Medical experts say the claim that we need to “detox” is inaccurate—the human body is supremely capable of processing a normal toxic load from our environment or diet, they argue. Still, it’s hard to shake the thought that our bodies are fielding more than a so-called normal toxic load when you take into consideration our heavy exposure to processed food, GMOs, and the chemicals in everything from deodorant to household cleaners.
So I decided to help my insides out with this mighty task by signing up for a three-day juice cleanse. I figured if it went well, I’d keep at it on my own and be positively luminous by summer. Here’s what actually happened.
GIVING UP SOLID FOOD
The first day I eagerly gulped down my morning wheatgrass shot and savored a green juice—a blend of leafy greens, apple, lemon, and ginger. I felt buoyed just imagining all that goodness coursing through my body.
By midmorning, I was definitely ready for my second “meal”—a healthy smoothie recipe with sprouted almond milk and a plant-based protein blend. And it was good: creamy with a hint of sweetness.
But just 30 minutes later, though not terribly hungry, I already missed solid food. No matter how much produce or superfoods I was ingesting (some juiceries boast three pounds in every juice serving), I didn’t feel satisfied without the physical sensation of chewing.
OK, SO I ATE
It came by way of a hearty lunch salad, including some tasty add-ons, like sprouted seeds and a yummy raw superfood dressing. It tasted great, and I was relieved to finally be able to chew something. Yet I was keenly aware that the salad lacked protein, something hardwired into my thinking about balanced nutrition. It left me wanting.
That afternoon, it was back to the juice. I was instructed to drink another green juice, this one minus the apple (and much less palatable). After my lunch salad, I really didn’t want more greens. But I drank it down, imagining all the vitamins and antioxidants infiltrating my surely toxic cells and making them shine like new. A coconut water blend and a raw concoction of coconut, almond butter, and seeds satisfied my sweet tooth.
But come dinnertime, I was excited—a blended raw red pepper soup that was so good I could have eaten it every day. Full of flavor and texture, it was truly satisfying. But I couldn’t shake the craving for something else: rice cakes, quinoa, something. Seriously, anything!
That night, I drank herbal tea instead of my usual glass of wine and did some gentle yoga before crawling into bed. I felt calm, a tad hungry, but proud of myself for making it through day one.
I slept like the dead that night and woke up ravenous. I happily enjoyed my wheatgrass shot and slowly savored my breakfast of green juice at my desk. I passed on my midmorning smoothie, saving it for later. I did feel a bit hungry but pleasantly so. Hunger is a sensation I don’t often experience in my eat-like-clockwork daily routine. Overall, I felt clear and energized throughout the day, with just a small headache.
That afternoon, though, I was surprised to find myself craving a cappuccino. I allowed myself a black tea with milk instead, feeling a tad guilty. I thought if I ate a salad with my dinner soup that night that it might provide the toothsome quality I craved. And a salad is made of raw vegetables after all, so it totally fits with the plan, I told myself.
The blissful sleep of the previous night didn’t return, and I tossed and turned until morning. I chalked it up to all the nasty toxins being released from my fat cells—my fitful sleep had to be evidence that this cleanse was doing its job, right?
THE BEARABLE LIGHTNESS
The next morning I still felt good. A bit lighter. My stomach was flatter. My skin looked great, and my eyes were clear. What surprised me even more was how, um, regular I was. First thing upon rising, my bowels moved in a way that left me downright giddy.
That day I ate my meals in order. I even started to feel sad that this was the last official day of my cleanse. Although I hadn’t done it perfectly, I’d come to enjoy challenging my daily habits. It also made me realize that I don’t need to eat nearly as much as I usually do. I even decided to try and continue the cleanse on my own for as long as I could.
Come nighttime, I enjoyed my soup and a salad and mapped my eating plan for the next week. But I also kept thinking how great a glass of wine would be. In the end, I caved. But the glass of wine was not nearly as enjoyable as I thought it would be. I could really taste the alcohol, so I didn’t even finish the glass. I was disappointed about giving in to the urge but pleased to discover that the pleasure of my nightly vino was mostly in my head.
I kept up my cleanse for the next two days, with small modifications. But on Friday I had dinner plans and totally threw in the towel. I can’t say whether I actually detoxed anything as a result of the cleanse, and in the end, my eating habits didn’t really change. But I like the idea of giving my body a rest and gobbling up as much veggie goodness as I can every now and then.