I successfully popped my juice cleanse cherry this year – read how it went in my Juice Cleanse Virgin post. If you’re considering trying it out yourself, here are 10 top tips and tricks I learnt along the way:
TIP 1: STOCK YOUR FRIDGE WITH COLD-PRESSED JUICE
Cold-pressed juices are as pure as you can get. Made with no heat or oxygen, all nutrients are retained, and they have a 2-3 day shelf life. For this reason, they’re a little more expensive; however, many companies sell cost efficient, cold-pressed cleanse packs for 1, 3 or 5 day cleanses (e.g. Blueprint, Pressed Juicery).
‘Fresh’ juices, on the other hand, are the kind that get made in front of you in a juicer. It’s key to drink these immediately, because as soon as they’re exposed to light and oxygen, the enzymes and nutrients break down. Being unpasteurized, fresh juices are also susceptible to potentially harmful bacteria if left out, so drink up (ideally within 15 minutes).
This approach enabled me to drink what I wanted, when I wanted, but was terrible for my bank balance. The other downside was that I sometimes became ravenous before leaving the house in search of juice. If you stock up on cold-pressed in advance, you won’t need to worry about where your next juice is coming from.
TIP 2: DRINK 6 JUICES A DAY
6 juices a day should keep you going, and that tends to be what’s provided in standard juice cleanse packs. It helped me to think of it like this:
Juice 1 – Breakfast
Juice 2 – Mid Morning Snack
Juice 3 – Lunch
Juice 4 – Mid Afternoon Snack
Juice 5 – Dinner
Juice 6 – Evening Snack
You’ll know towards the end of the day if you’re going to need an extra juice to get you by; 7 juices a day is a-ok! I highly recommend drinking a juice close to bedtime to keep hunger pangs at bay as you fall asleep.
TIP 3: MIX IT UP
Listen to your body when deciding what juice to drink. Are you itching for greens or do you want a hit of beetroot? Are you longing for citrus or is it a carrot moment? Different colors provide different nutrients, so mix it up.
As an already avid juice drinker (watch ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’ on Netflix and you will be too) I wanted my cleanse to consist mostly of fabulous, nutrient-dense veggie juice. Fruit based juices are packed with sugar, so read labels, especially before buying in bulk, to avoid pumping sugar into your body around the clock. Bear in mind that The American Heart Association recommends 25 grams of sugar a day for women, and 37.5 grams for men.
I also included one nut juice a day, such as almond or coconut based. They were a savior: indulgent, filling and divine; perfect for your hungriest moments. On the morning of day 3, Juice Press’ heavenly coconut milk literally brought me back to life (which in hindsight is more of a smoothie than a juice). My other favorite is Agavi Juice’s almond, cinnamon, agave and vanilla blend: heaven.
TIP 4: DRINK AS SOON AS YOU’RE HUNGRY
Down a juice the moment you notice you’re hungry. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before you feel famished and desperate! Do your best to stay ahead of the hunger curve so you’re in control and don’t get tempted to break your cleanse. This is where it helps to have juices to hand (as described in Tip 1).
TIP 5: HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE
Drinking enough liquid makes the body function efficiently, increases energy, lifts brain fog and helps eliminate toxins. It varies by person, but the daily recommended fluid intake is 30 to 50 ounces or roughly 4 to 6 glasses a day.
While cleansing, drinking other fluids, such as lemon water and herbal tea, will help fill you up and give you something to taste. Expect to savor a mug of peppermint brew like never before.
It’s also wise to drink water both while and after consuming a potent veggie juice, especially beetroot, to dilute the high concentration and avoid shocking your system.
Given the above, I suggest stocking up on toilet paper pre-cleanse! Additionally, without fiber or protein to slow absorption, the sugar in each juice draws fluid into your digestive tract, which means you may have soft stools, and lots of them (all the more reason to stay hydrated!).
TIP 6: AIM FOR ORGANIC
When clearing the toxins from your body, it’s common sense to ensure you put back in premium goodness. Organic juice is GMO, pesticide and additive free. It’s also higher in nutrients, and tends to be fresher.
I was surprised to discover that so many juice places I thought were organic were not, so always double check. I wasn’t 100% organic on my cleanse (nobody’s perfect), but I sought organic where I could.
TIP 7: DO VERY, VERY LITTLE
My friend went to work during her cleanse, but my concentration and energy levels weren’t fit for the office. On a cleanse, you’re consuming fewer calories than you typically would eat, meaning your brain isn’t getting as much glucose – its energy source.
On top of this, the sugar content in juice causes the body to produce insulin faster, making your blood sugar drop. This can make you feel sluggish, weak and a little light-headed.
For me, it was a chance to be home for 3 days, relax, and not pressure myself to do anything. I wouldn’t recommend exercising beyond walking. My activities stretched so far as meeting a pal for By Chloe juice and a movie, and another for tea and a High Line stroll.
Slow paced, calm and dazed is how I would describe my general state. I read, caught up on TV and even got creative; when not preoccupied with meal prepping I found time to whip out my art supplies for the first time since I moved to NY.
TIP 8: AVOID ALL THINGS FOOD
Do your best to stay away from anyone eating. Even watching my housemate nosh on canned tuna was tough. Whatever happens, do not browse Instagram unless you want to torture yourself.
Unfortunately for me (when doing a juice cleanse at least), my apartment is nestled between 2 insane, famous dessert places. Every time I approached my front door I was overcome with the heavenly scent of hot donuts; caramel and cinnamon – the ultimate test.
TIP 9: TRY 3 DAYS
When reading about cleanses, I came across a piece of advice: ‘you will know when your juice cleanse needs to end; stop your cleanse when your body tells you to’. This statement made me laugh / cry during my cleanse. Going without food is NOT easy, and you could say my body wanted to stop an hour into it, and an average of every hour going forward.
I cleansed for 3 days, the recommended guideline minimum, as I wanted to give it a proper chance to do its thing. I have abnormally slow digestion, so only felt that my stomach was truly ’empty’ from pre-cleanse food towards the end. If I wasn’t pressured to return to work, another 1 or 2 days could have been beneficial.
TIP 10: BREAK THE FAST GENTLY
Research suggests breaking the fast with easily digestible raw foods such as fruit (but not citrus) and simple salad. Eat small portions, and only when hungry. Avoid meat and grains for a few days and hold off on dairy for longer.
I recommend continuing to drink juices, particularly vegetable juices, as snacks and meal accompaniments to maintain those nutrient hits and grant your stomach regular reprieve.
Ending a cleanse is a great time to identify undiagnosed food allergies. Having struggled with irritable bowel type symptoms for years, when I end my next cleanse I plan to record what irritates my stomach as I begin eating again.
On the final day of my cleanse I visited East Village Organic for a fresh juice from their awesome juice bar, and to treat myself to organic fruit and veg for the following day. I prepped breakfast the night before, and handling food was no easy feat!
When I broke the fast at my desk the next morning, bananas and berries had never tasted so good.
If you have any more thoughts or questions on juice cleansing, comment below or give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.