Pre-vegan, I was queen of the crash diet. I did the Atkins when I was fourteen; already a vegetarian, I had to shun bacon and lived off fried eggs and melba toast for most of the school term. Then follows a roster of pseudo-deprivation I’m sure most of us are familiar with by now – no gluten, no sugar, no carbs before Prague, no food-you-actually-fancy-and-just-cottage-cheese-with-the-pineapple-chunks, (just me?) and of course, the now kind of retro-sounding South Beach Diet at any mention of an easyJet flight. A year before going vegan I even tried the lose-a-stone-in-a-week diet – the shopping conveyor belt loaded up with 22 grapefruits, four bags of salad leaves and a dozen eggs, only to quit in a rage of hunger within 48 hours and binge on beer and a chip butty down at the Birdcage’s karaoke night.
I didn’t turn vegan for diet reasons, so I guess I never really focused on the food I was giving up, but it has become more apparent over the years that I need to pay close attention to what I sustain myself with. My diet, i.e. the food I feed myself every day – now holds more of a focus on what I actually need to eat, instead of endless restrictions and fantasies about croquembouche.
So as much as I would gladly jump on any faddy diet wagon in my teens – detoxing is still uncharted territory for me. I’m skeptical as to why purging, or extreme diets, are billed as the only way to kick-start weight loss, and I’d rather build on a sustainable diet as opposed to a reliance of vitamin supplements and severe detoxes.
Happily, The Detox Kitchen manages to dispel a lot of the assumptions I’d made about detoxes. Founder Lily Simpson insists a diet doesn’t have to be about what you ‘can’t’ eat, and instead focuses on food that’s tasty, satisfying and a programme that’s easy to stick to. My day trial left me full, non-grouchy and super keen to continue. I know detoxes take a few days to kick in, but The Detox Kitchen just doesn’t feel the same as all those toxin exorcism diets I’ve steered well clear of over the years.
Back to my first wheatgrass shot. The lid is off, and I down it in one, a chaser for my psyllium husk, and move on to the Biocare Acidophilus probiotic. As I settle into my morning working from home, I realise it’s really convenient to have all this out and ready, like a to-do list for the day. The portion sizes are great and it is a shock to see how much smaller I should actually be making my servings.
I eat breakfast at nine, and the bircher muesli with raspberry, lime, apple juice and coconut is the most delicious thing I’ve eaten all week, tasting super fresh and zingy and perfect with the mint tea I use to replace my usual industrial-strength black coffee. What’s clear from all the packages is how much thought has gone into not just the taste of the food, but the logistics behind what can be sent and travel in the wee hours of the morning and still make it to dinnertime. Everything I pull out of the fridge looks gorgeous and a long way from fried eggs and melba toast. After a few hours of Skype meetings I call it a break and head out on a quick 4k run to relax before my afternoon work. The carrot, beetroot, ginger and apple juice and almonds are a perfect after-run snack, and then it’s on with another hour’s work before lunch.
Grabbing the rainbow-box of quinoa, lentil and butternut squash with green bean salad out of the fridge, I can’t wait to tuck in and it is all delicious. The juice from earlier means I’m not ravenous, and instead the salad just tops me up. I don’t feel sluggish during my afternoon work load and while I still do drink a cup of black coffee at 3pm, it’s much less than my usual rate of one every two hours, and the only caffeine I find I need for the whole day.
Switching my laptop off at 5pm, I realise I’ve barely looked up from my screen all day, when usually my concentration would be all over the place. I head to the fridge for an after-work snack and although the tomato and celery snack pot looks good, it’s the pineapple chunks and coconut that catch my eye, so I scoff these with a hot water and half an hour of Netflix.
After a bike ride to run some errands I am hungry, but thankfully dinner is only three minutes away. I whizz the bean burger with carrot tagine in the microwave for just under two minutes and pair it up with the tomato and celery pot. I drink water with my meal, as usual, and although the portion is much smaller than I’d usually give myself, I focus on each mouthful and realise I actually don’t need seconds (or thirds…).
One of the major things I’m concerned with about my vegan diet is that I am getting enough protein and specific vitamins and minerals, and knowing The Detox Kitchen’s menu is prepared by a team of chefs and nutritionists is a big comfort – the snacks and supplements mean you can be really organised and takes the hard part out of detoxing – it meant I could carry on as normal and in fact gave me extra time to chill out in the evening or exercise. It did feel a bit weird not having to cook from scratch, but the convenience was definitely a good kind of novelty. I imagine The Detox Kitchen is pretty much ideal if you’ve got a hectic schedule or know you’re going to be super busy one week and need to rely on eating properly to get through the days.
The next morning I found myself standing in front of my fridge a good five minutes in my pajamas trying to see if I’d left anything behind from my delivery. Alas, I’d eaten it all, and damn good it was too. I never thought I’d say this about a diet after grapefruit-gate or my melba-toast-nightmare, but I’d do it all again in a wheatgrass shot.
Words: Ava Szajna-Hopgood