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Pay hundreds to be told how to diet? No thanks

April 4, 2010

The holy grail of female existence is the twin achievment of youth and a slim figure.

So it’s hardly a surprise that women (and increasingly men) pay through the nose to lose weight and reduce signs of ageing. Spending over a hundred quid on a facial is standard these days in nice London spas or luxury centres abroad. And a week’s detoxing where your caloric intake is restricted for you, instead of by you, can cost thousands.

All of which makes me think: people can really be silly. Or maybe they like the feeling of throwing money down the toilet in return for parental discipline from strangers of the “you will not leave this table until you have finished your broccoli” style.

Allow me to illustrate a personal revelation.

I was taken on a lovely press trip to a luxury hotel and spa in Lombardy, Italy, two weeks ago, to try out elements of “the cure” people seek there. This is a combination of 3-7 days of mud baths, massages, facials and so on (at 100 pounds a pop), and a strict diet of tasteless food that I’d rather just not have (and so starve instead). At the end you’re meant to be thinner and healthier, look younger, revitalised, and full of healthy intentions for the future.

Cure-takers aren’t allowed bread and most of them choose to eat in their rooms to avoid temptation. We had two of their special detox lunches formulated by the experts for maximum digestive harmony. They were horrid. A tepid soup of fruit first, followed by a salt-free bunch of leaves and grated carrots and radishes smelling of socks, with a funny sock-smelling herbal dressing. Then some abominable plate of carbs, like an unseasoned lasagne made with what struck me as tinned peas and carrots. And then, barley coffee, a black tasteless brew.

Had I to endure more than one of these meals per day, I’d have filled up by spare time dreaming of nice food, and the second I was out, I’d have run for the nearest taverna and shoved spaghetti carbonara and bread into my gob, washed down with gallons of local wine. Luckily, we had decadent meals of foie gras, veal, ice cream and local champagne for dinner, so that was alright.

Except I overdid it with those dinners, and three facials, even five, is no substitute for a good stint in the gym. So, by the time we left, I’d managed to turn the detox weekend into a weeekend of unbridled greediness and weight gain, not to mention having disturbed my poor gut something chronic. Barley coffee and tinned peas one second and foie gras  and chocolate mousse the next? No wonder I felt bad.

To make up for this, and the fact that I’d never be able to afford a week’s enforced detox, I decided to marshal what I know from a life of sporadic dieting, into my very own detox. Now, I favour the low-carb school of diet. And – just because it makes sense – the whole food, and preferably uncooked food school for detox. It stands to reason that if the ingredients of what you’re eating are either just the thing itself, or other whole things, that’s easier to digest, and purer, than something with lots of weird chemicals and colours and preservatives. Sounds restrictive? Not at all: here’s what I allowed myself for three days, in as much quantity as I wanted. Full fat Greek yoghurt, blueberries, unsalted nuts, cheese, eggs, avocado, smoked fish, tsataki and extremely exciting salads containing the above and more. I did not drink caffeine or alcohol, and in doing so discovered I could sleep far better than I had ever done since taking up my 4-shot coffee every morning. Oh, and in three days, I lost 3 pounds.

People said my skin glowed and my gut had never felt so good. And you know what it cost me to get this detox written out for me? Zero.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 4, 2010 8:07 pm

    my question are: when will we stop torturing ourselves?
    and who decided stick thin was pretty?

    okay, i’ve never succumbed (because i can’t afford to) to the detox centers or $100 facials (why spend $100 for your face when you can do the same for the whole body?), but i can’t tell you how many times i’ve dropped $30 on diet pills that I know will do absolutely nothing.

    way to keep it in perspective and drop a few rather than by into this bs.

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