I wanted to share a little journal I kept of the 2.5 day juice cleanse I did last week — that’s right, nothing but homemade juice. I was really interested in reading other people’s experiences with juicing before I started my cleanse, so I thought I’d add to the chorus. I’ve always wanted to do a cleanse, and after this years extensive holiday festivities, I couldn’t think of a better time. I also found a recipe schedule online that I liked so I wouldn’t have to buy one of those expensive packages, so I decided to give it a shot. It was supposed to be a three day cleanse, but of course there was a cold virus going around that I inevitably picked up about halfway through, and because I wasn’t under the supervision of a doctor, I thought it was probably best to get back to solid food, just in case. I got my recipes from Leah Bergman’s freutcake blog, who in turn got her recipes from Reboot with Joe. I picked up a Jack Lalaine Power Juicer Express off of ebay for $50 the week before, and went to the grocery store two days before I started for all on my supplies. Ninety dollars of produce later, I was ready to go!
Tuesday night: I made juices 1-4 for Day 1. It took about about hour, including cleanup. I was surprised how easy the juicer is to clean — pretty impressed with my $50 purchase so far. Finding adequate containers to take the juices to work was a different story. I found the recipes made almost two servings of juice, so the questions was do I take to work just in case I want it, or avoid lugging extra weight on the bus. Matt came into the kitchen during the juicing process and said it smelled great — like a farm in the springtime. I enjoyed a Matt cocktail creation tonight for posterities sake, my last one for the next three days. Giving that up might be the hardest part…
Morning: I’m not a breakfast person, so making and drinking a cup of herbal tea and my breakfast juice really cut into my expertly time 35 weekday morning routine. I could’ve gone without the tea, but it seemed to set the standard for the cleanse and I’m glad I did it. I poured my breakfast juice into a water bottle to take on the bus. Got a few stares but it actually tasted really good, and I started the day with a full and satisfied tummy. I had a little but left by the time I got to work and finished it over a glass with ice.
Midmorning Snack: This juice tasted a bit like grass but it was still good. A granny smith apple and chunk of ginger can do wonders for kale and celery juice, I’m coming to realize. It’s becoming apparent that unless I chug each of the juices, I’m literally going to have a cup of juice in front of me all day. Towards the end of this glass, I was feeling very full — no traces of hunger at all — but I was feeling a little light-headed. So I drank the remainder of the juice very quickly and felt a little better. Then I remembered I was supposed to be drinking 10 cups of water on top of this — that’s a lot of drinking. But maybe it will help…
Lunch: Gazpacho juice. This is the one I was nervous about. I like the green juices and I like the carrot-based juices but tomato? It tastes slightly better than expected — like gazpacho. Go figure. This juice seemed to be a lot thicker than the other juices, maybe from the tomato pulp. That also made it slightly harder to drink. The other two juices had the consistency of water — very thin, no chunks — so that was a bitt of a surprise. One thing that I think I was misinformed about was the difference between juicing and making smoothies — totally different ballgames. On the other hand though, it sort of helped that this juice had some of the flavors and consistency of a meal. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I think I can feel the toxins leaving my body. Is this what withdrawal feels like?
Afternoon Snack: I was concerned about when to drink this juice. I brought it to work, but it felt like I’d been drinking juice all day and maybe I should hold off so I have more at home. But I won’t be home until 6ish, at which point, at which point I’ll probably start making “dinner juice.” This whole process has definitely brought into focus my eating habits. I usually snack all day at my desk, and I am usually sitting all day as well. I completely understand why so many secretaries are fat. It’s just so easy; you literally have to make a conscious effort not to be. I figuring drinking juice all day is a lot better for you. It would be one thing if I led an extremely active lifestyle. I’d question whether I was getting enough energy from food. But I work out five days a week for about an hour, and I’m on the move on the weekends, but other than that, I’m pretty sedentary. It’s just the way of the world. Some maybe juicing is a good way to get my nutrients and be full while not consuming unnecessary calories at work. On another note, one thing that no one tells you about these things is how it wreaks havoc on your breath. Imagine munching on 6 celery sticks, 3 cucumbers, 8 jumbo leaves of kale and swiss chard, 1/4 of a red onion, 2 cups of parsley, 5 apples, 6 oranges, 1 lemon, 1 lime, 3 carrots, and couple chunks of ginger. The result is not good, especially when you can’t have a mint…
Dinner: Realized with this meal that I’m not a huge fan of beet juice. Love beets, but not so much their juice as a predominant flavor. I made the juice when I got home, along with the next four for Day 2, which took up a big portion of my night. Being at home during a juice cleanse is harder than being at work because of the temptations. Just because I’m doing a cleanse doesn’t mean I threw out the stash of Christmas candy sitting in my cupboard. I drank half of my dinner juice and a cup of chamomile tea and went to bed. Not going to lie, I was happy to have the first day over. At one point in the juicing process tonight, I thought my juicer broke and I got kind of excited. Then I remember that I had $90 of produce in my fridge that I would never be able to eat otherwise, and I got it working in a jiffy!
Morning: I slept well last night, maybe had more energy than normal waking up but the extreme cold hampered any positive effects in that regard. I adjusted my schedule to accommodate this new routine, and as I drank my breakfast juice, I could also feel the nutrients flowing into me with each sip. If nothing else, this cleanse has reminded me why we eat — for energy to live — and what it feels life to be a content level of full — not stuffed, not still craving more. I feel lighter (even if I haven’t lost any pounds on the scale), less bloated. After the holidays, I just felt heavy, not so much in terms of a number, but I just felt like I was carrying around a little something extra. I’ve had a strange relationship with food my whole life, torn between a deep culinary inclination — a foodie you might say — but I also have strong “healthy lifestyle” impulses. I still haven’t figured out how to balance those two. I feel that taste is one of our greatest pleasures in life, but we only get one body and I want mine to last for a long time. All in all, this has been a way to refresh, to get myself back on track, and to think about my food choices.
Mid-morning Snack: It’s confirmed, I definitely like the green juices best. And I don’t really like tomato-based juices — unless it’s got vodka in it of course, but that’s beyond the point. Unfortunately, I think that I’m starting to catch the cough that Matt has — which sucks because it will look like contracting the virus is connected to the juicing weakening me, but I know I would’ve caught it either way. As a precaution, I will probably cut the cleanse a half day short and eat a dinner of solid food tomorrow. Who knows — maybe the juice will give me the vitamins I need to fend it off!
Lunch: Also confirmed — don’t like beet juice. Not only do I not really like the taste, but it turns everything that it touches red. And when I say everything, I mean everything…
Afternoon Snack: today I skipped the afternoon snack and had a cup of herb tea instead. Maybe this whole process works by making you not want to drink any more damn juice!
Dinner: Green juice again — definitely palatable. I also had a handful of raw almonds. By the way, who knew raw almonds were so good?! Kind of sweet kind of earthy, great texture. I think this will be my go to snack. I’m definitely not feeling very well, but I made breakfast juice and mid-morning juice for tomorrow. For lunch, I put together a kale, fennel, avocado, and citrus salad with a light vinaigrette, and I won’t lie, I’m pretty excited for it. I definitely missed the act of chewing more than eating in general. And a big bowl of crisp kale will do just the trick.
Morning: Woke up feeling sick as a dog. Had a cup of tea followed by a big gulp of DayQuil, hoping to get through the workday. Very sore throat — definitely getting “the sickness” that’s been going around Matt’s work. Happens every time. Right before the weekend, of course… Had my breakfast juice at work. More beats — blech.
Midmorning: Last official juice of cleanse. It’s been a very interesting experience. I feel great — other than that whole sick part. Oh, the joys of Wisconsin in January.
So the cleanse was a pseudo-success. I was really looking forward to getting back to the gym once I was on solid food, but the illness really messed with that plan. And I couldn’t even stomach a celebratory glass of wine, to boot! I don’t have too much produce left over, so I’ve been eating a lot of salads and veggies in hummus. I definitely want to continue clean eating, and I definitely want to get my snacking under control.
Coincidentally enough, later last week, there was a bit of a controversy regarding designer Kelly Wearstler’s interview with Bon Appetite magazine in which she told her interviewer that she basically juices all day and the only solid food she eats is dinner. Beyond the obvious question of why a magazine devoted to food — usually of the most decadent nature — would publish an interview with someone who doesn’t seem to eat a lot of the stuff, it brings up the question of whether this is a healthy lifestyle. If you read the comments sections of the articles addressing the interview (here and here), most people seem to insinuate that this behavior is akin to an eating disorder. Now, I am morally opposed to diagnosis via internet of people I don’t know, but I’m left wondering if this is what it takes to have a body like Wearstler’s (which isn’t necessarily what I want, but I know it’s what a lot of women do).
I think that we get so many mixed signals about food in our culture. I alluded to this a bit in my diary, but we — especially women — have so much pressure to be thin, but yet we as a society are obsessed with the art of food. It seems like every time I walk into the gym, the Food Network is on in front of the cardio machines, playing some show about how much junk a guy can eat in one sitting t as bony girls run for hours on the treadmill. We are bombarded by so many conflicting messages: is it better to enjoy what you eat or eat healthy to the point of not enjoying the act of consumption? Is it better to be uber-thin or slightly overweight? Some of my best memories in life are centered around meals and food with the people I love. And some of my darkest life moments were when my relationship with food became too complicated for me to handle. Was I starving myself those two and half days? Or was I doing something healthy for my body and my mind? The scary thing is that I know that two different “experts” would tell me two different things. And everyone else that isn’t an expert would have an opinion too.
I think that one of the problems is that we get so concerned about what other’s think about what we ourselves consume that don’t consider enough about how our bodies feel and what we think about ourselves. Sometimes this pressure causes us to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves, and other times it causes us not to put enough pressure on ourselves. If it accomplished nothing else, this juice cleansing process definitely helped me remember that I need to listen to my body, balance my own impulses, and choose quality over quantity. And keeping the journal was also a very important part of that process. As I said before, sometimes we think to much, and sometimes not enough. Here’s hope we can all get back to the center!