5 Tips for Surviving a Juice Cleanse

juice cleanse

Julia Child said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” (Or maybe it was Oscar Wilde; the Internet isn’t quite sure. But Julia Child seems more appropriate here, so we’ll go with her.) She lived to 91, spending her life surrounded by salted butter, triple-creme cheese, and wine, so there must be some wisdom there. (And let’s not worry ourselves too much that Oscar Wilde died of syphilitic meningitis at 46.)

As someone who spends his days professionally cramming food in my mouth, I could certainly benefit from a bit more moderation: a nibble here and a sip there, instead of a fistful here and a guzzle there. Alas, I’ve yet to crack that nut. (Mmmm, nuts. Hold, please, while I grab a fistful of salted peanuts). I have, however, learned how to at least somewhat mitigate my indulgences with outbursts of clean living. It’s why I have kale salad for dinner every Monday (a very minor offset to my 4,000-calorie-a-day weekends). It’s why I generally don’t drink during the week (because what’s more fun: two drinks a night or 14 on the weekend?). And it’s why I willingly participate in a productive, if sometimes unpleasant, three-day juice cleanse every other month.

I purchase my cleanses from t.Loft, whose daily program includes five surprisingly sweet and satisfying juices, a fresh but wholly unsatisfying green salad, and one tiny but often-life-saving peanut butter protein ball. The t.Loft website claims that a juice cleanse can help you,”reboot your body, arm your cells, and power your system to run at peak performance.” Or in my case, just not be so much of a fat-ass. It also claim that, “cleansing has been used by spiritual masters throughout history to physically purity the mind and body” and that “this practice gives the digestive system an opportunity to rest while flooding your cells with phytonutrients.” Now I’m certainly no spiritual master, and have no idea what phytonutrients are or whether I should even be ingesting them, but I do know that after three days on a juice cleanse, my mind is clearer and my body at least a little less toxic.

Seriously, after a cleanse, I feel great.  Don’t believe me, just check out my four-day physical transformation.

before and after

Though I feel, and obviously look, fantastic by the end of the process, I do not find much inherent joy in the act of caloric deprivation. Fortunately, I have learned a few tips for how to successfully navigate a juice cleanse:

1. Be sad. Not eating food is probably going to make you kind of sad. Like, “what’s the point in getting out of bed?” sad. It may take a day or two (or in my case, 30 minutes) for the sadness to sink in, but it will. And when it does, I say dive headfirst into a deep, cleansing cry. The objective here is to become so inconsolably sad that you don’t even want to eat. Here’s a starting point: Think about how messed up it is that you are willfully denying yourself readily accessible food while so many in the developing world go hungry. Then watch that Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercial and think about where all those pets are now (hint: the answer is “dead”). If you’re not crying by now, congratulations, you’re a robot and this will be easy.

2. Avoid TV and Internet. Did you know that more than half of all web content eventually links to a photo of an Awesome Blossom or Bloomin’ Onion (depending on your hemisphere)? And that Man v. Food is the leading cause of type-2 diabetes in this country? It’s true, and you don’t need any of those visual calories oozing into your brain while you’re choking down a raw spinach salad with straight vinegar. Disconnect or you are doomed.

3. Drink coffee. Most cleanse “experts” will tell you to abstain from coffee during the duration of your cleanse, and perhaps even for a few days immediately preceding and following. That’s great advice for the type of person who can “just have a cup of tea instead.” I, however, am not one of those people and say drink as much coffee as it takes to get through the day.

4. Stay sober. Abstaining from alcohol is fairly implicit in the very idea of a cleanse, but I’ll just reinforce that you should absolutely 100% avoid alcohol (or any other mood-altering, hunger-inducing substances) during your cleanse. Don’t even look in the direction of your liquor cabinet (or Colorado). For example, and I’m speaking theoretically here, you are watching Mad Men and decide that one little half drink at the end of a long day wouldn’t hurt anything. After all, look at these people drinking smack dab in the middle of the day. Yeah, you deserve it for all your sacrifice today, and it’s just a few ounces of liquor. It’s pretty much juice…And then next thing you know you’re halfway into a bag of Pirates Booty, your organic-powder-cheese-stained hands rifling through the back of the pantry looking for that half-full bag of fun-size Rolo’s leftover from Halloween 2013…Theoretically, of course.

5. Sleep. I’ve heard rumors that there are nighttime activities beyond eating and drinking, but having never experienced them myself, I’m dubious. That’s why I go to bed at 7:30 when I’m on a cleanse. Also, see #2 and #4.

Armed with those simple tips, and a healthy dose of shame and vanity, you too can survive your juice cleanse and catapult your mind and body to new heights, or at least less abysmal lows.


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