EAT: #5DayDetox - Review

I know. I knooooww. Me, doing a detox? We all know why the whole concept of a detox is completely bogus. But this is a 'real food', meals and snacks, clean-eating five day plan, to get you back on the ole' straight and narrow, and it looked kinda delicious, and god knows I haven't seen the straight and narrow in a while. I felt inspired! I'd have a long weekend of making a proper effort to do right by my body! 

 So... what the hell, thought I. Maybe it'll be funny. 

Day oneI genuinely thought this was going to be really easy, as I eat a) vegan and b) fairly healthily anyway. Nope. I mean, yes, because I like at least the theory of all the meals, and I was like, yo, this is just going to give me the structure/meal plan to follow! My big problems are motivation and planning ahead! Minimal waste, maximum nutrition! 

 What's hard is not the menu. It's not adding salt, or sauce, or vegan mayo to the menu. Nikki is adamant that salt 'works against' my 'detoxing efforts' as it causes water retention, and I guess if you're doing this to take a before/after shot of your stomach, that's going to be the key part to seeing that 'result'. That's not why I'm doing it, as you can probably tell by the way I've used scare quotes around the word 'result'. But sure, I guess if you're promoting a detox then that's gonna be the image that gets people's attention. I might just be bad tempered due to my low sodium levels (okay, no... that's not a real effect) but by the afternoon I am already picking holes in everything Nikki has to say. For example: in the 'foods to avoid' section, we're told to steer clear of 'anything that comes in a box, package, or container. Typically labelled 'healthy' on the package. Why? These are highly processed and contain no nutritional benefits.' Wait, what? That seems like a pretty colossal generalisation, Nikki. The black beans and green lentils you listed on your shopping list come in a box. Also, like, we have food labelling standards. The only thing I can think of that contains NO nutritional benefits is like, candy floss, and that's very rarely labelled 'healthy' in my experience.  

I was interested in the plan as a way to kick myself up the arse, inspire myself to make more plant based and raw food for a few days, since I've definitely fallen into a beans-on-toast-with-houmous rut. I feel pretty good about what I've eaten so far, in that light. My supermarket shop this morning was sooo colourful and inspiring, and (surprisingly!!) not hugely more expensive than my usual weekly bill. It's been great to remember how much I love something as simple as dipping carrot sticks in houmous, when you push me to do it. It's the faux-professional-nutritionist attitude that I think is going to grate. I'm not buying it. 

 Also, by midnight I am sitting on the kitchen floor, eating raw cashews just so I'm able to sleep with something on my stomach. There are definitely not enough calories in this day plan. 


Day two, am. 


FAQs: I really hate the meals, what should I do? 
'The first question I would ask back,' Nikki responds, 'is, what part of the meals do you hate? If you don't like the taste, it may be because you just aren't used to eating these kinds of recipes. Give it a chance!' 

Listen up, Nikki Sharp. The reason I don't like the taste, is because these recipes suck. They're utterly flavourless. When they do have a flavour, that flavour is tahini. And on top of that? They don't work. 

Do me a favour. You don't even have to look at my blog in much depth. Just assume that I know how to make pancakes. You know? Just assume that I know the basics. 

Well, this morning I made fried oatmeal. Flavourless fried oatmeal. I even cheated and added a tiny drizzle of date syrup just to make it palatable (whatevs, it's vegan and made from dates, fight me) and there was no escaping the fried oatmeal situation. I've made healthy vegan pancakes a shit ton of times! The people I follow on Instagram are predominantly healthy vegan pancake makers! I'm not 'not used to eating these kinds of recipes'. I love these kinds of recipes! I love big colourful salads and bean burgers and oatmeal bowls heaped with fruit! But your recipes suck.  


 Day two, pm. I'm roasting stuffed peppers in the oven, which sounds utterly charming. I suspect it won't be, or at least, I suspect it would be infinitely more charming if I could put some fucking salt on them. Today has been easier than yesterday but I'm definitely getting hungry much quicker than usual, despite sitting on my arse all day today. I miss bread. Rice. I dunno; polenta. What does Nikki Sharp have against complex carbs? 

Good points! Having just made a side salad of spinach leaves, sliced radishes and avocado, I realise how often I talk myself out of buying such ~extravagant purchases as 'radishes' and 'avocados'. I don't have a whole lot of money. But I have enough money to buy radishes, when it makes such a difference to my shitty side salads. In fact, I'm feeling much more positive towards salads in general - to be fair, it has been winter, but I genuinely got excited yesterday making my big lunch salad, since I'd bought all the extra ingredients I'd usually talk myself out of spending money on. I felt like the excuse of the detox had given me permission to do that. I now realise I always had permission to do that. 

 I wish someone would give me permission to stop smothering everything in tahini. I used a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon in my spiralized salad today, and it was still overwhelming. I'd been excited about my avocado dressing, but it was totally overwhelmed by even that much tahini. Not really surprising, since who the fuck eats a quarter of an avocado at a time? If it was a MASSIVE one I might give the other half to someone else. But a quarter? Of a regular avocado? Leave me here to die.  


Day three, am. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to let some of the rules slide tomorrow, when it's the first day of my new job (do I want to be the girl who brings in homemade vegan sushi made with quinoa and cauliflower rice on day one?). I may start using seasoning again, at the very least, but stick to the meals from the plan. Anyway, it's the last day of my three day weekend, so let's see it out. 

 Lunch today is supposed to be the 'really raw salad'. This consists primarily of 1/4c. of quinoa, and three (3) radishes. Even I cannot face this. I would rather have no meal at all. Instead I switch in day 5's 'rainbow salad', since at this rate I'll have starved to death by the time day 5 comes around and I don't want to waste the produce. The rainbow salad not only contains actual ingredients, but a vinegarette dressing instead of tahini. I switch in lentils for black beans, since I'm making black bean burgers for dinner, and grate my carrot for texture. It's the best thing I've eaten since starting the detox. Perhaps the Nikki Sharp strategy is to make you hate food so much that when she allows you a basic vinegar-dressed salad you weep with tears of gratitude. In which case, I have underestimated her. 


Day three, pm. I am having an internal battle. On the one hand, these black bean burgers taste really good. Call it desperation if you will, but I am Enjoying these black bean burgers.  

 On the other hand, if it had been up to Nikki, I would be enjoying a bowl of soup poured over some cabbage. I was doing alright with mixing the ingredients and blending them together, but then the next instruction was to 'grab a handful' and even I knew better than to optimistically stick my hands in that sludge. I threw in some oats and some ground flax and it became marginally more solid, but it did look more like pancake batter than anything Nikki has so far professed to be pancake batter. Fine. I made black bean pancakes.  

 I'm just kidding, I made fried black bean oatmeal. 


This is not something I've ever considered before, but bear with me; perhaps my photography is TOO GOOD. I mean, a lot of these meals are looking pretty okay in the images! (This is, of course, how Nikki Sharp tricked me into this devil's bargain in the first place). I came into this endeavour with an open mind, and when I made my first bowl of bland porridge on Saturday morning, I genuinely thought, maybe I was just unlucky with the bland porridge! Pancakes tomorrow! IF I HAD ONLY KNOWN. 


 Day four. I've nailed this lunch thing. The trick is to abide by Nikki's rules while taking absolutely none of her advice. Like yesterday, I've abandoned the meal plan to make a pretty solid salad, and I don't even look like a crazy person if someone walks by and sees me eating it (no more than I usually do, anyway). Yes, I've covered the whole thing in houmous, and no, it isn't Nikki Sharp's shitty houmous (it is from Sainsbury's, meaning it - gasp! - comes in a container, and therefore has No Nutritional Value At All, according to Nikki Sharp, PHD). This is cheating. I'm sure it contains salt, and I'm equally sure that's why I like it. I don't care. I dedicated my three day weekend to this horrible endeavour, and I do not want to dip cauliflower sushi into apple cider vinegar today.  

Half an hour after lunch I eat a mini egg cake. It's not even vegan (GOD SAVE US, IT COMES IN A PACKAGE), but a new coworker offers it to me and I just say yes. I've officially Failed, which is something of a relief. Knowing I plan to ignore tonight's designated recipe anyway (a stir fry with quinoa and 'cauliflower' mash, just in case I wasn't quinoa-and-cauliflowered-out) in favour of making a stir fry that still abides by the rules but isn't disgusting, I'm tempted to just add some damn soy sauce to my evening meal. It'll have all the same ingredients in, sure. But it will also have soy sauce. 

Nikki Sharp is my enemy. She doesn't know this. She doesn't know me. But one day, I will end her, and I will do it while drinking ketchup straight from the bottle, making unwavering eye contact.



 The evening of day four finds me, yes, with a stir fry. There is no tahini in it. There is no tahini anywhere near it. I would rather be dead than eating tahini and quinoa stir fry. What I HAVE made is butternut squash noodles with stir fried tofu, mushrooms and spinach, plus a cashew butter, bouillon and tamari sauce. I've not exactly sprinted to McDonald's, but I think I'm still officially off the wagon. 

 I mean, for me, I guess the detox has had the effect I wanted, in that I've been motivated to stick to super-clean and nutrient dense food while I was 'following' it, up until I got overwhelmed by resentment. And I'm definitely way more inspired to eat fresher, to treat myself to a wider range of fruit and veg, to compile more massive ridiculous salads, and - crucially - to make more simple meals from scratch instead of being super lazy and toasting bagels whenever I get hungry. I don't feel any different - but I didn't expect to feel different, as five days of clean eating does not a 'detox' make. Yep, I'm still side-eyeing the terminology here... but psychologically, it's had the effect I wanted, yes.  

 If I were following this meal plan as a calorie-reducing dieter, I think it would be really successful. These are great recipe ideas (albeit terrible in execution) for dieters. But by trying to flog it as a detox, and arbitrarily disallowing salt or natural sweeteners or 'anything out of a box' in order to 'purify' your body or whatever fake science is in fashion now, it's become something that I wouldn't stick to in a million years (or even, it turns out, five days). The reason for this bit is - as I mentioned at the start - for the before/after stomach pics that get attention. Of course it's just water retention. You might have lost like, a pound, but you would have lost that on any old calorie controlled diet for five days. That's how bodies work. 

This isn't a meal plan for people who love food (for people who like food, even, it felt like on day two. Who tolerate the process of eating). It's for overachieving and Instagramming and swanning around like a dick about it. This is a meal plan for Gwyneth Paltrow (except she wouldn't have the stinky cauliflower-fart cloud following her around). And I'm mad about it, because there's a lot of people out there who think that the only joy of a raw salad is in feeling holier than the person next to you while you're eating it. And that's not true! There can be tons of flavour and freshness and energy and texture and deliciousness in a raw salad. And I have experienced precisely none of these things in the last few days. I'd rather have eaten an avocado on sourdough bread with flaky sea salt than any one of the meals above.  

 God, tomorrow I'm going to eat bread. I'm going to eat bread!!! 

 Overall score: 2/5. Purely because I now have a glass of wine in one hand and feel far more charitable. If you had asked me on day two: 0/5. Do this rather than a weird juice fast that's just gonna screw with your body, because at least it entails eating food; food that is Good For You, no less. But like. Nikki Sharp may be very pretty and thin and blonde. But she isn't a nutritionist, and she sure as hell ain't a fuckin' cook. 

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© papillon.Maira Gall