Yes, you read that right. I - the woman who can’t live without hummus, quinoa or red wine - drank nothing but juice for three days. Ok wait, let me start from the beginning.
I blame Groupon. 100%.
First there was a Groupon, then there was a brilliant health-oriented plan between friends, then there was juice. Alright, you’re all caught up now.
Let me preface this by saying, I love green juice. LOVE IT. I have a juicer and I’ve been happily chugging fruits and vegetables for over a year now – celery, cucumber, spinach, carrots, kale, strawberries, apples, beets… Beets are my favorite. That alone should tell you how much I love me some fresh green juice. That being said, I love to eat. Whether I’m hungry or not – which, to be honest, I usually am – I love the act of eating. I love cooking and grocery shopping and preparing my food. And eating. Getting my drift?
So we signed ourselves up to receive 18 “tonics” over the course of three days from Food Body Mind Experience - a San Francisco based company which boasts local, sustainable, organic products.
My goal for this “cleanse” is just to reset my body after a few weekends of unnecessary excess. January & February had lots of great weekends and celebrations, but between anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s Day and CrossFit competitions, there’s been too much wine, too much eating out, too much processed food and way too much Diet Coke. I want to get back to my primarily fresh fruit & vegetable-based diet and I thought that this cleanse would be a good way to jumpstart that change.
My friend Arianna and I both opted to skip the recommended nutritionist consultation (the location is really, really far away and neither of us has a car) so as a result we had virtually no guidance on how to proceed. In addition to gulping tons of water, I decided that I was going to allow myself coconut water, kombucha and the occasional sip of soda if I needed some carbonation to ease a queasy stomach.
Luckily I found this ridiculously funny juice cleanse review from Nicole Is Better which helped amp me up and gave me an idea of what I was in for, no sugar-coating.
The first day was all about familiarizing myself with the juices and getting used to not reaching for snacks. I didn’t realize how much of my daily munching is automatic, I kept unconsciously reaching for nuts, mini Raw Revolution bars and other goodies. This was actually pretty educational as it made me realize that a lot of what I’m putting in my body isn’t necessary, hopefully after the cleanse I can maintain a more conscious approach to snacking.
#1 Green Machine – Tasty green juice, nothing too harsh or flavorful (i.e. no kale) with a little bit of pulp at the bottom.
#2 Food Body M.E. “Bright Eyes” – This one was a carrot ginger juice, HEAVY on the ginger. Pretty yummy when I ate it as a slushy.
#3 Apple Tonic – An apple celery juice that wasn’t terribly sweet, more celery-tasting than fruit juice.
#4 The final juice was the one that I was least looking forward to so I procrastinated until the evening - Avocado Dream. It turned out to be heavy on the lemon so it wasn’t too avocado-y, but I decided to dress it up a little to make it more palatable.
During parts of the day I was a little dizzy and light-headed, but strangely enough not hungry. I should note that I cheated a bit and had some raw almonds in the morning and again at night when I took my back medication (which can’t be taken on an empty stomach).
I slept like a ROCK the first night! I was exhausted, I fell asleep incredibly quickly and slept through the night – both of which are unusual for me. TMI ALERT - Don’t keep reading unless you want to hear/read personal details. So, the biggest difference that I noticed during day two was that my stomach was really settled and all of my IBS symptoms went away. I’ve been dealing with a flare up the last two weeks and as of Day #2 the pain was 100% gone. I’m going to keep this in mind and potentially do juice cleanses whenever I start suffering from painful symptoms.
However, by the evening of day two I was pretty bored with the whole thing. Luckily we had planned for this in advance and Arianna came over for a movie night.
Let’s be honest, what can’t Liam Neelson, Patrick Wilson & Bradley Cooper not fix?
So we had a much-needed catch up session, drank our juice and stayed up late (for me) watching the boys kick the CIA’s booty (which sounds unpatriotic, but is really anything but!)
By the final day I had gotten the hang of drinking the juices and not mindlessly snacking, I wasn’t getting light-headed anymore and I was full for the entire day. I was even looking forward to certain juices and counting the minutes until they were up, and I got some tricks down for slugging back the ones that I enjoyed less. Like freezing them slightly so they were like a slushy.
What did I think of the cleanse?
Pros: I was alert, sleeping really well and not hungry during the day.
Cons: I’m not going to lie, I MISSED EATING!!! Drinking fluids allllll day was oddly tiring, I missed chewing and most of all I missed variety!
I’m glad that I did it because it was a great way to clean out my system and jump-start a healthy mindset, and it was educational. I’d read about them for years so I’m glad that I’ve had the experience. Would I do it again? Absolutely! But it would have to be the right program. I like the idea of fresh juice a couple of times a day, rather than receiving them all in advance. If there was a way to juice my own juice or a program that delivered daily so there was more nutrients in the juice, I’d definitely try it again.
So tell me, have you ever done a juice cleanse?
My first meal at least five days a week is a smoothie. It’s a great way to get easily digestible whole foods first thing in the morning and is an especially nutritious way to hydrate after a sweaty AM workout.
As the early morning workers at my office can attest, my smoothies are either green, or not. “Not” encompassing a wide range of colors, from purple to a delightful dirty snow/sludge color, depending on what I add to my own personal Frankenstein’s Monster of a drink.
I never follow a recipe and my ingredients are usually based on my mood and what’s in the immediate vicinity. Below are a variation of my green and my “not” smoothie.
- 3 cups of spinach
- Coconut water as needed
- 1 scoop of Sun Warrior protein - Vanilla flavor (ridiculously expensive, but after extensive personal research I’ve found that this works best for me, you can obviously substitute the protein powder of your choice)
- 1 tsp Maca
- 1 apple (I’m on a Pink Lady kick, even the name is cute!)
- Fresh lemon juice
- Ice cubes
- 1 banana or apple
- 2-3 cups of fresh or frozen mixed berries
- 1 scoop of Sun Warrior protein
- Water as needed (I like the natural tanginess of the berries so I use plain water, but if you prefer a sweeter smoothie feel free to substitute coconut water or aloe vera juice)
- Dash of cinnamon & maca
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- Ice cubes
Breakdown of properties in these ingredients:
Spinach: As with many leafy greens, spinach is high in antioxidants, Vitamin A, B2, B6, C, E, K, magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium, folic acid, potassium, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Spinach is most easily absorbed by the body when consumed simultaneously with a good source of Vitamin C, such as lemon juice or berries. If you’re not a spinach convert, try adding a few leaves of romaine lettuce, collard greens or kale.
Coconut Water: Coconut water provides simple sugars, electrolytes and minerals, naturally replenishing your body’s hydration. It’s tasty, refreshing and perfect after a workout. If you don’t love the taste, popular brands O.N.E., Vita and Zico offer flavors like passionfruit and pineapple. [Note: Coconut water and coconut milk are two VERY different beverages. Coconut water is found inside a coconut, while coconut milk is produced by pressing liquid out of ground coconut meat, which means that it is much higher in fat and calories.]
Maca: Touted as a “superfood” maca is a Peruvian root, usually ground and sold as a powder. Maca contains amino acids, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, iron and Vitamins B1, B2, B12, C & E. Maca affects the endocrine functions of the body and the benefits can range from hormone stabilization to digestion to sexual function and fertility.
Cinnamon: Not only is this spice tasty, it has been used to combat colds, nausea, menstrual pain and digestive distress in eastern medicine for years. It’s also believed to help with circulation and have anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties. Chemically cinnamon contains calcium, iron, fiber and Vitamins C & K.
Apples: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” Well… It can’t hurt, right? Apples are high in antioxidants and fiber and studies show that they may help reduce the risk of various forms of cancer (like prostate, lung & colon).
Berries: Different berries have different nutritional benefits, but across the board they’re high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. They’re thought to be beneficial in the fighting of different types of cancer, boost cardiovascular functions and improve vision.
Bananas: In additional to adding great taste and texture to smoothies, bananas add a healthy dose of Vitamins B6, C, manganese and potassium. Similar to the health benefits listed above for apples and berries, bananas contain vitamins and minerals which may help the body ward off various types of cancer.
Chia Seeds: Yes, as in Chia Pets. Consumption of this Aztec superfood is on the rise in the United States with books like Born To Run advertising the unique properties and amazing benefits. Chia seeds contain protein, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium and sodium, similar to other seeds, but are completely atypical in their reaction to water. Add them to any liquid and leave for 20+ minutes and you’ll return to find a glass full of a gelatinous substance not unlike tapioca. Now imagine adding dry seeds to your stomach. That’s what the ancients are said to have done, subsisting on teaspoons of chia seeds for days at a time. There are some other great recipes that include chia seeds, which I’ll touch on at a later time.
Ginger: To be honest, I can’t stand ginger. But given its rock star benefits, I needed to find a way to get a little ginger in my life. And luckily for me, the tart berries and spices in this smoothie make the ginger barely detectable. Ginger has been used as a natural remedy for a host of ailments, including: ovarian cancer treatment, colon cancer prevention, heartburn, menstrual cramps, inflammation, migraines and relieving digestive/stomach conditions like morning and motion sickness.
Benefits of smoothies:
- By blending the fruits & vegetables you’re breaking down the tough outer cells of the plants and making the nutrients more easily accessible to your body, reducing the amount of work your body wastes on digestion
- Tasty way to hydrate your body first thing in the morning, especially if gulping down water isn’t your favorite AM activity
- If you’re not a fan of breakfast, this is a great way to get in multiple servings of fruits & vegetables in a quick and painless way
- Like soup, you can add whatever ingredients you have available: nut butter, strawberries, spirulina, almond milk, frozen veggies, carrots, celery, cashews… Clean out your fridge!
- If you don’t love greens and have trouble getting your daily recommended amount, you can add them to a smoothie and just get it over with!
Now go forth MCLV readers, power up your blenders and make me proud!