Our lovely assistant style editor, Amanda Zurita, decided to embark on a juice cleanse recently, and invited me to join her.
We did the Juicebox cleanse, which is $60 a day for three days (or one or five or whatever). Not cheap, but knowing I had the bulk of the month's ladytimes allowance invested in this endeavor was probably the only thing that kept me honest.
Writing a "Guys, I did a juice cleanse!" post in January feels like such a lame food-blogging cliche, but dammit, I did this thing. I also cancelled a lot of plans and told a few fibs to avoid broadcasting it. For some reason I was a little embarrassed; activities like this seem like the purview of annoying healthier-than-thou types who consider food a fuel rather than a pleasure. Which is ridiculous, because Juicebox owners Brandin Myett and Kari Brunson both cook professionally and I've seen them suck down plenty of alcohol and fried chicken outside of juicing hours.
Here, my juice cleanse.
Day 1: Like Sunscreen, for Your Mouth
Okay, here we go. I start off with a green juice; it seems more healthful and breakfasty. I make a lot of supervegetal juice concoctions at home, so the juice itself isn’t an adjustment at all. In fact, it’s outstanding, a million times more thoughtful and balanced than when I make it. My only disappointments are the aloe vera and filtered water, which tastes a little bit like drinking sunscreen, and the almond milk. Granted, the almond milk was the victim of my unrealistically high expectations. I was hoping for something akin to a liquefied Almond Joy. The reality is more like skim milk sprinkled with nutmeg. It’s not bad…it’s just not a taste I’ve experienced before. Another taste I am not experiencing: coffee. Oh, how my brain wants coffee.
At no point am I actually hungry. I’m just craving food. I never realized how much energy I devote to thinking about my next meal. I leave the office at the stroke of 5 so I can flop on the couch and distract myself with television and books. Even the grossest Domino’s Pizza commercials leave me moaning in agony and desire. By 8:30, I can't keep my eyes open.
Day 2: You Look Like a Sandwich
I slept nearly 12 hours but I’m still yawning and dozing on the bus like I was out until 3am. On the plus side, not making a lunch or messing around with breakfast cuts a lot of time out of my morning prep. But I’m noticing how much my phone looks like a candy bar. The cat is like a tiny steak with whiskers. When Werner and I chat about blog stuff, all I see is a talking box of French fries. I have food on the brain. A giant box full of Kettle Chips arrives in the mail. I don't open it, but like a photo of your parents when you go off to college, it just feels comforting to have greasy, salty carbs nearby.
Today I wised up and came up with a system that spreads my favorite juices throughout the day. I start green and take down that aloe vera water midafternoon when I’m at my most desperate. I save the beet juice for dinner, since it’s my favorite. Once again, I’m crawling in bed at 9. Oddly the thing I’m craving the most is roasted Brussels sprouts.
Day 3: Huffing Taco Meat
Once again, I slept like a champ. And I feel fantastic; I think I finally pushed through the lack of caffeine. I have energy. I am a pure, healthy, vital human being! I might do this forever! Until the aroma of a hot sandwich drifts over from someone's desk at lunchtime and it just about kills me. Half of my brain is consumed with what carb-laden delight I will eat when this is done. Pasta? A cheeseburger? Is it possible to obtain a cheesesteak at 8am on a Thursday? The other half likes feeling this good and doesn’t want to undo my efforts of the past three days. I am even acquiring a taste for that aloe vera.
And yet, I still torture myself by standing over the stove and inhaling the scent of my husband’s taco meat at dinnertime. Hey, desperate times = desperate measures. No 9pm bedtime for me tonight; I have to stay up late to recap Top Chef. Which, by the way, is a show with lots of glistening food porn. I last until about 1:30.
The Day After: Annoyingly Smug and Superior
I’m lighter on the scale and sort of apprehensive to go back on real food. I like feeling this way and I'd gladly have a juice for breakfast, had there been any more. You can really get into this stuff. Sadly, my grandiose return to eating consists of a few spoonfuls of cold leftover taco meat. My reunion with caffeine is way more exciting. I try not to annoy my coworkers with talk of how clean and pure and energized I feel.
Spending three days without the company of food makes you appreciate it more. My first straight-up meal was a giant brisket sandwich, and I can clearly taste every glorious layer of flavor.
This is probably an adventure I would intend, but never actually undertake if Amanda hadn’t roped me into it. The juice cleanse wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be—especially if you can minimize social outings—and the outcome definitely justifies the means. Between this job and the fact that I like to eat and drink in general, I can funnel an appalling amount of booze and fat into my body in any given week. If I have the cash, I would gladly do this twice a year, or even quarterly, to reset my poor system. I also seem to have fallen victim to a sort of juicing Stockholm syndrome. Ever since finishing the cleanse, the thing I have been craving the most...is more juice.