What Is It: Goop’s annual detox: 2018 edition
Who Tried It: Maggie Malach, PEOPLE Associate Editor, Digital Platforms
Level of Difficulty: 9/10 (my body might be detoxed, but my wallet is not)
Never have I ever tried a diet. I’m realistic about my self-control when it comes to food (it’s low) and the idea of giving up bread, even for so much as one day, is nightmare-inducing. When I tried Whole30 two years ago, I lasted nine hours. (I was asleep for eight of them.) So, no, it doesn’t make sense that that I would try Goop’s five-day 2018 detox (I blame residual excitement over my new gym membership and general #newyearnewyou vibes).
You can get the full deets on this year’s detox here, but it’s actually very similar to Whole30. (And arguably less intense than the 2014 detox, which was basically liquids-only until 1:30 p.m. every day. Like … how.) The 2018 ditch list includes caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, corn, nightshades, soy, refined sugar, shellfish, white rice and eggs. Since that’s pretty intimidating, Goop helpfully came up with a bunch of recipes, a shopping list and a meal schedule that even tells you when to prep certain items. My goal was to follow the prescribed plan as closely as possible — taking into account that I’m simply a mere mortal.
The first rule of a Goop detox is that the shopping list will never be simple. True to form, this year’s includes everything from unpronounceable (za’atar) to the expensive (vanilla powder) to the questionable (collagen powder). I was convinced I would starve before finding all of these items (and I live in New York City!), but luckily Whole Foods carries almost all of them. I was able to place a delivery, making this operation a (nearly) one-stop-shop — and I highly recommend it for anyone giving the detox a go.
It’s also worth mentioning that this one doesn’t come cheap. I had some pantry staples on hand, like extra virgin olive oil, but what I did buy cost more than $300.
PREP DAY: SUNDAY
I woke up bright and early to Whole Foods depositing four bags — containing about 95 percent of my detox food — on my doorstep. Unpacking the delivery was a chore in itself, as there is so much food that it completely filled my fridge (and I still had two full bags of groceries on my counter). Note to self: Next time I detox, don’t do it in a 4×6 foot Manhattan kitchen.
Feeling energized by the task before me (and, you know, caffeine’s sweet nectar), I started my Goop-recommended Sunday prep: Make a batch of Raspberry Overnight Oats, prep the Mexican Chopped Salad (including Pickled Red Onions, Creamy Cilantro Dressing and Easy Black Beans), and make the Turmeric Cashews. While Goop suggested that prep time should only be about 20 minutes per day, checking all of these items off my list definitely took closer to an hour and a half.
DAY 1: MONDAY
It’s go time. TBH, I was wary when I tucked away my overnight oats to do their overnight oats thing on Sunday. I prefer my oatmeal on the drier side (versus soupy), and when I initially mixed all of the ingredients, it was the soupiest. However, after a healthy stir Monday morning, they were the perfect consistency. Goop win, for sure. Given that the dregs of the #bombcyclone were still lurking outside my window, I couldn’t bring myself to eat them cold. Once they were warmed up, I actually really liked them and loved that they kind of reminded me of rice pudding, texture-wise. I was so full that I didn’t even think about lunch until an hour later than usual.
Lunch basically consisted of assembling my Mexican Chopped Salad — and it was here things began to go wrong. Of all of the items on the grocery list, Vegenaise is the hard line I will not cross. Regular mayo gives me the willies, and a pseudo version? Pass. I skipped using it in the cilantro dressing (naively thinking it would still kind of work) and it definitely tanked. The beans I prepped were also questionable and maybe burned (still don’t know), so I skipped both of those in the salad. To replace the dressing, I chopped up an avocado and drizzled a touch of olive oil on the greens. The result was awesome and, honestly, way less work than the dressing anyway. (I didn’t miss the beans. Sorry, beans.)
Late in the afternoon, I got a serious hankering for cake. Like, it was all I could think about. Obviously cake is nowhere near the approved list, so I googled photos of dessert while eating a handful of Turmeric Cashews. My stomach was full, but my heart was empty.
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The one part of the detox that consistently hung over my head is the amount of prep work involved. Goop’s handy schedule tells you what to prep for the following day’s meals, which is awesome, but it fails to take into account that for people who need to make lunch in advance, the evening shift can get pretty tedious. For example, on Monday night night I was tasked with cooking that night’s meal (Italian Chicken and Kale Soup), baking a sweet potato for Tuesday and completely making all of Tuesday’s Brown Rice Summer Rolls and SunButter Satay Sauce. Definitely more complex than my usual 15-minute post-work meal.
That said, Monday’s dinner kept the theme of previous meals: It was tasty, straightforward to make and left me feeling full. The best part is that I definitely had enough leftovers for Wednesday’s lunch (per the Goop schedule), plus an additional meal.
DAY 2: TUESDAY
Tuesday morning I hit the wall. Hard.
I know, I know. Day two of the detox is hardly wall-worthy, but after so much prepping on Sunday and Monday, I shuddered at the thought of facing my cutting board. It also didn’t help that it was still dark when I woke up an hour earlier than usual so I could make Sweet Potato Pancakes with Coconut and Berries — and I wasn’t even that hungry.
I finally dragged myself out of bed long enough to fix a bowl of blueberries and a mug of warm water with lemon (as highlighted in 2014 and 2017’s Goop detox) before retreating back to the warm embrace of my blankets. While I decadently sipped my water and pretended I didn’t have to schlep to the subway in the next 30 minutes, I revamped my Goop plan. Between making breakfast before work, and fixing dinner and lunch after work, I was spending easily two to three hours a day just prepping food. I even cleared my gym schedule to accommodate it. In my non-detox reality, I usually make all of my lunches on Sunday and then cook 1-2 hearty (but not time-consuming) meals during the week to cover dinners, so the disparity was pretty jarring. Making three different involved meals a day (and the detox schedule barely uses leftovers) was already burning me out. Dramatic, yes, but I have a tiny kitchen and no dishwasher. No shame.
Luckily, the solution was pretty easy. The Goop recipes make two portions (though sometimes more), so I decided to swap in some leftovers in favor of creating every meal from scratch, every time. Besides, I was already noticing an imbalance in ingredients and had anticipated needing to skip components in future meals. It was like Goop expected burnout because two of Wednesday’s recipes are repeats — and I already have the leftovers ready.
I hit my yearly quota (roughly) of greens during lunch, thanks to the Brown Rice Summer Rolls. I’ve never worked with brown rice wrappers, but I worked in a deli in college and I was super excited to put my wrapping skills to use. It was a little tough to fit allll of the veggies in, but definitely do-able.
Goop says the recipe serves two, but I made three wraps (and only ate one for lunch), plus I saved a bag of leftover chopped veggies. A little bit goes a long, long way here. Btw, the SunButter Satay Sauce elevated these from tasting “green AF” to “wow.”
I was planning on having breakfast for dinner (a.k.a the Sweet Potato Pancakes with Coconut and Berries that my laziness derailed earlier), but a crippling migraine sent me straight to bed after work, where I slept for a solid 11 hours. (Interestingly enough, staffers who braved the 2014, 2016 and 2017 versions of the detox mentioned experiencing awful headaches as well.)
DAY THREE: WEDNESDAY
I won’t hesitate to admit that I miss my morning coffee; I’m big on routines and one of my most consistent is sipping a latte while I start my work day. Given that both caffeine and dairy are on the detox’s ditch list, I knew this would be the first thing to go. After working Sunday’s Golden Globes into early Monday morning, my body was still catching up on sleep (again, 11 hours!) and it hit me hard on Tuesday afternoon, triggering the mother of all headaches. I didn’t want to risk a repeat on Wednesday (or Thursday or Friday), so I introduced coffee back into my diet. I’m sorry, Gwyneth! A girl’s gotta work. (I did have my second serving of Overnight Oats for breakfast, so that was a win!)
For lunch, I had the two remaining Brown Rice Summer Rolls and found my endurance buoyed by the influx of greens. My fervor was abruptly shadowed when a co-worker ran to inform me of free cake in the office. (She then noted I’d also just been talking about craving Teddy Grahams.) “I’m satisfying my sweet craving with sweet potato pancakes tonight,” I said unconvincingly.
By the time dinner rolled around, my sweet tooth was in full-on craving mode. As it turns out, the Sweet Potato Pancakes were, like, really good. I cooked them until the edges bordered on being burned, which added a nice crispiness. I assumed they’d taste like sweet potato fries, but the flour gave them less of a fluffy consistency inside. The cinnamon and coconut flavors, plus the blueberries, definitely made this recipe the sweetest and the most decadent of the ones I’d tried so far. Not free-cake-in-the-office good, but still my favorite meal of the detox.
DAY FOUR: THURSDAY
In the words of Lil Jon, when I woke up on Thursday, it was SMOOTHIE TIME. I had high hopes for this fun-filled beverage as it contained numerous promising ingredients (a.k.a. things that approximated peanut butter and chocolate). It also featured more exotic components like collagen and maca powder, so at 7 a.m. I found myself standing in my kitchen, learning all about the ways they would improve my life.
While I looked forward to the collagen supporting my joints all day, I felt very guilty about turning on my blender when my kitchen shares a thin wall with my neighbor’s bedroom. (He’s a good neighbor and does not deserve to be punished by smoothie time.) Blender shame aside, this wasn’t too bad. It definitely did not live up to the chocolately goodess of the Goop photo — and I think it was more bitter than I expected. I was also very displeased that my stomach was growling by 11:45. But if you’re a 7.am. smoothie kinda person, I’d recommend taking this one for a spin.
Thursday started shaping up to be a not great day. By the time 1:30 rolled around, I was ravenous (with a particular hankering for Cheetos, duh). Last night I’d whipped up a batch of Cold Noodle Salad with SunButter Satay Sauce, figuring it would basically be like bringing leftover takeout in for lunch. How wrong I was.
While the meal looked promising hot, after being in the fridge, the sauce took on a dry, gritty … ish … texture that just did not translate well. I was so excited for this one that I even packed two servings — one for Friday’s lunch — but I was pretty underwhelmed. It’s worth noting that that craving for Cheetos raged on.
I didn’t have Cheetos for dinner, but I did have a serving of leftover Italian Chicken and Kale soup, which at least satisfied my craving for not having to cut vegetables.
DAY FIVE: FRIDAY
The rainy Friday morning echoed my detox state of mind. (I’m sure there’s a metaphor here about starting fresh and coming clean, but I was too hungry to really develop it.) I crawled out of bed to start Round 2 of My Neighbor Must Really Hate Me for Using My Blender This Early. Friday’s pick: the Fruity Chlorella Smoothie. This one is shockingly straightforward. Like, there’s only one random ingredient (and it’s optional!). Is it really the Goop detox if you take the road most traveled? I think not (plus, I was intrigued by the superpowers touted by chlorella), so I def included it.
Given Goop’s cheerful warning that the smoothie included ginger to offset its “slightly swampy flavor,” I expected this to taste like gourmet moss harvested off an organic tree trunk. I actually forgot to add the ginger (I know) and the smoothie still tasted really good. It was a bit chunky for my liking (probably because I guiltily blended for the briefest period of time possible), but otherwise not a bad recipe to have on hand. As I got ready to go into work, I noticed my watch felt looser on my wrist, leading my to spend my commute contemplating the chances that the detox has led me to lose weight exclusively on my left arm.
Fridays are typically pretty busy, and before I knew it, I was getting ready to leave the office … and I hadn’t even had lunch. Though I was too distracted to retrieve my leftover Cold Noodle Salad, my stomach had taken notice and I was hungry. By the time I got home, I was straight-up ravenous, and with three hours left of my detox, I found myself in bed with a large bacon-covered pizza. Yes, I am weak.
The Verdict: I have mixed feelings — especially since I am not a known user/believer of detoxes. Emotions aside (and believe me, I have a lot. Most involve bread), this detox wasn’t the hardest. While I didn’t weigh myself, I was definitely less bloated by the end. (Apparently dreaming about Cheetos is a sodium-free venture.) Aside from being super tired, I struggled most with the price (it’s just so expensive) and the prep involved. It’s hard to imagine people doing this solo can make three involved meals per day, so I highly recommend utilizing leftovers to help with the cost and the time required. That said, it included a bunch of good recipes and it wouldn’t take much work to throw together equally awesome meals with Goop’s approved ingredients.