Detoxing? That time I tried a juice cleanse…


Besides “organizing,” the other buzz word around this time of year seems to be “detoxing.” I have to admit that I don’t really buy into the concept (isn’t that what your kidneys are for?), but I totally get the appeal of fresh starts when it comes to one’s diet. Being pregnant, the timing isn’t great for me to enact any major diet changes (sure, I should be consuming more fruits and veggies than I do, but not cutting calories), otherwise I’d totally be all about fresh starts—heck, I might even call it a detox.

I’m actually pretty curious when it comes to people’s purge plans—and last year I tested a three-day juice cleanse in the name of research. It was sort of fascinating…

There are lots of claims about raw, pressed juices. Like I said, I’m not really a believer, but I definitely felt like I learned something from doing a juice cleanse: The majority of my eating, it turns out, is driven by habit, boredom, social obligation, curiosity, and the like… in other words, mental drives rather than physical ones.

Frankly, I’m pretty into food (what tipped you off? this?) and have little qualm with pleasure-eating, but I make some pretty bad choices when habit sends me looking around the pantry. It’s good to be aware of what’s real hunger and what’s boredom.

Here’s how it went:

Unless you have a juicer and can make your own, pressed juices are expensive! Somehow it was easier to justify a single high expense if I could  mock-amortize the saved costs of eating out (at fancy-ish spots, of course). I had all of the juices delivered (I chose BluePrint cleanse) at once; that way they were there waiting for me whenever I needed one. After I finished the cleanse, I went into Whole Foods to buy a couple of juices individually but when faced with $10 for a single bottle I couldn’t, well, stomach the cost.

The juices tasted good (some even tasted great). There was never an issue there. But I did miss some of the ritual of solid foods. The slicing, the chewing… And I bemoaned how fast I was done with each “meal.” I took to drinking half at a time when at home to stretch it out. At the end of the day, I had a serious headache. The calories in a day’s worth of juices are fairly equivalent to what I would otherwise consume (though made up of more sugars than fats or proteins), so I think the headache actually had more to do with caffeine withdrawl, as I had given up coffee for the exercise. I vowed to include more water the following day, too. (I should note, however, they did recommend “preparing” for the cleanse by slowly phasing out caffeine and certain foods. Whoops.)

That night, we went out with family and I didn’t want to admit that I was doing something so silly as a juice cleanse. I’m no Gwyneth Paltrow, after all. Luckily, it somehow went undetected that I never touched the pizza in front of me but just occasionally traded plates with Aron.

I felt fine the next day, and looked forward to the juices–certain ones more than others. In fact it was shockingly easy to get through the day!  Still, I found myself wandering over to the pantry from time to time out of habit before reminding myself not to snack. I was never hungry, so it was odd realizing just how much thought went into food every day.

By this point, I started feeling good about my willpower (bonus!), but then we ran into a group of friends and joined them at a pub. There I had to justify why I wasn’t drinking (no, I wasn’t pregnant) or ordering fish & chips—the sort of greasy things I’d usually be pretty excited about. That was rough. Again, I wasn’t hungry, but the smell of french fries was really hard to ignore!

By the third and final day, I was on a roll. The only problem was having ended on the weekend. The day went smoothly but then Aron and I had already scheduled a babysitter for the evening, so we had to come up with a date that didn’t center on eating out. A movie was an obvious choice, but I still wanted a date that let us hang out and talk and enjoy the lack of toddler interruptions. We ended up going bowling and then to a movie. However, just before we pulled up to the theatre, Aron confessed he was hungry. Uh-oh, the social part would do me in.

So we drove through Jack-in-the-Box.  And I couldn’t do it. I failed. One juice left to go and I broke the cleanse early for a Sourdough Jack.

A greasy (yummy) burger with bacon on it is pretty much the exact opposite of the recommendations for coming off of a juice cleanse. You’re supposed to re-enter the world of solid-food very slowly… as-in, dense foods on day-5 post-cleanse and things like pieces of fruit to begin. Again: whoops.

I didn’t lose weight or notice a new glow to my skin in the end, but I did get physical confirmation that the cleanse had had an effect. Let’s just say I paid for that burger later. My stomach was none too happy about it, nor was it too keen on any rich, fatty foods for a few days.

I did (temporarily) lose my craving for certain flavors. So it actually did leave me in a good place to reevaluate my diet and make a fresh start, after all.

Would I do it again? Yes. I still don’t believe that drinking all juices for a few days is going to rid my body of evil toxins, and I’d never advocate it as a sensible diet plan, but I loved getting a healthy dose of reminding about one’s appetites—and how differently they manifest. And, while in the midst of it all, I enjoyed the sensation of triumph over my own.

Have you ever tried a juice cleanse? Would you? What’s the craziest diet-fad you’ve experimented with?

P.S. If you’re looking for something on the other end of the spectrum, don’t let this stop you! Today would have been Elvis’s 79th birthday—maybe a peanut butter and banana, “Elvis sandwich” would be appropriate? I’m a big fan. (Of Elvis and the sandwich).

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