Juice cleanses: Simple concept, complex community of opinions surrounding it.
When I first heard of a juice cleanse (a few years ago), I was SO intrigued. I loved the idea of cleaning my body; of pumping it with nothing but minerals and nutrients and vitamins. Unfortunately, I was totally deterred from doing one once I started doing even the slightest bit of "research." Why do I have research in quotes? Because the research I was doing was a whoooole lot of reading people's opinions or experiences rather than reading actual studies on juices, juice cleansing, the benefits, and the ins-and-outs. So I am here to lift all of the crazy stories and to go head-to-head with all of the people that say it's not a good idea...because only you can decide if it's good for you or not. This post will be to tell you my exact experience (hint: it was amazing) so that you can then decide if a juice cleanse is for you. I will break this down into sections , with a recap at the end as to keep this concise and keep myself from rambling.
What the cleanse I chose entailed:
5 days of: 1 shot of wheat grass, 1 shot of ginger, 3 large mason jars of green juices everyday (all greens with a small amount of apple to cut the bitterness), and 3 large mason jars of homemade probiotic drinks. In the morning came the wheat grass and ginger shot, and the probiotics and juices were drank throughout the day (one probiotic, one juice, one probiotic, one juice, and so on).
I did not do this alone, I did it with a friend.
I was very excited to do this with a friend, because I knew not only would we keep each other honest and accountable, but it would also be fun to have someone to converse with and see what they were experiencing. I did it with my friend Pat, which was also nice, because we could compare the experience between a male and a female.
We decided to eat raw while doing this cleanse.
There is of course the option to not eat while on this cleanse, but there is also the option TO eat. I think that a lot of people get soooo overly freaked out about cleanses and giving our bodies a rest, when in reality it really isn't- you either do it or you don't, you either eat while on it or you don't. That being said, we decided we would stick to just the juices and probiotics until we really wanted to eat (or workout lol). We did the full first day without eating, then after checking in with each other, we decided around 2 or 3 pm on Day 2 to have some fruits and nuts. This is when the magic began. I started to feel...unreal. And then cleanse really started...cleansing....... (ya feel me?)
As for what we ate with our juices from days 2-5? Raw nuts and seeds, raw cashew and almond butter, raw coconut butter, salads, avocado, tons of fruit, dates.
Was it hard?
Day 1 was pretty brutal (more so emotionally than physically which I will get to), but from then on out, particularly when we decided to eat a little...things were smooth sailing.
How did you feel during/after?
Pat and I talked the whole time during this 5 days about how superhuman we felt. It was kind of insane. The energy levels- unbelievable. His endurance on the runs he went on and my flexibility and agility in my yoga classes- unparalleled from our past. The coolest part was, we both felt...connected. We don't know how to explain it, but there is just truly something about consuming only juices and foods from the Earth and the sun and the soil that makes you feel a part of a whole. Again- words cannot suffice- it was just amazing.
I felt light, yet not hungry. I could feel my digestive system and my entire body thanking me. I could feel the tingling of life in every cell. You may think this is silly, but it is how I felt, and so did Pat. Again, the first day with no food was definitely hard, I can't lie, but once we decided to eat raw and workout while cleansing...that was the sweet spot.
What was the biggest takeaway?
My biggest takeaway was the realization of just how often I have been eating due to emotions or external cues. On Day 1, I also happened to be on day 2 of my period (yep-you heard that right ladies- in the thick of wanting chocolate, to cry, and to yell at my girlfriend, I was on a juice cleanse)...so needless to say my emotions were BEGGING for food of any sort. Doing this cleanse really helped me to get in tune with when I am physiologically hungry vs when my mind is hungry. It also helped me find new amazing snacks and foods I had never considered before- and made me a lover of juice (the taste of juice to me is eh lol but how it makes me feel is SO worth every sip).
Not only did I become more in tune with listening to my bodies hunger cues, but I also was able to get in tune with foods that make me feel good or not after the cleanse. I had read prior to starting this cleanse that that would be the case- that foods that don't sit well with you would become extremely evident (when you aren't cleansed, it's more difficult to notice)...and I can vouch for that being the case after having a piece of cake that wasn't vegan that made me sick for 2 days.
One other thing I must mention, was that during and after the cleanse I could reeeallly TASTE food like I never had before. I remember when I had my first salad on night 4 looking at my girlfriend and saying "This is the best thing I have ever eaten." She just stared at me, then the salad, then stared at me...but I assured her it was so, because it was! It was like someone gave me new taste buds, and it was effing amazing.
So, would I recommend this to people?
If you are someone who thinks this is for you- then YES. 100 x over. Yes. It might be hard, but it is so freaking worth it. If you need to give your body a break, you need nutrients you normally don't get, you want to really understand your relationship with food, you want to feel better, you want to taste your food more, or even if you just like a challenge- this.is.for.you.
Would I recommend doing a full 5 days?
TBH, 3 day swould have been my sweet spot for my first ever cleanse. I thought this would be an easy 5 days because I have done Intermittent Fasting and have done a 24 hour fast, but that was not the case. While fasting, you don't have to think about eating or not because you know you won't be. With the juicing, it was "hard" (for my mind) because I was still ingesting and completing the act of "eating" or taking something in. For me, I felt amazing after 3 days, and then by 4 and 5 I was kind of ready to be done and onto a sweet potato or rice or what have you. BUT...to each their own! If you want to just do a 1 day cleanse to start, do that! Don't push it for the sake of saying you did so.
Are all juice cleanses created equal?
Hell no. A lot of cleanses I see around Instagram on online include 6 juices a day, most with a loooooottttt of fruit and sugars in them (I'm not saying sugar from fruit is bad, I'm saying if you're doing a juice cleanse- do a juice cleanse, not a fruit sugar cleanse).
The one that I did was actually amazing because not only were there three very green juices, but also two shots AND homemade probiotics. I literally cleaned out my gut and created new bacteria. I will link the site below for anyone in the Boston area, because I cannot recommend doing this one enough. Call 'em up! Tell 'em Casey sent you;)
So, in closing, my best advice is that if you are needing a refresh with your body and food-whether that be mentally or physically or both- try out a juice cleanse. Even if you do it for a day. Even if you eat raw with it. Even if you have heard bad things and that it's "not healthy."
If it is calling you, do it. Because ya know what? Everyone takes all this kind of stuff too seriously. Like, what is the WORST that can happen? You end up not wanting to do it but still get to drink the juices and flood your body with amazing minerals and vitamins and nutrients? That is a pretty great worst case if you ask me.
Try it out. Ask me questions if you have them. Drink a green juice. Live a little.