This is the reason that everyone knows, but it bears repeating. Juice cleanses give your body a break from refined sugars, animal, products, and chemical-laden processed foods. That alone gives your body the opportunity to rid itself of those toxins because you aren’t immediately replacing them with new ones. This is why it’s extra-important to use organic produce. Also, between all that juice and the filtered water in-between your juices, you’re extremely well-hydrated and aiding your body in flushing out toxins. Plus, many of the fruits, veggies, and herbs, like watermelon, cucumber, and coriander (cilantro) have added detoxing-properties.
Many people praise the benefits of water fasts, but they can be rough on the body, especially if you aren’t used to them. With a water fast, your blood sugar will plummet and you will likely be very hangry, and the more unpleasant detox symptoms that kick in at about day three for a juice cleanse will start day one with a water fast. Juice cleanses are a much safer fast for people with low blood sugar or other sensitivities to fasts.
Because each serving of juice brings you complex sugars, vitamins, minerals, and calories, you can stay alert and energized all day even while fasting. So if you feel tired, lightheaded, or hungry, it’s time for more juice.
Starving isn’t great. In fact, it’s awful. It wrecks your metabolism, your head, and your body, and yet, people still deprive themselves of nutrients in desperate efforts to lose weight. Juice cleansing, however, helps you drop the pounds without dropping the ball on your health. Many juice-enthusiasts, like Angela Stokes, have used sustained juice cleanses to treat morbid obesity and have documented their experiences. Of course, do your homework and ask your doctor if this is a safe way for you to lose weight.
Juicing is unique because you get all the nutrients without any of the fiber, and while fiber is a vital part of our diet, taking a break from it every now and then can be very beneficial. Many people with digestive disorders swear by regular and sustained juice fasts to ease their symptoms. My husband suffers from Crohn’s disease and Leaky Gut Syndrome and finds that juicing allows his digestive track to heal. If you are having difficulty eliminating on your juice cleanse, juice gurus recommend enemas. You could also try ingesting supplements like bentonite (a natural clay), cascara sagrada (a natural laxative), or if you need to add some fiber into your diet, taking psyllium husk is one of the safest and most effective ways to do that without breaking your cleanse. Remember to take psyllium husk with at least eight ounces of water. Absolutely discuss all of these options with your doctor first.
One of my favorite parts of a juice cleanse is getting creative. You probably already know your way around the kitchen. You might be bored by your mastery of many beautiful cooked dishes that make your friends sigh with pleasure but make you shrug, “Oh, this old thing?” Juicing will be a new challenge for you. How will you balance and combine interesting flavors? You will look at your herb garden and your supermarket selections, noting the chocolate mint, lemongrass, thyme, lavender, and start dreaming-up juice cocktails to feature them. If you struggle with intense cravings, use them as creative fuel by paying homage to your favorite dishes instead of just pining for them. One day, all I could think about was peach cobbler. I would have murdered one. And then I made a juice bursting with ripe peach and cinnamon that balanced sweetness with tartness. And thus, “Peach Cobbler Juice” was born like Athena sprung from Zeus’s pained head, and I was pleased.
This may seem obvious, but hydration is a serious challenge for most people. We often forget to drink water during the day, especially since many people confuse the sometimes subtle indicators for thirst as symptoms of hunger. Dehydration announces itself with a host of unpleasant symptoms including: headache, nausea, irritability, confusion, anxiety, fatigue, dry skin, dizziness, lightheadedness, constipation, decreased urination, skin that lacks elasticity, sunken eyes, dry mouth, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, no tears when crying, and in severe cases, delirium and unconsciousness. Juicing ensures you are getting enough fluids, especially if you remember to drink water in between your juices, which you should. Plus, during a juice cleanse you’re abstaining from dehydrating processed foods and dehydrating drinks like coffee, alcohol, and soda, so all the fluids you drink will be used efficiently.
To save time, try making your juice for the day in bulk the night before. The juice will last in glass jars in the fridge for up to three days. Plus, you can multi-task while you juice by watching your favorite movie or TV shows, listening to a book on tape or radio program, or catching up with a loved one.
You can save money and get quality organic ingredients by buying your fruits and veggies from farmers directly at a farmers market, or get a farm share (or jump on a friend’s farm-share). Buy fruits and veggies in season at the co-op or your favorite supermarket because those are usually the items that are on sale. If you can’t afford all-organic, then choose wisely. Kris Carr, author of Crazy, Sexy, Diet has this handy guide to the “clean fifteen” and “the dirty dozen.” The “clean fifteen” refers to produce grown with minimal pesticides, or are eaten in such a way that you are unlikely to consume too much poison, whereas the “dirty dozen” are loaded with pesticides. You don’t have to buy a brand spanking new fancy juicer either. You can buy one used, borrow one from a friend, or use a blender and strain out the pulp with cheesecloth.
This benefit is half the juice and half your own mindset. Sure, fasting or cleansing does clear your head. You’re flush with nutrients and unimpeded by processed food toxins that cloud your thoughts and make you sluggish and sleepy. Instead, you’re on a juice cleanse high and your body is using nutrients and calories more efficiently. Less energy is spent on digestion and is distributed to other areas, like brain function. That’s the physical level.
Then there’s the emotional/mental level, and that’s up to your attitude. You can whine about how HARD it is to only consume fresh, organic juices for 3 whole days, how no one has ever suffered like you, and how much you just want a pizza and you might die of yearning for it. You could look at the whole practice as deprivation, but that attitude breeds self-pity and obsession and doesn’t leave room for growth, realization, change, or enjoyment. Or, you could make this a cleanse for your mind and body, and look at the practice as a gift, an experiment, or a temporary experience to be savored. Use this opportunity to practice what Buddhists and Hindus refer to as mindfulness, that is, a state of being embodied in the present moment with no attachment to external goals or concerns. Set an intention for your cleanse, which is different from a goal like weight loss or better skin. To set an intention, ask yourself why you want to give this gift to yourself and go from there. I’m learning to care for myself with love and acceptance; I want to make friends with my body; I release myself from toxicity and gift myself health; and so on. Remind yourself of your intention before each juice. You can meditate, give thanks, or pray before your juice — just take a moment to acknowledge the experience. Be aware of each sensation as you imbibe. Chew your juice. Take your time. When cravings or self-pity arise, remind yourself of your intention, consider all the good the juice is doing, appreciate the sweet and savory flavors of the fresh fruits and veggies you’ve selected or grown and all the lives that work to make your food possible. And, if you still can’t shake your marinara lust, then make Juice Marinara and breathe deeply.
You did a juice cleanse. YOU DID IT. It feels good to do something good for yourself, right? And now you can post snapshots of your juices on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in the same wonderful/obnoxious way that your friends post pictures of their much less healthy ossobuco. Remember to share them with us. The Daily Meal will be proud of you, and you should be too.