Last week, I embarked on my first juice cleanse. Before I delve into why, let me throw out a few caveats for the hardcore purists out there. I’m calling it a juice cleanse because I drank mostly juice. I did however, have a smoothie, homemade vegetable broth, and the occasional saltine cracker when I felt a little dizzy.
Feeling sluggish, completely sick of cold weather, unmotivated, unusually negative, and just bleh, I brainstormed how to reinvigorate my spirit. Eventually, I decided to do a juice cleanse. I felt that simplifying what I put into my body would allow me to readjust, refocus, and get back in touch with my joy. In short, it did just this and more!
I cleansed for 5 days and structured it so that I would drink from the rainbow each day. The Sunday before the cleanse started I bought a ton of fruits and veggies. I juiced half of them on Sunday night and half on Tuesday night for the rest of the week.
Here’s how I did it:
- Water with lemon–throughout the day
- GREEN: spinach, cucumber, celery, mint, cilantro, lime, green apple, coconut water
- RED: beet, strawberry, red apple, ginger, coconut water
- Mint or chamomile tea
- SMOOTHIE: blueberries, banana, mango, pineapple, green juice (from above), ground flax seeds, ground raw oats
- ORANGE: carrot, orange, splash of red apple, turmeric
- BROTH: homemade vegetable broth (it wasn’t pink, I’m just trying to figure out how to work my favorite color into the mix! :D)
- YELLOW: grapefruit, lemon, splash of lime, coconut water, raw agave
All in all, I achieved exactly what I hoped to achieve! I felt better, kinder, more compassionate, sharper, and more insightful. I also learned a ton about my relationship with food. Things like: I like to munch, it soothes me, and I eat when I’m anxious. Particularly at work, I felt myself constantly wanting to chew–as I read email, as I worked through writers’ block, after attending a stressful meeting. I never thought of myself as a mindless eater. After all, I am pretty cognizant of what I eat. But I learned that mindless eating also encompasses when you eat. I graze–all day. What are the implications of eating all day? And psychologically how does this affect my ability (inability?) to deal with situations as they arise?
I also realized that I often mistake hunger for thirst or simple cravings (desires). There were times that I “felt hungry” but I’d have some water with lemon and within minutes would be totally fine. When my co-workers came in with chocolate croissants, my mouth literally began to water (yup, like Pavlov’s dogs!). I wanted to taste the pastries. I wasn’t hungry at all. But I wanted the flaky, chocolate goodness in my mouth. That goodness was associated with pleasure–the taste turns into a smile, smiling feels good (not to mention the physiological effects of sugar). My mouthwatering also occurred when someone in the office brought in French fries (the ultimate kryptonite on a juice cleanse) and when I joined my friend for dinner at a soul food restaurant (again, BIG mistake :D).
To my surprise, many people were pretty judgmental about my cleanse. “Don’t you get hungry?” “I like meat!” “I would never do that, I like to eat too much!” “I’d be hungry!” This definitely wasn’t everyone’s response, but I was surprised at how often it came up. The funny thing is, you get hungry even when you are eating “real” food. My juices were packed with nutrients and were pretty filling. It’s kind of interesting that people seemed to equate being “full” with being overfull, or with eating certain types of foods.
I’ve heard folks say that cleansing is easy. Well, people, I’m here to tell you that it was not easy for me. I experienced dizziness (especially on the subway) and had headaches. But most of all, there were the cravings. Feeling deprivation really jump started my introspection though and by the end of the week, it had dissipated completely–so much so, that on the day I was to break my fast, I indulged in juice for two more meals before engaging in solid food.
Will I do a juice cleanse again? Ah, absolutely, perhaps once per season! By the third day of the cleanse, I felt really good, and since it’s been over, I’ve felt great! I recognized the willpower I have (I left a package of Oreos in my cabinet just to prove to myself that I could go 5 days without eating them!) and I felt great. A couple friends even said that I was glowing ;). I’m not going to lie, it was tough, particularly tough at times, but it was completely worth it! Have you done a cleanse? Would you?