A few weeks ago I did my first ever juice cleanse. It was something I always wanted to do but never felt it was the right moment. So, I more or less decided very spontaneously, without much planing or any pre-cleanse diet that I wanted to a 3-day juice cleanse. I’ve felt a little unmotivated, was lacking energy and had been eating slightly unhealthy at that time. The reasons why people decide to do a juice cleanse are various but for me it mainly was about getting my energy level back to normal.
This is a report of my own experiences. I’m by no means an expert though I have asked one too answer a few questions for this blog post. Everybody is different and every body is different. The one thing I have really understood about my 3-day juice cleanse is to listen to your body more carefully. Because it’s the only one who can tell you what feels right and wrong (though don’t listen to it when it tells you to stop and just continue but in your own pace)
When you do a juice cleanse, there are basically two options. Either you make the juices yourself or you get a cleanse package from a cold pressed juice shop. As I wanted this cleanse to be as easy as possible I opted for the later. My friend and founder of JÜS Istanbul, Aylin, helped me to select the juices, prepared me for the various detox phases and provided me with some valuable information about the whole cleansing process.
Since Aylin is an expert in everything health-food and juice related, I asked her to answer a few questions I thought would be interesting to know for everyone who is planing on doing a juice cleanse. Or for everyone who would generally like to know more about it. These are the questions I asked myself while ‘suffering’ from the detox effects. Honestly, I actually thought that this juice cleanse would be a lot easier for me. I usually eat quite healthy and I don’t mind being hungry. Oh boy, I was so wrong but in the end it was all worth it.
My 3-Day Juice Cleanse Experience
Before you start ‘signing up’ for your juice cleanse, do some research. I’ve basically traveled the world and tried various cold pressed juice stores in every country I visited since I met Aylin and got to know the juices at JÜS Istanbul a year ago. I always thought there isn’t much magic (read skills) to making cold pressed juices but frankly, I have yet to come across a tastier and better quality juice than the ones from JÜS Istanbul. Neither NYC, Belgrade, Stockholm, London, Paris nor Berlin can keep up with JÜS (btw, this post is not sponsored 🙂 ) So I recommend trying a few juices from different juice shops. I always test the greenest one (no added fruit) because if a juicery gets this one right, the other flavors must be great too.
The evening before I started my juice cleanse I picked up my juices from JÜS Istanbul. I had decided that I wanted mostly green juices as these are actually my favorite kind and I’m not too fond of super sweet juices. So Aylin gave me two all green juices (no added fruit), one green juice with apple, one beetroot carrot juice and a charcoal lemonade for evenings.
What juices are recommended for a good juice cleanse (yes, there are not so good juice cleanses too, that’s why you need to do your research)?
Juice cleanses should be heavy in green leaves and vegetables and, particularly for women, low in fruits. Lemon and ginger cut the “grassy” taste of green juices, and the addition of fruits also helps to balance the grassy taste. However, keep fruits to the lowest possible point that you can withstand.
Most women, whether they know it or not, struggle with candida – a build up of yeast in the system – and is why they are drawn to sweets and carbs, which essentially feed yeast. Fruit sugar, although healthy and pure, still feeds this yeast. A juice cleanse can help to reduce candida in the body and then allow you to eat sweets with less bloating and mood swings, but the cleanse itself should be as low in fruit juice as possible. This does not mean to completely avoid fruit juice altogether – that would be a shame! – but to limit it. Fruit juice is the cleanest and purest food existing in this world, but if our body’s are compromised and brewing with candida and other ailments, we simply cannot handle it.
Men digest fruit juices better and generally have stronger digestive systems, so they don’t have to worry about the fruit ratio as much.
Day 1 of the juice cleanse
For me, day one was the easiest. I didn’t feel hungry and was super motivated. Towards the evening I felt a little tired and weak. But I just took a hot bubble bath and went to bed early. I also picked up a bottle of homemade almond mylk from JÜS because tastewise I was missing creamy flavours. I used up the almond mylk over a period of three days. The next morning I woke up super energized, feeling light and very positive about the cleanse. At the same time I wondered why, if I suddenly got back my energy after only one day, I needed to do a 3-day juice cleanse.
So what’s the difference between a one day and a three day juice cleanse?
A one-day just cleanse just hits the surface. It’s the first time you are abstaining from food, so you feel okay, but maybe a little hungry. Day two and beyond is when the real work happens. As your body is rested from the exhaustion of digestion, it begins to react to the high alkalinity of the juices. Imagine the “toxins” in your blood cells as having a + (positive acidic charge) and the alkalinity of the cold-pressed juices having a – (negative alkaline charge). The + attracts the -, essentially pulling toxins from your cells that are found in organs, tissues, muscles, and anywhere else.
Toxins are pulled into the blood stream and are later emitted through breathing, pooping, peeing, sweating, or any of the many elimination channels. The deluge of the toxins into the blood stream is what causes the headaches and other “detox symptoms”. That’s when you start to feel tired, groggy, moody, etc. You may even break out with a pimple. Yes, they are negative symptoms, but they are essentially telling you that the cleanse is working.
To answer your question, it’s completely dependent on the individual, because all of our body’s react differently. The effects of a 10 day cleanse by me may be achievable by you in 4 days. But in general, the longer you do the cleanse, the more aware of “elimination” you have to be. The shorter the cleanse, the less important this becomes, because you aren’t doing that deep of cellular cleansing. A cleanse is meant to awaken the toxins in your body and ready them for elimination. [However] you don’t want to assault your body with a cleanse that is too long and too detoxifying that your elimination channels can’t keep up.
Day 2 of the juice cleanse
As mentioned before, in the morning I felt fresh and energized and loved the juice cleanse. However the more the day progressed, the more detox symptoms kicked in. I was freezing (juice cleanse in winter might not have been the smartest idea but I heard you can feel cold in summer too), I had a headache, I was even a little moody and I was seriously annoyed with the juice cleanse. The main reason for that was probably because I was constantly hungry. I’ve never felt so hungry in my life.
Looking back, I now know that I should have just ordered six instead of five juices per day. Or switched the charcoal lemonade with another green juice. Everybody is different and it’s perfectly fine to adjust your needs while cleansing. I should have been less rigid with myself and listened to my body. I also noticed that I was more hungry after drinking the fruity juices. So that was usually the time of the day when I drank a little bit of the almond mylk.
But what can I do if I still feel hungry?
I first recommend to keep a journal to acknowledge the sensation of hunger. For many, it’s not hunger but rather the ritual of wanting food at a certain time. Are you craving the crunch? Something sweet? Something savory? Or, is your stomach growling and you have a headache? By acknowledging your cravings, you can spot your addictions. For me, it’s always for something savory! I generally overuse salt, so it’s expected. If your head just hurts and you feel low in blood sugar, add another juice first before eating. The juices themselves should keep you nourished and with your blood sugar levels balanced.
However, it’s obviously a concern since we aren’t designed to just drink liquids all day and hunger is inevitable. First, I would add another juice or two just to keep your belly full. If that doesn’t work, I’d introduce raw vegetables to the cleanse. Whenever you get hungry, you could just munch on raw carrots or cucumbers. Other options include a raw green smoothie (with no superfoods or coconut oil or nuts/seeds/dried fruits), bone broth (or any vegetable broth), half of an avocado, or a green leaf salad with raw vegetables lightly dressed with lemon.
Day 3 of the juice cleanse
The toughest day of the juice cleanse was day 3. I think it was more of a mental thing because the end was in sight. It also wasn’t the best idea that I was working from home in front of my laptop from 9 till 5 all three days of my juice cleanse. Next time I will schedule it over the weekend or when I’m off work because your mind (or at least mine) needs some distraction and your body and soul some relaxing exercises throughout the day. I initially decided against doing the cleanse over the weekend because I thought I couldn’t stand watching my boyfriend eat. And even though I was hungry a lot, I wasn’t hungry for his food and I didn’t even mind watching him cook and eat.
So I now know that it’s okay if he has his Sunday breakfast while I zip on a juice. As long as we go for a long walk afterwards, have some (herbal) tea in our local coffee shop or go to the sauna that day. Towards the end of my juice cleanse and actually only after the juice cleanse I realized many things I wish I would have known from the beginning. Just to mentally celebrate the whole process more rather than being angry with and at myself for being hungry.
What’s the most common thing people get wrong and do wrong about a juice cleanse?
1. People treat the cleanse like a quick-fix and resume their unhealthy diets afterwards and gain all the weight/moodiness back.
2. They treat juice cleanses as an extreme, odd pursuit that is unnatural and dysfunctional, when it is actually a historic and religious tradition found in almost all cultures and should be done regularly (seasonally or monthly)
3. People do too long of a cleanse and feel terrible because they aren’t focusing on “elimination”.
4. People give up because they feel detoxification symptoms and think they are getting sick or that the cleanse hurts them or causes them harm. This usually means they need to either conduct a self-enema or sweat it out. Or, they need more sugars in their juices to make the cleanse a bit easier. And, in some cases, they may need to add a solid item, like a salad.
5. People only focus on the weight loss and don’t see the bigger picture.
6. People don’t understand the intuition/science behind it and don’t realize how precious the process truly is. Our bodies are in constant detoxification mode – maintaining homeostasis – but a cleanse (as a lifestyle, not just as an all-juice concept) simply accelerates detoxification so you reach a higher sense of well being and a homeostasis that is happier and lighter and freer. Why maintain a subpar wellness when you can maintain an elevated one? I wish people understood that cleansing can take them to a new level of well-being, if they were committed and focused enough.