My detox story
Rania Badr El Din is the Founder & CEO of Mother & Child, Egypt's trusted source of information and support for moms and families. She is a social entrepreneur, certified parent educator and proud and dedicated mother of three.
My detox story
My detox story goes back only a few months but I believe its effects will be everlasting. I was a soon to be 44-year old, with ankle and wrist pain, knee pain, allergic rhinitis, fatigue and the increasingly terrifying ability to fall asleep at the wheel! I was often “too tired” to do this or “too tired” to do that. Though to a large extent I enjoyed a positive sense of well-being and outlook on life, and had managed to control my stress levels throughout the years (thereby reducing my headaches and neck and shoulder pain), I was tired of feeling tired. So, with my son’s wedding only a few months away, I decided to try something different. I wanted to look good for the big day but more importantly I wanted to FEEL good. I had heard about the benefits of juicing from my husband’s brother and nephew but hadn’t really done anything about it, nor was I very interested to be honest. I mean it sounded interesting but clearly it just wasn’t for me. I have always tried to keep my nutrition knowledge up-to-date and apply as much of it as I could, but realistically I wasn’t about to drink those “eww”-looking green juices! So when Dana suggested Jason Vale’s 5lbs in 5days detox program I wasn’t quite sure, but when she offered to guide us through it and even help us make all the juices, well that sounded like an opportunity not to be missed. I say “us” because my husband decided to give it a try too, which I have to say is the best thing we did (doing it together that is).
So here we are on day one of the detox and I feel like I have bought more fruits and vegetables for this program than I had bought in the past year! Yes, sadly my diet had been moving further and further away from fruits and vegetables for quite some time, though I hadn’t quite realized how much further (and this being in a health-conscious and generally proactive household!). I wasn’t sure how I would manage to consume nothing but only 4 juices a day for 5 days, but I figured “it’s only 5 days”! Plus I was lucky to have the support of Dana and my fellow “detox”ers (who now also included my best friend Amira). And I have to add that I don’t think I could have done it without Jason Vale’s daily motivational videos.
We met every morning for 5 days and made our 4 juices for that day, drinking one on the spot, and taking home the other 3 in flasks for immediate refrigeration, to be consumed later. It was strange but rather exciting. I enjoyed lugging a basket full of vegetables and fruits over to Dana’s house every morning, making the juices, and sharing my experience of the day before. I started getting the hang of things by the 3rd day. I wasn’t crazy about all the juices, but most were fine and some were actually very good. We never got hungry, not even once. We drank our juices at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. We were consuming in large quantities things like spinach, kale, broccoli, zucchini, celery, carrots, beets, apples, pineapple, pears, oranges, avocados, lemon, ginger, cucumber, and others. This was a dramatic change from sandwiches and coffee and dessert! Although I didn’t feel too great during the detox itself (very normal the first few days due to withdrawal symptoms caused by leaving all the “junk” behind), by the last day of the program and for the days that followed, I felt better than I had felt in years. In fact I couldn’t believe the change, neither could my husband who also experienced it. Going into the detox my goal was simply to try something new and do something of value for my body. I hadn’t planned my “what next?”. I hadn’t imagined that the detox would get us both to kick the coffee habit, nor that it would get rid of all our carb and dessert cravings. In fact, I had been looking forward to that first breakfast after the detox (not necessarily to pig out but at least to have a piece of bread or a croissant or something). Surprisingly neither of us felt like having anything like that. We enjoyed a large veggie omelet which was great, but we missed our usual morning ginger shot (ginger + apple) (I forgot to mention earlier that we had that daily before the 10am juice). And no coffee. Not because we were trying not to have it, but because we really didn’t feel we wanted it. It was so effortless, it was amazing. My energy levels were now up (no more sleeping at the wheel ☺), I had no more joint pain (it simply disappeared)(my husband’s back pain and joint pains disappeared too), and I was reminded a couple of days later when I sneezed for the first time in a week (because of course I was no longer having 4 juices a day) that the detox had gotten rid of my allergy for me! I used to wake up to bouts of sneezing to the point where I would want somebody to just chop off my nose. I hadn’t realized until that one sneeze that I hadn’t sneezed at all during the 5 days of the detox! I think that’s largely thanks to the anti-histaminic properties of ginger (which I now make sure I have everyday). So ya. Wow. I felt like a different person. I was more alive, thinking better, functioning better, and happier. And I felt my body was happier. I don’t care how ridiculous that might sound, that’s how I felt.
We spent the next couple of weeks on only vegetables and fruits and some lean protein (mostly fish). Then we started adding things like beans and nuts gradually to see what worked for our body and what didn’t (beans didn’t work very well for me). We tried not to introduce bread/rice/pasta or dairy (although I would occasionally have some “labna” with olive oil). We experimented with quinoa, which I hadn’t even heard of but which I now love.
We really missed having juice and immediately started shopping around for a good juicer. When we finally bought it, it was celebration time at our house. My 6-year old daughter was especially excited and loved helping us make the juices.
Today, 4 months later, we have 2 juices a day, one as our breakfast and one at night, we have cut out most processed foods that come in cans or boxes etc, replaced some foods with healthier alternatives (for ex. sea salt instead of table salt, fresh tomatoes instead of tomato paste, home made broth instead of broth cubes) and added even more “healthy stuff” like chia seeds, raw honey, spirulina, and flax seeds to our juice or food. Apart from the juice, we have lots of salad, cooked vegetables and nuts, and some lean protein. We still don’t each much bread (if we do, its my mother-in-law’s wonderful home-made whole-grain bread made with olive oil).
The most important thing is that our mindset is healthy. We have subscribed to the concept that we can eat whatever we want, we just choose not to eat certain things because we feel its better for us or it makes us feel better. We don’t feel at all deprived and we are very open to making exceptions here and there (word of caution though: too many exceptions too early on can get you off track, so beware). If I feel like having a piece of yummy “konafa bil ishta” in Ramadan, I will have it and enjoy every piece guilt-free. If I’m on a holiday and want to try a specialty of the country, I won’t hesitate. I will appreciate good food as part of the good things life has to offer, but I will always try to make the healthiest choices. I have also changed my definition of what is good. Tasting good isn’t good enough anymore, I have to be aware of what’s in my food and what effect that will have on me, short and long-term. Ideally I would like to do a 5-day detox once a month or at least bimonthly because I feel it really keeps you on track and gives your body a wonderful boost. I forgot to mention the clearer, softer complexion that crept up on me on the 4th day of the detox (a telltale sign that you are treating your body well since the skin is the last organ to receive the nourishment).
True to myself, I could not keep this wonderful secret to myself. The blabbermouth I am known to be (which is really just an exaggeration by my friends and family), I proceeded to share my new found knowledge with everyone I cared for or met. For the next few weeks after the detox, I was telling everyone about it and encouraging them to give it a try. I was especially inspired by the movie “Hungry for Change” which Dana had us watch on the last day of the detox. I started having “Hungry for Change” gatherings at home for people to come over and watch the documentary while enjoying some healthy snacks and herbal drinks (replacing tea and coffee). I’m happy to say that it was contagious! My mother-in-law who lives with us was our first convert. We started making her some juices, and the massive changes she experienced spoke for themselves! Soon she was spreading juicing benefits among her family, even us! My son and his wife have jumped on board (actually my son was already a health and nutrition inspiration for me), my sister just bought her first juicer yesterday and sent me a picture of her first home-made juice, my parents have drank and appreciated some of my juices (ok, my dad didn’t appreciate all of them ☺), several friends have started juicing, and even my 16-year old daughter who was completely against the whole idea (I don’t blame her because the drastic changes we tried to introduce quite suddenly into the house really were a bit much in retrospect) is now drinking that “eww-looking” green juice by choice – for weight loss reasons – (she still finds it a bit “eww” to be honest but she will come around)! The thing is, you can adjust your juice to your liking. Put in enough things you like and then hide some of the things you normally would never eat in there. For example, I was never one to eat raw parsley or coriander or celery or spinach or kale, so I make sure to put them in my juices along with an apple and cucumber, some ginger , a lime, and half a zucchini or broccoli stem for example. If you want a sweeter juice put in an extra apple. Or try a spoon of raw honey. Our morning juice is always green. Our afternoon juice is a mix of orange, grapefruit and carrot. Pomegranate/apple is one of our yummy treats. The choices are endless. If you hate a juice, just try making a different one!
Needless to say, our juicer (a Hurom) is now the most important material thing in our house, after the bathrooms and beds! I highly recommend a juice program to anyone who wants to get healthy and feel better. It also works great for losing weight – which we did- effectively and safely of course.
SO… make a juice, sit back, sip slowly and enjoy. ☺
Originally published in August 2013