I did my first ever juice cleanse over 10 years ago now. I drank nothing but freshly juiced Carrot, Apple, Beetroot and Lemon for about 5 days straight. Sounds like torture to many I know. I cant remember what prompted it, I’m pretty sure it was my pilates trainer Susie who suggested it as she was trying it to. We still do that to each other… we are walking health experiments. I recall that first time, was more of a mental exercise than a physical one. The mind chatter of ‘Am I hungry? Do I need food now? How is my energy? What am I feeling? When do I get to eat chocolate again? ‘ IS exhausting. I also remember peeing out nothing except for slightly pink water for about two days. Yip. You REALLY get to know yourself when you commit to a cleanse. And I also remember feeling very light and amazing afterwards. It felt like overall it had been a worthwhile endeavour.
However, cleansing didn’t become a regular occurrence for me until I found myself living in Los Angeles a few years back. That city is obsessed with the body yes, sometimes all too negatively, but mostly Californians make healthy living a priority. They are at the heart of holistic healthcare research, self-help, organic food, supplement overdosing and all the rest. Take some and leave some right?
But one of the growing wellness trends that I totally fell for was the relentless springing up of Juice Bars. And I mean - sexy, inviting, can my house please look like this and can you all please be my new friends and can I please eat like this forever – cool joints. And in Venice beach, my home for two years, the wellness movement is as much a part of the landscape as the boardwalk is.
Juice bars that offered healing tonics, shots, elixirs, potions, moon dust, magic in a bottle and gratitude platitudes aplenty were LITERALLY on every corner.
Self-indulgent and privileged, yes.
Delicious and impossible to ignore, yes.
Make you feel as good as they promised, hell yes, as soon as the pain in your wallet subsides.
What most of these places tend to offer are daily packages. One, Three and Five is the norm. You could generally buy a day’s worth of bottles for something averaging near $60USD a day for approx. 6 bottles.
It can seem like a lot, but when you look at the ingredients and quality of what goes into them it adds up and makes sense. It certainly can feel like a splurge, but it’s also your health right, so it’s a bloody good investment in my book. And when you consider that you’re not buying regular food for that week it tends to even out.
I took to doing 3 or 5 day cleanses about twice a year. Usually around Spring and Autumn. I can just tell when my body has reached a place that feels especially acidic, or inflammatory or has been under stress. For me, cleansing like this became a way for my body to have a break, for my digestive system to do less work, to yes detox, but also to mentally reset my relationship with food. You know when you’ve got to that point where you’re reaching for the crappy food way too often, where you eat biscuits in the afternoon even though you stopped doing that ages ago, or salty fries just seem to be a daily craving instead of a weekend treat? That’s kind of my sign that I’ve gone off track, got lazy, that my body is tired and craving the bad fats and bad sugars just to keep the engine running.
So cleansing for me has become a way to push the reset button.
MY CLEANSING ADVICE: (derived from personal experience only, not professional)
I’ve been cleansing semi-regularly for over 6 years now. I’ve tried many juice combos and I often change it up each time. I’ve also found my own way to ease towards it gradually, so its less of a shock to me and my body and more of a process that I’m in charge of and can actually enjoy. Some people are all or nothing. I get it. But you can take steps to make things a little easier which I am a fan of.
NOTE: I HIGHLY recommend making sure your cleanse uses ORGANIC, COLD-PRESSED produce. Rather than looking for the cheapest option, choose the flavours you like best. Because if it doesn't say ORGANIC on the label then it probably isn't. And the key thing with a cleanse is that you are trying to give your body a rest from processing toxins, and unfortunately our produce is often sprayed with chemicals for growing. So be picky on this. Check our Recommendations here.
1. I decide on a week or time that I know is going to be easy-ish for me to focus on the cleanse. As in no major social events, no high stress work situations or particular food type temptations to combat. This is important! Otherwise you’re just making a tough thing even harder.
2. Choose a cleanse you actually LIKE the sound of. If you screw your nose up at the idea of spinach, kale and cucumber juice, don’t do that one! There are actually loads of delicious flavour combos available. Pick the ones that excite you. Maybe don't do 6 bottles of the chocolate nut milk though..
3. We don’t respond well to being told that we can’t have something right? SO rather than telling myself the mental story of “Now is the week when I’m not allowed to eat anything I like or have fun” I change the script. I aim for “Now is the week I’ve given myself to be kind to my body, do something good for it, make some different choices and its ONLY a week!” And I'll often make it a calm, inward looking kind of week. Maybe book a massage, do some writing/journalling, a bit of self-reflection. Its a nice, light clean time to take care of yourself.
4. If I have decided to do a 3 day juice cleanse, then I kind of work my way towards it for a few days beforehand. I start by cutting out the booze the weekend before, my liver generally needs the break anyway. Then I try not to eat any heavy proteins that require a bit more digestive effort. I’m a caffeine addict and comfortable with it, but I’ll stop the espresso’s the day before and try and give myself a few days off coffee altogether. I don’t eat dairy anyway, but would stop that too if I did. The day before I’ll aim to eat super light, salads and/or soups only, a bit of quinoa if I feel like I need extra energy. So that when I wake up on day one of juices only, I’m not feeling nervous or scared that I’m gonna miss my eggs on toast and my flat white.
5. The cool thing about these packaged cleanses is that the juices are generally tailored to the different times of the day you’re likely to have them. Of course you’re free to drink em how you and when you like, but i often need one every 2-3 hours. They might have a lemon one to kick you off right, green in middle of day, orange and red juices in afternoon and a yummy nut milk for the evening one.. generally that’s my favourite and gives me something like a treat to look forward to. Also, ladies, if you're at the start of your cycle when cleansing you might feel more hungry than usual so can be good to add a salad or bowl of quinoa if you feel like you need the extra energy, its clean and easy for the body to process.
6. Listen to your body! Drink loads of water as it helps flush your system out. Herbal, caffeine-free teas are good to have on stand by for whenever you need a warm drink or boredom replacement!
7. And this is tough - TRY not to go crazy and binge on all the things you 'missed' once your cleanse is over. Thats not the point! Be kind to your gut, your body and your mind for as long as you can. And thats when the real benefits kick in, you don't crave the stuff that isn't good for you anyway. Winning!!
For me cleansing like this is an interesting exercise in starting to listen to WHEN you actually get hungry. So much of our eating is done habitually, or circumstantially – your lunch break might always be at a prescribed time. But its remarkable how little you need to feel satisfied and full. I like breaking my patterns in this way and reminding myself of how to listen to my body’s real needs again.
Good luck and let us know how your cleanse journey's go. Yours in Health & Happiness, Claire :)