How a detox diet helped me get back on track
This past summer, I was riding the high off of finally having my dream body. I had a regular routine of hitting the gym hard everyday, sucking back protein shakes like no tomorrow and eating enough clean food to keep my body running like a fine-tuned machine. I would look in the mirror each night and think, “Damn girl, you fine!”
Flash forward to the winter, and I find myself lying on the floor trying to wedge my jeans over my love handles while frantically sucking in only to give up and toss them aside. Okay — stretchy tights it is.
So what changed? I went from being able to use my abs as a washboard to stuffing my face full of chips and chocolate, which all escalated into a little thing I like to call my “flood belly.”
After the June 2013 flood in High River, Alta., our town gym was destroyed. Dealing with eight feet of water in our basement, I didn’t have much motivation to work out and stay healthy. That combined with stress turned out to be the perfect recipe to fuel my so-called “flood belly.”
Deciding to eliminate the dreaded “flood belly”
After enough moping around in sweatpants to last a lifetime, I decided to buy a cleanse to rid my body of all the accumulated junk and toxins and get me back on track to feeling good and living a healthier lifestyle.
I’ve done the 12-day Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox before, and it worked wonders on my body. It made me feel like a brand new person, and the best part was that it reduced my cravings for bad food.
Jody Carey works at Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods Ltd. in Okotoks, Alta., and says this D-Tox is hugely popular, and is made locally by Calgarian clinical herbalist, Terry Willard.
“It’s one of our most popular cleanses because it has a huge reputation in this area,” Carey says. “Nutter’s sells about 24 packages a month.”
The Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox
After doing some research on this cleanse, I realized there might be some setbacks to it. Dr. Ron Gorsche, a well-respected physician in High River, says he’s done quite a bit of research on the cleanse and is not convinced that it’s beneficial.
“The product hasn’t been shown to be free of complications,” Dr. Gorsche says. “I looked at all the data and none had any scientific studies… it’s all testimonials.”
He goes on to say that because the D-Tox has the words “herbal” and “natural” on it, people automatically assume that it’s safe.
“People see ‘natural’ and they don’t think of it as medication,” he says. “This isn’t part of their diet, so it should be considered a medication.”
Dr. Gorsche also urges people who want to do the cleanse to consult their doctor first because it could be a danger to anyone with health complications or anyone taking medication.
“Healthy people are better able to tolerate the complications that might occur from the cleanse such as an upset stomach and an irritable bowel,” Dr. Gorsche says. “It removes your natural electrolytes that your body needs to function, so if you’re not healthy, you could be in big trouble.”
Although Dr. Gorsche is definitely not “pro-cleanse,” he says if you really want to do it, you should consult a physician first.
“As long as we’re aware of it, we can decide if it could be harmful to that person,” he says.
I also decided to call Kayln Byrne, a clinical herbalist from the Wild Rose Clinic who says that despite some myths, cleansing is actually very healthy because it gives you more energy and a healthier, better-running body by stimulating your cleansing organs.
“The only time you wouldn’t want to do a cleanse is if you are acutely ill such as having a cold or flu,” she says. She also adds that when you’re sick, your body is already working to cleanse itself for free.
Getting Ready to D-Tox
Photo illustration by Lisa TaylorAfter weighing out the risks, I chose this particular D-Tox because it seemed like the healthiest cleanse. It allows you to eat as much as you want, and it’s real food (I’m not a big fan of liquid cleanses that deprive you of a hearty meal).
Another huge plus for me, is that the recommended diet still allows for two cups of coffee — something I can’t live without.
While you can eat foods like meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and whole grains such as rice, barley and quinoa, you are not allowed to eat sugar, dairy, wheat or fermented foods such as alcohol and some fruits.
You must also take three different types of herbal pills and a herbal liquid twice daily, which in theory helps to naturally aid the cleansing of your body. The cost of the kit with all the pills and liquid-form herbs is about $50.
Although this D-Tox seems easy enough, it’s definitely no walk in the park. It takes a lot of meal planning, commitment, stamina and willpower.
My 12 days of cleansing
It’s amazing how our bodies can get addicted to junk food so easily. On just Day 1 of the cleanse, I was having the most powerful cravings — especially for bread and cheese, which had previously been a major part of my diet. I went to bed dreaming of a greasy pizza dipped in ranch dressing and sprinkled with mozzarella.
Let’s talk poop
Day 1 was a breeze compared to what Days 2, 3 and 4 had in store for me. This is something I’ve tried to avoid saying, but it simply can’t be avoided any longer: this cleanse will make you POOP. Poop, poop, poop. There, I said it and no one has to feel weird about it because it’s all out in the open.
My advice to anyone who wants to do this cleanse is to stay close to a bathroom at all times. You should also put behind you any fear of “going” in a public washroom, unless you plan on staying home for 12 days… it’s going to happen.
For the first few days, I would sneak into a public washroom and pray to God that no one would come in to what sounded like an off-tune band of trumpets going off. But by the end, I approached public washrooms with a no shame kind of confidence.
What had me running to the washroom every 10 minutes, was one of the herbal pills you must take called “Laxaherb,” which is a laxative. Typically, you would take two Laxaherbs twice a day; however, the instructions say you can decrease this amount if it gets too intense. I decided to tough it out with the recommended amount.
Pain and sickness
Not only was I inevitably toilet bound, I also felt like crap (no pun intended). For Days 2 through 4,I felt like I had the flu and my whole body hurt with aches and pains. I had headaches throughout the day, low energy and my skin was sensitive to the touch.
My cravings for junk food were gone because I felt too sick to even think about them. There were times when I felt like I should give up, but mental stamina and determination pushed me through.
Carey from Nutter’s says this feeling is caused from your body ridding itself of toxins through your organs, which can often produce aches and pains.
She says this sick feeling at the beginning often causes people to give up.
“Lots of people don’t feel good for the first three days, so they quit,” she says. “But if you can get through that, you’ll feel much better.”
Someone get me a cheeseburger!
Photo illustration by James BlackburnBy Day 5, the horrible flu-like symptoms subsided, and I was back to feeling normal again. But with a stronger stomach came more cravings for junk food. One day my boyfriend came home with a cheeseburger and ate it in front of me while I angrily chewed on some quinoa salad.
The willpower it took for me not to drive to the nearest fast-food restaurant was enormous, but that night after the cravings subsided, I felt extremely proud of myself for having the strength to resist.
Balancing the diet with a busy lifestyle
One of the most common reasons I hear people say they don’t want to do this cleanse is because they don’t have time to prepare healthy food. My advice for this is to go out and buy a ton of healthy groceries and designate a day to prep food.
On Day 6, I did just this. I cooked a large amount of meat, rice and quinoa, cut up all the veggies I bought and made a bunch of salsa and guacamole. Then I made several meal-sized portions that I could bring out of the fridge and eat at any time.
For days seven through 12, this prevented me from eating something I shouldn’t, simply because I didn’t have anything healthy ready to eat.
The end result
As the days went on, the cleanse became easier and easier to do, and I found that my energy levels increased substantially. I didn’t have that “sluggish” feeling that I had prior to the cleanse, and I became more positive and upbeat.
I also noticed a big difference in how my skin looked and found that it had a healthy glow to it. Because my body was happy on the inside, it showed on the outside as well.
By Day 12, I literally did not have a single craving for anything other than healthy food. If all of this wasn’t enough to make me jump with joy, I also lost about 10 pounds, which made it all worth it in the end — good riddance flood belly!