDonalds' specifically) and tasted damn near close enough.
Juice four was also a fairly sweet offering (I'd been concerned that 'alkaline' was going to include savoury, sludgy juices), a tasty mix of blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, beetroot, lemon, red currant, kiwi and orange. I find beetroot too earthy and the undertones in this juice put me off slightly, but it was a hit with my beetroot-loving sister. The last juice of the day is the same as juice two, although mint replaces avocado, a refreshing addition as when dieting it's common to get a slightly metallic taste in your mouth. The night-time tea was also minty, so you'll have done everything you can to prevent your breath smelling like a wheelie bin in the morning, even if that's fighting a losing battle. The most common question I was asked was 'aren't you starving?', and I can honestly say I wasn't being a smug juicer when I said I was ok. Juicing educates you about physical hunger vs. psychological hunger. Before lunchtime I'd be fine, but as soon as the heady scent of baked potatoes and toasties wafted my way I would be ravenous. The same goes for dinner - I'd be content with my juice until my sister came through with food and then food-envy would set in and it wouldn't just be the juice that was green. Energy-wise it was great. Staying up past my bedtime listening to happy hardcore and doing handwashing that's fermented in my laundry basket since last summer's holiday was a particular highlight.
At the end of the cleanse I was in a state of sugar-free ecstasy to discover I'd lost 5lbs. All the excitement must have gone not only to my head, but my stomach also and I made a very perplexing trip to the toilet. I'll be frank, for someone who hadn't eaten in three days the magnitude of what I expunged took me by surprise. Curiosity gripped me and I was delighted-yet-disgusted to see my weight loss jump to an impressive 6lbs - not bad for 72 hours of dieting.
I've crossed the line now, so I may as well fully spill the ins and outs (certainly more outs than ins) of the aftermath. Let me give any potential juicers this advice: reintroduce food with polite caution, like the lone figure drinking Tennants on a train. I don't know why I thought a trip to Glasgow's famous Mother India Café would be the sensible thing to do on the Friday evening but I was young and foolish. Let's say your digestive system is normally a country road with a 30mph speed limit - eating delicious spicy lamb and naan will turn it into the autobahn. If you do insist on diving straight back into your scran, don't pick a restaurant with one solitary, tiny toilet. One week later and I've put two pounds back on but I feel motivated to make better culinary choices than I did before juicing.
A juice cleanse is perfect if you have a big event coming up - birthdays, hen nights, anywhere you might see your ex. My skin looked brighter and I found getting up for work much easier. My bed didn't give birth to me as it normally does, with me emerging crying, naked, confused, cold and wanting my mum. Existing solely on liquids for three days normally comes as part of going to a festival or your first trip to Ibiza, and while doing it for purported health benefits might not be as fun, it will leave you looking, and feeling significantly better.
The Perfect Cleanse costs £195 for three days. Soulmatefood also offer a 'Retox' menu for the week after your cleanse which helps prolong the effects and minimise weight gain. 0870 8033 833, www.soulmatefood.com