No dairy, no sugar, no carbs: Joe O'Shea dives into an extreme 30 day detox
Inspired by their friends' impressive weight loss, Joe O'Shea and his wife Holly have embraced the latest seriously strict diet: the Whole30 detox
When you study the manual, it seems straightforward enough. Thirty days of no carbs, no dairy, no sugar, bread, pasta, rice, beans or booze. No sauces or gravy, soft drinks (even diet) or rashers. The list in endless. Hell, you can't even have quinoa, the wondrous "superfood" of the moment.
And then you are looking down the barrel of the Whole30 detox, the latest Total Health Through Dieting And Soul-Crushing Self-Denial craze, and you begin to grasp just what you have let yourself in for.
We first heard about it when our friends, a married couple, came to stay for the weekend and we basically didn't recognise them.
Being Irish, our first reaction was; "Oh God, they must have been seriously ill. Say nothing".
Then they let us in on their secret, this life-changing, miraculous, Whole30 programme, the book that's fundamentally a combination of The Bible, The Communist Manifesto and How To Win Friends And Influence People. Except more profound.
So we bought the book - by improbably perfect husband and wife team Melissa and Dallas Hartwig - and let it sit on the shelf for a couple of months while we continued to enjoy such decadent luxuries as a rasher sandwich and a glass of wine.
We are a relatively healthy couple, I run and my other half swims regularly. We love our food (it's usually the only thing we fall out about, "sharing" in restaurants or who snaffled the last sausage from the fridge) but we like to cook for ourselves with good ingredients.
I do smoke (moderately) and I like a once-a-week session in the pub. My other half, Holly, likes a good glass or two of white wine. But apart from the odd blow-out, usually on holidays, it's pretty standard stuff. For Irish people at least.
I have a very healthy appetite but not for sweets (I don't like biscuits, cake or chocolate). However, when it comes to bread, spuds and meat, my family nickname used to be 'The Great Famine' (as in I ate as if there was another one on the way).
On our last holiday, we ate and drank our way across the Sherry Triangle around Seville in Spain. Some like to spend their holidays climbing mountains, some prefer to tackle a mountain of tapas.
In Cadiz, we revelled in the fact that nobody knew us or would realise we were basically going from one tapas bar to another for seven straight hours. It was epic. The memory almost brings a tear to the eye.
But it wasn't until we started reading The Whole30 Guide To Total Health And Food Freedom that we realised we were basically wallowing in a cess-pool of gluttony and self-indulgence.
Our diet and drinking habits would have made Emperor Nero, even at the lowest depths of his dark depravity, look like Daniel O'Donnell on a week-long retreat to Lough Derg.
But hallelujah and praise the Lord, we have finally seen the light! And banished the evil Kerrygold and Hobnobs, pasta, cereals, chocolate and just about everything else. Open our fridge now, and there is just a giant, evil head of broccoli staring at you, sneering at your pain.
We started on Monday. Day one. Egg white omelette and sliced radish (one!) for breakfast, salmon fillet and salad for lunch, dry roast chicken breast with a side of silent, mournful tears for supper.
Some 48 hours in and I am just thankful for the one luxury you are allowed on Whole30 - black coffee. To spice it up, you are allowed to add a teaspoon of almond milk, which has all the body and taste of liquidised dust.
The coffee is helping with the jangling nerves and hunger pangs. My wife and I have started making nervous jokes about how "we'll probably be battering each other with sweet potatoes by the end of the week".
So two down and 28 to go. My body is still in the confused state at the moment, expecting a return to normal service (kebab and pint) by the weekend.
I'm not saying what we are doing is heroic. The word I would use is 'noble'. It's more of a Mahatma Ghandi thing.
Keep reading for regular updates from Joe on the Great Detox over the coming weeks