I went on a Chinese detox and lasted 9 days with no food – a real achievement for me.
I started a Chinese detox after being sent to Dr Shu Quan Liu in Bondi Junction, reputedly the guru of these things here in Australia. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is said to have done it, so I thought, why not me too?
It is without a doubt the toughest thing I have ever done, and I have given birth to twins as well as competed for Australia in my age group in a triathlon, none of which was easy.
But no food other than Chinese herbs, which tasted very close to raw acid, was seriously hard. I had daily acupuncture and massage, but it was still awful. My social life ground to a halt, my energy bottomed out and my mind went crazy. The strange thing is that by day 5, you actually no longer crave food. It’s so odd.
I didn’t use the toilet, didn’t have to floss my teeth, and saved a small fortune on food and drink.
Why did I give up? Well, basically because I lost 6 kilograms in 9 days and didn’t want to lose any more weight for fear of looking gaunt. Plus I had a trip planned overseas, and didn’t want to arrive in a foreign country having not eaten for weeks.
I’m not sure what to make of the experience, other than: It was VERY tough.
But here are 8 things I learnt eating no food for 9 days:
- Mind power: The mind power that not eating demands is nothing short of phenomenal. I feel like nothing will ever be as tough as those first 3 days when my mind played a thousand tricks on me, and tried everything to force me to eat.
- How addicted we are to food and drink: I didn’t consider myself a coffee or alcohol addict before I detoxed, until I couldn’t have them anymore. Headaches, mood swings, as my body eased itself off the daily dose of caffeine it was used to, and the thrice weekly chill outs over a few glasses of wine.
- Our whole lives are based around food: It is a real shock once you get over the addiction phase and adjust to not eating and realise every single social gathering we have is based around either food or drinks – or both. So we are often consuming not to feed ourselves, but to be social, which isn’t really the right reason.
- We need far less food than we think: We all think we need 3 meals a day, but we don’t. Once I started eating again, my body just couldn’t take 3 meals a day, and it didn’t need them.
- Without food, exercise is impossible: Sounds obvious I know, but it was physically debilitating not to be able to go running, and even when I did start eating again to go for a run, I felt how empty my energy reserves were. We really do need food to live and exercise.
- Without a program, detoxing is tough: I don’t like the fact that Dr Liew runs a full blown detox with no program. In other words, you sail along for 2 weeks with no food not knowing what comes next. And what comes next? Vegetarian and tiny portions of food for another 2 weeks. I would have liked to have known this at the start.
- No science: I do like facts, and there are no facts to support that this extreme not eating actually benefits you in the long run. I’ve had nine people write to me after publishing blogs about it who have done it and regret it as they lost weight at first, but it all came back on.
- Health retreats work: In other words, detoxing at home in your every day environment is really too hard. At least in a retreat all of the temptations are out of sight, and you have 24/7 support and distraction; at home you don’t, making it five times harder to stay strong.
Would I do it again? Not under the same circumstances. I do think we all eat too much and there are times we all need to reign ourselves in, but a more traditional detox at a health retreat is far more balanced and actually a lot more fun.