The moment I was asked to do a three-day juice detox and write about the experience, I felt elated. This will be easy, I thought. But how wrong could I be? Not only was it anti-social, boring and painful, it almost drove me crazy.
In the supermarket's fruit and veg section, I pile my basket high. Knowing that this is my last chance to eat whatever I want I slip a bar of chocolate, microwave popcorn and some Kooky Dough into the trolley. Later that night I chow down on my favourite Thai dish from Kanum and fall asleep feeling fuller than I have in a long time.
Yesterday's binge eating was a huge mistake. I feel ravenous. I make my first juice, of apple and lemon, and it tastes delicious, but by 11am my stomach is rumbling. I didn't realise at the time but as the days would wear on that rumbling would grow louder and louder. To quieten it, I reassemble the juicer, which had taken 15 minutes to wash, and make three juices, one for now and two that go in the fridge for later.
I start to feel a little cranky but try to distract myself with three episodes of Downton Abbey.
At about 2pm I traipse back into the kitchen and with a heavy heart open the fridge door. I don't feel like drinking any juice. I feel like making my jaws work on a piece of toast, a bowl of cereal, anything.
I realise how hard this is going to be and that's when I begin to feel low. The rest of the day is spent curled up on the couch wrapped in a blanket.
Eventually, I go to see The King's Speech. It is so good I am totally distracted.
I am back home and in bed by 9pm. My tummy is grumbling so loudly I'm worried the neighbours will complain. And I am really, really cold.
I wake up feeling dizzy and aware of something being not right. There's an awful smell coming from the kitchen. All the rotting fruit pulp resembles a compost heap in my bin. This is not good: I live in an apartment with no balcony and my bin collection isn't until Wednesday.
With faltering enthusiasm, I make more juice and a cup of steaming green tea, which I hold between my hands to defrost them. They and my feet are freezing.
Himself arrives to take me out for the day and in a show of solidarity joins me in my juicing experiment. Juice bars are everywhere in Dublin so, though more expensive than making my own, at least I can get away from my smelly apartment.
I feel I have tasted every conceivable blend of fruit and am losing interest rapidly. By now I am bored by the texture of juice and smoothies and the lack of chewing.
While waiting for my drink in Donnybrook Fair I stare longingly at some flapjacks and am craving chicken and eggs.
Sunday brunch in the Lennox Cafe is usually the highlight of my week. But the idea of being surrounded by people tucking in to their waffles or eggs benedict is too much to bear, so I give it a miss. I cannot get over how much I enjoy eating and how low I feel about not being able to take part in the social side of a meal.
My mum is cooking a Sunday roast but if I go home I know I won't be able to resist. Instead of a nice meal together, Himself and I go to the cinema -- where the smell of popcorn kills me. I try to concentrate on Blue Valentine but everyone is chewing and chomping away on something and my stomach is screaming in protest.
He gives up on the detox and buys a bag of popcorn. So much for solidarity. I resist for half an hour but the temptation is too great and I stuff a few handfuls of his delicious popcorn into my mouth, rationalising that "it's just seeds".
Rarely have seeds tasted so good.
But afterwards, as I go home, I pay the price for my moment of weakness. I begin to feel extremely guilty and a bit pathetic. That's the awful thing about a programme like this. It's so tough to do and yet you beat yourself up for the slightest failure.
I feel a little spaced -- and a bit lighter: I've lost 2lbs. I am delighted that I am near the end and am sick to death of juice. Before starting this regime, I loved it; now everything tastes like sludge.
This is my first working day on the detox and I quickly learn how much time is spent getting tea and something simple such as a handful of nuts or some hummus on a rice cake . . . healthy stuff to nibble while typing.
These little snacks keep me going and help my concentration. Today, I am easily distracted and don't get much work done.
At lunchtime in the Dax Cafe Bar I meet personal trainer Karl Henry. He is healthy and glowing and tucking into a big salad. I order a fresh orange juice and feel the opposite of healthy. I have no energy on this programme. He regularly detoxes, although advocates healthy eating all the time rather than extremes.
His nutrient-dense and delicious salad seems a far more sensible and satisfying option. I slink home and after hugging the radiator for a while to warm up try to do some work. I fail and spend the rest of the evening dream of breakfast, lunch and dinner tomorrow.
I note that my cravings over the three days have been for healthy food: homemade soups, brown rice and vegetables, wholegrain brown bread and big salads.
I fall into bed at 8pm, exhausted. That's it, never again will I try such an intensive and anti-social detox.
But maybe, in about a month's time when I can bear to look at the stuff, I will try to stick to juice until 1pm every day -- before tucking into a healthy lunch and dinner.