Harry Redsox – man vs tin
Scourged by the run-in to Christmas, laid low by the festival itself, raddled by New Year and polished off by a series of birthday parties, I decided to pay my penance and do a seven-day diet detox programme.
Here's what it was like for me to submit to the Lemon Detox Diet.
I am eyeing the one-litre tin of Natural Tree Syrup with trepidation. In turn it seems to be looking at me with disdain as though it reckons it already has the better of my innards.
This is High Noon. One of us catches the train out...the other finishes six feet under.
The tin and me. We're going to settle it once and for all. We are going to detox to the finish.
DAY BEFORE DAY ONE: Screw cap off the tin. Think hard about exactly what I am letting myself in for the next seven days. Screw the cap back on. Pour a large Scotch and decide to leave it all until tomorrow. A cynical smile spreads over the tin's face and it spits in the dust.
DAY ONE: Screw cap off the tin with much greater resolve, partly because my wife is standing behind, arms akimbo. Pour two tablespoonfuls of natural tree syrup into a pint glass, add water, a nip of Cayenne pepper and the juice of a half a good plump lemon. Stir. Hold nose. Drink. I have started my seven-day detox fast.
Repeat this procedure twice before lunchtime. Slight headache. Nostalgia for a Guinness with the lads down the Red Lion. Read three chapters of War and Peace and feel a bit sorry for myself. Sorry too for most of them in the book. Have three more pints of natural tree syrup and water during the afternoon. Guinness nostalgia intensifies as does the headache and a desire to gobble up everything in the dog bowl.
Spend the evening watching television and drinking three more pints of the liquid. The headache has gone but I feel cold. I'm also having gentle hallucinations about a strawberry omelette. Go to bed, waking at 3.00. Read for an hour, fall asleep, awake at 7.30.
DAY TWO: Feel slightly tired and, not really dizzy, but not up to tightrope walking. Three glasses in the morning, three in the afternoon, three in the evening.
I am now VERY hungry. But my wife is there urging me on and with the help of two cups of hot peppermint tea I hit the sack without eating anything solid. The headache is back but bearable, and I have a pretty smug feeling about my achievement so far. I can't get to sleep for two hours but once there I'm in Nod until 7.00.
DAY THREE: This is not a diet for wimps. I want my Mummy. Even more I want bacon, egg, sausage, tomato and three slices of fried bread. But I drink down my first pint of natural tree syrup and almost immediately the acute feeling of hunger goes and I all I want is a bacon butty.
I start to read the booklet on the Lemon Diet. It was invented by the naturopath Stanley Burroughs (no longer with us, but stayed healthy to the end) and developed in
Switzerland. The detox diet is made up of pure maple syrup and five Asian palm saps, which, says the book, give you all the nutrients you need to sustain you through the programme. The cayenne pepper speeds your metabolism, the lemon juice cleans out the toxins.
By teatime I'm feeling as clean as a scrubbed baby myself. I have a bath every morning and showers in the afternoon and evening. It helps the cleansing process, they say.
I am beginning to get that feeling that three days is a pretty good achievement. Maybe it's enough? Get behind me Satan -- this is my wife with the rolling pin. Three glasses of syrup and a cup of laxative herbal tea (urgggh!) later I go to bed and have an excellent night's sleep.
DAY FOUR: Strange, the hunger has gone. I'm not saying that if you offered the right money I couldn't down a Filet en Croute in one gulp but the worst of the pangs have disappeared. Also any semblance of headache or chilliness.
My breath is a little pongy, apparently. And that was a friend on the phone. It's the mucus and the toxins working loose, apparently, bless 'em. I cheat and take a breath pill when kissing, whistling etc. Thank God I'm not a dentist.
I go to see my GP whose opinion I sought before doing the diet as I have a spot of blood pressure. Everything is fine.
By evening I have a slight sense of euphoria. War and Peace is beginning to skip along like a Jack Higgins novel.
I'm feeling really happy about having seen out the fourth day.
DAY FIVE: I drink my three litres of liquid as usual in the morning, walk the dog, finish writing an article, metaphorically slap myself on the back for being so strong-willed...then steal a slice of smoked salmon that someone, a close death-do-us-part relation probably, has left on the kitchen table.
But honest, guv, that's all I've taken. No bread, no pickle, no cake. And I feel SO ASHAMED.
I telephone the Planet Organic in London where I bought the detox diet. Naughty, naughty, says the girl, but she will forgive me just as long as I don't do it again. “Almost everyone has one little lapse”, she says indulgently.
DAY SIX: I am starting to regret that I have only two days left. I feel energetic and clear- headed. I could finish War and Peace by lunch if I hadn't so many other things to do. Energy? Today I could win Olympic gold.
DAY SEVEN: You can do the detox diet for anything between one and 10 days. Seven is about right for me so this is the last. I have used just over a litre of Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup, 28 lemons, a pot of cayenne and six 5-litre bottles of spring water. Total cost £47.50. The week’s food bill – zero.
Tomorrow I "wind down" with vegetable soup and fruit before resuming a normal sensible diet.
I'm six feet tall and I weighed thirteen and a half stones before the detox. I lost 10 pounds.
And, although I still feel guilty about the smoked salmon, I feel terrific. I beat that old tin and I'm on the platform waiting for the train out of town.