How to Go on a Detox Diet in 20 (Horrible, Awful, Cheese-Deprived) Steps

August 2, 2014


I know this post may seem a bit strange coming from me.

After all, I am pretty much the last person on Earth who would ever recommend a detox diet as I am pretty much the last person on Earth who would ever go on a detox diet.

Or any diet for that matter.

In fact, six years ago, I had to swear myself off of dieting all together. I had just finished a big New Year’s diet with a friend, during which we didn’t drink any alcohol or eat anything with sugar or “white carbs” for three whole months, and I pretty much hated my entire existence.

I didn’t care that my skin was all glowy and that my pants kept falling off because I’d lost so much weight. I WANTED CHOCOLATE AND I WANTED IT NOW.

And then as soon as the diet was over, I went completely and totally insane. Like eating-an-entire-tray-of-Cinnabons-and-washing-it-down-with-beer insane.

So, yeah, me and diets. We are not good together.

Despite my vow to never ever do another diet again, I’ve found myself on something of a detox diet for the last three weeks. Except this time the diet is totally and completely against my will.

I don’t know if I’ve lost any weight yet, but my skin looks great, and I have pretty much lost all will to live, so I must be doing something right.

Want to know how you, too, can go on a detox diet even if you really don’t want to?

I’ve got you covered:

How to Go on a Detox Diet in 20 (Horrible, Awful, Cheese-Deprived) Steps

Step 1: Develop mysterious chest pains.

Chalk it up to a pending respiratory infection, a malady you experience on a semi-regular basis thanks to that year-and-a-half that you spent in China that completely and totally ruined your lungs.

Ah, travel! The gift that keeps on giving!

Ahh, China, thanks for the memories! And the smog!

China, thanks for the memories! And the smog!

Realize that you don’t have the hacking cough along with the chest pains like you usually do when you have a respiratory infection, so it can’t be a respiratory infection.

Start to wonder what it might be.

Step 2: Go to the Internets.

Type “chest pains” into the WebMD “Symptom Checker.”

A pop-up will instantly appear that tells you that you are probably dying and you should seek medical attention immediately.

That is if you aren’t already dead.

Step 3: Freak out.

Go to the local urgent medical care center.

Because, of course, this all happens on a Saturday.

Besides, this is urgent! You are urgently dying of mysterious, non-China-induced chest pains!

Not exactly where I feel like spending my Saturday...

Not exactly where I feel like spending my Saturday…

Step 4: See a doctor who seems entirely unimpressed by your symptoms of death.

She informs you that you just have acid reflux, which is what happens when your sphincter malfunctions and stomach acid escapes from your stomach and starts eating away at the inside of your chest.

Because it’s not just China that hates your chest.

Your very own stomach acid hates it, too.

Your chest must be a really big jerk.

Step 5: Be happy that you’re not going to die.

But also be kind of disappointed that you’re not suffering from something a bit sexier sounding.

I mean, acid reflux?


Also, sphincter?


Step 6: Get a prescription for some drugs.

And try not to choke too much when your doctor tells you that you also need to lay off caffeine and chocolate and cheese and alcohol and pretty much every good thing on earth.

Surely, she’s joking.

Step 7: Tell everyone on Facebook that you have acid reflux.

Because, what?

Isn’t that what Facebook is for?

To tell everyone you know about your unsexy-sounding illnesses?

And, you know, to post pictures of your cat.

By the way, it's been at least a week since I posted one of these...

By the way, it’s been at least a week since I posted one of these…

Get comments from about half of your Facebook friends, telling you that they also have acid reflux.

Be kind of disappointed that you don’t have an illness that’s a bit more uncommon and unusual. Something that might get you a bit more sympathy and shock, rather than the “Hey, I have that, too” comments.

I mean, you don’t necessarily want Ebola. But, at least something with a fancy Latin name might be nice.

Step 8: Start researching the foods you can’t eat.

This is basically ALL THE FOODS.

Because, apparently, your sphincter hates anything with alcohol, caffeine, fat or sugar in it.

Basically, your sphincter is the complete and exact opposite of you.

Ice cream wine-slushie? Don't mind if I do.

Ice cream wine-slushie? Don’t mind if I do.

Step 9: Go three whole days without any caffeine.

Don’t kill anyone.

But also don’t have a single clear thought in your head for three whole days.

Decide that thoughts are kind of important.

Start drinking caffeinated green tea, which only kind of makes you feel like your chest is going to explode.

Step 10: Get rid of everything in your fridge you can’t eat.

You realize this may be a bit rash and wasteful, but you just can’t even deal with looking at it any more.

Except for the cheese.

Don’t get rid of the cheese.

You’re still holding out that maybe the whole no-cheese-thing doesn’t apply to you.

Step 11: Attempt to eat cheese.

Become instantly sick.

Realize the whole no-cheese-thing does apply to you.

Become dead inside.

But, but,  how do I survive without cheese?

But, but, how do I survive without cheese?

Step 12: Buy a whole bunch of fancy herbal teas.

Teas with names like Rooibos Goji Berry Parfait and Eco Organic Ginger Lotus Root Surprise.

Start drinking them after meals and convince yourself that it is almost dessert.

And it is almost dessert.

In the same way that I am almost Cameron Diaz.

Me and Cameron Diaz? Same-same.

Me and Cameron Diaz? Same-same.

Step 13: Go to a new doctor. Get new meds. Update everyone on Facebook about the status of your medical condition.

Because, again, that’s totally what Facebook is for, right?

But, instead of posting comments of sympathy and commiseration, your friends start speculating on what’s really wrong with you.

One friend suggests you get your gall bladder checked.

Another friend says you might have an East Asian parasite.

Someone else mentions stomach cancer.

Suddenly your Facebook page has become an episode of House M.D.

Step 14: Stop posting anything on Facebook.

Except for cat photos.

But that’s kind of a given.

So much adorable.

So much adorable.

Step 15: Go grocery shopping. Buy all the vegetables. Seeing as you can pretty much only eat vegetables.

Spend about half as much as you usually do.

Turns out your cheese and carton-wine habit was expensive.

Who knew?

Those carton-wine purchases add up. Especially when you buy in bulk.

Those carton-wine purchases add up. Especially when you buy in bulk.

Step 16: Run out of ways to cook vegetables.

Start reading vegan cooking blogs.

Discover there are people out there who make cheese from nuts.

Wonder how many cheese-less months it will take before you get to this stage — this stage where you’ve become that person who makes weird nut-cheese and blogs about it like it’s a good thing.

Step 17: Start packing food with you every time you leave the house.

You even bring an apple with you to the county fair.

You are pretty sure you’re the first person in history to eat an apple at the county fair.

Cry a little bit when you see a sign for deep-fried pie, and you realize that you may never be able to experience the wonder that is deep-fried pie.



Step 18: Realize that you’ve now become one of those people with special dietary needs.

This is pretty much your worst nightmare.

After all, you pride yourself on how you’ll eat anything at least once.


You’ve eaten puffer fish in Japan and gnawed on chicken legs in China and sucked on curried snails in Nepal.

Hello, chicken legs, my old friend.

Hello, chicken legs, my old friend.

This is really your only talent.

It’s the only thing that’s gotten you through almost eight years of living overseas. It’s endeared you to your Japanese colleagues and your Chinese students and that Malaysian rice farmer you spent two months working with on that Malaysian rice farm.

After all, you’re not blonde or particularly beautiful.

You’re not good at languages.

You’re not even all that nice.

But you eat.

And you will happily eat whatever is put in front of your face.

People love that about you.

Who are you anymore if you’re not that girl who will eat anything?

Step 19: Turn down all invitations for lunch or drinks or anything fun ever.

Stay home with your cat and roast vegetables.

Read sad Internet forum posts written by fellow sufferers of acid reflex, giving advice on such topics as what salad dressings you can eat.

Accept that this is your life now.

This is who you are now.

You are not the girl who eats anything any more.

You are the girl who roasts the vegetables and researches salad dressing for fun.

Roasting the vegetables.

My life now.

Step 20: Finally agree to go to happy hour with your coworkers. Even though you’re pretty sure you’ll be miserable.

Drink one measly glass of white wine washed down with lots of water just like the Internet forums suggested you should.

Order a salad and ask if you can get the salad dressing on the side.

Everyone else orders cheese burgers and cheesy mashed potatoes and cheese-covered nachos and cheese-fries and cheesy-deep-fried-cheese-cheese.

Feel a little bit righteous when someone makes a comment about how healthy you’re being with your salad. Feel even more righteous when you only eat half of it and ask the waitress to pack up the rest to go.

Maybe this is who you are now.

The person who orders a salad at a bar and then only eats half of it and then blogs about it like it’s a good thing.

Have you ever been on a detox diet? How horrible was your life?

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On August 2, 2014 at 11:56 am Priya said:

    I’m not sure how you’re doing it. No cheese? And, really, who believes anything on the internet?
    Priya recently posted..I Need To Learn Chinese. Or Get New Roommates.

    • On August 3, 2014 at 7:43 am Sally said:

      Well, if it was just the Internet telling me to not eat cheese, I would totally disregard it. Sadly, my stomach agrees. Every time I’ve attempted to eat cheese, I get really sick. Trust me, it’s no way to live your life.

  2. On August 2, 2014 at 11:57 am kathigold said:

    this is the saddest thing I’ve ever read. My heart goes out to you, my cheese-less friend. I shall eat a double chili bacon cheeseburger in your honor and raise a hearty glass of ale in the memory of better days. Also starting a prayer circle for your rapid recovery. And in the circle, we shall eat cheese. Because we can. xoxo

  3. On August 2, 2014 at 11:58 am Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    This is the saddest thing I’ve ever read on the internet in the history of ever. Where is the Sally who was excited about maple cheese on a stick at that TBEX opening party thingy…and that deep-fried pie sign was like a knife to the gut.

    From one farm-raised child to another though, if I see any posts encouraging people to eat nut-cheese, I’m outta here.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..An Ode To Fro-Yo

    • On August 3, 2014 at 7:38 am Sally said:

      OMIGOSH, I almost forgot about the maple-cheese-snow amazingness. It’s a good thing this affliction hit me this summer and not last because I don’t think I could have lived my life without trying that.
      And, yes, nut-cheese? No way. (Of course, I say that now. Give me a few months without mozzarella and I might be singing a different tune.)

  4. On August 2, 2014 at 12:08 pm Meesh said:

    aww bless… welcome the world of “on the side” and “can you make that without…?” and a purse full of odd food items and meal substitutes.

    I hated it at first too. (I have the added bonus of my affliction (gluten/wheat allergy) being a fad/disease du jour, so I get eye rolls, and suspicious glares and “oh, you’re one of those people” instead of sympathy and compliance.

    It gets easier though. And when you really start to feel better, it’s worth it. And when you remember (or are forced to remember) how sick you get when you eat something, the desire to do so fades little by little each day…

    • On August 3, 2014 at 7:37 am Sally said:

      Yes, I will say this is the most effective diet I’ve ever been on (not so much in the weight loss department, but in the not-eating-things-I-shouldn’t-be department). There’s nothing like the threat of chest-explosion and nausea to make me lay off of the ice cream, beer and cheese. Usually when I’m dieting all I can think about is the foods I can’t eat, but now I think about them and then think about how sick I’m going to be afterwards.

  5. On August 2, 2014 at 1:24 pm Heather N said:

    I am so, so sorry. Just so very sorry. This is one of my worst fears, too.
    Can you make wine SAUCE to put on your veggies, since most of the alcohol will cook off? Asparagus with lemon-wine sauce, for example?
    Maybe a leeeeeeeeetle butter?

    We’re here for you!

    • On August 3, 2014 at 7:34 am Sally said:

      Thanks for the suggestions (and recipes!). I’ve been using lots of olive oil and mild spices (like oregano and thyme) on my veggies — that doesn’t seem to bother me. The panko idea is a good one — I’ll have to try it!

  6. On August 2, 2014 at 1:32 pm Heather N said:

    Also, maybe buy a box of Panko on your next veggie run. Coat all the veggies in it with egg wash and bake them on a tray. If you can’t fry them, you can at least get a crispy, golden crust on them?

    Here’s a recipe (that I haven’t tried)

    or this tilapia one (that I also haven’t tried)

    (I seriously can’t stop thinking about this. I keep wondering ‘What would I do?”)

  7. On August 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm Heather N said:

    ^^^I meant baking sheet. Not tray. **sigh**

  8. On August 2, 2014 at 6:11 pm Nicole said:

    Acid reflux is caused by your sphincter malfunctioning?!?! Holy crap, I’ve been burping up butt juice all this time. =(
    Nicole recently posted..‘Roided Out Renditions of Normally Tiny Things in Kansas City

    • On August 3, 2014 at 7:28 am Sally said:

      I believe there are a number of sphincters in the body. Acid reflux has to do with the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach. So, no worries, you aren’t burping butt juice (or at least I hope you’re not!) — just acidy stomach juice.

  9. On August 2, 2014 at 11:37 pm Jason Ellis said:

    A real diet must be well balanced, I don’t think cheese would harm us, it has protein like milk.
    I like cheese very much, it’s my favorite and it doesn’t affect my detox diet.

    • On August 3, 2014 at 7:26 am Sally said:

      I am usually very much pro-cheese, and, yes, it does have lots of healthy nutrients in it. Unfortunately, my body just doesn’t tolerate it at the moment.

  10. On August 3, 2014 at 9:59 am Barbara said:

    Hey, sounds like you’re pregnant! Bwhahahahahahaha!
    Barbara recently posted..That Eureka Feeling (And A Life Coaching Session)

  11. On August 3, 2014 at 12:48 pm Anjelica said:

    I was on a diet for 5 years, way back when I was in my late 20s. I had to be on it and go to the gym 6 times a week just to lose weight. I did lose the weight and went down to a size 6 but I was not happy. My trainer had to leave the country for a better job offer and I took that as a sign that I could stop being miserable and start being happy again. I’m back to a size 14 but I have to say that I am pretty ok with that. My physical checkups are all good save for the weight. My doctor always adds, “you’re very healthy, as per your tests but you could lose some weight…” Why fix something that ain’t broke? I feel your pain. I hope the condition improves though, maybe probiotics can help?

    • On August 4, 2014 at 6:58 am Sally said:

      You were on a diet for 5 YEARS??? Omigod, and I thought the last 3 weeks was horrible.
      And thank you so much for sharing your story, Anjelica. I’ve had kind of a similar journey. After years of on-and-off dieting and feeling really crappy about my body even though my body has done some pretty amazing things, I’ve finally come to peace with the fact that I am just not a natural size 6 (or 8 or 10 or even 12 — I tend to fall somewhere around a size 14/16). My focus now is on eating healthfully (especially at the moment) and being active daily and not beating myself up over what size pants I wear.

      • On August 4, 2014 at 8:52 pm Anjelica said:

        You are right in doing so, I myself make conscious food choices like not eating fast food. It probably happens once or twice a year if I’m traveling at find myself in a place where I have no choice, hahaha.

        I was on the diet initially for my sister’s wedding, then kept going for 3 years after that (I guess I am naturally a slow burner of calories because I really can’t be a tiny size without diet plus hardcore exercise). I mean, I had all these clothes in size 6, had to keep wearing them… Finally realized it didn’t really impact my life in a good way, and gave it up when I had the chance. The best part about all the training was that my trainer was a PT who knew how to stretch me properly (only thing I liked about the exercise part, tbh). I did try others but they hurt instead of helped which was weird as I was in my best shape at that time and so limber.

        Anyway, just wanted to share that. Also I’ve been a silent follower of yours since your China adventure, I travel solo myself but don’t write about it, and would rather read other people’s more exciting stories!

  12. On August 4, 2014 at 3:06 am Leslie in Oregon said:

    Take heart and foreswear all that makes you sick, brave one!!

  13. On August 4, 2014 at 2:40 pm Stephanie - The Travel Chica said:

    This sounds absolutely horrible. My idea of a detox diet is to drink green smoothies (which are actually quite delicious) twice a day to counterbalance the cheese, wine, beer, and chocolate that I’m having the rest of the day.

    I sincerely hope you can eat cheese and drink red wine again very soon.

  14. On August 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm Sara @ The Let's Go Ladies said:

    Wait. WAIT. No caffeine, chocolate, cheese OR alcohol? DANG. That must have been some chest pain 🙁

    My heart aches for you (but, like, not in a reflux-y kind of way. Too soon? Sorry, I’m so bad at this).

    If you ever try the nut cheese you’ve gotta write about it because I am CURIOUS!
    Sara @ The Let’s Go Ladies recently posted..The Let’s Go Ladies Live-Blog The Amazing Race Canada: Season 2, Episode 5!

  15. On August 5, 2014 at 3:58 pm Montecristo Travels (Sonja) said:

    As someone that has studied nutrition and is all about eating well; I am constantly stunned that it takes illness to get people to ease off foods we all know are not good for us in large quantities. Every day – every week IS large quantities. Excess is often the root cause of these types of ailments. And once they are there — they tend to stay or be re-occurring. Sadly. I am so sorry this has happened to you.

    I don’t eat much wheat or dairy (maybe once a month), I don’t drink alcohol (maybe once a year some champagne for a celebration) or eat any processed or deep fried food. I am happy, healthy and have a huge amount of delicious recipes in my repertoire. But … even I succumb to cheese from time to time. Like … once every two weeks I have a slice. Because yeah … CHEESE!
    Montecristo Travels (Sonja) recently posted..What Dog Owners Aught to Know About Kingston – Ontario

    • On August 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm Sally said:

      I don’t think I would call my eating habits prior to my illness excessive. Okay, maybe I did eat too much cheese. But I usually only really indulge when I’m eating out or traveling because traveling for me is all about experiencing the local food and drink. I’d say over the past year since moving to Michigan I’ve been eating much better than before because I haven’t had a whole lot of money to eat out or travel. So I eat at home mostly and when I eat at home I eat really healthy — salad, homemade soups, veggies, chicken, fish, whole grains, nothing fried or processed. If I got sick because of my diet, I should have gotten sick back when I was living in China and eating out tons which meant lots of oily, spicy foods washed down with Tsingtao beer!

  16. On August 6, 2014 at 11:25 am Mallory said:

    Oh I hope you get to enjoy cheese again!!! That is the worst!!! I discovered I couldn’t eat gluten a while ago and felt like the heavens were going to collapse, so I feel your pain sister.

    I actually tried to detox yesterday (hoping to lose a few pounds and begin a program to help manage my obsessive overeating)…it was a disaster. The woman wanted me to drink leek broth every three hours for two days and eat leeks in the meantime. I drank the first glass and fell into a miserable state where all I could taste and smell were leeks and I felt like throwing up. It devolved to me sitting in the car, crying because my senses were clogged with leeks. The highlight of that dat was visiting the dermatologist and getting a prescription for ecksema. Suffice to say, I won’t be doing that.

    Good luck!

  17. On August 8, 2014 at 6:20 am jan said:

    Can you still have wasabi oyster shooters, they sounded like fun.
    jan recently posted..Finding Nature on the edge of Surburbia

  18. On August 8, 2014 at 2:09 pm becky hutner said:

    hmmm, my comment seems to have disappeared. ah well, the long & short of it was…that totally sucks you’ve been forced on a diet. BLOWS even. but as a veggie roasting, salad-ordering gal myself, i am here to tell you life is pretty damn delicious. as i’m sure you’re discovering on those vegan blogs, there are endless possibilities with vegetables. YES, many of those possibilities are enhanced with cheese but these recipes are TO DIE FOR on their own. who knows, pretty soon you might be crying “Get me a lentil burger NOW and no one gets hurt!”
    becky hutner recently posted..Postcards from…MONTRÉAL

    • On August 10, 2014 at 10:21 am Sally said:

      Thanks for the links! I’ll have to check them out. (And no idea what happened to your previous comment. I’m too scared of my spam folder to check it. 🙂 )

  19. On August 10, 2014 at 10:17 am choi kum fook said:

    As a Chinese, for me, I like to eat everything and more when feel comfort after taken the food, whereas take lesser. In order to maintain body healthy, have to diet balance in food. Chest pain usually due to muscle, do not worry too much, if you think so consult to doctor, because I had come across on it. Almost every year there have a detox camp in the farm, only drink fruits juice for three all days! Marvellous!! Miss Sally, can you bear it?

  20. On August 10, 2014 at 11:50 am choi kum fook said:

    NO!! I could not do it, even half day! Because everyday I need lot of energy to walk over the farm, more or less ten kilometer (6.2mile) per day! Ha!Ha! Many young guys can not challenge with me nowaday!

  21. On August 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm Kelly said:

    I love your sense of humor, even when you’re on a sucky detox diet!
    Kelly recently posted..Coming Home by Cinderella

    • On August 20, 2014 at 9:07 pm Sally said:

      Thank you, Kelly. I’ve got to have a sense of humor about this whole thing or I’d be miserable. (Okay, I am kind of miserable because NO CHEESE.)

  22. On August 19, 2014 at 10:12 pm Sue B said:

    I am so sorry. I hope you get to feeling better!

  23. On August 19, 2014 at 11:47 pm hotmamatravel said:

    That was hilarious! I’m horrible on diets, evil, mean and grumpy. I don’t do diets for the safety of others around me. One time I was so frustrated on a diet I threw a banana at the TV. That’s when I realized I can’t diet. Enjoy the extra layer of fun around my mid-section and stock up on the TUMS.
    hotmamatravel recently posted..Go Rving

    • On August 20, 2014 at 9:11 pm Sally said:

      Oh yes, I know the banana-throwing-rage. Surprisingly, it’s a lot easier to go on a diet against your will. I don’t find myself craving stuff as much as when I was on a self-imposed diet simply because I know it will just make me sick. That being said, I had to avert my eyes from the chocolate and candy aisle at Target today.

  24. On August 30, 2014 at 10:28 am Wandering Carol said:

    OMG, I cut out everything ‘white’ for 3 years. No white rice, no white bread … plus no sugar or alcohol. It’s amazing how many friends you lose – because you’re boring, whiney and can’t eat anything off the menu. It’s a tough life, getting healthy.
    Wandering Carol recently posted..Channeling Marilyn Monroe on Mt Norquay

    • On September 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm Sally said:

      Gah! That sounds HORRIBLE. Especially the part about the no alcohol. And, yeah, I totally get you about the no friends thing. I don’t want to hang out with me half the time when all I do is whine about how I can’t eat or drink anything fun anymore.

  25. On March 2, 2015 at 2:58 am Ceri said:

    I tried the 7 Days of Absolute Living Hell Detox Diet (which I’m almost certain is all of them). I was not a nice person to be around to be honest.

    So is this a detox or an official lifestyle change now?
    Ceri recently posted..My Five Favourite Things in February

    • On March 6, 2015 at 8:32 am Sally said:

      Well, kind of. I’m on meds which has helped things. So I can drink beer (but only about 1 or 2) and white wine and eat most foods. But for some reason red wine and rich dairy products (like my beloved ice cream) make me really sick. 🙁

  26. On August 26, 2016 at 3:13 pm Larissa Maia said:

    Ha ha! your post is so funny! Good to break the exaggerated seriousness of people. 😉
    Useful tips!


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