Life Healthy Eating

Sunday 25 March 2018

My detox diary: 'My wife Holly barely made it home to feast on the courgette casserole'

It's supposed to be the point where the self-denial starts to really pay off. So why does our man still feel terrible?

Joe O'Shea
Joe O'Shea

Joe O'Shea

Two weeks into our extreme detox and this is the point where we are supposed to be channelling the strength, energy and total focus of ninja warriors.

The many disciples of the Whole30 Programme (and it is a global, online church) say this is when your veins start to pulse with... tiger blood!

It's the big buzz-phrase on the many detox message boards (and apparently borrowed from the ravings of noted clean-living guru Charlie Sheen). Once you get to days 16-plus on the 30-day programme of soul-crushing self-denial, it's as if your life suddenly changes - by the power of tiger blood, you are transformed!

The message boards are crammed with testimonials (mostly from "super pumped!" Americans) detailing how, on day 16, they climbed a mountain while filling out their tax returns and devising a brilliant idea for an internet start-up business.

So why are we still crawling up the stairs to bed at 9.30pm every night? Or spending our non-working hours nailed to the couch, groaning and plagued with hallucinations of giant, dancing chocolate HobNobs?

Read more: No dairy, no sugar, no carbs: Joe O'Shea dives into an extreme 30 day detox

My wife Holly barely made it home to feast on courgette casserole.

With a total ban on carbohydrates, it feels as if we are running on fumes.

And then there's the total fatwah on alcohol. Now, there is nothing wrong with sobriety in moderation. But coming up on three weeks without a drink, you start to realise just how many hours there are in a weekend. About 24 too many.

But this is the regime that huge numbers of people are following all over the world. The Whole30 book returned to the top of the Amazon charts in June (as the media really pushed the concept of being beach-body ready) and has stayed there through the summer. And similar programmes, such as the Paleo Diet and some unimaginable horror called The 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse, are selling by the truckload.

When it was first published and went straight to the top of the Amazon charts in April, The Whole30 plan and cookbook was said by Amazon books editor Seira Wilson to offer a "tough love" approach to dieting.

"The book acknowledges that at various stages of the 30-day program followers will feel both invigorated and resentful," said Wilson.

Resentful doesn't really capture the rage that we are feeling right now towards the authors of this programme. These last few days have definitely been the low-point. Extreme fatigue, headaches, severe crankiness and a weird mental blurriness. On the plus side, in two weeks, I have lost over 10 pounds. From a relatively good weight to begin with, I'm starting to approach figures not seen since acid house music was the next big thing.

But at what cost?

A message from the Whole30 people pinged into my inbox today, bringing startling news. "It's Day 17! White potatoes are now allowed on the Whole30 program!"

It seemed too good to be true. And it was. Yes, "a" white potato is allowed. One. For the week.

And we did have one potato in the house (left over from a meal cooked for visitors who were not treating carbs as the devil's work).

We have not eaten it yet. I have taken to referring to it as "The Family Potato" and have established a relationship with the lone tuber not unlike the one which Tom Hanks had with that volleyball in Cast Away.

It began with a vow to save The Family Potato for a special occasion - such as just before the ambulance arrives to take us to the hospital.

But now, with 15 days to go before the programme ends, the solitary spud has taken on a deeper meaning.

Whole30 and programmes like it are basically about self-denial, taking control, what the blurb on the book cover (and how I have come to hate the sight of it) breezily calls "total health and food freedom!"

We have sworn off everything. All dairy, all grains, potatoes, pasta, booze, bread and even super foods like quinoa.

They can take my beer and my bread. But they are not having my last spud, my precious.

Myself and Spuddy Bob (well, it's the best name I could come up with) are going to make it to the end of this.

And when we do, we are both going to the pub.

Irish Independent

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life