Lacking energy? Feeling bleah? Been overindulging too much in cake and beer? Skin looking dull and lifeless? Battling a spare tire?
Many people who are, or have been feeling this way, are turning more and more to a juice cleanse.
What is a juice cleanse? Well, it basically consists of you doing a kind of fast, where you go off of most or all solid food for anywhere from one day to several weeks, and replace it with freshly-pressed (non-commercial) juices. This detox works as a kind of “reset,” allowing your body to only be fed by high-quality nutrients, and removing anything from your diet that might be toxic, allergic or harmful. The thinking behind it is, that when you juice, you are feeding your body pure vitamins and minerals, and getting them into your system in the fastest possible way, essentially flooding your body with goodness.
Many people report feeling higher energy, weight loss, and relief from other symptoms, like bloating, headaches, or allergies, and some people even report being cured of serious diseases like cancer.
Juicing feels like a bit of a trend right now, given that every second celebrity in Hollywood these days is photographed with a juice in hand, and the popularity of the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.
I recently went on a juice cleanse, and it was a really interesting experience. Since then, I have talked to a Natropathic Doctor, and a Nutritonal Dietician about juice cleansing, and I wanted to share with you both the lessons I learned from my personal experience and the things I learned from the professionals.
Get prepped: truthfully, if you have chips in your house, chances are, you’re going to eat them. It really helps to do a clean-out of your fridge and cupboard before you start and get rid of foods that will tempt you. You will have cravings! It’s harder to give into them when you have to leave your house to fulflil them.
Pre-shop: do some research. There are tons of resources out there, some of which include grocery lists that you can take to the store with you. One great alternative is to order a juicing box from SPUD.ca. It showed up on my doorstep with everything I needed for my cleanse. Having a buddy also really helps–you keep each other honest, and you have someone to talk to and compare notes about how you are feeling.
What kind of juicer? You have two choices here: a centrifugal juicer or a slow juicer. The centrifuge might be a bit less expensive, but it doesn’t extract as much juice, and it also heats the fruits and vegetables a little, which may kill some of the living properties in the produce. In my experience, they also aren’t as tough. I used a Hurom Slow Juicer (also from SPUD.ca), and it could take everything I threw in it, including yams one day when I was feeling particularly adventurous. The slow juicer isn’t slow, per se, it just extracts the juice using a masticating system, which creates more juice, and leaves more nutrients intact.
How many? You have a choice here: if you are going to go a full-on juice cleanse, you’ll probably want to drink around 5-6 juices throughout the day. You could also swap out one or two of your juices for a smoothie (with a plant-based protein booster). Alternatively, you could juice for the first half or 2/3rds of the day, and then have a light, plant-based dinner, like a salad simply dressed with olive oil and lemon, with a baked yam, or perhaps some lean protein like a chicken breast or some fish. You may also want to snack on nuts and seeds. Basically avoid anything with sugar, gluten, alcohol, and anything processed.
One for the road: I would get up in the morning and create a few juices, maybe 2-3, and put them in mason jars to bring with me to work. Make sure you also carry water with you, as you need to drink about 2 litres of water per day to help flush out the toxins. You should be drinking a juice every 2-3 hours. Store your juices in the fridge until you are ready to drink them.
Recipes? There are tons of recipes online, but I found that I fell back on a base of carrot and apple, then built from there, adding in extra fruit (pineapple, for example, which I love), beets, or some greens (kale or spinach). If you feel like you need some extra zip, a half a lemon (rind removed) thrown in the hopper or a chunk of ginger does wonders.
Side effects? It might be a good idea to, at the very least, let your coworkers know you’re going on a juice cleanse, and don’t book anything too stressful during those days. Take the time off, if you can, booking your cleanse on a long weekend, for example. Many people (including myself) report feeling pretty lousy for the first few days. This is know as the die-off effect, but it should pass within a day or two. Take care of yourself, take baths, take naps if you can, take it easy.
Interestingly, since completing my juice cleanse, I have seen quite a backlash in the media lately against juice cleanses. There was this recent article in Slate, for example, and this one in Women’s Health.
“Cleansing has been done since the beginning of time,” said Dr. Alexina Mehta, an ND here in Vancouver. “It’s a way to clean the slate, reset the system.”
But Dr. Mehta warns against the ‘one size fits all’ cleanse. “There are lots of different approaches to cleansing,” she said. “You really need something that’s customized to you, based on your history, your eating patterns, your level of health, whether or not you’ve ever done a cleanse before.” She encourages you to go and see a health care professional before you start.
Have you ever done a juice cleanse? Or are you thinking of doing one? Share your experiences in the comments section below.