Brunches, shawarmas – it’s pretty easy to over-indulge in Dubai. So when I was asked to test out a Power Detox program offered by Dubai nutritional health consultant Ahlaam Ali, I threw aside my bag of crisps and leapt at the chance. Promising ‘bucketfuls of energy’ and ‘glossy hair’, it sounded like the perfect antidote to a lethargic and sluggish state brought on by one too many late nights.
After meeting the vivacious and brimming-with-health Ahlaam at her clinic we began by discussing my diet (average) and lifestyle (bad). To keep tabs on my progress she took meticulous measurements of my body and weight, then handed me a folder containing dozens of juice recipes and nutritional information. Later in the day she emailed across my individually tailored, seven-day detox plan. It was lethally sparse: breakfast consisted of a vegetable juice, herbal tea and pumpkin and sunflower seeds, while lunch and dinner was raw or steamed vegetables and fruit, along with juices and tea. But if I stuck to this intensive cleanse, all the good bits of detoxification (glossy hair, clear eyes, a rehabilitated liver) were within my grasp.
I began the following day (thinking how meaningful and timely it was to detox during Ramadan) and munched on fruit and vegetables with gusto. But surviving on it solely didn’t fill the gap, and by day two I felt positively ravenous. It quickly dawned on me that I couldn’t escape food: a digestive biscuits on someone’s desk, baklava being passed around the office. Smelling it was even worse.
As for my social life? Let’s just say it dwindled. Ahlaam had enthused earlier: ‘It’s so good you’re doing this on a weekend – it will give you a chance to get used to it,’ but as I watched my flatmates getting ready to go out, I wasn’t so sure.
That wasn’t the only drawback. Detoxing can also demand a fair amount of time: to prepare vegetable juices every day and cut up fruit for lunch. I was also struck by mild headaches and felt sapped of energy – even melancholy at times. I found it incredibly hard to get out of bed on the third day. I felt heavy, cumbersome and nauseous. Ahlaam had insisted I phone if I had any concerns and, when I did, she was very sympathetic, saying it was normal to feel a little sick to start with, as blood sugar dropped and escaping toxins exacted their revenge. If it happened again, or if I felt weak, she recommended munching on a few dates or drinking some herbal tea with honey.
I consoled myself with bubble baths and early nights and her advice did the trick. I awoke early, filled with energy. I walked to the gym with a spring in my step and even though it had only been a few days, I already felt a smug sense of purity, especially when I noisily juiced a couple of carrots while my flatmates slept in.
But the best part of the Power Detox package was the G5 massage sessions – a machine massage meant to nudge the lymph nodes and circulation into shape. The therapist would rub the vibrating nozzle over my body in circular motions to aid detoxification, break up fatty tissue and banish cellulite. Though noisy, it was quite soothing (a few times I actually had a snooze) and after three sessions I was surprised to find my skin felt and appeared much smoother and more supple.
The benefits of my week really became apparent after the initial few days were over. I felt lithe and energetic; my cranky mood swings were gone. And when I visited Ahlaam for the final G5 session, I was astonished to find I had lost 2kg and nearly 12 inches from my body. Glossy hair? Check. Bucketfuls of energy? Check. Though it was testing at times, Ahlaam’s detox diet had delivered.
1. Use the detox to spoil yourself and take time out from the world. Run a bath or have a massage with some essential oils.
2. Drinking hot water with a squeeze of fresh lemon is a great way to flush out nasty toxins from the liver.
3. Dry body brushing the skin is an excellent way to aid detoxification. Use a dry, bristly brush in a sweeping motion from your feet upwards.
4. Detoxing means no coffee, so get some early nights for the first few days.