Living in Los Angeles, arguably one of the most health and body-conscious cities in the world, I’m certainly no stranger to the variety of juice cleanses, soup cleanses, and many other food-restricting detoxes that are on the market. However, as a foodie and someone who doesn’t particularly light up at the idea of only consuming liquid for 3 days straight, I’ve never taken the plunge myself. While I love the taste of juice (yes, even the greenest of the bunch) and am a proponent for trying any healthy food once (I’m looking at you kelp noodles), the idea that the best way for me to lose weight is to avoid food for several days causes me to elicit many an eye roll.
Just when I thought I knew about every crazy cleanse out there, a friend mentioned she was going on a “teatox” before a spring vacation. “A what-tox?” was my first reaction. After Googling for several hours, I realized that a teatox, or tea detox, is a health craze that might not make me cringe. As someone who suffers from a sensitive stomach, I was beyond intrigued by the benefit of easing stomachaches and reducing bloating. The idea of drinking a few cups of tea a day in addition to eating actual food didn’t seem so bad. Not to mention that this has to be the most sophisticated cleanse out there. Pinkies up!
Before making a full fledge commitment, I read up on what I would be getting myself into and very quickly realized that not all Teatoxes are created equal. According to Affect Health, a leading Canadian based nutrition company that sells their own teatox created by naturopathic doctors, many tea cleanses promote weight loss by adding laxatives to their herbal mixtures, which can trigger a plethora of problems. While going to the bathroom more frequently will initially cause you to drop a few pounds, continuous laxative use can produce long-term dependency in addition to damaging your intestines. Rather, Affect Health’s teatox includes only 100% organic herbs such as green tea, dandelion root, and yerba mate. With promises of an increased metabolism, clearer skin, improved sleep quality, increased immune defense, reduced bloating and weight loss I was all in.
Fully committed to the plan, I removed the 14-day cleanse from my online shopping cart and went full steam ahead with the 28-day option. I was ready. Within minutes of purchasing I received a link to the “Total Detox Guide”, an e-handbook comprised of a diet, exercise, meditation, and hydrotherapy plan to go along with the teatox. I knew I would have to drink 3 cups of tea per day, morning and afternoon for energy and evening to cleanse and aid sleep, but meditation was not something I was prepared to add into my routine. What is hydrotherapy anyway? I immediately regret the purchase.
Since the money had already exited my bank account and the tea was in route, I decided I at least owed it to myself to read through the handbook. I was relieved to find out that hydrotherapy wasn’t a scary hypnosis technique but rather a term for any treatment involving water like taking alternating temperature showers or ice baths, and more importantly that it was optional. Luckily the exercise planned consisted of combining 3 to 5 high-intensity cardio, low-intensity cardio, and strength training workouts which is something already present in my current fitness routine. I decided that I eat healthy enough already and would just try to cut out some of the suggested foods such as alcohol, coffee, dairy, and gluten.
When my teatox kit arrived the next week I was ready with a freshly stocked fridge full of healthy, leafy foods and no cheese in sight. I quickly learned that I was not as prepared as I had initially thought, as I ignored the loose-leaf tea warning and forgot to buy a tea ball. After resorting to my trusty quinoa strainer, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the tea tasted. I’m talking really, truly delicious. The morning and afternoon mixture tasted like a vibrant green tea and the nighttime beverage had a soothing peppermint flavor.
What I wasn’t expecting is how difficult it would be to cut out certain foods from my diet. Skipping cocktails at dinner with friends wasn’t an issue but coffee quickly became my greatest enemy. While I didn’t necessarily feel withdrawal symptoms like the handbook suggested I might, I missed the creamy drink every morning. I caved four times the first week in the early afternoons and nearly ran to the closest coffee shop. I convinced myself that coffee and I were just not ready to break up and decided that I could still receive benefits from the detox without cutting it out. The other tough part was actually remembering to drink the teas. While I enjoyed drinking them, my busy routine often filled with evening plans was not conducive to be in a location with hot water.
Several weeks in, I still liked the taste of the tea and no longer forgot to actually drink it thanks to setting daily phone alerts. Just as I was doubting the cleanse I started noticing some changes in my body in the third week. I felt fresher and more alert and my sugar cravings had diminished. While I didn’t lose any weight according to my scale, I noticed my body felt less bloated and I swear my stomach looked smaller. Feeling motivated, I decided to fully commit in week 4, which means, yes, I did meditate every evening before bed and even tried adjusting the temperature in the shower a few times. I tried the quinoa and tuna salad for lunch and the baked salmon and kale slaw for dinner (both of which were tasty and filling for the record).
While it’s hard to say for certain how much the tea itself is to thank for the benefits I experienced, I would be lying if I didn’t say that 28 days later I feel more energized, less bloated, no longer crave sweets at night and even notice my skin looks clearer and brighter. Although one can never say never, I don’t think I would purchase another teatox with the goal of weight loss in mind. However, I will certainly be trying their “Drinking Chocolate” tea ASAP.