I suppose I am forced to admit there are always two sides to every story. As much as I am a firm proponent of a well-balanced diet full of a myriad of foods, I will say the weeklong juice cleanse (not a bite of solid food in theory) was not as atrocious as my skeptic-self presumed it to be.
Before I go into the details of my seven-day trial, I must be frank — I have a lot less will power than I once thought I did. Although my best friend was able to stick to the solid-free demands of a juice cleanse, I found myself sneaking a nibble or two here and there, but I’ll get to all that soon enough. I’ll share the major benefits to my juice cleanse first.
For starters, as I piled the fruits and vegetables high on the conveyor belt at the grocery store (8 pounds of oranges, 10 pounds of apples, 6 pounds of carrots, 4 pounds of celery and the list goes on), I was met with admirable stares and quite a few compliments on what a healthy college student I appeared to be. This was a major boost to my confidence, and thus, a major plus to this juicing experiment.
Next, the fact that all I could consume was juice actually eliminated some of the stress that can come with the daily question: “What am I going to eat?” Because there were fewer choices, it was easier to plan meal times — there was no question in my mind of what I was going to eat, I already knew it was going to be juice. At times, this felt somewhat restricting, yet at other times it was freeing. With all the stresses of classes, quizzes and homework, deciding what to eat three times a day can actually add to the stress. Consequently, I actually spent less time debating, prepping and eating food and was able to have a little extra time in my week.
Lastly, I surprisingly was not nearly as exhausted and hungry as I anticipated. Dare I say I might have even slightly found myself wandering to the edge of happier, healthier and more energetic — the lofty promises I had once thought could not possibly hold true.
But now a look at the flip side and back to the bending of the juicing rules mentioned above. Plain and simple, I missed masticating (a fancy word for chewing my food).
I missed the texture between my teeth and the tip of my tongue. The juice was filling — to a degree, but it wasn’t entirely satisfying. So, I snuck a strawberry or 10 every once in a while, or I sautéed some greens with a little olive oil and hid in my room to secretly scarf it down. This is where I find my biggest flaw in the juice cleanse. Why should I have to feel guilty about eating whole fruits and vegetables? These are an essential part to a healthy and balanced diet, but while I was purely juicing, they were off limits — this just didn’t sit well with me.
What I have come to conclude about a juice fast is: It is very situational, appropriate or not.
For example, if you already consume a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, then I really don’t see the point in restricting yourself to juice alone. However, if you tend to have a less healthy diet and you are wanting to get on the right track, then a juice cleanse may give you the kick start in self-determination and healthy foods you need to hit the ground running. However, this is not a healthy long-term option, and even when doing it for short periods, it is important to be conscious about getting all the nutrients your body needs. This means not jumping into a juicing frenzy blindly, but doing your foodie homework.
As for me, I can now say I’ve successfully (well, mostly successfully) completed a juice cleanse, and I am thrilled to be putting my pearly whites back into action.