When my daughter suggests we do a juice cleanse together, I take notice. A plant-based chef, I’ve been wanting to explore juicing as a culinary technique. I imagine it will be an enjoyable way to increase our vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and phytonutrient intakes. With curiosity, enthusiasm, and perhaps a good deal of naivety about the struggles that lie ahead, I agree.
It isn’t long before my daughter and I are debating which three-day-juice cleanse to embark on. I find Joe Cross’s great looking cleanse. I like that it allows for a “meal” of fruits and veggies to “help you feel full so you won’t fall prey to cravings or feelings of deprivation or starvation.” My daughter nixes that idea. “Mom, it’s not a juice cleanse if you can eat”. More, later in this post, on this tid-bit of wisdom.
Ultimately, we settle on Susan Shain’s 3-day DIY Juice Cleanse. Basically, it involves drinking six juices a day supplemented by as much water and green tea as you like. I jot down the required ingredients, set off for the supermarket and fill my shopping cart with the freshest fruits and veggies I can find.
Approaching this like I scientist, I weigh myself morning of Day 1 and scribble in a journal to keep track of the more qualitative aspects of the endeavor. Here are my notes from the day and a picture of the juicer all set to go:
Juice #1: Green Juice @ 10 am (we got a late start). The juice is delicious. It is packed full of kale, romaine, celery, parsley, cucumber, apple and lemon. Despite all the greens, it manages to be tasty, sweet, bright and refreshing. I’m feeling great about all of the health-promoting micronutrients we are consuming.
Juice #2: Pineapple Apple Mint Juice @ 12 pm. We’re loving this. The juice is so good. There is plenty to share with my daughter’s boyfriend. We sip our juices over a competitive game of Rumikub.
Juice #3: Green Juice @ 2:00 pm. I’m feeling pretty hungry at this point. Seriously missing beans and grains, a major staple of my diet. Nonetheless, willpower is still strong and I drink the second green juice of the day.
Juice #4: Spicy Lemonade @ 3:00. This juice, made with water, lemon juice, agave and cayenne is a hit. Here’s the thing, though. It’s food I want. Not another drink.
Juice #5: Beet Juice @ 5:30. Well it’s not technically beet juice, it also contains apple, carrot, ginger and lemon but beet’s the overwhelming flavor and color. My daughter is not around for this one. She’s heading to her boyfriend’s house. So my husband drinks her portion. We both love it. If any juice is going to be satiating, this is it. However, even if I drink three gallons, it still won’t come close to satisfying my hunger. Juice is simply not solid food.I’ve got this photo of the fiber expelled from my juicer to prove it.
Juice #6: Unflavored almond milk. This doesn’t happen. I’m so hungry and waterlogged, the thought of any liquid, let alone a nut-milk, is totally unappetizing. My daughter, by the way, is still gone and having a wonderful time snacking on home-made pizza at her boyfriend’s house. For a fine example of irony, see above for her strict definition of a juice cleanse.
At this point I’m just waiting for the day to be over so I can wake up in the morning and be one day closer to the end of this experiment. I do a few rounds of leg lifts and push-ups (light exercise is allowed in the cleanse) and I head to bed.
I don’t sleep well. You see, I’m a cooking teacher, recipe developer for a cookbook I’m writing and a caterer. All night long, in my dreams, I’m working. Not once do I sample a morsel of food. The darn juice cleanse haunts me even in my sleep.
Morning is a relief. Here are three things I notice when I awake.
- I’m feeling much more focused than usual…I’ve got a laser focus on food.
- I’m very thirsty. How is that even possible??
- I’ve lost three pounds.
Back in the kitchen, I brew a cup of Puerh Tea. I love this fermented tea from China. It’s pretty magical stuff, a real mood lifter. So, I’ve got some good vibes going heading into my second day.
Juicer out and cleaned, the routine starts again with the Green Juice. My husband is now on board, too. After drinking his juice, he’s off for a two-hour workout on his bike trainer. Never mind the light-exercise rules of the cleanse. High intensity is his style.
By mid-afternoon, I’m really starting to question this whole juicing idea. I am sick of sweet drinks and I’m very hungry. I’m daydreaming of hummus and sliced tomato on a salty cracker.
Nonetheless, I follow the juice routine and again, by the time early evening comes, I’m so sick of fluids, I can barely bring myself to drink the beet juice, let alone the almond milk. Meanwhile my husband veers off course, heads to the local bar and opts for a few pints of beer over Juice # 5 and #6.
A picture of my juice:
And his juice:
About the same time that my daughter, who has been out at the movies, returns home with Chinese take-out, my husband arrives home too. He joins her at the table and eats some leftovers: vegan sushi and a vegan burrito. The smell of food is so painfully tempting and I’m so “hangry”, I chide my husband for breathing the scent of Mexican spices in my direction.
I manage a nightly round of leg-lifts, sit-ups and push-ups while groaning to my husband about my hunger. He wonders why I don’t just go into the kitchen and grab something to eat. Well, if there is one person who should understand my aversion to quitting, it’s him. Read this and you’ll understand what I mean.
So I have another restless night, wake up on Day 3 and guess what I do. I quit! At this point I have lost five pounds in 2 days, have bathed my body in all kinds of health promoting goodness and become more than proficient at juicing. I have reaped all sorts of benefits from my juice cleanse and that is enough.
My husband and daughter, however, aren’t done. In the kitchen, they are ready and waiting to start their morning cleanse. And so, the routine begins again. “This is the last time, guys”, I tell them, “after this, you’re learning to use the juicer and you’re on your own!” I’m looking forward to that; then they can make juices for me. You see, I love them, but I’ve learned, one juice a day is more than enough for me.
Author’s note: After returning to my regular diet, within a day or so, I returned to my pre-cleanse weight.
Diana Goldman is a vegan chef and lifestyle coach who received a B.S. from Cornell University in Nutritional Science and an Ed.M. from Harvard University. Sign up for free weekly recipes and wellness tips for living a purposeful, connected and joyful life on her website www.beantownkitchen.com.