This post has taken me a lot longer to get to than originally intended, but I think it’s all for the better – it’s been nine days since our juice cleanse ended, and it’s given me time to “return to normal” and figure out what folks seem to be most curious about in relation to doing a juice cleanse. So, this post contains our experiences and opinions about our first cleanse. It is organized by the main themes that people seem to ask me about. If we don’t cover something you want to know, please ask in the comments or email me in confidence at fawn at insteadofthedishes dot com.
Why do a cleanse?
I have always leaned toward a healthy lifestyle. As a mother and now new small business owner, maintaining a healthy lifestyle seems to get harder and harder. The idea of a cleanse, detox, or fast has been interesting to me for some time, especially as I get older. I’ve read many times that a cleanse can be a great way to kick off a fitness program, and in the glow of the post-holidays-time-for-resolutions period, it seemed like a good time to give it a try. Craig had just finished up a nearly 18 month stint of being out of town every week for work, so I asked him if he wanted to join in the fun. He’s generally open to trying new things and was also interested in the concept of a natural body cleanse.
Our Overall Impressions
Overall, I think the cleanse was beneficial to me for a number of reasons, as I’ll discuss in more detail below. I would recommend the 3 day juice detox cleanse that we did, as I felt it was easy to follow for beginners, appropriate in length and nutritionally valid. Of course, you should check with your physician before starting a cleanse or fast, especially if you have any health concerns at all. I do wish that the juice smoothies in the program we followed were more tasty, but what small self-improvement project is without some form of pain/sacrifice?
I am not used to drinking caffeine on a daily basis, so I think that if I had it to do over again, I would try and find a decaf green tea to use. I don’t know though – maybe the caffeine helped my energy levels. I thought that the breakfast drink was easy to drink. It wasn’t exactly yummy, but it had a light berry flavor and all of the contents are things that I eat on a regular basis anyway. The lunch drink, on the other hand, was a bit of a nightmare. It is not pleasant in any way. I knew this going in, thanks to a facebook friend who sent me a message just a couple days before we started our fast. She said that she had started the cleanse, but couldn’t stomach the lunch drink. It helped me to think about the fact that I was essentially drinking a green salad, to not focus on the taste as I was drinking it, and to try and drink it as quickly as possible. It still took me a long time to get it down. Worst case scenario, add extra pineapple. The dinner drink was my favorite: lots of berry flavor, and also spicy. If you don’t like spice, I would suggest scaling back on the cayenne, but it’s good for you! I was underwhelmed with the “Ultra” bath as far as detoxing goes, but it was nice to end each day with a relaxing soak in the tub.
Craig didn’t notice any difference in how he physically felt during or after the cleanse. However, he did feel like the cleanse was a good way to kick-off his efforts to eat more healthy, and the liquid diet helped reduce the portion sizes that he wanted to eat. Craig said he certainly doesn’t think it was harmful, but he probably wouldn’t do it again based on the benefits versus the amount of effort it took. Craig only liked the morning drink taste-wise. He said it was just ok, and had to force himself to down the other two drinks each day. Consistency wise, he preferred the lunch drink because it was less thick and more juicy. He didn’t experience any troubles with switching from coffee to green tea.
Hunger and Cravings
I certainly did feel hungry at times, but not starving. Usually by the time I was hungry, it was almost time to make the next smoothie. The hunger pains definitely got worse when I had to prepare food for the kids. Drinking water helped, as did relaxing and keeping my mind busy with a project or reading.
I noticed at the end of day one and throughout the second day that my strongest craving was really just to bite into something rather than drink it. I also missed chocolate and cheese quite a lot on the second and third days. These are two foods that I probably eat too much of normally, so those cravings were not a big surprise. What was surprising is that when the cleanse was over and I went back to eating regular foods, I passed up both cheese and chocolate on more than one occasion for a couple days.
Craig says he was definitely hungry between drinks, but drinking 24 ounces of thick liquid filled him up. He said he wasn’t hungry as long as he stayed busy. However, I think it should be noted that Craig spent a good part of our 3 day cleanse working on a large project that required physical activity. He was never home during the late afternoon to have access to the “snack” drink option, but I think that he probably should have drank a fourth drink each day.
Bathroom Visits *this is a TMI section*
Lots of people have unabashedly asked me if the juice cleanse made me poop a lot. The answer is no. I had no change in the frequency or consistency of my bowl movements. However, on the second day of the fast, my poo turned very, very green and it stayed that way until two days after the cleanse ended. Starting in the afternoon of the first day, I did start having to pee much more often. This is how this juice cleanse is designed to work, with toxins leaving the body primarily via urine. I did notice increases and changes in the odor of my urine at different stages in the cleanse. And while we’re at it, I also noticed a bad taste at the back of my mouth from time to time (fixed by a meal drink or drinking water) and an increase in body odor and sweating.
Craig’s preconception of the cleanse was that it would make him have more bowl movements, but it didn’t. His poo was green too. Otherwise, he didn’t notice any major changes in body functions.
Before we started the juice cleanse, a few people commented that it was silly for us to do a juice fast because we didn’t need to lose weight. Losing weight was never one of my goals for the cleanse, and I didn’t even realize that weight loss was a component of the program until I watched the video clips on Dr. Oz’s website and the two audience members who had done the cleanse started talking about how many pounds and inches they had lost. So, I did weigh myself each day just to see what would happen. I did indeed lose five pounds during the cleanse. However, one week and one See’s Candies blogger event later, I have regained three of those pounds. All of this is within my normal range of weight fluxuation. If you are thinking of doing the cleanse with the intention of loosing weight and keeping it off, I’m afraid you might be disappointed.
Craig actually gained about three pounds during the cleanse. I suspect that this is because he wasn’t getting enough calories and his metabolism went into survival mode. He needed that fourth snack drink.
Ending the Fast and Returning to Solid Food
By the end of the third day, I was ready to be finished with the detox cleanse. Especially while making mac n’ cheese for my kids for dinner that night. However, I drank my dinner drink, took my bath, and went to bed as usual. I expected to be ravenous in the morning, but I wasn’t. I met a friend for a chat at 9am that morning and had some chamomile tea and a blueberry muffin. When I ordered it, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to eat the whole muffin, but I did. The next day I attended a lunch time business meeting that included an impressive lunch buffet – chicken wellington, huge dinner rolls, and large slices of dark chocolate layer cake. When I made it back to my seat, I was actually surprised to find that I had filled my plate with salad, steamed veggies, and three small pieces of roast beef. However, by the third day back to “normal” I was pretty much eating what I wanted, although I still found myself to be more likely to choose healthy foods over heavy or sugary ones.
On the day after finishing the cleanse, I had a quinoa salad with onions in it. I have been considering cutting onions out of my diet completely for some time now because I think I may have a slight allergy to them. The onions in that salad overpowered everything else – all I could taste was onion. Having that on my “cleansed” palate was the final experience I needed to make the decision that onions and I are not friends.
After the cleanse, Craig felt that it took less to make him feel full. He didn’t have any food aversions or change in diet as I did.
Dos and Don’ts
A few pieces of advice if you decide to do a detox cleanse or juice fast:
- Do check with your doctor before starting a cleanse or fast.
- Do set up a system of support and accountability. Get someone to do the cleanse with you, or tell your friends when you plan to do the cleanse and ask them to check in on you.
- Do rest and relax during your cleanse. You will not have as much physical or mental energy as normal, so don’t expect to complete huge projects during the fast. However, do line up some low-impact things to do to keep you busy.
- Do drink lots of water. This helps with flushing out the toxins and helps keep hunger at bay.
- Don’t try to prepare food for others while you are fasting if you don’t have to. Pre-make some sandwiches or easily re-heatable food for the other people in your household if you can.
- Don’t go to the grocery store. If you run out of an ingredient for your juice cleanse, see if you can get someone else to pick up your grocery needs for you.
- Don’t go on Pinterest. No matter when you go on Pinterest, it is at that moment that all your Pinterest friends will be pinning all 809 of their most delicious recipes.
- Don’t eat any big chunks that you find in your smoothie drinks or reserve a celery stick out of the drink to munch on. This will only start your digestive system working and make you very, very hungry.