I didn’t eat for three days. It’s true, I didn’t eat, but I did drink. A lot. A lot, a lot. A lot of juice. So many juices! Juices with ingredients like ginger and parsley, dandelion and celery. Yep, I did a juice cleanse. Seventy-two hours of ingesting nothing but pure liquid.
Now I know what you’re thinking – how can that be considered even remotely healthy? How can you be choosing not to eat when there are thousands and thousands of people in the world who don’t have a choice? Aren’t juice cleanses primarily for health food freaks and hippie-dippie, live off the land, spiritual enthusiasts? Or better yet, for bored housewives in Beverly Hills trying to squeeze into designer dresses? Or celebrities trying to zip up those same designer dresses and walk the red carpet? Aren’t they a lot of money? Isn’t this something only privileged white people do?
Yes to all of the above, but regular people, like me, try them too. I’ve always wanted to do a juice cleanse, not so much to get healthy, but rather to prove to myself that I could do it. There are two options if you want to do a juice cleanse–make the juice yourself (this requires a juicer), or buy the juice from an outside vendor. I don’t have a juicer, so I had to go with the latter. When I looked up buying a juice cleanse online, I was simultaneously surprised and not surprised to find out that I couldn’t afford one. Neither could most people at $300 a pop for three days. Yeah right, I scoffed. But then one night as I was perusing the Groupon site, I came upon a an excellent deal. This is it! I told myself. And so I bought the Groupon and my juices were shipped out the next day.
When I woke up the morning of my cleanse, the juices were neatly package and sitting at my doorstep. Pretty good for coming from someone’s kitchen all the way on the East Coast (I live in California. Northern California, not Beverly Hills). I unpacked the multi-colored plastic bottles and counted eighteen in all. Six juices a day, two hours apart, and they were numbered so I’d know exactly what juice to drink and when. Pretty simple, I thought, and loaded them into the fridge.
I breezed through the first day and the juices weren’t even that bad! In fact, I kind of enjoyed the taste of them, earthy and sweet, sometimes with a kick of spice. When I went to bed that night, I wasn’t even that hungry. I can definitely get though two more days of this, I told myself, and smiled as I drifted off to sleep.
When I awoke the next morning I was starving. All I wanted was a big bowl of cereal, or at least a banana. But I knew I had to stick with it, so I opened the orange colored bottle with a number one on it and guzzled every last drop. As the day wore on, I became acutely aware of food. Food was everywhere! I never noticed in my pre-juicing days how much of my life revolves around food and planning what I’m going to eat next. I smelled food when I walked passed delis and restaurants, and I saw food on billboards, in magazines, even in trashcans. As the day wore on, my stomach growled more and more, and the coiling hunger pangs exploding through my body were unbearable. I am so hungry! I said to myself at least twice every 15 minutes. By the time I was on my fourth juice of the day, the citrus flavor and bitter aftertaste just weren’t cutting it. This is horrible, I lamented. And I was so exhausted. I had no energy to do anything physical; even thinking used up too many of the calories that I couldn’t spare. I was also constantly cold; I just couldn’t warm up and I had to pee every ten minutes. I took so many bathroom breaks throughout the day, I started to picture what my bladder looked like – how it was just a sack that filled up hour after hour like a balloon inflating then deflating.
When I got home from work and walked in the door to my boyfriend eating a chicken salad, I burst into tears. I sat at the table with my fifth juice mumbling about how it wasn’t fair and that I was so hungry and cold, and tired, and did I mention hungry? You paid a lot of money to starve like this, my boyfriend said as he lifted an oversized bite of salad into his mouth. You did it to yourself, he said, shaking his head. I immediately thought of that Radiohead song with the lyrics: You do it to yourself, you do, and that’s what really hurts. You do it to yourself, just you, you and no one else. I only cried harder. When I went to bed that night, I felt like I was wired, a slight buzzing zipping through my skin. It was hard to fall asleep but eventually my body surrendered and I welcomed the break to stop thinking about anything but food.
On the third day, I woke up and announced, still in bed, This is the last day! Woop, woop! Surprisingly, I wasn’t even that hungry. My stomach must have shrunk, I thought. But by the time I was ready for my second juice, I was ravenous once more. I went through the day feeling really out of it, as though I wasn’t quite present in my body. My head felt a bit floaty and I had trouble stringing together coherent sentences. I piled on sweaters and jackets and blasted the heat in my car. Just get through the next few hours, I told myself, and then you’re free! Oddly enough, by the end of the day, being hungry began to feel normal. I looked at a half-eaten sandwich in the fridge and didn’t even want it. I have conquered hunger! I lifted my arms up towards the ceiling. Then I went to bed utterly exhausted and wondered if I would ever actually feel normal again.
The next morning, I woke up hungry but it wasn’t as intense as before. I thought I would want something bad for me, like pizza or macaroni and cheese, but I settled for a bowl of oatmeal. It tasted wonderful, but I didn’t scarf it down like I thought I would. The rest of the day I was barely hungry, but it did feel good to finally chew something.
I know you’re wondering if I lost weight. Isn’t this why people do juice cleanses? I lost three pounds but have gained all back since then, as it was mostly water weight. So, was it worth it? Well, I never felt spiritually enlightened or magically energized like many of the accounts of juice cleansing I had previously read online. Also, did you know that some people do this for 30 days or more? Insane, absolutely insane. I definitely did not feel any healthier, as I got sick two days later. So, was it worth it to starve myself for three days for no real reason at all? Of course not. Don’t do it.
Say no to juice cleanses! That’s my advice. Continue on with your life eating the way you’re supposed to and when the thought of doing a juice cleanse bears its ugly little head, say no. Just say no!