A few weeks ago I decided that I would like to try the juice cleanse craze and see what the fuss is about. I have heard really conflicting opinions, studies and data about the effectiveness and healthfulness of juice cleansing. “Many people turn to cleanses because they feel off—they’re bloated and sluggish, dependent on caffeine and junk food cravings, breaking out,” says Stephanie Middleberg, a New York City-based registered dietitian. “When you eliminate toxins from your system, your entire body feels better and reacts both internally and externally.” Other experts say our bodies have built-in detoxifiers and don’t require “cleansing.” While I see both arguments, I know that when I eat a clean, plant-based diet with low sugar and white flour intake that I feel lighter, have more energy, my skin looks better and I feel better about myself. Using this highly empirical self reflection as a basis for action, I decided it was worth giving a cleanse a try. After shopping around for various cleanses, I decided to do the Blueprint Cleanse. Voted “The Cleanse for Foodies” by Food and Wine Magazine and “Best Juice Cleanse” by New York Magazine, two publications I deeply respect, I decided this was definitely the cleanse for me. I was able to get a great deal on the Renovation Cleanse on Groupon. It seems like they always have this cleanse for a deal so check it out if you are feeling inclined to cleanse. I probably could have gone for a slightly more advanced cleanse level because I eat clean, whole foods regularly but I decided to take baby steps.
I assumed the cleanse would arrive on my doorstep and I would begin and end the whole ordeal in three days. To my surprise, I woke up the morning after my Friday Seder brisket binge to an e-mail from Blueprint letting me know that I needed to begin my “Prep.” A pre-cleanse cleanse?! After deciding to commit to the absurdity of it all, I proceeded to eat a dinner of foie gras, duck and red wine followed by a hearty serving of cherry pie. Oops. Who needs a pre-cleanse cleanse, right? Wrong. After doing some digging, I discovered that preparing your body for a cleanse is a key step in the process. According to Blueprint, “The more prepared you are before your cleanse, the smoother your transition will be. This means a few days leading up to your cleanse, cut down on all those delicious indulgences we love to love and phase out: the coffee, the sugar, the meat and the dairy, and add fresh fruit, greens and veggies at every meal.” According to The Chalkboard Mag by following a pre-cleanse diet, “the body can focus on increasing the functioning of the main detoxification pathways (kidneys, liver, and intestine), which is essential to maximizing the effectiveness of your juice cleanse. The more the body is able to move toxins out of the body through these pathways, the more efficiently toxins are safely removed, allowing you to reap more benefits on your cleanse.” Oh. So no foie gras and Sangiovese blends?
Ok, so what can I eat? The Chalkboard Mag provided this awesome sounding and totally unrealistic for real people without personal chefs pre-cleanse diet. While good for inspiration, I think I’ll stick to the short and sweet information Blueprint sent me. They suggest, “Think raw. Think vegan. Think fruits & veggies.”
- Breakfast: Fruit – melon, mango, watermelon or other fruit (try not to mix fruits as it gives your digestive system extra work!).
- Lunch: Fruit again or any combination of the following: cucumber, avocado, leafy greens, celery – add some lemon juice & olive oil to make a salad.
- Dinner: Warm vegetable broth (low-sodium!) cucumber or avocado salad, mixed greens salad, arugula or spinach salad, lemon juice, olive oil (you get the picture).
While I haven’t followed this regimen perfectly, over the course of this week I have eaten mostly salad and fish, replaced coffee with green tea, and snacked on fresh fruit. However, I still ate hummus, unsalted popcorn and eggs. Hey – a gal can only change so much in a few days. I am starting the cleanse on Sunday and will be enjoying my last meal at a vegan restaurant tomorrow night before taking the plunge Sunday through Tuesday. I’ll be blogging my way through this experience so check back soon!