Have you ever participated in a juice cleanse before? Known to help give your digestive system a break to recharge and remove unwanted toxins from your body, juice cleanses have become increasingly popular among those looking to make healthy changes in their life. Learn more and read about my recent experience below!
I did something I told myself I would never do. I recently participated in a 1-day juice cleanse, which meant drinking nothing but liquids for 24 hours. For those who know me and know how much I love foods, this was a big deal!
Why did I do a juice cleanse?
“If you told yourself you would never do it, then why did you?” Great question!
As my passion for nutrition and health has continued to deepen, one “trend” that I never truly understood was any sort of liquid fast, including juice cleanses. As someone who loves to eat and knows the importance of nourishing the body with whole, nutritious foods in order to maximize health, I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how going on a liquid fast would help someone reach a particular health goal.
But as my experiences and knowledge continue to expand, so do my opinions and thoughts on what a healthy lifestyle looks like and the tools you can take advantage of to get there. Studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and working at a local juice bar, New Moon Juice, has become an integral influence in my journey and is challenging me to take my blinders off and look at health and nutrition in a different way.
Having heard about the benefits of a juice cleanse, I wanted to see what it was like for myself! I wanted to be able to speak from experience when talking to customers of the juice bar about the cleanses, as well as my future health coaching clients. I didn’t just want to know the challenges and benefits of a juice cleanse; I wanted to experience them.
What are the benefits of a juice cleanse?
While this topic is hugely controversial, I do believe that juice cleanses (done for the right reasons) can help individuals reach their health goals.
Juice cleanses are a way to get more phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables into your body than you normally would in a given day. And because you are consuming the juice without fiber, your body absorbs these nutrients into the bloodstream more quickly.
I think the biggest advantage for someone doing a juice cleanse is to look at it as a pathway to healthier living. It can provide the jumpstart needed to crave healthier foods and adopt healthier lifestyle habits. Other benefits that may result from a juice cleanse includes: a clearer mind and increased focus, reduced symptoms related to certain illnesses, decreased inflammation, healthier skin and nails, a healthier digestive system, and even weight loss.
What a Day on a Juice Cleanse Looks Like
I really didn’t know what to expect while on the juice cleanse and truth be told, I was a little nervous. I rely so heavily on nutritious foods to give me the energy I need throughout the day that I was worried about how my body was going to react when I was only feeding it juices.
Here’s what my day and thoughts on the juice cleanse looked like (I must note, I cheated and had some coffee. As we will talk about later, it’s best to prepare for your cleanse so you don’t, ahem, experience a raging caffeine headache).
8 am – drink my first green juice. I woke up and was feeling anxious about the cleanse. Funny how something so small can take you outside of your comfort zone! I was just hoping I would have the energy I needed to get some work done.
10 am – I broke down and had some black coffee with a splash of the hemp milk. I was craving some normalcy in my day and I was texting my juice guru, aka the owner of New Moon Juice, pleading asking if it was acceptable to have coffee. I also drank half of the hemp milk for some protein and satiety. Once I had a sip of coffee, I knew I could do this. (Anyone notice anything – coffee addict!)
12 pm – drank a root juice. Surprisingly, I was feeling great and wasn’t jittery from the coffee (which can happen sometimes when I don’t drink it with food). I was feeling focused and ready to tackle the rest of my day!
2 pm – went to target. Big mistake. I started feeling slightly weak and hungry and decided I better go home, drink a juice and relax. I drank a green juice and the rest of my hemp milk and was productive the rest of the afternoon, while laying on the couch.
4 pm – drank another green juice to power me through the evening.
6 pm – made myself another hemp milk because I was feeling like I needed the protein and a little more substance. I also made (more) coffee because I thought I needed it, but actually didn’t end up drinking it! <- WIN
8 pm – drank ½ of another root juice. I was surprisingly not hungry after a day of juices, but my husband and I were talking about breakfast the next morning which made me crave solid foods. Maybe you shouldn’t talk about pancakes and omelets on a juice cleanse?
I had one green juice leftover that I didn’t drink. I ended up waking up the next morning feeling really good and actually reached for the leftover juice, surprising myself since I thought I would want all the foods!
If I’m being honest, I didn’t think I would enjoy the cleanse as much as I did and was skeptical about the benefits I would see in just one day. But, the morning after the juice cleanse I felt great! I noticed that my skin and nails were more moisturized and it felt like I had a summer dew (in the midst of winter). I also noticed that my complexion was clearer and less blotchy, I could think more clearly and my energy levels were up!
One thing I didn’t anticipate was how much of a mental battle it would be for me on the day of the cleanse. I believe this challenge I experienced was due to the reason I did the cleanse in the first place. I consider myself a pretty healthy eater and was feeling good about my diet and food choices at the time of the cleanse. The reason I wanted to do the cleanse was for more of a test than it was to jumpstart healthier habits.
Would I do a juice cleanse again?
Absolutely! I think there is something to be said about the benefits of a cleanse and is something that most people can benefit from. However, if I were to do a cleanse that lasted more than a day, I would look at ways to incorporate clean, whole foods into the program that wouldn’t stress the digestive system, but would satisfy my need for substance in my day.
I believe that a cleanse shouldn’t be tasking, rather, it should be enjoyable, and it’s important to find ways to make it realistic to you and your lifestyle, while still being able to reap the benefits. Some people can only go a few hours without something to chew, others can go a few days. It’s best to find what works for you and to listen to your body. This is your journey – no one else’s!
4 Tips for Making Your Juice Cleanse a Success
Now having successfully completed a juice cleanse, here are four tips to guide you towards success if you are considering one of your own (adapted from the New Moon Juice website):
Find what works for you. Let’s be real. You probably won’t be as successful on a cleanse if you don’t sign up for something you think you might enjoy. While I believe any cleanse might push you outside of your comfort zone a bit (which is a good thing!), there’s no sense in dreading it. Maybe that means you incorporate sweeter juices, more nut milks, solid foods (within reason and are still detoxifying!), or you begin with a half-day and work your way to a few days cleanse.
Prepare for your cleanse! This is what I didn’t do that I should’ve. It’s best to start eliminating certain foods from your diet before your cleanse to prevent your body from going into shock. These foods include: anything processed, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, soda, wheat and even meat. It’s also important to remind yourself and reflect on why you are doing the cleanse. Maybe write a motivational saying or reminder somewhere visible to glance at frequently during your cleanse.
Take some time to rest and relax during the cleanse. I didn’t know the importance of resting while on the cleanse until I was already in it. This is especially important for cleanse newbies, like myself. Not only are we giving the digestive system a time to relax, this is also a time to relax your mind and take a break from the demands of every day life.
Set yourself up for success after your cleanse. This is a huge step for success and something I want to dive more into within the programs I will be putting together for future clients and at the juice bar. You signed up for the cleanse to give yourself a healthy reboot, but then what? Do your research and talk to the company you order your juice cleanse from about what this looks like. To me, this means not having a cheeseburger and fries the next day. It means slowly incorporating nutritious foods back into my diet and taking note about how these foods make me feel in order to find what fuels my body best.