If anything is trending in January it's diets and exercise, and this year is the year of the juice cleanse. The idea is to detox your body by replacing your daily intake of processed foods with pure, nutritious juice and come out a healthier new you.
To see what the hype is all about, I decided to try a three-day cleanse from Capitol Hill–based Juicebox. In need of a partner to complain about my hunger pangs to, I roped in food and drink editor Allecia Vermillion. Read her experience here.
The Juicebox cleanse is $60 a day (not cheap, but on par with similar national programs) and consists of six juices labeled A through F, although you can drink them in any order. Owners Brandin Myett and Kari Brunson are chefs, so expect a rotating menu of deliciously balanced flavors that are both seasonal and locally sourced.
Three days before starting the cleanse you're supposed to cut out alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, and over-the-counter drugs. However, I started cleansing on a Monday during football playoff season, which meant that the Sunday before got a little boozy. But since I don't smoke, take over-the-counter drugs, and drink only a cup or two of tea a day, I figured I was in the clear.
Prep time over, I dive in to my first juicing experience:
The first day is good. I feel positive and upbeat about the experience and can't wait to magically replace my midnight Taco Bell cravings with an intense desire to only consume leafy greens and clear broth. I start off with three most delicious sounding juices: almond milk, honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg; pineapple, kale, and celery; and aloe vera water with cucumber.
Since there is no caffeine allowed on the cleanse, by 6 I can hardly keep my eyes open and decide on a three hour nap. I wake up and try to down my last two bottles, finish half of each, and hit the hay.
Full disclosure: On the first day I broke down and had five baby carrots. Shame on me, right?
Day two isn't awful, although I start to develop a bit of an attitude. I resent people who are eating and make snarky comments to them in my head. (Oh isn't that pastry just delicious? Don't you just loveee chewing?) I'm also weirdly emotional and find myself randomly sobbing while watching Lena Dunham's Golden Globe acceptance speech—and I've only ever seen two or three episodes of Girls.
Today instead of going from favorite to least favorite juice, I try drinking them in order spacing out the ones I love (pineapple and kale) and my not-so favorites (beet juice). This is definitely a better way to go.
By day three I have a headache and am nearly blacking out every time I stand up too quickly. Apparently this is not an uncommon effect of your body ridding itself of toxins, and even Brunson admitted to me that her first cleanse was a rough one. I take another long nap, begrudge every sip of juice, and spend most of my time planning outrageous meals for the next day. I really thought about cheating, but since nothing but an extra large cheesy pizza would satisfy me at this point, I decided I could push through on juice alone for the last few hours.
On the morning after the cleanse I went a little crazy. I had a large handful of granola, breakfast at my favorite spot, a Top Pot maple bar—all before noon. But after the initial I-can-eat-again frenzy, what I really found myself craving was something fresh and delicious, something like juice, perhaps? Or at least its healthy chewable equivalent. I had a light salad for lunch and a smoothie for dinner, and my eating habits have stayed reasonably nutritious since finishing the cleanse a week ago.
All in all, I would do it again. Maybe once or twice a year, quarterly if I could afford it. I feel better, I'm a few pounds lighter, and I'm more aware of what's going into my body.
It isn't a cure-all or a desperate last-minute attempt to squeeze in to your wedding gown, but if you're looking for a way to kick off a lifestyle change, I'd recommend it—naps, snark, headaches, and all.
As with any diet, check with your doctor to make sure it's right for you.