I am very fortunate to have a student who has a good friend whose a dietician. I recently wanted to know what the difference between a fast and a cleanse was, according to a dietician’s vocabulary. (Note, religious fasting takes a different form and comes with a different mindset. I am not discussing that here.) More to the point, I was interested in what she had to say about the Dr. Oz juice cleanse.
My interest in juicing stems back to my childhood, when my uncle worked for the Juice Man, and, more recently, it was reignited after watching the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. The subject of the documentary, Joe Cross, went through a 60-day doctor-supervised juice diet. (For more on the subject, Dr. Oz has information here.) It was amazing to watch Joe not only change the direction his health–and therefore life–was heading, but also reaching out to others who needed the same help.
The main reason I revisited this idea just this past weekend was simple. I wanted to cleanse my body. I had no intention of dieting, fasting, or in any way hitting the gym hard while cutting calories. I am a mom, and am still breastfeeding. Cutting calories is a bad idea.
So, let me just repeat: my idea of a juice cleanse is not a fast or a diet, and it is done over a short period of time (3 days).
I’ll also stop now and say the all-important phrase: I am not a doctor or a registered dietician. Before attempting any kind of diet, fast, cleanse, or exercise regimen, always consult your physician, dietician, and/or medical team, particularly if you suffer from any ailments.
Finally, before I launch into what I did, I’ll expound upon what the dietician conveyed to me. She describes fasting as a period of time in which one doesn’t eat anything, and states that even for short durations it is detrimental to the metabolic system, which need food in order to burn calories. Cleansing, she says, is done after you’ve consumed a lot of processed foods and feel heavy. It can also be a great way to jump start a healthy lifestyle change like cleaner eating. She also said that if one already eats clean, then cleansing isn’t necessary.
But because I’d had a hard time keeping anything healthy down during my pregnancy, and because I have students who ask me questions regarding diet as a part of healthy living, I thought I’d try a cleanse. As the dietician did, I modified the plan and ate along with the juices.
Here’s the basic breakdown of what I did:
- I followed the three main juices from Dr. Oz’s detox plan–red in the morning, green at lunch, blue in the evening; and had an extra one ready in case I needed it–you could substitute this for tea, of which sadly I’d run out.
- Because I did not have a juicer, I chose store-bought juices that had no additives or fillers, that were nothing but fruits and veggies. Due to the fact that many of these are sweetened with fruit, I limited my fruit intake.
- I eliminated meat, dairy, and processed products from my consumption for the three days.
- I ate as many vegetables as I wanted. I also ate as many heart-healthy fats as I wanted (usually 2-4 servings per day, mostly from nut butter).
- I ate a huge salad at dinner to help keep me full overnight, and drizzled these with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- My sweet treat was dates and, once, a drizzle of honey.
- I drank a lot of water.
- I kept my exercising simple: walking and yoga.
Besides a minor headache on the first day, I’m happy to say that I really didn’t suffer any negative side effects. (Headaches are common occurrences when cleansing because the brain also goes through a chemical change.) Whenever I was hungry, I reached for celery and a nut butter of choice (this time, sunbutter, which was one of two “processed” thing I ate as I didn’t have it raw, if one wants to call ground up sunflower seeds processed), almonds and a few dates. For breakfast, I enjoyed steel cut oats and pumpkin with a splash of coconut almond milk (the other “processed” food–almonds, water, and coconut cream were the only ingredients).
Surprisingly, I didn’t find it very difficult (as day three is often rumored to be), although I was definitely ready to dig into the shrimp curry I’d made the day before I began by the time I’d ended. I think that this is perhaps because I didn’t cut food out completely, but choose to eat a vegan, mostly raw, whole foods diet. Overall, I’d have to say the experience was a positive one.
To reiterate on the final note, if you choose to do any kind of cleanse, make sure you consult the appropriate experts. Plan ahead, putting extra money aside for the necessary foods. Tell the others in your family what you are planning to do. Most of all, be smart about it. If something doesn’t feel right, modify so that you don’t get ill or have a more serious incident occur.
ADDENDUM 6/8/2014: There is one note I should have added–had I remembered, I would have prepared some beans and rice for meals too. Besides this, I am happy to note that my body feels as though it’s running more efficiently, especially when it comes to waste removal. Also, my cravings for sweet things haven’t been as hard to handle. So, all in all, a good experience!