I finally understood the definition of ‘hangry’.
Here’s the thing: I love food. I don’t skip meals or forget to eat when I’m busy; I make time to cook and eat, and I enjoy nothing more than bonding over good quality nosh at the latest hyped restaurant in my hood.
So when I was asked to do a five-day juice cleanse, I naturally hesitated. This isn’t one of those low calorie diets where you eat tiny portions of healthy food, this cleanse included zero food. At least not of the kind you can chew.
Six fruit and vegetable juices a day is what you get when you sign up for a Lucky You Cleanse, plus a morning elixir shot and a manual telling you which order to drink the brightly hued beverages in – all delivered to your doorstep.
I’d heard mixed opinions about juice cleanses; the claims that they’re nothing more than a scam, as our bodies naturally detox as long as we maintain a healthy diet, while others swear by cleansing regularly to stay fit and healthy, so I asked a health expert.
According to the managing director and founder of Activated Nutrients, Blair Norfolk, “a well-balanced cleanse can be beneficial to the body, however, we see it as a way to aid in healing the body, rather than detoxifying it.”
He also explained it’s important the juices are organic and vegetable based without any added sugars in order to have a positive effect on your body, and that a juice cleanse should not be seen as an easy way to lose weight, as it’s no longterm solution.
I knew friends who’d done one before and loved how they felt afterwards, so I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go. This is how it went down…
I received three days worth of juices at once, meaning I had to do a serious clean-out of my fridge to accomodate 18 500ml jars. I guess it’s easier to avoid food if there’s no room left in your fridge for it…
After doing a quick read of the manual, I learned I was supposed to start every morning with warm lemon water followed by the so-called ‘Elixir Shot’, which comes in a tiny brown bottle reminscent of medicine and, as I later learned, also tastes like it.
My first liquid breakfast was a Berry Cacao smoothie, which went down easily as it was quite thick and slightly sweet. I actually wouldn’t mind having this one for breakfast more often.
However around 10am my body noticed I hadn’t actually had any solid food for about 14 hours and started to make me feel it – I was hungry. So I got out the second juice, a green concoction of celery, cucumber, and green apple and tried to trick my body into believing I was eating.
Interestingly, the manual encourages you to chew your juices to help digest and absorb them, however, I’m still dubious about the actual practical application of chomping on a liquid. I tried a few times and felt ridiculously silly, so stopped. After the second juice, I was ready for a nice lunch, usually consisting of a tuna salad or a sandwich, but instead, was confronted with juice number three, spicy lemonade.
My tummy was growling and I really didn’t feel like drinking a juice, but for the sake of cleansing, I forced myself to drink it while my hubby greedily enjoyed a pizza next to me. Is he the devil? Possibly.
An inevitable consequence of juice cleansing is your bathroom visits literally double. I had to pee every hour, which didn’t surprise me, considering I was consuming three litres of juices plus about four to five glasses of water every day with nothing solid inside me to absorb any of it.
The moral of this is, don’t juice cleanse when you don’t have a toilet in close proximity, wherever you are.
My afternoon menu consisted of another green juice, this time less sweet than the first one, and a red juice with lots of beetroot. I was hungry, but somehow my tummy had stopped growling; it probably just gave up and gave in to the fact it wouldn’t receive any food today.
Sitting on the couch at night watching Netflix next to my always-snacking-on-some-kind-of-food husband was of course tough, but I enjoyed the last juice of the day, cashew milk, which resembled a dairy-free milkshake. I could taste tiny pieces of nuts and relished chewing them as it felt like the only solid food I had had for weeks – but this was only day one. I went to bed feeling empty – quite literally.
Day two is arguably the hardest, as your body is going into starvation mode, which has annoying side effects, such as headaches, nausea and tiredness. While the main problem on day one was hunger, the one I felt on day two was that I had simply lost all appetite for the juices. Thinking about yet another green juice made me feel sick, so I decided to have a small cheat-snack, hoping it would be easier to return to the juices afterwards.
As I didn’t want to interrupt my body cleansing, I opted for a healthy handful of macadamias, and let me tell you, nuts had never tasted this good. It was a moment of bliss before continuing with my liquid diet, but somehow I made it through the rest of day, even though I skipped the red juice. I couldn’t stand the idea of beetroot for some reason.
Day three turned out to be easier than day two. I think my body had adapted to my new super low-calorie diet and I even somehow enjoyed the convenience of not having to cook or even think about dinner plans. I still skipped the red juice, though.
Day four felt a bit harder again as my tastebuds were simply getting sick of the limited flavors I could experience each day, but on the flip side, I noticed my stomach looked and felt flatter than I had seen it for many years.
My pants fit better, and in some twisted way, it was nice to feel light and not full. I realized how used I had become to never feeling hungry and overeating at times – something most of us are probably guilty of.
Day five made me reach for a coffee and some almonds around noon for the pure sake of tasting something other than celery and lemon. I just couldn’t do it anymore. When I was confronted with my dreaded beetroot juice in the afternoon, I gave it to my husband, who surprisingly enjoyed it and agreed to finish the juice cleanse with me – there were still two more red juices I had avoided in the fridge.
When I woke up the next morning, I convinced hubby to take me straight to my fave restaurant for breakfast. I ordered a Shakshuka and relished every single bite of it, but noticed I was full after about half of the portion, while I would have easily been able to finish the entire thing before the juice cleanse. I secretly hoped the food deprivation had shrunken my stomach and promised myself to eat smaller portions moving forward.
My verdict after five days of juice cleansing is, I have no regrets. I lost six pounds (three kilos) and felt a lot more energetic at the end of it.
It was tough, no doubt, especially because the temptation of food lurks around every corner (especially when you have a foodie for a hubby), but it’s nice to challenge yourself every now and then. If I could do it again, I would probably start with a three-day cleanse and work my way up to longer periods.
Maybe next time I will do a full week. Or maybe I’ll just enjoy a pizza with my hubby.
Comment: Have you ever done a juice cleanse?