It’s my Jewish disposition to constantly think about food, eat at my first twinge of hunger, and worry about where my next meal is going to come from (and what it is, and will it come fast enough). Surviving on juice alone basically goes against my entire way of being.
Here’s how my juice cleanse happened, and what I thought about it:
It was Wednesday and I was making the most of a rare chance to party on a week night. A friend from home was visiting and it was her birthday the following day, which I’d taken off work.
A group of us dined at the cozy, rustic, LES Italian restaurant Sauce. We shared prosecco and their signature dish ‘the plank’: a wooden board of creamy, velvety polenta topped with sweet, melt-in-the-mouth beef ragu. For dessert: flourless chocolate cake plus more prosecco. No holding back.
We moved to Vandal, a hot new multi-level restaurant / bar / club boasting fun, colorful modern art installations. As the clock struck midnight I ordered the obligatory round of birthday shots. The sexy barman surprised us with our second chocolate cake of the night. Oink.
In my haze of blissful over-indulgence, I asked a pal what she had planned for the weekend. She was kicking off a 3 day juice cleanse, which apparently she’d done before. She cited benefits such as more energy, clearer skin and a shrunken stomach that stopped her consuming ludicrous USA portions. The seed was planted.
That party night was followed by two beautiful vegan dinners at Candle 79 and Angelica Kitchen (which has sadly just closed down); healthy-ish, but laden with wine and ‘pretend to be good for you’ vegan desserts.
When I kissed my visiting pal goodbye at my door Saturday morning, bloated and hanging, I impulsively decided my juice cleanse had begun.
By only drinking juice, you’re automatically cutting out refined carbs and saturated fats found in processed foods. You’re also eliminating dairy, wheat, gluten, caffeine and booze – allergens for lots of us.
Instead, you’re flooding your system with pure, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory nutrition. A rainbow juice diet provides all the vitamins and minerals you need, as well as enough carbs, fat, protein and plant-based salts.
Juice is fiber and toxin free, so doesn’t require much processing, giving your stomach, gut and liver a much needed rest. This also means that the rich juice nutrients absorb into your blood stream quickly. And finally, because juice requires less energy to process, the body’s energy is diverted to healing and detoxifying your cells. Win win win!
In summary, it was hard as hell.
But, the cleanse reset some of my deep-seated, less-than-helpful assumptions about food and eating. Here are 5 things I learnt:
- Hunger doesn’t build to unbearable levels; it comes in waves and eventually passes, so there’s no need to panic at the first sign of hunger
- It’s possible to survive without solid food and still function semi decently
- Sometimes cravings can be satisfied by juice nutrients alone
- My stomach is 100 times happier with less food volume in it
- We don’t need to eat as much and as often as we think we do
My weight loss was 6 lbs during the cleanse. Post-cleanse my yoyo cravings were curbed, I felt full more quickly, and only wanted to eat healthily. Food became the fuel it should be, and I relished needing and burning food, rather than constantly topping up without true hunger. I was finally back in my pre-NY jeans!
I anticipated a noticeable lift in energy post cleanse, but it didn’t happen. This could be because my diet is already pretty healthy. The effects may have been more dramatic otherwise. From what I’ve read, no 2 individuals cleanse in the same way, and people have different experiences each time they cleanse.
A less expected benefit for me was the therapeutic effect: I found it cathartic. When not worrying about food, there was space for other themes to surface psychologically. It was valuable time to journal and work through whatever came up.
I emerged from the cleanse more contemplative, clearer headed, aware, and in touch with myself and my body. It made me appreciate food a little more, and even life a little more.
Tempted to try a juice cleanse yourself? Check out my follow on post, Juice Cleansing – My Top 10 Tips, where I share the juicy details of my cleanse alongside tips and tricks.