Juice cleanse time!
Three days with no food? Yeah, I know, it sounds like hell, right? But actually… Read on to find out more.
The first time I attempted a juice cleanse I ended up crawling between bed and loo 24 hours in and vowed I’d never do one again. That was three years ago and it seems, like childbirth, after a while you think it might be a good idea to try again. So when I heard Cheltenham’s first plant-based restaurant Vinnie’s Eatery (a Muddy award winner no less) had launched a three-day cleanse, I skipped on over there to pick up my bottles before you could say detoxification.
You may have read my rave review about Vinnie’s Eatery – I was one of the first through the doors when it opened last spring and the incredible-tasting food Canadian chef Vinnie (pictured above) produces challenges any misconceptions that vegan fare is a drag. With him at the helm, I felt like I was in good hands for my second attempt at a juice cleanse.
The theory behind a cleanse is to give your body a chance to get rid of toxins – everything from the additives you eat to the airborne pollutants you breathe – and so create a healthier inner being that will be more resistant to disease. It also gives your digestive system a break as the energy your body normally uses to digest food gets diverted into restoring cells. A cleanse is a good way of breaking addictions to coffee, alcohol, processed food and any other naughties you may have become fond of over the years…
Vinnie’s recipes hail from California (where else?) and include the same six juices each day, which you drink in a particular order. The first two (G1) are the same: apple, kale, parsley, lemon ginger. Next up is R1: apple, beetroot, ginger, lemon, fennel. Number four is FI: apple, pineapple, mint, lemon, aloe vera. Then it’s N1: chaga mushroom, raw cacao, maple syrup, maca root, vanilla, Himalayan salt. And last but not least, C1: apple, lemon, activated charcoal.
I know, chaga what? And charcoal?? I spoke to Vinny about this and chaga mushroom, it turns out, is a disease-fighting miracle fungus that has cancer, diabetes, gastro, heart and liver disease all in its sights and takes on free radicals like a ninja warrior. Activated charcoal, meanwhile, is something of a detoxing superhero, flushing your body of poisons, including alcohol (worth remembering when you suffer your next hangover). Apple appears a lot because it keeps blood sugars level, beetroot detoxifies your liver, kale is alkalizing and aloe vera is a brilliant stomach soother.
I decided to have a juice every two hours between 9am and 7pm and the first day felt a bit of a cinch to be honest. I think this was partly because I was intrigued to taste each juice for the first time. None of them disappointed – each one was properly delicious and by the time I got to N1, the chaga, cacao and maple syrup number, I was almost feeling full. And there was still one more to go! I felt pretty energised throughout the day, and managed to do a bit of work and look after the kids without flinging my laptop at any of them. I even baked brownies and a plum pie for the family supper I wasn’t eating! And that night I slept like a baby.
I was a bit worried about day two as I had to set off for London at 6.30am for a full day at the office. I thought I’d be hanging by 6pm, as I had a lot of work to do and I was getting lots of stress thrown in my direction. However, while I felt a bit high with hunger, it was in a good, spacey way, not a gnawing, I’m-going-to-eat-my-arm way. The slightly spaced-out feeling probably helped me not get overwrought (that would have been a waste of energy) and in some ways I felt like I was firing on all cylinders.
I thought I’d have to skip my usual yoga class on the morning of day three, but no, I jumped out of bed raring to go and vinyasa-ed my way through the hour-long session with surprising energy. However, come the afternoon, I did start to flag. I began to get snappy with colleagues and was necking my juices like a baby with a bottle. Driving home that evening, I stopped to buy food to break my fast with the following day. Full English, you ask? No! I was magnetically drawn to healthy grub like avocado, raspberries, mushrooms and chocolate almond milk. By the time I got home around 9pm, I was insanely hungry and couldn’t get to bed soon enough to bring the next day’s breakfast closer. However, I found sleeping a bit tricky, as my empty stomach kept waking me up and shouting at me to go and goddamn eat!
It would be hard not to lose a few pounds after drinking only juice for three days (cue victory lap around the bedroom), but even more gratifying was how great and full of energy I felt. And my skin was glowing! The programme also seems to have reeducated my taste buds; ten days after the cleanse and I’m still saying no to crisps and wine, which is a bloody miracle! I felt – and still feel – much calmer and more focused too. Vinnie says there’s a school of thought that says you should do a juice cleanse whenever you have a difficult task ahead of you, like a job interview or presentation, as it makes you sharper and more effective, a notion I’d have scoffed at before, but now plan to put into practice. In fact, Vinnie advocates doing a cleanse once a month to keep your body in peak alkaline state. And, you know what? I feel well up for that too. Perhaps a juice cleanse isn’t like childbirth after all!
Drink lots of water
This will help your body rid itself of toxins, as well as ease hunger pangs. You can also drink hot water with lemon and herbal teas.
Cut out caffeine
To get the full benefits of the cleanse, you need to cut out caffeine completely, but if you’re a complete addict (I was when I did my first cleanse, which could account for the violent reaction), Vinnie says you can have one cup of black coffee a day, but no more than that. To ease yourself in gently, it might be a good idea to cut down on caffeine (or cut it out completely) a few days before you start the juice cleanse.
Plan your diary
Everyone reacts differently to a cleanse – some people feel alert and energised, others lethargic and sleepy. If you have the flexibility in your day, try and listen to your body and either stay busy or let yourself rest, depending on how you’re feeling. If you do feel like your energy levels have gone through the floor, don’t worry, your body will acclimatize and you’ll definitely feel full of beans after the cleanse.
Yoga, Pilates, walking and swimming are all good workouts while you’re on the cleanse. Save the HIIT and boot camp classes for afterwards. Sweating will aid the detoxification process, so a daily sauna session would also be beneficial.
Break the fast with light meals
Fruit, salad, lightly steamed vegetables and soups are all good for easing your way back into eating. Stay away from meat, refined sugar, dairy and wheat for a few days as you don’t want to overload your digestive system by plying it with heavy foods straight away. You’ll probably be naturally drawn to light foods anyway, so listen to your body!