Juice Cleanse 101
Ridding the body of toxins is not a new trend; nearly every religion has a fasting or cleansing ritual designed to re-invigorate the body, energize the mind, and detox the system. However, in the past five years, the juice cleanse movement, so to speak, has created an industry complete with juice bars, celebrities, and an aura of health.
My first experience doing a juice cleanse, just three years ago, was pretty painful. I jumped into the second-level BluePrint cleanse and stared at photos of Victoria’s Secret models as I forced myself to suck down green juice. I was tired due to exams and surrounded by food and alcohol, because I chose to cleanse the week of three friends’ birthdays. I made it through five days with the occasional turkey slice, handful of raisins, and lots of water (I didn’t drink tea then), as well as staring and complaining at my friends’ seemingly heaping plates in Dewick and Carmichael. On the last day, I took a three-hour nap. The next morning, I woke up, and expected to have juice—and it felt right. My mind was lighter, I processed things more efficiently, and I felt healthier overall—even my skin was clearer and brighter.
I now complete two to three juice cleanses per year. I’ve tried local juice companies (I just finished a cleanse by Puree in DC) and ordered from juice companies, such as Pressed Juicery. I’ve lost weight and gained it back, and broken out and then woken up on the final day of the cleanse with perfect skin. During all of my experiences cleansing, however, I’ve felt more alive, energetic, consistent, and clear-headed. My intention to cleanse shifted from weight loss to really detoxing and preparing my body for a new season.
Juice cleansing is a great way to detox short-term, kick-start weight loss, and begin a living a healthier and cleaner lifestyle. However, when you plan to put nothing but soluble vitamins and minerals from fruits in vegetables in liquid form into your system, it’s serious business. Therefore, it’s important to think about a few things before you jump into cleansing, even if you’ve done it before.
First, recognize the motivation behind doing a juice cleanse. Are you trying to use the juice cleanse to lose weight? Is this a means of starting a diet? Do you feel heavy and tired and want to use the juice cleanse to re-start your system both physically and mentally? Listen to your body. Be brutally honest, because the reasoning behind your choice to do a juice cleanse will affect what kind of juice cleanse you’ll be doing.
Second, do you have the time in your schedule to dedicate to the juice cleanse? Three to five days of not eating solid food can be difficult, especially in a university setting with various stress triggers. For example, sharing a meal with others is a key form of socializing, and if you have meetings or events that involve food, it may not be the best time to juice. If you participate in a competitive sport or hobby, then relying on liquid may not allow you to be successful in those endeavors. It’s not a good idea to do a cleanse during an emotionally intense time; juice cleansing requires reflection and rest.
Lastly, figure out which juice cleanse you want to do, and what type of program. Will you be making the juice on your own with a juicer, or will you order from a company, such as BluePrint or Organic Avenue? Perhaps there’s a local juice bar that has cleanse programs! If you’re new to juicing, a three-day beginner’s cleanse is probably best and will be the easiest to adjust to. Some programs include a healthy meal or snacks, while others are stricter and incorporate kale, ginger, or wheatgrass shots. Pick a cleanse that is slightly challenging but doesn’t make you cringe. Group or community cleanses provide a healthy support system and can be fun, as well. In my experience, Ritual Wellness was the easiest cleanse to do. BluePrint was a good gateway, but the flavors are pretty strong. The Juice Press cleanse is 100% organic and the company uses intense formulas to create flavorful juices. Organic Avenue has 6 cleanse options, but was very expensive. The Cooler Cleanse, started by Salma Hayek, has overnight FedEx shipping and my friend really enjoyed her five-day program.*
When you decide to cleanse, take it easy the days beforehand and avoid refined sugars, heavy foods, meats, and alcohol to avoid craving and withdrawal symptoms. Set an intention for your cleanse:
During the cleanse, drink plenty of water (a 12 ounce glass of temperate water first thing in the morning promotes digestion and re-hydration) and herbal tea all day long. Rather than participate in strenuous exercise, plan to walk, practice yoga, or do Pilates, because your energy levels change during juice cleanses. Exercise increases blood and lymphatic circulation, removing acids through the skin, lungs, bowels, and kidneys, but you don’t want to over-exert yourself. Participate in self-care exercises such as getting a massage, walking in nature, and listening to soothing music. If you feel sick, tired, or unwell in any way, drink water and listen to your body and figure out what it needs. You may need an apple or a slice of turkey for protein or sugar. But don’t give in to food because you simply want it – mental toughness is a big part of cleansing, and staying strong will allow you to experience weight loss, clearer thinking, and glowing skin, as well as pride in your ability to stick to your intention.
Afterwards, break the cleanse with a gradual return to solid foods. Follow a similar diet to your pre-cleanse for three days. Eat fruits and green vegetables, brown rice, eggs, and other light foods to create an easy transition. Wanting to celebrate the end of the juice cleanse with a huge meal will throw off the benefits of the cleanse, and re-shock your body into an unhealthy cycle. Lastly, continue low-impact activity for a few days until you feel ready and energized to take on more strenuous exercise.
Remember to set your intentions, listen to your body, and respond accordingly in a way that benefits you mentally, physically, and emotionally. A juice cleanse has many benefits, but it is in no way an appropriate substitution for a healthy diet, nor is it a long-term alternative to a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise.
*If you have any questions about specific companies or programs, please reach out to me at Sarah.Tralins@tufts.edu.
Cover photo source.