When the HelloGiggles editors asked us to pick a “fad diet” to experiment with, I took a look at the list and decided that I – the surly, cynical, male writer who eats chicken cutlet sandwiches several meals a week – was the best candidate for a 7-day detox diet written by queen Goop herself, Gwyneth Paltrow.
Gwyneth and her “weekly lifestyle letter” Goop have been ridiculed for the perceived preciousness and Marie Antoinette-like obliviousness found in each issue. According to critics, Gwyneth has no idea what it’s like to not be a famous movie star, and her lifestyle tips reflect this. Critics also claim her tips are quite obvious, “In short, 95 percent of what she will ever mention has already occurred to you, and you’ve been crying for months about being unable to afford most of it,” said The Cut.
Going on a GOOP 7-day ‘holiday detox’ in the middle of the summer seemed like a great idea.
Of course, immediately after I committed to a week of Goop-mandated eating, I found out that I’d been scooped (Gooped?): The Cut had already done the self-experimental Goop diet thing, and brilliantly. It looks like I’d gotten on the “making fun of Gwyneth Paltrow” train about 4 years too late, but I decided to give it Goop’s holiday detox a shot anyway.
The goal of a detox is to cleanse your body of all the junk that sticks around in there that’s not supposed to be. There are a lot of ways to do this, and Paltrow presents this detox as one of the safer and smarter ones. Goop provides an important tip in the reminder that pooping is good for you: “Bowel elimination is paramount for correct detoxification.”
I work in the health food/natural food/gourmet food business, and have since I was, like, 14, so I’m honestly on board with a lot of this stuff despite my own personal laziness and lack of self-control with regards to healthy eating. This “review” of the diet is coming from a completely open-mind; I’m not gonna be hating on kale or anything.
This diet involves a lot of very specific ingredients, but because of space restrictions in my Brooklyn apartment, I had to shop for about two days worth of stuff at a time. The ingredients were pretty simple – no obscure leafy greens or ultra expensive goji extracts (are gojis even hip anymore? I should be up-to-date on this, I’m in the biz, but I’m not sure) – but I still spent way more money than I would have spent if I just did normal grocery shopping.
Goop makes sure to remind you: “Adjust the time to your schedule and the meals to your taste but remember that there can be no dairy, grains with gluten, meat, shellfish….” the list goes on and on. Just imagine it says “enjoyable stuff” and you’ll get the picture.
Time to actually start the diet. When you first wake up, you’re supposed to have a glass of warm lemon water. No coffee. This is already tough. An hour later, a glass of water. Two hours after that, a very specific smoothie.
Now, unlike Goop’s target audience, I have to wake up and go work to pay my rent; the 10am smoothie would be an issue. My usual schedule involves rolling out of bed at around 8:45 and leaving my house at 9:05 to make this weird rush hour subway that is oddly always empty when it leaves my stop at 9:13 to get to work at 9:45ish.
The Goop diet makes that very difficult indeed. Before work I had to make the smoothie to bring with me (using the loud blender, to the chagrin of my roommates) as well as my lunchtime salad; dinner too, because she schedules dinner for 6pm, a mere few minutes after I get home from work on a good day.
I packed the ungodly amount of food to bring with me to work – I usually travel bagless with whatever book I’m reading – and brought it along.
My coworkers made fun of me for bringing a weird smoothie and salad to work. The smoothie had separated during the trip, even though I bought a stupid portable smoothie cup, and wasn’t very good. I’m sure it would’ve been good fresh, but like, who can make a smoothie at work?
The salad was okay – just a regular salad.
Two hours later I was starving and having trouble concentrating at work. My job involves a combination of high-quantity sales (like as in moving thousands of dollars of product in one phone call), small quantity sales (like as in telling one dude he should by a jar of my product), management, computer work, manual labor and other stuff. I couldn’t focus at all from the lack of caffeine and a full belly.
I ate my snack – a handful of seeds – but was still hungry. I left work early because I was struggling with the lack of caffeine and empty stomach. Goop is fully aware that this diet is tough and kinda sucks: “I will be suffering along with you to kickstart my year a bit lighter,” she says.
At home I eat my dinner: a bowl of soup. I turn down an opportunity to go out drinking with friends because I can have “obviously no alcohol, caffeine or soda,” says Paltrow. I go to bed hungry.
Fasting is hard, I’ve done it before out of curiosity with regards to the ‘spiritual’ aspect of it (not bologna spiritual, but the very real spiritual aspect of getting in touch with the depths of your own mind), but it’s WAY harder to just eat a little than not to eat at all. If you don’t eat at all, you stop being hungry, but if you eat a little, it whets your appetite. That’s why appetizers exist.
I get up and do the water/tea rigmarole again. I work from home in the morning so I can have the smoothie fresh (that’s dedication to this project!) and bring my Teriyaki Chicken and Steamed Greens and Miso Soup with me to work. The chicken is cold by lunchtime. This diet is clearly meant for people who don’t have to go to an office, or who have a staff cooking for them.
I do usually indulge in buying my lunch at work, my one economic vice (an expensive one, too – my office is in SoHo), but when I do bring my lunch, I usually bring something that is meant to be eaten cold. A cold, small-portioned dish of chicken was not pleasant.
The soup was fine cold, and I’d actually consider making it again.
I went to bed hungry again, but that’s kinda the point, I guess.
Another early morning of smoothie-making and regimented tea drinking. Today’s breakfast is hot oatmeal (don’t worry, there’s still a smoothie at lunch!), something I can’t make at work, so I planned to work from home until I ate the oatmeal, but I had to rush to the office for something. Starving, I grabbed a bagel.
I failed the diet. As it turns out, I would never accomplish my lifelong dream of being just like Gwyneth Paltrow.
Figuring I failed anyway, I tossed the smoothie and got a plate of chicken and broccoli–deliciously fried and dolloped over rice–for lunch, with a cup of coffee. The rest of my day ruled!
I considered lying and saying I completed the diet, which if I’d been found out would’ve been the funniest scandal ever–“Mr. Morrow claims to have done a week of the Goop detox when he only completed 3 days. The blogging police have arrested him”–but I decided to go with the truth instead. I’m a failure.
So, unless you have unlimited free time, you don’t have to work or you have a staff of chefs at your home, this diet is a it impractical.
My usual diet is an attempt – not a perfect attempt, but I try my hardest – to emphasize ‘real’ food, and try to avoid processed stuff. You can have a burger, but try to get it from a diner instead of McDonald’s. Maybe skip the fries. Don’t drink a soda unless you really want it, and only have dessert if it’s something special. Have a basic idea of what’s good for you and what isn’t, and focus on the good stuff. It’s easy. I understand detox is a very specific thing, but dieting doesn’t have to be this complicated. I’ll succumb to the occasional fad superfood – I love me a good acai bowl, I drink a lot of coconut water and I take shots of aloe vera juice when I’m sick, too – but I’m not a health zealot.
This diet is extremely limiting and expensive. Like medicine (in America), healthy eating is behind a wall that many people can’t access. A McDonald’s value meal is cheaper than vegetables and a chicken breast.
It makes me wonder if today’s obsession with healthy foods is almost like conspicuous consumption; people want to drink coconut water and eat goji berries so other people will know that they’re health-conscious, fad-conscious and well off financially. Centuries ago, obesity was considered attractive because it meant you could afford to eat a lot of food (or so my 4th grade history teacher said – I can’t be bothered to look it up). Maybe the same is becoming true for yoga classes and acai bowls. And this is coming from someone who works in the health food industry and is attending a literal health food convention in a few months.
This detox, like many other fad diets, is only possible for people who are extremely well-off or don’t have to work, and that’s unfortunate.
Detoxing is good for you, but there are way better, cheaper and easier ways to detox. You’ll still have to suffer through the hunger and lack of your favorite non-controlled drugs, but it’s less complicated. Start on a Saturday morning so the first two days will at least be low-stress.
The night I failed the diet I treated myself to the below dish, which looks disgusting but was delicious. I consider myself a good cook, and will occasionally prioritize plating, but that night I decided to say screw it and just make a monstrosity: behold Chicken Parm (with barely melted cheese) on a Bed of Saltines. It was incredible.
If you want to try the detox yourself, here’s a link to GOOP’s detox diet.
Photos via myself and Corinne Caputo