I must have been feeling brave. Having decided to embark on my first ever detox during Lent, it felt the right time to pluck up the courage to give it a go. I had not looked up any celebrity endorsement nor had I been challenged to go without food completely for 7 days! I simply wanted to experience how my body and mind would cope in such an alien environment. I admit I wanted to loosen my partners grip on my love handles, whilst testing my resolve. Oh, and my favourite slim fit black trousers were threatening to fit me in the same way David Banner’s jeans did as he transformed into the Hulk!
So what did I need to know, well the detox was created by naturopath Stanley Burroughs and was originally known as the “master cleanser”. More recently it’s been dubbed the lemonade diet or lemon detox diet because, quite simply, all you ingest on the regime is a drink made of lemon juice, Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup (a carefully prepared blend of nutrient-rich maple & palm saps) and cayenne pepper. You are given the option to substitute the cayenne pepper (helps speed up the metabolism to encourage weight-loss) with raw ginger, but I wanted to keep it pure. A few days before, I cut out the caffeine as recommended by a contact that had recently completed the detox. I also went for the new ‘Free Be’ version which meant when you start your Lemon Detox, your emailed daily affirmations, prepared by wellbeing guru Susie Pearl, and yoga videos designed by Movement For Modern Life fronted by Lucy Bruegger, to support you in your fasting period. So, after a large Mother’s day meal and polishing off some pancakes filled with fruit, at 5pm on Sunday it was on.
Day one saw me take my first glass of the natural tree syrup with half a lemon 300mls of water that I chose to boil as I prefer warm drinks in the morning, with just a dash of cayenne pepper gave it a stir. It tasted sweet and refreshing, so far so good. As the day progressed I had to get my mind straight with the programme and was feeling a little strange. I reached for ‘The Lemon Detox Diet’ – Rejuvenation Sensation book by Dr K A Beyer for inspiration and assurance and it fell open at page 9 where it reads: ‘The Lemon Detox Diet is for anyone who feels the need to take more conscious control of their life. It is a commitment towards bringing out the best in ourselves; towards exploring our potential and living life to the full’. This is a fantastic concept, yet I was more conscious of the headache I had throbbing in the back of my head! Flip book forward, and it opens at the dreaded ‘Cleansing symptoms’ page and there at the top of the list is headaches! It dissuades the use of chemical painkillers, and instead offers rubbing some lavender oil on the temples – I decided to grin and bear it instead. I tried not thinking about food and just kept drinking water and the odd herbal tea alongside the approved concoction. The mindfulness words in the morning email you receive revolve around loving your body, accepting yourself and releasing toxic thoughts and feelings that will leave you better, stronger and healthier. The yoga which I decided to do late afternoon was full of twists that encourage the digestive cleanse, after I had a few more glasses (you are meant to have a minimum 7 per day) of the detox drink I was starting to feel a need to go to bed, earlier than normal but my body obviously wanted me to have more rest. This feeling is in line the main purpose of the regime to regenerate the body. The plan is to help the body dissolve and eliminate accumulated impurities, clean the digestive tract and other organs whilst regulating blood pressure leading to improved circulation. Pondering this I fell asleep.
Day two was about getting my new routine right. The stomach that rumbled continuously on day one was less noisy and the headache was subsiding. I had to take the drink every two hours to achieve the daily amount, oh and there is a need to drink at least two litres of water alongside the preparation! I was fine in the morning, and then something very strange happened. When it approached lunchtime I got the sensation of chicken in my mouth to the point I felt I was or just had chewed some and then came a need for spicy beans – bizarre! This began a chain of food related events, first I put veggie filled pasta into containers which my lovely partner left on the stove, without a cheeky sample.
Then Mr Maker pops up on the box to entertain my baby daughter whilst taunting me with his food themed challenge! It was if he was talking to me through the TV and asking me to try some food, but I could easily resist, it seemed I hadn’t missed it.
I tried the intermediate yoga session which was more posture and breath-work orientated, again assisting with an effective detox process. I have noticed my energy levels remained steady throughout the day only slowing as the evening turned into night. Okay, there is still a commotion in the gut so something was happening, but I had got used to the strange digestive noises. After a short meditation, wash and read I was feeling good and looking forward to day three.
I awoke feeling lighter and brighter, the last day had been challenging, but I felt that I had turned a corner. My routine as a consultant is early starts and late finishes so I sometimes struggle in the mornings and mid-afternoons. Now I felt ready as soon as I awoke my sleep undisturbed and dreams less intense. I wasn’t worrying about random thoughts and instead felt more present in the moment – absent of hunger. My routine was harmonious and allowed time to have a nap with my daughter in the afternoon as I listened to my body and it felt right. The Lemon Detox Diet book tells us that: ‘After three days, the body starts to eliminate toxins and reduce fatty reserves deposited throughout the body. While this process continues, we don’t feel hungry. Only when the deposits are used up does hunger return as the body tells us it is time to eat again’. However, I did notice my tongue had a white coating which is a sign of the purification process and happens during detoxification. When the tongue reverts back to a nice pink colour the process is complete. Unfortunately, this was not the case for me – probably unrealistic in just one week.
By day four I was actually feeling quite normal weirdly. I only really noticed being on the detox programme because of the drinks. I had got so used to my stomach noise that it wasn’t until I was in a quiet setting with others that I became acutely aware of my intestinal instrumentation. There are subtleties to the Lemon Detox that if you don’t stop to take notice, can easily pass you by. One is a sense of inner harmony which takes the edge off potential stressful situations. Being in balance is a personal goal so experiencing this sensation was massive for me. Most people felt I was mad to even attempt the detox, but this clarity of mind, cleanliness of body and sharpness of spirit meant I had got though the worst. I just had get through the next few days and notice whatever comes up.
Feeling revitalised on a Friday was a completely new for me as I am normally pretty tired, but instead was looking forward to the Serenity Session being held by Leah Bracknell in Worthing later in the evening. Although the journey due to severe traffic was potentially stressful, the session itself saw me flow through the two hours, surprising myself with how energised I was. The closing ceremony was powerful and I expect heightened due to my current cleanse. I left feeling refreshed and soothed gliding home with ease and to a good nights sleep. The final days on the detox were not a problem, getting the body adjusted to actually having solid food again was challenging. Being my very first detox of any sort my mind clicked back to normality within 48 hours of finishing 7 days and although I avoided the recommended meat, fish, eggs, bread and sweets I foolishly had some pasta – big mistake! I had to go back to bed mid-afternoon to recover; needless to say I went back to soups and won’t be doing that again. However, it had been a transformative experience. I had already considered doing it all again later in the year and after watching a documentary called ‘Eat, Fast & Live Longer’ featuring Dr Michael Mosley confirmed a definite life change.
Although I had not weighed myself it was all about the cleansing process rather than weight loss, I decided to put on the slim fit black trousers and…Success! There was no hint of them ripping Hulk like, as they fit me again. I was happy and glad I did the lemon detox and would encourage anyone looking to heal from within to consider it. Novelist Paulo Coelho put it aptly: ‘Be brave, take risks, nothing can substitute experience’.
For more information on The Lemon Detox visit the website: www.lemondetox.com.
Written by Peter Courtney-Fitch