Winter has been pretty gloomy, long, and snowy here in Portland, and spring has been, well, unsurprisingly very rainy. I felt like I needed a break to start afresh for the new season, but did not know how to implement this by myself.
In autumn of 2015, I had done a 21-day purification program for healthy eating and living and habits changing with a group of girlfriends, led by my acupuncturist.
After I completed it, I promised myself to do something similar before each major seasonal change, to put my eating habits back on the right track. But I've never succeeded. I missed the accountability and support provided by our weekly group meetings.
A couple weeks ago, I attended a brunch at a local restaurant and met Lydia, a local entrepreneur. She was attending the event as a vendor and I immediately knew that our paths would cross again soon. Here's why:
Lydia is the owner of Pure Simple Juice, a Portland-based juice company whose juices are raw, cold-pressed, made from local, organic and seasonal ingredients, and served in reusable glass bottles!
As you can imagine, I contacted her a couple days later, and soon started my first juice cleanse.
Pure Simple Juice offers a wide variety of juicing and cleansing options. I was feeling highly motivated, so I opted for the 5-day Deep Green Cleanse. Each day of the cleanse you get to drink the following:
- Green lemonade (lemon, apple, parsley, E-3 blue-green algae)
- Pumpkin Seed milk (pumpkin seeds, dates, maple syrup, cardamom, nutmeg, star anise, pink himalayan sea salt)
- Green Juice (cucumber, kale, lettuce, celery, fennel, spinach, parsley, cilantro)
- Ginger Turmeric Tonic (grapefruit, apple, ginger, turmeric, just add hot or cold water)
- Green Juice (kale, lettuce, celery, fennel, apple, parsley, lemon)
- Veggie Miso Broth with leeks
Don't ask me why I chose the Deep Green Cleanse rather than the Standard Cleanse. I suppose I wanted to show how motivated I was and probably convinced myself that it was the healthiest option.
I never thought I'd do a juice fast. The idea of a juice cleanse did not really make sense to me. Having followed a very strict diet a couple years ago, I had learnt that eating real food, masticating, was indispensable and I had been discouraged from drinking juices in lieu of eating real and whole fruit.
Coincidentally, I had watched Sick, Fat & Nearly Dead 1 & 2 recently and saw juicing with a somehow critical eye as I did not believe that it could be a viable option in the long run.
But since I'm a questioner, I wanted to try it for myself to decide whether a juice cleanse is worth all the current hype.
Reasons why I decided to go on a 5-day cleanse
- I wanted to experience it for myself and form my own opinion.
- I wanted to challenge myself by fasting (with benefits) for 5 days.
- I wanted to take a step back and connect to my body.
So on Wednesday morning I drove to Lydia's kitchen to pick up my juices for the next 3 days (and would come back on Sunday to pick up the last fresh juice batch for the last 2 days of the cleanse).
Everything went pretty smoothly on day 1, 2 and 3. I even went out with friends on the night of day 3, which included dinner at a pizza place and drinks and cake at a fundraising.
I switched the order of the juices throughout the day according to my mood and program, but would usually keep the miso for dinner time and try to spread out the green juices as much as possible.
My favorite combo was the following:
- Breakfast - Seed Milk - I need something sweet in the morning, always
- Lunch - Green Juice - Because I have to drink it at some point.
- Dessert - Lemonade - I always eat something sweet after lunch.
- Pick me up - Ginger Turmeric - I prefer not to have it too late at night as it definitely gives me a boost of energy.
- Dinner - Miso Broth - I need something warm in the evening.
- Snack - Green Juice - Because I have to drink it at some point.
Then things became a little shaky. I was so excited that I started the cleanse on Wednesday when I picked up my order. So when Friday night came, I realized that the second pick-up day was Sunday and that I would have to find a solution to continue the fast on my own on Saturday. I called Lydia to the rescue and she gave me some very useful tips.
But I was not prepared, did not have the necessary ingredients at home and totally went off track because I no longer had a framework. I did go to the farmers market on Saturday, ate steamed greens at a Japanese restaurant and drank all the ginger tea at my favorite tea house. But once I was home, all I could think of was bread and cheese.
The next day, I was back on track. I exercised a little, brought the empty bottles back to the Pure Simple Juice kitchen and picked up the rest of the order. Even though I was a little discouraged by the idea of tasting the same flavors for yet another 2 days, it was also very comforting to be back on track and not have to worry about shopping and meal prepping.
The last day was pretty interesting as I was working at a client's office. The people who work there are only working on short projects and usually just eat at their desk or take short breaks at random times. So I had no social pressure to eat real food, and the bottles were actually pretty convenient to "snack" at my desk (though they were a little heavy to carry in my backpack on my bus commute).
Finally, I went back to a regular diet at the same time as Octave came back home (perfect timing as he's the one who cooks at home!).
I unfortunately got sick during that week - I blame public transportation, the non-dedicated workstations at the office, and my being cooped up at home all winter (working from home does not reinforce your immune system) - so I did not really measure the benefits post-cleanse.
But it was overall a very interesting experiment. I did not beat myself up for "bending the rules" on day 4 and was actually proud for not giving up overall after this little transgression.
I would definitely do it again next time I feel like my eating patterns are aiming to much towards comfort food.
And of course, I'm always very committed to supporting young, local, and female entrepreneurs who share my values by being ruthless about the quality of their products and their impact on the environment.
My recommendations for a successful cleanse
1. Take it slow
Gradually reduce your intake of stimulants and foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat 1 or 2 days before the cleanse. This includes alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, dairy products, red meat, white flour, sugar foods and fried foods.
Reintroduce them gradually into your life and notice their impact on your mind and body. It's a great way to monitor their effect and notice intolerances and allergies.
2. Find your own space
To me, this cleanse was a great moment to focus on me, and me only. I was lucky enough to be able to program the cleanse while Octave was out of town, so I had the whole house to myself. It sure helped a lot, not having someone eating regular meals around me.
And again, since I work from home, I did not have to struggle with the temptations of snacks and coffee machines from the break room at the office.
3. Treat yourself
I took epsom salt baths, dry brushed my skin, mediated and took many naps throughout the day to take my mind of food.
My budget did not allow me to do so during this period but I would definitely schedule a massage, a sauna, an acupuncture session, or, for the most adventurous among you, a colon hydrotherapy.
4. Be active (but not too much)
I took that advice and stayed home reading books and bathing (see 1.) but, on Sunday morning, as the weather was really good, I did hop on my bike and cycle through my neighborhood, admiring the blooming flowers and trees along the way.
Not having to worry about grocery shopping, menu planning, cooking and dishwashing, for 5 days, my mind suddenly had more room to wander. So I filled pages of notes, ideas, resolutions.
I also took note of the triggers of my food cravings and of the satisfaction I felt for not indulging.
As mentioned at 1., monitor the reactions of your body to the reintroduction of certain foods into your diet.
Have you ever done a juice cleanse? Would you ever want to try one?
This post is sponsored by Pure Simple Juice. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support the original content on Conscious by Chloé.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Photographs by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.