Before You Start That “Juice Cleanse”…

It’s the New Year, and you’re ready to take 2014 by storm…only you can’t seem to kick the thought that your jeans are fitting a little tighter.  You succumbed to dessert on Christmas, and you weren’t quite able to keep up your regular exercise routine through the holiday shuffle.

OF COURSE, a little 3-day (or 2 week) cleanse is the perfect way to wipe out the guilt of holiday gluttony.  Not to mention that organic juice fasting with all those vibrantly bright jewel-toned bottles of healthiness is just plain sexy, right?

I have cleansed with the best of them (Master Cleanse, green juice, pressed juices, candida, no dairy/gluten/sugar…you name it), and I have argued the case for cleansing for years.

In fact, I have even tried to make a case for cleansing with my fiance who happens to have only about 10 more yeas of medical schooling than I do.  Why?  Because there are parts of cleansing that seem to work.  Cleansing can:

  • Provide temporary weight loss
  • Help trigger changes in habit or lifestyle
  • Give you a sense of control over food (and its subsequent sense of control over life)
  • Provide a sense of accomplishment
  • Make your belly flatter temporarily
  • Give you more energy
  • Clear your mind
  • Help you sleep better

A common argument for cleansing is that it gives the digestive system a rest.  The digestive system uses a large portion of the body’s energy supply, so that unused energy can be spent healing other areas of the body that need attention.  This makes sense to me, and from my experience, it seems to be true.

I will also attest to the fact that there is a “spiritual” aspect to cleansing (known as fasting).  Denying our need for food or whatever else we give up (i.e. Lent) to spend time in prayer or meditation undoubtedly helps us feel closer to God.

BUT…

This year, I will not be juice cleansing or any other cleansing/dieting despite the benefits listed above.

After years of being seduced by the allure of cleansing, long term results continue to show me that it doesn’t work.

For every cleanse and diet that I’ve tried, I have had to deal with the aftermath of putting back on all the weight and then some.  For every day I was able to control my intake to 1000-1200 calories of those bright, healthy, and vibrant-looking bottles of organic juice, I later dealt with days when stress or slight sleep deprivation from a busy schedule left me mindlessly snacking (read: binging).

Sometimes the backlash would happen immediately; others would happen over the next few months.  But, one thing was always the same – it happened.

This year, I choose to eat whole foods, cook more regularly, and drink fresh-pressed juices in addition to a well-balanced diet.  Don’t get me wrong; I love me a good green juice!  I simply choose to add green juice to my diet rather than use it as a total replacement.

I choose to exercise regularly and participate in activities I enjoy.  I choose to focus not on what I am going to give up and control but instead what I am going to add to my life that will help me thrive.  I will need a lot of energy to do all I want to this year, as I continue launching a non-profit, planning a wedding, and enjoying my relationships.

Food can still be a landmine for me during stressful times, so don’t mistake me for one who’s got it all figured out.  I simply choose to continue using each challenge as an opportunity to learn more about how to care for and nurture my body, which, cheesiness aside, is the vessel through which I can create a life I love.  And, I invite you to join me in that choice.

Cleansing will not, unfortunately, detoxify you, and its sense of control is only fleeting.  If only!  It is the tiny choices that we make every day that add up to make the big changes in the long run.  That, friends, is how we choose love – every day, one tiny choice at time, over the loooooong run.  It’s the process.  You can starve for 3 days, but can you really LIVE for 365?

Let green smoothies and fresh juices be a lifestyle – not a diet!

***

Other sources on cleansing:

Real Simple: Is a Juice Cleanse Good For You?

New York Times: Juice Cleanse A Strange and Green Journey

 Dr. Oz: Are Juice Cleanses the New Eating Disorder?

US News: Why Juice Cleanses Don’t Deliver

Outside Online: Why It’s Impossible to Just Eat Less

Addendum:

The day after writing this blog, I ran across the Simple Green Smoothie website.  Their approach to adding a green smoothie a day as a lifestyle change resonated with me.  If you’re looking for green smoothie recipes, they seem to have good ones.  They are also encouraging followers to add a green smoothie a day for a month.  Yum.

1 Comment

  1. Mandy Burstein on January 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Yes! I agree 100% Steph! I love my green juices & smoothies in the mornings but don’t see the need for a full-on cleanse, at least in my life and with my dietary needs. Great article, thanks for all the fun new info and links! Happy new year! xoxo

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