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Detox Diaries: No sugar, no carbs, no food!

WEIGHT WATCHERS: Three members of The Voice embarked on three detox diets

THREE LADIES, three weeks, three diets. It was going to be tough, but if anybody could do it, it was the tenacious Life & Style team.

With much encouragement from their colleagues – along with a few cries of “boy, you’re good; there’s no way I could give up sugar for three weeks” – Dionne Grant, Rykesha Hudson and Elizabeth Pears embarked on three detox diets.

Their challenge was spawned following the arrival of The 22-Day Revolution – the book that detailed the dramatic vegan diet that allowed Beyoncé to transform her figure in 22 days.

But after deciding that B’s diet would require a lifestyle overhaul that, frankly, none of them had any desire to commit to, the tremendous trio decided to find other ways to detox.

NO THANKS: The ladies decided against the vegan diet

Dionne opted for a strict no-carbs diet; Elizabeth eliminated sugar; and Rykesha went for starvation – well, a mixture of eating for five days and fasting for two.

Each diet lasted three weeks and at different points, the ladies struggled as the desire for a biscuit threatened to send them into meltdown.

But with a collective ethos of ‘we shall overcome’ – and the thought of being able to ditch rabbit food for rice and peas at the end of their diets – Dionne, Rykesha and Elizabeth succeeded.

Here, they each share their detox diaries:


NAME: Dionne Grant
DIET: The Atkins Diet

I like nothing more than a few biscuits with my afternoon tea, or a healthy serving of rice and peas with my Escovitch fish at dinner.

So deciding to take on a strict no-carb diet was always going to be a challenge. But true to my 'feel the fear and do it anyway' 2015 mantra, I nominated myself for the challenge.

Veteran followers of the low-carb diet will recall the Atkins diet. It's the diet where you completely strip simple carbs (rice, biscuits, etc) from your diet and replace it with more complex carbs like greens (broccoli, spinach) and protein (meat, fish, cheese). Oh and milk is off the menu too.

I'm a pescatarian, which means I only eat fish, so things looked pretty bleak from the beginning. I'd be eating nothing but greens, cheese and fish, and using double cream in my tea and coffee. Would I recognise myself at the end?

This was probably the most difficult week. Changing your eating patterns requires willpower and watching colleagues chomp down on chocolates while you're nibbling on a cheese string can eat away at happiness.

Mornings were the hardest. Carbs have become a breakfast staple in Western society. For me, if it's not toast, a croissant or cereal, my morning hasn't really started.

However, on this diet, my day usually started with a cheese omelette. Lunches consisted of a tuna salad from Subway or a homemade avocado and mozzarella cheese salad. Snacks came in the form of a small handful of cashew nuts and dinner usually revolved around a spinach and mushroom base.

GREENS GALORE: Dionne’s diet consisted of plenty of green vegetables

I recall one of the first nights during this diet, my stomach felt like it was literally burning in hunger. I told myself it was the fat dissolving and managed to get back to sleep on that premise.

Unsurprisingly, week 2 was better. My body knew it wasn't getting any carbs so the cravings had somewhat subsided. My progress in week 2 was bolstered by the news I had lost 4 pounds.

My food diary followed a similar pattern to the previous week; Fish with vegetables in the evenings, omelette in the mornings, which I alternated with strawberries, blueberries and blackberries (the only fruit you’re allowed on this diet).

Sometimes I would cheat and add a small dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt because it was better than a chocolate, right? Additionally, my juice man, located close to the office would also concoct a recipe full of all the berries on the cleared list. My friend also celebrated the launch of a business in this week, so I toasted her with a glass of white wine, which I was allowed.

This was probably the easiest of all of the weeks, though I had grown weary at the limited choice of food on offer and was tired of having to ask waiters in restaurants to “hold the bread, pasta and rice. Just give me the salmon or prawns with a side of greens.”

Still, I attended the gym with fellow detox dieter Elizabeth this week and we both noted that our respective diets had positive effects on our performance during the body pump class. However, following the class, we stumbled upon a restaurant and I had a serving of glorious king prawns in tomato sauce with the most amazing sides of spinach, broccoli and green beans.

SEAFOOD FAVOURITE: Prawns were on the menu

I lost six pounds on this diet. I blame the calamari for the slower progress in week 3 (joke). This diet was extremely challenging for a woman-on-the-go. Healthy snacks aren’t as easy to find on the high street compared to carb-loaded treats. But I do truly believe that a few more weeks on this diet could’ve had me looking like Naomi Campbell.

Results are quick because the diet is so extreme. As your body doesn’t have to waste time burning sugar from carbohydrates, it can concentrate on burning fat instead. In addition, from week 3 onwards, you can introduce special low-carb chocolates to your diet. Apparently, in the first two weeks, your body enters ketosis, a process where the body burns off unwanted fat by forcing the body to rely on burning fat for energy, rather than carbohydrates.

It doesn’t feel like a healthy way to lose weight and therefore I wouldn’t advise such a strict low-carb diet for a prolonged period of time. Oh and you may become a little ratty in week 1 as your body copes with the absence of carbs.


NAME: Rykesha Hudson
DIET: 5:2 Fast

Dieters are recommended to consume a ‘normal’ number of calories five days a week and then, for two, non-consecutive days, eat just 25 per cent of their usual calorie total – 500 calories for women and 600 for men.

There are no restrictions on the types of food you can eat and it is suggested that women can expect to lose about a 1lb a week on the diet with men losing about the same, if not a little more.

The simplicity of the diet and the fact you can eat pretty much what you like for five days a week, were both big appeals to me – and probably the reason why this diet has become so popular.

I started off this diet feeling excited and confident – I mean it’s just two days out of the week and it’s not like I’d realy be starving… Boy, was I wrong!

On my first fast day, I had a Kellog’s Nutri-Grain Breakfast Bakes bar. It was only after I scoffed it down in between applying my mascara, that it dawned on me: At 182 calories, I’d only have 318 calories left for the whole day – and it was only 8:30am! Suffice to say, week one was a struggle.

The struggle didn’t subside the following week and I really started to dread the fast days. I hated not being able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Usually I’d have a small snack at around 11am, but I knew if I had something to eat then, it would really mess up my meal plan for the rest of the day. So I ignored my growling stomach, which didn’t quite understand why it wasn’t receiving its usual elevenses.

Two hours later and I just couldn’t take any more conversations with my belly. I had brought in a packet of Super Noodles, curry flavour (right). I snapped the dried noodles in half – I’d be having the other half for dinner later.

I felt satisfied for all of two minutes. Then I realised that I usually have something sweet after my lunch – be it a chocolate bar or a soft drink. But today I couldn’t. I had to just sit there, typing away, all the while having the taste of the noodles sitting on my tongue like a paste.

What’s worse is that I knew I’d be having the second half for dinner in a few hours, and once again wouldn’t be able to satisfy my taste buds with something sweet to finish off the meal.

By my final week, I started to get used to the fast days, and rather than my belly screaming for food, it was just slightly muttering. One morning, I had two eggs scrambled for breakfast and that kept me quite full until lunchtime where I had a ‘taster’ pack of sushi at 125cals.

SUPER SNACKS: A few of the treats Rykesha was allowed

For dinner I had a 5:2 LighterLife Thai Noodles flavour Fast Pot, and surprisingly, it didn’t taste like cardboard like I was expecting.

At the end of the three-week 5:2 diet, I felt proud that I had stuck with it – even though I do have to admit I was tempted more than once to dive into my biscuit tin!

I lost three pounds with this diet – a pound a week, which is the suggested amount. While this is good, I think it will take a really long time, and a lot of willpower to lose a considerable amount of weight on the 5:2 diet.

I loved that I could work the diet around my schedule. For example, I had a family BBQ planned for a Saturday, so I knew in advance, not to ‘fast’ on that day.

Unless you spend lots of money on pre-made diet meals or a 5:2 recipe book, it’s pretty hard to come up with three healthy, filling meals that add up to no more than 500 calories.


NAME: Elizabeth Pears
DIET: Shrink Your Sugar Belly by Women’s Health

This 20-day sugar detox is divided into three stages: Week 1 – five days of mentally and physically prepare to give up sugar; week 2 – when you go cold turkey and cut all sugar from your diet; and week 3 – when you introduce natural sugars (i.e. fruit) back into your diet. If you follow the regime properly, it promises an average 7lb weight loss and the chance to ‘reset’ your body so you no longer crave sugar.

I had been threatening to give up sugar for some time after reading more about how bad it is for you. I’m well aware of my eating habits, so I decided to forgo the mental prep and just dive straight in with two weeks avoiding the sweet stuff, following the very helpful and varied suggested recipes/snacks from the book.

Having no sugar basically means loads of protein and vegetables with small amounts of dairy. Yep, cheese wasn’t off limits – thank goodness! I relied on protein-packed breakfasts (eggs, smoked salmon, spinach, avocado and mozzarella) and grilled meat and veg for lunch and dinner with blobs of brown rice and quinoa.

HEALTHY OPTION: Elizabeth enjoyed grilled fish on a bed of leafy greens and fennel on a night out

Even though I was physically full, I constantly felt empty and unsatisfied even though I endlessly grazed on cashews, pumpkin seeds, toasted almond flakes, salted popcorn, celery and hummus and cheese strings wrapped in turkey ham. I was craving sugar hard. I was restless and listless at the same time and often found myself almost disorientated at my desk.

By day 7, I began adjusting to my change in diet – the ins and outs of which I shared with anyone I came into contact with – but both my energy and mood were low. In the gym, I felt lacklustre and feeble. At one point, I started to get dizzy and feel faint. I had to have a few grapes to perk me up again.

Fruit was back in my life and the possibilities felt so good. I even allowed myself to enjoy a glass of coconut water here and there, but do you know what? I didn’t really long for fruit anymore. My body simply didn’t seem to want sugar and I more or less carried on with the diet. In fact, I’m still doing it but there have been biscuits, a few glasses of Prosecco and, of course, we celebrated the end of our diets with a big fat slice of chocolate cake. But, truth be told, I didn’t even enjoy it as much I used to.

In the first week, I dropped 6lbs. Yes, practically half a stone! That’s what really motivated me to keep going. The second week, my weight loss stalled but by the following week I’d lost two more pounds. I’m still stunned. Stunned but elated.

Sugar really is bad for you: bad for your teeth, bad for your skin and bad in terms of weight gain and the stress it puts on your body. This detox has transformed my reliance on sugar and life and my health is sweeter for it. I’ve been saved and I want to spread the good word!

Giving up sugar is hard. It sucks. There were days when I caved – shout out to that half-empty packet of mint humbugs I found at the bottom of my bag – hee hee! You will hate going out with friends but if you are committed, you will get through it and the results will be more than worth it. My tummy is so flat (comparatively) and the one day I scoffed a pizza, I became uncomfortably bloated. Our bodies are telling us something and we really need to listen. I wish I had done this earlier.


The main thing that made this challenge bearable, was the fact that we did it as a group – and therefore suffered together.

The competitive element always helps and no one wanted to let the side down. At the same time, working together created a support sytem that you wouldn’t have doing a diet alone.
We were able to swap tips and found treats in snacks such as cashews and chesse strings. But it was especially nice when the diets came to an end and we were able to celebrate together with a large slice of cake.

To anyone thinking of embarking on a detox diet, good luck and God speed!

- Dionne, Rykesha & Elizabeth

LET’S CELEBRATE: (l-r) Dionne, Rykesha and Elizabeth each enjoy a slice of cake at the end of their diets

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