Drinking juice or water to rid the body of toxins and impurities is nothing new. Just about every religion has some sort of fasting ritual that aims to cleanse the body (and soul). It’s no surprise that juicing is popular from Hollywood to Toronto. A quick Google search turns up dozens of juiceries in Vancouver—and another one probably cropping up in your neighborhood as you read this.
Everyone from celebs to athletes, spiritual leaders to addicts has tried a cleanse and/or has an opinion about them. Some say it’s the best thing since sliced bread. (Note: bread, sliced or otherwise, is a big no no when on a juice cleanse.) I’m determined to find out.
Ironically, I’m standing in line at the grocery store with a cart full of questionable food items when I decide to go on a juice cleanse. I blame the tabloid magazine I was flipping through. Inside there are people with names like Gwyneth and Blake, Jared and Demi looking oh-so-fresh and fitter than ever. There they are walking down Robertson Boulevard, or coming out of yoga class, or just looking fabulous as they clutch a green bottle of something or other close to their chest. “I could do that, I could go on a juice cleanse,” I say to myself as I pay for a huge bag of chips, some avocados, limes and cilantro. I mean, minus the chips (and the rum that’s waiting at home), I have some of the ingredients needed to make one of these healthy juices. But it’s Cinco de Mayo and, well, the cleanse can wait.
On Seis the Mayo, though, I get down to business. The business of learning what I am about to get myself into and how much it’s gonna cost. “Think of a juice cleanse like a much needed break for the body,” states the Juice Box website. My body, as it turns out, needs a break. Not just from one evening’s guac and chips and mojitos but from years of mediocre eating habits. (Binging on Games of Thrones with a pint of Earnest Ice Cream, anyone? Yeah, me too.)
A cleanse, the company says, is a way of getting back to the basics while supercharging your body with anti-inflammatory, alkalizing, and detoxifying nutrients. Where do I sign up?
You sign up right there on the website. And it ain’t cheap. Most companies charge between $165 to $195 for a three-day cleanse. But think of it this way, if you were celebrating a special occasion at L’Abbatoir or Hawksworth, you’d easily drop that kind of cash in one sitting. That’s just one meal. That you consumed in, like, two or three hours probably. Yeah, an amazing fucking meal but still. Think of the calories! Think how full, bloated and/or drunk you feel after said meal. And let’s be honest—how likely are you to go home and shag that person you just dropped 200 bucks with? Not very because you’re bloated, remember. At least, this is what I’m telling myself when I sign up for a three-day cleanse with the Juice Box.
Thinking of going on a juice cleanse? Read on.
CHOOSING YOUR CLEANSE
Because I am a first time juicer, I go for the Seawall Cleanse, which is described as the company’s “easy stroll or leisurely ride” of cleanses. It features six juices and one nut milk to get me “into the groove of juice cleansing without any harsh surprises.” This cleanse is also good for athletes who want to continue their workout schedule while detoxing but still have fuel to burn.
To prepare for a juice cleanse, it’s advised that you cut out certain foods and beverages from your diet a few days before—things like alcohol, coffee, pasta, meat. Basically, all things that get you (or at least, me) through the day. So Monday and Tuesday, I make quinoa and kale salads, I grill some fish, I don’t open that bottle of rose sitting in the fridge. I avoid driving by Lucky’s Donuts. I don’t set foot inside Matchstick Café. I’m basically hashtag killingit.
On Tuesday night my juices are delivered (you can save a few bucks when you opt for the pick up option). I take the 24 bottles out of the box and line them up, like colorful exotic jewels, on the kitchen counter. After the obligatory Instagram pics, I try to make some room in fridge to store them all.
Note: don’t go grocery shopping before you start your cleanse. Not only will you need a lot of room for all those little bottles but you also don’t want to be tempted by whatever is inside every time you open the fridge door.
Instead of chugging, juices are meant to be sipped, like you might a fine glass of wine. (But make no mistake, vino this ain’t. And while wine is technically a kind of grape juice, you really should not drink any while on a cleanse.)
Your six pack of juice is also meant to be consumed in a certain order. My cleanse starts with an Orange Cucumber blend. I’m feeling pretty good about this as I typically don’t eat a big breakfast anyway. I also make sure to drink a few glasses of water to trick my stomach into thinking it’s full. Next up is the Carrot Orange Ginger, which turns out to be my favorite juice by the end of the first day.
These two juices are sweet and tangy, but they also pack a megadose of vitamins and help booster your immune system.
For lunch, I crack open a bottle of Light Green, which is green in color and tastes very much like what you think green would taste like. Ingredients include apple, kale, parsley, celery, cucumber, lemon, and ginger. After the last two fruity juices, this one tastes noticeably more vegetable-y and kind of bitter. But it’s not bad.
About 90 minutes later I start to get a headache and consider getting a dozen Timbits and popping them in my mouth like drapes. Instead I reach for the next juice on the menu, Deep Green, which packs a “toxin expelling, free-radical fighting, vitamin and mineral providing, alkalizing and immune boosting formula.” On the website, the Juice Box warns that this is not “the most delicious, lip smacking juice you will ever have in your life,” which is a kind way of saying that this juice is god-awful. I struggle to finish it, despite the ever-increasing dark, lonely hole developing in the pit of my stomach.
I drink about a litre of water and three cups of green tea then spend the rest of the day getting up to go pee every 15 minutes, or so it seems.
I get through the day by keeping busy. I go for a little walk on the beach. When I get home I take a long bath. What I don’t do is go anywhere where there might be food or alcohol. So when a friend texts me saying they’re heading to 33 Acres for a drink, I politely decline. And when someone at the office sends an email saying that they made brownies and they’re sitting on the break room table and they’re delicious, well, I delete that email and go to the Wired website because it’s pretty much the only website where you are guaranteed not to see any pictures of food.
Back at home, I try to distract myself from the lack of food by binge watching House of Cards. Hey, I’m binging on something and it feels pretty good, even if it’s not actual food.
For dinner, I open a bottle of The Heartbeet, a deep purple colored juice that tastes pretty beety. This concoction features, uhm, beets to help detoxify and purify blood, apple and parsley for a blast of antioxidants, celery to hydrate and replenish lost electrolytes, and lemon and ginger to alkalize and support the immune system as you cleanse and expel toxins. “This is food as medicine,” says the Juice Box. I take my time drinking it and actually feel rather full. In fact, I don’t finish the bottle and notice that my headache is gone.
I have my second massive craving of the day and I literally feel like I might die. Ok, maybe just figuratively. After flipping through the channels and finding that there is nothing on, I meander over to the kitchen and figure, what the hell, a little look see won’t kill anyone.
Inside the freezer is some salted caramel ice cream, beckoning—no, jeering at me—from its glass jar. It takes all the will power I can muster to not grab the pint of ice cream and instead go for the last bottle of the day, Almond Milk. It’s rich and creamy and even though I drink it cold, I feel that it actually warms my soul. I go to bed feeling pretty proud of myself for not having, you know, wolfed down a burger.
The next morning I wake up dreading the whole thing. But I get through it. In fact, I would say the hardest part isn’t actually feeling hungry. I do feel hungry, particularly at lunchtime. But mostly what
I miss during the three days is the physical act of chewing, of having something in my mouth.
When the cleanse is over I discover that I’ve shed a couple of pounds. But a cleanse is not meant as a weight loss tool. A cleanse, for me, was really a way to kind of start over, to reset your body and (hopefully) make healthier eating choices. So I go to the grocery store and stock up on ancient grains, organic fruit, Greek yogurt, and fish. I am determined not to pick up old habits. And for the next week, I’m feeling pretty good, sticking to my new eating habits.
Will it last forever? I don’t know. Ask me at the end of summer.