Monday, January 22, 2007

The Juice Cleanse

About a year ago, someone on one of my many email lists mentioned that she was doing a juice detox, and I was intrigued. My mom used to follow (on and off) this diet called the Fit For Life diet, and it included monthly all-fruit days. (It also included interesting information and theories about eating meat OR dairy, but not both together, and about eating fruit first because it's easiest to digest, followed by veggies, then the meat/dairy and starches) I have been feeling just "not right" and the more I read about juice fasts/juice detoxes/juice cleanses, the more it sounded like a good idea.

I don't know if it's dangerous to do while breastfeeding, but one of the things that consuming nothing but juice (or juice and fruit) for days does is knock stored toxins out of your body, so I didn't want to risk M. getting a toxin-laden snack while she was still nursing. M. weaned in November (her last nursing was on November 18th), but then we had Thanksgiving, and then Christmas and all those wonderful food opportunities!

OK, finally it was the first of the year and time for new beginnings and healthy changes and all that stuff. I picked a three-day period when I didn't have much to do (wasn't sure how I'd feel energy-wise, and wanted to be near a bathroom!) and when G. would be around. I chose January 11-13. My experience follows.

For the few days preceding my juice cleanse, I started to be very careful about eating smaller portions. Then I cut out all caffeine. In the days preceding, I went vegetarian, and then vegan on the day before I started.

Because it's the middle of winter and I'm in Wisconsin, juicing my own fruits and veggies didn't make a lot of sense. I know it's "better" to juice your own, but I did the best I could. I went to Trader Joe's and bought one of each type of juice that they carried which was Organic and 100% juice. I also bought some bananas in case I was absolutely famished at the end of the day.

At 9 pm on the 10th, I ate one piece of bread (carb-loading?) and that was the last thing I planned to eat for three days.

I woke up on the morning of the 11th and started alternating glasses of apple grape juice and water. I was amazed at how little hunger I felt. I even made grilled cheese sandwiches for four little girls and wasn't tempted to eat any! I felt my stomach growl once at about 1:00 in the afternoon, but after I drank a glass of juice, it went better. (I should note that I was careful to "chew" my juice--that is, keep it in my mouth for awhile before swallowing so that the digestive enzymes in my saliva could start to work on it) I did have a headache most of the day, which I attributed to my sinuses, and still some delayed caffeine withdrawals.

I spent some time researching juice cleanses more and found that a lot of the websites recommended using an herbal laxative, as your bowels will not be stimulated if you're only drinking fluids. I really hate to do supplements, so I decided instead to have a "supper" of one big, stringy piece of celery (cut into bite-sized pieces), hoping that would be enough roughage to stimulate things. I did the same thing the next two days and it seemed to work.

I also found that many websites recommended taking a few tablespoons of olive oil each day to cleanse the liver and bile ducts. Other sites said that cider vinegar was a good supplement to take. I decided to do a shot a day of the olive oil (I used our double shot glass) with a splash of vinegar tossed in. It worked well, as the vinegar sunk to the bottom of the shot glass and the only thing I tasted, as I did the shot, was the vinegar.

I made it through the whole first day feeling pretty good. I was amazed at how many times I walked to the refrigerator absentmindedly. I wasn't hungry, but I was/am in such a habit of grazing that I found myself there. It was a great eye-opener when I realized what I was doing.

I woke up on the second day feeling good, too. I continued on the juice, opening a bottle of apple cranberry juice because I'd grown bored with the apple grape juice. I was missing my morning coffee, so heated up a cup of apple cranberry juice and it was okay tasting, and it felt nice to hold the warm cup!

By lunch time I was SO sick of fruit juice. My teeth were hurting (I have not been drinking much of anything but water for almost two years, so even one glass of soda or juice is too sweet) and no matter how many times I brushed my teeth, they still hurt! My tongue was getting that creamy white coating on it that was predicted. I noticed that my nose was very sensitive--I was smelling things all over the place! Garbage was gagging me...the bathroom was disgusting!

I finally couldn't stand the thought of more sweet fruit juice, so I read up a bit more and decided that some vegetable juice would be okay. I also read that cayenne is a good natural bowel stimulant, so I decided to get some V-8 spicy. I now realize that wasn't probably the best idea, but I can tell you that that first glass of V8 spicy tasted better than anything has ever tasted! :)

I continued alternating big glasses of fruit juice and water, and occasional small glasses of V8. I had celery for supper again and a warm cup of apple cranberry juice before supper.

On the morning of the third day, M. woke up at about 3 AM, complaining of a stomach ache. G. had gotten up with her the two days before (she's started waking up "scared" some nights) so I hauled my butt out of bed.

I moved her onto a couch, with a bucket by her head, just in case, and I took to the other couch. I could NOT seem to warm up, though. My down throw wasn't enough, so I grabbed a second comforter. Even TWO comforters didn't keep me warm, and I barely slept for the following three hours. When I did wake up, I felt like crap. I was still freezing, and my bones ached. I didn't know if I was getting sick (sure felt like it), or if it was from lack of sleep, or if it was the juice detox catching up with me.

I spent most of the day lying on the couch, moaning. :) My nose was still sensitive and every time C. came near me, I cackled "you smell funny...did you shower? did you brush your teeth? brush your teeth again!" until G. said to me, "you know, hon, you might be smelling yourself. you're really stinky!" (eeuuwww....)

So I crawled into the bedroom and did some more research to find out if I was actually dying due to this *%$#@&^ juice fast. The first thing I found when I googled "third day juice fast" or something was a commentary on how the third day of a juice cleanse can make you feel as though you have the flu. Symptoms of extreme cold (I could NOT get warm enough--dressed in layers, wrapped in down comforters, rice socks all over my body) and body aches (it hurt to walk or to sit...) are common at this point.

I didn't feel better physically, but at least I felt better mentally when I realized that death was not imminent! :)

I did, however, decide to ease out of the juice fast a bit before three days. First I decided that I'd stop at 9 pm instead of going until the next morning. Then I developed an unbelievable craving for soup (those chills and body aches). I also realized just how much of my life revolved around food. In a typical day, I wake up and start thinking about what I'd like to make for supper that night. I might browse cookbooks or the Food Network or other sites, looking for recipes to try. Then at some point in the afternoon, I'll start cooking supper. Of course in a typical day, there's eating interspersed in there, along with making kids' lunches and maybe baking a healthy snack... I was really MISSING all of that! So I decided to haul my freezing butt off the couch and make a vegetable soup. I chopped up all the fresh veggies we had, and raided the cupboard and freezer for canned and frozen ones that looked good. I sauteed and boiled and cooked and I was WARM by the time I finished assembling the soup. It was so nice to sit down with my family over supper. I dished up a big bowl of steaming vegetable soup and ate half of it before I "heard" my body saying that it was comfortably full. So I stopped.

That night we watched a movie as a family (Nanny McPhee--very cute!) and I even had a small bowl of popcorn (no butter). I was adjusting to eating food again just fine.

The next day was M's birthday party and as I dressed for it, I decided to try on a pair of jeans that had been too tight. To my amazement, they fit! I immediately ran downstairs to weigh myself and was thrilled (and a bit shocked) to find that I had lost nine pounds since the first of the year! My stomach FELT tighter! I was ecstatic!

I am now writing this 8 days after I completed the juice cleanse and I can add a few more comments/observations.

I really was not *hungry* during this fast--which surprised me. I watched a lot of TV (taking up the time I'd usually spend cooking and meal planning and eating) and even food commercials didn't bother me--until the last day when I just wanted to be cooking!

I felt very good through the cleanse, except for day three. I don't know if it was exacerbated by my lack of sleep, or if it would always be that bad on the third day. But it makes sense that I would not want to fast for three days again, or at the very least, I would do a three day fast in the summer!

My stomach shrank and I have been eating much smaller portions at each meal since I finished my cleanse. I am much more aware of eating to be full and not just eating because the food is there. My fridge is also over-run with leftovers!

I am much more aware of subtle flavors of food. I haven't needed to use as much salt or other condiments. Half and half in my coffee is too rich; desserts are sickeningly sweet.

I've noticed that caffeine gives me a headache when I drink it. I can stand to drink decaffeinated beverages, or even some (like chai) that have small amounts of caffeine, but not "regular" coffee.

I dropped three more pounds and have kept it off thus far.

I crave vegetables and fruit, and I find it hard to eat meats and starches together. I have been cooking more vegetarian, or at least chicken instead of red meats.

I think that's it. Overall, it was a very good experience and I plan to try to incorporate a modified cleanse every few months--more like Fit For Life's all-fruit days.


Stefaneener said...

Intriguing. I'll have to put it in my "probably some time in the future" mental file.

Abby said...

Congratulations on the weight loss. I'm not sure I could do that, although maybe 2 days... Interesting how it affected you, although that 3rd day sounds scary.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing yoru experience! It was very helpful for me, as I am researching doing the same...