I returned from a vacation with a body that was 80% wine and prosecco, and 20% bread and pastry. Basically 100% sugar. Elsewhere on the site I’ve written about very different trips I’ve taken this year, ones that involved loads of movement and that always had me coming back feeling better than when I left. This trip was not one of those trips. This one had me get real cosy with way too much wine, multiple desserts at every meal, and little to no movement, so I returned with broken-out skin, a rosacea flare-up, a very bloated belly, and three additional kilos knocking about my body.
If that wasn’t enough, flights make my body go absolutely bonkers. Air travel is hard on all bodies, but I find it particularly hard on my system. Bloated stomach, skin that always breaks out, even if it was frickin’ luminous pre-flight, and TERRIBLE water retention no matter how much water I chug. Mine was an overnight flight (DOUBLE UGH) and on landing I have a very effective five-point plan that’s been honed to perfection over the years to tackle the immediate discomfort and puffiness, which involves:
Drinking all the water. On the day I landed I drank four litres and my body still thirsted for more.
Ice rolling my skin to soothe the warmth and tenderness of a rosacea outbreak on my cheeks and bring down general face and eye puffiness.
Booking a 90-minute massage (I love you Urban Clap) for 5pm so I could be oiled, de-puffed (a little), showered, and tucked into bed by 7.30pm.
Skipping one meal: it’s quite nice if you’ve been indulging like crazy to skip a meal or two on the day you return to give your beleaguered digestion a break.
Booking a workout for the next day: It’s a common and obvious tip for a reason. I dragged myself to class the next day despite feeling lethargic as fuck and I was really glad I did.
That was all just to feel human after a flight. I’m no longer carting around water weight like the Michelin man, but I’m still lethargic and my face really doesn’t look great because my skin’s dull and breaking out all along my right cheek and jawline which, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine’s face mapping is a clear sign that I’ve been eating too much dairy, sugar, and greasy foods and that my system is struggling with it all. Guilty as charged. In a truly heaven-sent and divinely ordained move, ANTIDOTE sent me a message last week about a special “skin cleanse” they’ve just launched which is, let’s be honest, something I’d be interested in any time, but really, really well-timed and welcome this week in particular.
What is a skin cleanse?
The concept, co-founder Nadia explained, is a seven-day regime that works by nourishing the gut first, thereby lighting up the skin, both end goals that I am on-board with one hundred percent. The seven-day cleanse consists of juices, nut milks, seeding mixtures and a cold-fermented miso soup that the Antidote crew concocted specially for this program.
It’s not a brutal cleanse or one of those “eat nothing” abominations. Those are just… moronic, and you’re setting yourself up for a tremendous crash and backslide by day three (if you’re lucky). In this one, instead of cutting everything out, you add in the good stuff (alright, you do need to take out some bits). Every day the Antidote team will send you two green juices, one almond mylk, one ‘beauty shot’ and seeding powders, which you add to your regular breakfast and lunch, but dinner is replaced by that cold miso soup, a move that is also very welcome after a fortnight of going really overboard with heavy, heavy meals.
The fact that you’re still eating means you won’t have any of blood sugar spikes you get with juicing, and you won’t throw your metabolism out of whack or feel the need (or mania, even) to binge. For this one week they do ask that you abstain from booze, dairy, artificial sweeteners, refined cooking oils, table salt, legumes, and grains of any sort (wheat, rice, suji, corn, bajra, ragi), all of which I’d planned to do this week anyway, which is why I said this was heaven-sent. They also ask that you limit caffeine, veggies in the nightshades family (like eggplant, tomatoes, peppers), and tobacco, but also include a list of things that you can eat with abandon, all of which are alkalizing and support the cleanse (potato, pumpkin, beetroot, greens, cold-pressed oils, natural fats, fish, spices, and more).
Arrived at work to find a neat little trio of boxes waiting for me, with everything I’d need for the next two days. Knocked back a teeny bottle of the beauty shot (with bamboo extract and lotus stem, rich in silica and good for skin and tissue) which was pleasant enough, followed a little while later by the first of my two green juices, The Cleanser, with green apple, cucumber, and celery, which regular readers will already know are my favourite trio. Before lunch I knocked back the second – a sweeter juice with pear, spinach, wheatgrass and moringa – before I ate a salad with fish in line with the food guidelines. Mid-afternoon comes and goes and I resisted the temptation of a trip of Toblerone bars on adjacent desks at work (ordinarily I’d have hit each one but the residual lethargy of my vacation is lingering and is enough deterrent). In the evening I drank the chai almond milk drink which was delicious and spicy and cinnamon-ey (you can also gently heat this one if you like your chai hot), and followed pretty soon after with the pumpkin, carrot and miso soup (delish with a lovely tartness from the miso ferment). After eating and drinking for the day was done I chewed swallowed (as per instruction) a teaspoon of the seed mixture they send you and I was genuinely really full. If you like a big meal in the evening you might struggle with the lack of a proper meal (and if you’d prefer not to skip they even send you a simple recipe for a fish pho with buckwheat noodles which is the sort of thing you can eat), but for me, with breakfast and lunch as usual, this was all so far so filling, and also all delicious.
To call this a ‘cleanse’ devalues the little value it’s adding to my day, was something that came to me on day deux. Cleanses, to me, often sound so faddish – diets and juice cleanses and starvation disguised as therapy… our bodies have very capable detox systems that work 24/7 and this little regime feels like a kicker to help those systems along. Woke up feeling normal, worked out with my trainer (aka not an easy workout) and my energy levels were great, and the thing that stands out to me over the week is how not-hungry I am at all times, which seems like a weird thing to mention but important, I think, in distinguishing how this is different than those other faddy cleanses. Also, I ate some cake at work but you know, c’est la vie. Okay I also ate a couple of biscuits but that’s sugar for you, harder to kick than crack. (I’m guessing) At this point if I emerge at the end of the week with skin worse than when I started it’s nobody’s fault but my own. Side note, those jam biscuits were delicious, and you can find them here: http://miaandj.com/
I won’t bore you with a day to day log, but at the end of week…
I’ll be honest, I feel pretty good. Staying off the booze and working out played a significant part, obviously, but there is no doubt that the daily juices and the lighter, fermented dinners helped bring me here. Do I really need to say this? Food affects your mood. Those sayings, things we all say like ‘butterflies in your stomach’, or ‘I have a gut feeling’... they come from somewhere, all signs that your body and brain are in dialogue. This is the gut-brain axis and it is also one of the most exciting areas of emerging research in the health conversation. Not only does your brain have an impact on your gut health, but also vice versa: the food you eat directly influences the brain, and by extension, your mood. I am, there is no doubt, feeling lighter, more inspired and generally happy.
Did I stick with all the guidelines? Alright, I did not. We ordered Asian food last night, and there were those biscuits, but overall, skin looking better, and I’m definitely less lethargic (MSG headache from crappy Asian food last night not included in this summation). And should you do it? Yes, if you need a little kick or cajoling to inch toward generally treating your body better.
For more information visit the Antidote website.