Here's the thing: the commentary I did receive (mainly from Twitter and people "in my real life", which is a ridiculous term cuz readers are as real as all the others) was largely of the "Are you kidding??" variety. I was told numerous times that "juice cleanses don't work" and that "there's no scientific evidence". From my vantage point, however, I think one has to define what "working" means, before one jumps to the conclusion that effort has been wasted.
Let me clarify: I have no illusions about drinking only mashed-up vegetables, fruits and nuts for a day. I do not believe it cures illness. I do not believe it hastens one's metabolism. I do not think that anyone loses weight.
Furthermore, if one is healthy in such a way as to permit a day (or a few days, heaven forfend) of cleansing of this sort, I do not think it harms one's health in any way.
So, why did I bother?
Well, I wanted to reset my digestive system (which has been struggling over the last couple of years, when I'd never had an issue prior to hitting my 40s). Many a juice-cleanser I know assured me that this would occur. Also, you know about my reasonably recent, but utter commitment to hydration of connective tissue (along with the relevant body work) and to reduce inflammation. This certainly addresses that. And finally, I wanted to know more about my relationship to food - nay, to eating - in way that only the absence of the activity could clarify. Look, I went on a well-planned adventure with my body, in a completely mindful fashion, and I have no regrets.
On these fronts, my friends, the juice cleanse - if only by my own experience - was utterly effective.
So, here's what happened (sparing the detail of the unpalatable parts):
- I lived all of the emotions associated with not eating and, even fabricated, this experience was intensely uncomfortable.
- I found it really difficult to fit 3 litres of juice into my body in just a day, which is hilarious because I'm sure I could have eaten a pound of bacon.
- It was hideously effective in terms of the digestive reset. Let's just say I didn't leave the house because I couldn't. This was a rather surprising impact (despite what I'd been told) and one I cannot say I enjoyed. However, I can see how it might be very useful for people who have inflammatory digestive conditions.
- I slept a lot of the day, to pass the time and because I was freezing cold despite drinking tea constantly and wearing 8000 layers.
- When I awoke, I spent hours feeling feverish and overheated.
- About midday, my really oily skin became totally tight and dry - in a way I've never experienced in 44 years - to the extent that I started slathering on almond oil hourly.
- I carefully monitored my intake of juice to protect my blood sugar (note this cleanse is designed, with nut milks having added oils, to provide protein and fat) and, nonetheless, I felt like crap.
- Today, having begun to reintroduce healthy foods in reasonable quantities into my diet, I still feel like crap.
- In what ways do I still feel like crap? My body hurts (that thing I often experience), my stomach is unsettled, my internal thermostat is off, I have a headache and I feel demoralized.
- Could all that be because it's January in Toronto and I'm me? Absolutely. But the symptoms came on quite suddenly after starting the juice cleanse.
- Are all of these things as a result of "detoxing"? I have no idea. I don't think they're as a result of blood sugar imbalance because I stayed carefully on top of that and I drank hundreds of calories. This wasn't a fast from that perspective.
- Are these symptoms potentially the result of destabilizing my system? Could be. But really, I know people who eat less food on a regular basis than I drank yesterday, and they seem to be just fine.
- Are these symptoms potentially the result of having done something out of phase with the seasons? Quite possibly.
- Were these symptoms exacerbated by my period (sorry for the TMI)? Absolutely. In fact, they may have been caused by it (and then exacerbated by the cleanse).
This cleanse, however, is such that I imagine, within a couple of months, the unpleasantness will have faded (much as they tell you happens with childbirth but that's bullshit, IMO). Be sure though, I will not do it again in the winter in Canada. Or when I have my period.
What did I learn?
I learned that, were I to do this again, I would customize the cleanse such that the amount of nut milk would be in the realm of 1.5 litres (to 1.5 litre of juice) rather than 0.5 litres to 2.5 litres. Also, I'd put some additional oil in the nut milks to increase the fat consumed. I need fat, people. More than I ever realized.
I'd increase the volume of green juice without sugar. Interestingly, the juice without sugar was the most palatable and it made me feel the best. (The nut milks were largely unsweetened, so they were particularly stabilizing.) I feel my blood sugar would have preferred less sweetness, in the absence of food bulk, despite the fact that all of the drinks with fruit were very well-balanced. I sense they're at their most well-balanced in a "juice as supplement" way, at least for my biochemistry.
I learned that not eating is very complicated, even for just a day, and that the thought of going without food for any reason is distressing.
I learned that changing a life-sustaining habit, even for a very short period of time, can have massive impacts on one's body. Don't take this sort of experience lightly. Yeah, I'm probably sensitive (I usually am), but I wouldn't recommend going to work under these circumstances.
It remains to be seen if this has any positive impact on my experience of pain. So far I'm in more pain than usual - which isn't the optimal direction, IMO, unless it's a temporary thing to be followed by a trajectory of pain diminishment. I have no idea what's to come.
So, there you go - Kristin's take on the most solopsistic of bourgeois acts.
I really would love to know about your experiences of juice fasting, if ever you've done this sort of thing! Let's talk.