I TRIED a detox diet recommended by Leon Chaitow, senior lecturer at the University of Westminster, consultant naturopath at Marylebone Health Centre, and author of the book Clear Body Clear Mind. He says the diet should be followed over a weekend or holiday, for no longer than 72 hours.

8.30am: Wake up feeling empty after spending the previous day eating fruit and salads in preparation for the 24-hour "juice fast". Drink my first liquid of the day - a cup of herbal tea - and read Chaitow's list of symptoms to expect: "You may feel colder than usual, so dress warmly," he says, "or develop a furred tongue, headache, muscle ache, nausea and bad taste in the mouth." He also warns that under no circumstances should you drive a car or use complicated machinery - I decide not to switch on my computer.

10am: Drink a glass of freshly prepared orange juice diluted with pure water. Search for "appropriate reading and audio material to amuse, inspire and relax" as recommended by Chaitow. Go back to bed and follow his strict instructions to stop all work and rest.

12 noon: Absorbed by recipe sections at the back of the Sunday glossies - fixated for at least five minutes by a large colour photograph of barbecued lamb kebabs. Feel inspired but not relaxed. Continually watch the clock, anticipating my next intake of foul-tasting fluid.

1pm: Gulp down a glass of fresh tomato juice diluted with mineral water. So unsatisfying that I drink a glass of lukewarm water. Feel slightly sick. First of many trips to the lavatory.

2pm: Sit outside but only briefly - Chaitow warns that more than 15 minutes sunbathing per day can stress the immune system. Convinced I can smell aroma of barbecued lamb from next door.

3pm: Feel weak and lethargic. Unable to complete simple household tasks. According to Chaitow, this is a natural response which should pass. He advises detoxers to make sure other people are aware of their regime, in case they need assistance, and to keep important phone numbers at hand in case you feel too weak to leaf through your Filofax. Chaitow says: "Practice deep breathing, relaxation and gentle stretching." I feel agitated and unable to relax.

3.30pm: The thought of more tepid water increases an intense wave of nausea. Prefer not to drink at all than suffer another raw vegetable drink. Develop mild headache.

4pm: Headache worsens. Through desperation I suffer another raw tomato drink. My stomach feels bloated and I now feel shaky. Languish on sofa and watch food advertisements on TV.

5pm: Fall into fitful sleep and wake up an hour later feeling feverish with revolting taste in my mouth. Want to chew some peppermint gum but this would only "stimulate the digestive system which could exhaust and confuse the body". Fantasise about my trip to Waitrose tomorrow and try to picture the order of its food shelves.

7pm: Almost cry with frustration as I consume my last fruit juice of the day. Feel angry, starved and resentful. No more food until the morning, when I can "break" my fast with a bowl of vegetable soup.

10.30pm: Crawl to bed, drained and depressed. Throw caution to the wind and have a glass of milk. Still find it impossible to sleep. Chaitow states: "It is usual to sleep less deeply on a fast and indeed to have an active mind." Stomach is rumbling violently. Try to count sheep but start to salivate.

If you don't have 72 hours to spare, this is Leon Chaitow's "short" fast regime: on waking, have nothing except a drink of hot water, to which a little lemon juice may be added. Every two hours, from 8am to 8pm, drink half a cup of carrot juice, apple juice, or clear vegetable soup. It is important that nothing else should be taken, otherwise the value of the fast is lost entirely. If you develop a slight fever, drink more water. After three days the fast should be broken by taking a little natural low-fat yogurt, water, and later on, vegetable soup or baked potato - to be eaten slowly.

EMMA COOK

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