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A cautionary tale about cleansing diets

The first time I attempted a juice cleanse I made it to noon on the first day. Yikes, that was an utter failure. I couldn’t last 4 hours, how could I make it to three days. The hunger I faced during those 4 hours were mind-boggling. I had made my own juice after buying a super expensive juicer. This I thought was the portal to clean eating and a healthier lifestyle.

I was surely happy I told no one about my plans so there is no one to tell about my embarrassing failure. Fast forward five years later a friend asked me to join her in doing a juice cleanse. The juice she planned to use is commercially sold and after giving me the web address I proceeded to take a look.

While on the website, I noticed something different, these juices aren’t pressed, they are blended. Great I thought, the fiber is intact, this is surely more filling than just juice alone. These juices are essentially smoothies. It was marketed as a juice cleanse, but the fact that the fruits and veggies were blended I decided to call them smoothies.

I desperately wanted to give a cleanse another shot, especially since I had a friend to do it with. I purchased my 3 days cleanse and I excitedly await my shipment. As soon as I got them I realized that the quality is very good. There were 18 bottles of juices and you are expected to drink 6 per day in a specific order. The fruits and vegetables were raw, there were very little additives if any, and it felt just as if I made the smoothies at home. I was pleased, to say the least.

Day One

Day one of the juice cleanses went surprisingly well. Was I hungry? Of course, but I wasn’t starving. I never even thought about food, mostly because I tried not to. Some of the juices were good, but a couple were just OK and were the hardest to get down. I made dinner for my family, had my juice and went to bed. Day one I thought was a major success.

Day Two

Day two started out successfully, but the juices were harder to drink than the day before. My body was starting to reject the constant influx of tartness and sourness as many of the juices contained lemons. Around my 4th juice of the day, I placed the bottle to my mouth and I just couldn’t take a sip. I wanted to give up, but I managed to convince myself that failure isn’t an option.

I then remembered that the cleanse instructions offered vegetables or egg whites as suggestions to curb the hunger. Great, I thought, and I proceeded to boil some eggs. Now, let me make one thing clear. I don’t like boiled eggs. When I do, it’s usually adorned with salt, pepper, and paprika. These boiled eggs though were the best tasting boiled eggs I ever had without condiments. I felt satisfied and was content that I could continue my cleanse without breaking the rules.


By Day three my body wanted food. No, my body needed food. It panicked. It has never been through this before. I struggled through every juice for that day. I will be dammed if I will be a quitter. It wasn’t just due to hunger for food, but hunger for different food types. My tongue was getting scorched from all the raw enzymes coating it all day long. Perhaps it was boredom but I decided to research the benefits of cleanses as a motivator when I bumped into some conflicting advice.

My Research

Several credible sources indicated that starving the body with juices is not healthy and can actually be harmful. However, occasional juice cleanses that last only a few days, in otherwise healthy people should not be cause for worry. Extended cleanses lasting several days into weeks can be harmful and should not be attempted. The most surprising discovery, though is that a juice cleanse does nothing for weight loss – the primary motivator for many people.

You will surely lose some weight during a cleanse. After all, you have basically eliminated food from your diet, while your daily activities stayed constant. You will rapidly regain any weight lost, and you have the potential to gain even a few extra pounds after the cleanse.

To cleanse or not to cleanse

There is a reason you have been told from birth that a healthy plate consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. They work together to create a healthy body. You can’t take only two of those food groups for days and consider that to cleanse your body. A proper and healthy cleanse diet should eliminate all processed foods and saturated fats from your diet.

Liquidizing your nutrients might actually do more harm than you realize as explained here. The fiber in foods have an important role to play and that role becomes less effective when you grind it out to nothing in a blender. Taking a break from food to get healthy doesn’t really work when you think about it because your body needs fuel in the form of food to thrive.

I jumped on the bandwagon without doing proper research mostly because logically I didn’t see how drinking only fruits and vegetables could be harmful in any way. Generally speaking, a juice cleanse isn’t harmful, but it certainly can be.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I tried it. I actually did feel better after the 3 days because my digestive system was off duty since I did not have much to digest. The same results though can be achieved without starving the body.

I need to take a break from eating junk. How does one achieve this?

Smoothies and juices can be a part of a cleanse if they contain no added sugars and is eaten along with a healthy source of protein and grains. But please, don’t fall into the trap of believing that drinking some juice will purge all the baked-on burgers that are stuck to your stomach. Trust me, your liver and kidney are already designed to do that for you.

Hopefully, this should come as good news because I can assure you that there is simply no joy in having food around you when you are hungry and unable to eat it. Rather than a juice cleanse try a food cleanse instead. You can keep your juice or smoothies but add a few small meals of pure, whole grains and healthy fats and protein.

You can also eliminate meat from your diet for a while and that might improve your energy since meat is harder to digest than other food groups. If eliminating meat isn’t your cup of tea, try replacing it with healthy fish such as salmon.

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Are juice and smoothie cleanse safe?