Goop's annual detox plan eliminates eliminates caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, corn, nightshades, soy, refined sugar, shellfish, white rice, and eggs.
What Is It: Goop’s annual detox: 2019 edition
Who Tried It: Ana Calderone, PEOPLE Associate Editor, Food & Lifestyle
Level of Difficulty: 8/10
Something happened to me over the holidays. While I usually consider myself a pretty healthy eater—I try my best to avoid wheat, refined sugar, red meat, and dairy (for the most part)—my diet was suddenly made up of almost entirely charcuterie platter foods. I was 50 percent cured meat and 50 percent smoked Gouda. Fueled by the countless holiday parties, I fell victim to the Instagram memes telling me to embrace sweater weather—and embrace it I did. So yeah, you could say I was in need of a diet reset, and as if on cue, the goop newsletter highlighting the 2019 detox plan arrived in my inbox.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site is known for their annual five-day detox. Someone from the PEOPLE staff takes it on every year, and this time I volunteered as tribute. The plan, which comes with a menu and recipes for every day, eliminates caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, corn, nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes), soy, refined sugar, shellfish, white rice, and eggs. Not a lot of fun left, right? Instead, those foods are replaced with $315 worth of “nutrient-dense leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, hearty grains, seeds, and lean proteins.” The fact that they had to call out seeds as one of the five food groups you can eat, meant I was in for some trouble.
During the week on the plan, I had good days and bad (caffeine withdrawal will do that to you), and by the end, I was both full of energy and exhausted from the labor-intensive meal prepping it involved. Here’s how it all went down for me, and a few suggestions to make it more enjoyable for you (if you dare).
If a $300 grocery bill sounds like a lot on your wallet, consider that it’s also a lot on your shoulders. Goop provides a handy shopping list of everything you’ll need for the week, but they don’t mention how you’re suppose to get it all home. After my first big haul at a health food store in Brooklyn, I was left with broken blood vessels on my shoulders from the heavy grocery bags. No joke, I literally walked up the stairs to my apartment sideways just to fit.
I had to make fives trips during the week for things I either forgot or couldn’t find at first and still had to place an Amazon order, so just know this: You’ll likely need to order the sweet potato vermicelli and coconut aminos online. I’d also recommend buying cooked beets instead of raw, garlic cloves that are already peeled, 1 bag of cauliflower “rice” instead of a head you’d grate yourself, and fresh coconut instead of frozen unless you can find it (I couldn’t).
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, this day was torture. I’m used to drinking two cups of coffee a day and when I missed my morning cup, I was hit with a headache that lasted all day. The mediocre breakfast didn’t help either. I made the grain-free granola the night before and while it was easy to make, it in no way resembles granola. It’s just a bunch of spiced nuts and seeds that desperately need a sweetener. Add a teaspoon of honey in with the coconut oil if you want to moderately enjoy it. (Honey or sweetener of any kind is not on the diet, but I’m sure goop wouldn’t want you to starve.)
Next I was onto the borsht. OH, THE BORSCHT. In short: I hated it. I don’t like beets, so it wasn’t much of a surprise but I just can’t imagine anyone looking forward to a bowl of this stuff. It’s decent freshly made and warm, but in no way should be eaten cold for lunch the next day. I was cranky and starving at this point and to top it all off, my coworker Shay popped open a bag of the new Flamin’ Hot Doritos at his desk and I almost lost it. But I sat quietly at my desk eating a brown rice cake while he wiped Dorito dust off his fingers. I said it was torture, didn’t I?
If it wasn’t for the delicious next meal, salmon patties with turmeric cauliflower rice, I might have quit that night. I already can’t wait to make them again.
The blueberry coconut chia smoothie was another goop fail. They warn you that if you’re not working with a fancy Vitamix blender then you might not get a “super creamy consistency,” but nothing prepared me for this level of chunkiness. I took two sips and chucked it in the garbage, fully prepared to make it again on Friday with a few of my own adjustments. The fix: use unsweetened almond milk instead of water, add an extra date and a handful of ice, and blend it for an excessive amount of time. If you think it looks good, blend it for another five minutes and then drink it.
The salmon patties were just as delicious the next day for lunch and the beans and greens soup (pictured above) for dinner was 10 times better than the borscht, but I was still hungry. I suggest you double the chickpeas for some extra fiber and protein. Still, I’ll never understand how anyone can get full from just eating soup, and according to a poll I held on my Instagram account, 74 percent of people agree it’s impossible. I ate another rice cake to compensate.
This day also brought on the muscle aches. Eliminating foods like processed sugar, dairy and caffeine have different effects on everyone but for me, it felt like I had just tried an intense new workout. My legs were tense, my shoulders throbbed and my head was pounding. A few Advil eased the symptoms and when I checked the #goopdetox hashtag on Instagram, it helped to know that other people in the same situation were feeling better by day four or five.
Ah-ha! My headache was finally gone, but the muscle aches continued on.
I was determined to like the grain-free granola, so I mixed it in with some unsweetened almond milk and goop-approved berries, and got most of it down. More leftover soup for lunch. The date balls were the real shining light of the day, if not the entire week. They’re sweet with the just the right amount of spice. And thankfully I had them, because Shay opened his bag of Doritos again today.
Up until this point I had been going at this mostly on my own. My two roommates have annoyingly fast metabolisms so while I nourished my body with beans and greens all week, they ordered in burgers and fries. Today was different. My boyfriend offered to eat whatever I was eating for dinner (read: I forced him to). I was thrilled to get some feedback other than from my growling stomach. The roasted chicken and cauliflower with herb salad was a hit. Instead of boring, boneless chicken breast, goop encourages you to buy bone-in, skin-on chicken (you could even swap it for thighs!) so the meat is juicy and flavorful. I couldn’t find bone-in breasts sold on their own, so I bought a whole cut chicken. The drumsticks were a real treat.
By now I was used to the amount of cooking required of this detox. It’s almost like they planned it so there’s no time to be hungry since you’re too busy cleaning that night’s dishes and prepping tomorrow’s lunch until at least 9 p.m. every night. But this day, the prep work was eating into my morning commute. For the cauliflower black bean scramble, you have to roast and mash the cauliflower before sautéing it in with a bunch of veggies. The end result is worth it for sure, but I’m used to allotting just enough time to pop a piece of Ezekiel bread in the toaster before heading out the door.
I could eat Dig Inn’s cashew kale Caesar salad for lunch every single day so I was hoping goop’s, which I prepared the night before, would measure up. It not only did, but I also fell in love the crispy chickpeas. I had to stop myself from eating them all straight off the pan.
For dinner, it was another soup, this time Tom Yum soup. If it wasn’t incredibly salty (my roommate thought it tasted like sea water), I would have finished every last spoonful. Because the fish sauce in the recipe already has a lot of sodium, you should omit the salt entirely from the recipe, then add to your taste at the end if you feel the need.
I made it! At this point, I was finally feeling some benefits of the detox. I was sleeping well, had more energy in the morning and felt clearheaded the entire day. Plus, my aches were almost entirely gone. If you’re considering quitting on day one or day two, know that the food gets better and you’ll start to feel better.
For breakfast, my perfected blueberry smoothie was refreshing till the last drop. The detox bun salad was equally satisfying thanks to the sweet potato vermicelli. If you can’t find the Asian noodles, the salad would be just as good with my go-to chickpea spaghetti from Banza (it’s detox friendly). It actually filled me up enough that after a few date balls around 5 p.m., I wasn’t even hungry for dinner. It took everything out of me not to have my post-work Friday night glass of wine, but I had made it this far, so I wasn’t about to sabotage my results now.
I lost 3 lbs. over the five days, which will feel like a win if I can keep it off once I add back some food groups. I plan to continue cutting out dairy, sugar, and caffeine, while reintroducing healthy grains and eggs.
Would I recommend others try the goop detox? I’m not so sure. I only really liked five of the 13 recipes on the plan, and even those required more work than I would probably put in on a normal work week. I’m sure there are easier (and tastier) ways to do this.
More than anything though, I got what I was after. I came away from the detox inspired to continue eating healthy … with only the occasional Dorito.