A juice cleanse is a form of detox diet that involves consuming only the juice from fruits and vegetables to detoxify the body, reset your system, and/or lose excess weight. Usually, this semi-fasting period lasts from 3-10 days, depending on your goals. Some people think it’s a simple way to get rid of cravings, or bloat, or just a generally sick-of-food feeling. Some people think it’s a challenging and intense way to get your body and head back where you want them. I wasn’t sure which category I’d fall into until I tried it… I learned a lot in my 3-day cleanse in which I made a promise to myself to stick to 5 specially-curated juices per day. Here’s what I wish I knew before my juice cleanse:
Lesson 1: Know why you’re choosing a Juice Cleanse
First of all, why did I decide to do this? Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, and juicing extracts these nutrients and make them easier to digest. As a result, the diet supports the body’s natural cleansing and detoxifying process while enriching it with good calories. On top of that, detox juices are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. They help to boost your overall immune system and make you feel more energetic. Also, they improve your digestion by introducing enzymes that make your gut work more efficiently. I felt just grossed out by food, bloated, and ready to get all the cravings and heaviness from some poor choices out of my system. A juice cleanse proved the most efficient and effective means.
Lesson 2: Prepare Your Kitchen
So, here’s a fun fact. Leftover pizza will torture you on the first day of a juice cleanse (or the second, if you have more self-control than I do). Get rid of it. Get rid of all the junk food, and even the healthy food that’s not part of your 3-day plan. You don’t have to throw it out, but at least hide it. Or better yet, donate it to a food pantry! Eliminate the temptation from your kitchen, and simplify the process. It will be much easier to focus on your plan. Then, you can skip the conversation and negotiation with yourself when cravings hit.
Lesson 3: Prepare Your Social Life
Listen, doing this when you have a big dinner with friends planned is not ideal. Try to do it on those days when you don’t have social plans or events. It’ll save you from exposure to both rich foods and the awkwardness of not eating anything at a restaurant. Choosing weekdays should be easier for most of us. We normally have a predictable routine, so we can pretty easily avoid issues. But in case something comes up (oh no someone brought doughnuts!!) and you find yourself socially surrounded by food: be ready! First, avert your eyes if possible! But have a top-of-mind mantra to remind yourself of your purpose for doing this. Stay hydrated, or go crazy and get fancy tea.
Lesson 4: Minimize Stress
For a lot of us, self-control tends to dwindle under stress. The problem is, self-control is the key to doing a juice cleanse. Constantly remind yourself of your goal. Congratulate yourself often when you finish your juice! When you resist the urge to snack! You’re awesome! Try to avoid high-stress situations, at least at the outset. Science tells us may increase your levels of cortisol and push us towards overeating. If your juice cleanse is just a few days, pick a calmer week without any deadlines at work or important projects to work on. Your body needs to be relaxed to process the changes that it will go through. Make it easy on yourself however you can. One way I like to mitigate stress is with CBD Oil, because I find it reduces anxiety.
Lesson 5: Stay Hydrated
Drink lots of water: this is essential. I’m one of those people who can be bad about this, but I really feel better when I down that H2O. Drinking water not only decreases your hunger levels but also keeps you hydrated and balances your metabolism. Water transports nutrients to your cells and helps your body eliminate toxins. It is an important step to take even before starting your juice cleanse, but also during. I found that setting a timer for every hour and just chugging a glass of water when it went off worked best for me. It was almost like a game. But maybe you are mature and you can sip your water nicely throughout the day. Good for you with the adulting.
Lesson 6: Keep Busy
Some of us are in the habit of snacking when bored. It’s a tough thing to overcome sometimes. It’s like the chips just find you! But, a busy mind, or busy hands, means a distracted stomach. Do something. Work, clean out a closet, do a puzzle. Work on a project you are passionate about, hang out with friends, clean the garage, or do some needlepoint. Whatever you’re into. But plan stuff to do. Not so much activity that your body is begging for extra calories, but just something to keep you occupied. Keeping your hands busy, especially, helps.
Lesson 7: Don’t Fear the Juice
Don’t be afraid of the juice. People tend to look at juice cleanses as if they were a blended meal inside a juice box. I’ve made my own juices in the past and I’m not afraid to admit: they were nasty. There’s no way I could drink just those for 3 days. But if you’re committed to doing this for real, just buy your juices. It’s so worth it. No prep, no mess, and they if you get the right kind they are actually delicious. Do be careful that you don’t buy the grocery store “juice” brands- they are full of sugar and preservatives and other chemicals. I went with Mother’s Juice Company juices. Their juices are raw and unpasteurized, and with no additives or preservatives, giving them their natural and fresh flavor. They are made to order optimally healthy and super good. I actually looked forward to them for the entire time. Enjoying your juice makes this process so much easier.
Get flavors you like, and get a variety to keep things interesting over the time of your cleanse. Mother’s Juice has five different blends of juices. They have fruits such as green apples, pineapple, and lemon, vegetables like kale, beets, spinach and celery, and a spicy touch of ginger in some of the mixes. I found things I didn’t even know I would like! So be a little brave, try something new, but get quality juice and have fun with it!
Lesson 7: Keep Track
Another important step of your juice cleanse is your emotional and physical balance. I found that making a few notes in the morning and the evening both kept me mindful of the way I felt and why I wanted to do it in the first place. Also, keeping track of how you normally feel and then how you feel during the cleanse is a nice way to compare your state of mind and your body, tracking any changes you may notice, both good or bad. You want to notice how your body and mind are adapting to the cleanse.
Lesson 8: No Easy Outs
Despite the best-layed plans, you may slip. Slips are ok. Actually, more than ok, they are normal. If you end up eating something bad, don’t go dropping the whole cleanse plan. I swear, sometimes I self-sabotage and I can’t be the only one. “Oh whoops I ate a french fry! I better eat more! And a burger! Shame on me!” No. A slip can be an isolated incident, you can stop it. Pick yourself up and resume right away with your detox plan, taking note of what drove you to eat it and making sure not to repeat it in the future. A slip is not a ticket to Junk Food Town.
There will be times that you might feel frustrated or depleted, and with any drastic diet change, that’s normal — so be ready! Detox diets like these may be hard at first. But here’s the thing- they aren’t really hard at all. In the big scheme of things, it’s easy. If you have the privilege of doing this for 3 days- treat it as such. A privilege for which to be grateful. Be ready to reject cravings, but also recognize how good you feel, and how fortunate you are when you put it all in perspective. It’s actually a great experience- and keeping that promise to yourself is the biggest reward of all.