Healthy to Super Healthy: How I Learnt to Love Porridge

AS part of Pillow Mag’s cuisine month, features writer Ally decided that now was the time to set herself a challenge…

A super-human challenge some might say… or, just a super-healthy one. For one week, I was going to make an effort to be as religiously, clean-eatingly, detoxingly good as possible.

Now, I should probably point out that I’m not exactly unhealthy to start with. In fact, I’m one of those irritating people who sweats out in the gym four times a week and necks my body weight (well, not quite) in water. But, I am partial to the odd bag of crisps or five.

Working in magazines, I am bombarded with daily press releases about the latest must-have supplement, and surrounded by collages on constant detox diets. So, I decided I would give myself one week to rise to the challenge of clean eating. Essentially, listening to sound, clever advice about good foods, and shunning all processed, packaged rubbish. This was to be no fad diet, and I wasn’t interested in losing weight. I merely wanted to strip those nasty, unpronounceable chemicals out of my life – and see what effect this had.

Here is a diary of how I got on, illustrated with a few Instagram snippets of my culinary choices…

Day 1 – Wednesday

In typical Ally fashion, I decided to begin my detox mid-week (I’m crap at keeping up with what day it is). I arrive at the office at about 9.30, and make myself a much needed cup of tea. Builder’s tea, to be precise – camomile and peppermint just won’t cut it in the mornings. On the menu for breakfast, I shun my usual, er, nothing, in favour of a bowl of hearty dairy-free porridge. Porridge is one of those things I’ve always wanted to like, but felt like Oliver Twist every time a steaming spoonful of that globby goo came near my mouth. I finish the bowl. It’s surprisingly satisfying, and keeps me full till lunchtime.

Lunch. A more tricky scenario to liaise. I want to top myself up with as many raw veggies as possible, so nip out to Leon and pick up their Original Superfood Salad. For anyone that hasn’t witnessed the joy that is this salad before, I urge you to. Now. Consisting of almost-raw broccoli and peas, quinoa, cucumber, avocado and a herby dressing, it really is a treat for your immune system.

I see the afternoon through with a tiny bar of 80% dark chocolate: I read that it’s great for hair condition, so it was a-ok.

In the evening, I fair slightly worse, opting for a chicken caeser salad. Still not an out and out disaster, though.

So far, so good.

Healthy to Superhealthy: Water, lotus flower tea, dark chocolate and a chlorella pill

Healthy to Superhealthy: Water, lotus flower tea, dark chocolate and a chlorella pill

Day 2 – Thursday

I wake up on Thursday morning feeling particularly well rested. At around 10.30, I opt again for my porridge. It’s beginning to taste a little more like adult food rather than animal feed, but there’s still a long way to go.

For lunch I opt for a protein hit with Pret’s Crayfish and Avocado salad (a favourite amongst savvy office workers). Delicious, but not that filling.

Day 3 – Friday

Friday was never going to go well. To cut a long story short, I went to a rather extravagant ball with a group of friends (no I’m not a Disney character), with unlimited/ super cheap booze. I maintained on the train journey, as I munched on my salted popcorn, that I ‘wasn’t going to drink’. But from the first glass of champagne – swiftly followed by another 4 – I knew the detox was going out the window. Oh.

My one saving grace was the meal, where I shunned the fatty fried carbs for a mountain of protein. Chowing down on two pork chops and two chicken breasts, I may have scratched the surface at the other damage I would later do.

3.30am. McDonalds. I haven’t had a McDonalds since I was twelve. But, tonight of all nights, it seemed like a fantastic idea to nibble some nuggets…

Day 4 – Saturday

Sadly there is no rest for the wicked, as I leaped out of bed at 7am to hop on the train back to London to get to work for a few hours later. As I dragged my bones into the blistering light, I could just about manage to down a Vitamin Water XXX acai, blueberry and pomegranate drink in the hope that it would begin to hydrate my parched cells and feed my throbbing headache.

Breakfast time. As I sniffed the sweet smells of a latte and a pastry, I impressed myself, and instead opted for the healthy option of a Naked Detox Juice and a Mama! muesli yoghurt pot. I necked green tea all day long, despite the lure of the freshly ground coffee.

Lunch consisted of a measly salad – it was all I could manage.

I fell into bed at 7.30 and slept for 12 hours. Much needed.

Day 5 – Sunday

Luckily I escaped a two-day hangover, and opted for a breakfast of low fat yoghurt, berries and low-fat granola.

This week I also tested out one of the hottest supplements right now: Chlorella. These little green pills are effectively dried up algae, but promise to regulate bloating and promote general health. You can buy chlorella juices and smoothies that look like the stuff that grows on the top of a pond, but I decided that swallowing two little tablets a day was probably easier and a lot less messy. So far, I haven’t noticed any immediate differences, but as is the way with supplements, these things take time.

I headed to the gym in the evening for a good sweaty session to sweat out the remains of all that alcohol.

Healthy to Superhealthy: Spending quality time with the barbell

Healthy to Superhealthy: Spending quality time with the barbell

Day 6 – Monday

Back to the office. Porridge is definitely growing on me, and I even enjoyed today’s bowlful. By now, my energy levels were really starting to level out – despite the fact I’d just completed a 60 hour week – and I felt remarkably fresh for a Monday morning.

Day 7 – Tuesday

The final day! Porridge yet again, followed by a few cups of Manuka honey tea got me off to a great start. I find myself in a worryingly worthy mindset, and refuse countless cakes and biscuits for fear of that ‘artificial’ taste lingering in my mouth. This detox must be working…

Healthy to Superhealthy: Flowering lotus flower tea

Healthy to Superhealthy: Flowering lotus flower tea

The Verdict

I hate to say it, but eating clean really is worth it. It’s not easy, and definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly by anyone with even half as much of an addiction to cocktails as me.

If you’re energy levels and overall ‘state’ are in the region of ‘crap’, then give it a go. I tried, and in some places really didn’t succeed, but it was definitely worth trying.

Note of Warning

Detox juices often come in attractive red glass bottles with promises of ‘making you feel uplifted’ and ’5 of your 5 a day’, making them look great. They certainly don’t taste it. Prepare to gulp down your daily dose of slimy sludge whilst holding your nose. You have been warned.

Healthy to Superhealthy: Detox juices not optional

Healthy to Superhealthy: Detox juices not optional

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