I’m convinced that anyone who claims to “really love juice cleanses” and to be “totally satiated” during three days of juice-only sustenance is thriving completely off their own smugness, and at night they just go home and dream about eating real food. Wait, was that just me? Oh good.
I’m not going to lie: Juice cleanses are not a walk in the park. When I asked for one for my birthday (it’s the weirdest birthday gift request, right? “Now that I’m 27, I’d prefer to pee like 20 times a day for three days, thanks”), it was mainly out of a desire to give my system a break. I’ve had digestive issues for what seems like ages, but pretty much anything I eat seems to set my body a’gurglin’ ever since I did a course of antibiotics followed by a frenzied course of steroids after I broke out into a full body rash and had a 103 degree fever. Turns out I have a sulfa allergy. Fun times. What does this have to do with juice cleanses? Not much, but people always seem to want to know why in the hell I’d give up delicious delicious food for three days, so there it is. My body is mad at me. It is tired. Any good gut bacteria I had that survived bouts of binge drinking in college definitely was decimated by prescription drugs. Bring on the juice.
My mom’s boyfriend kindly got me a gift certificate to Organic Avenue, which was super convenient because it has locations all over Manhattan. Its juice cleanses run around $180 for three days if you pick them up, with six juices and a morning booster shot. You schedule your dates in advance and then pickup each day’s allotment that day or the night before (as I did), and I found the staff extremely flexible when I realized I couldn’t sneak six juices into Citi Field and would need to bump my pickup back a day.
I eased into the juice cleanse with a week long detox I had done before when I needed to reset, which definitely helped with any cravings. It’s just no dairy, gluten, sugar, caffeine, or alcohol, which sounds worse than it really is. You can eat french fries, people. Definitely do a pre-cleanse so you can adjust to caffeine withdrawal headaches and commuting on the subway without the reward of a glass of wine at home, because that is shit you do not want to deal with when you’re sipping less than 1,200 calories a day with a frown as coworkers eat Momofuku cake around you.
The actual cleanse isn’t that bad. The mornings are the best. I started out so full of hope for the day, sipping some lemon water and doing shots of chlorophyll. The morning juice was usually fruit based, which was the closest thing to delicious sugar I got, and slightly eased the pain of having to choke down a vegetal green juice later. You’re actually drinking juice so constantly—and at least the recommended eight ounces of water between each—that you don’t really have time to think about how hungry you are because you are peeing constantly. Definitely do it when you’re working. Because when you’re bored…that’s when resolve starts to slip.
Evenings are the worst. By the time I dragged my sorry ass home, I’d slowly ration out my remaining two juices over the course of Jeopardy! and whatever insipid TV show I clicked over to, willing the most filling of the bunch, some sort of nut “mylk” (yes, with the “y”), to last until bed. Usually I went to sleep hungry. I also decided attending a baseball game would be a good idea on day two, and spent most of the time more focused on the food of the other attendees—”holy shit, look at those nachos.” “Oh my god, there are garlic fries, just kill me now”—than the complete destruction of the A’s. Day two will be your low point. By day two you will be thinking that juice is dumb and that people are dumb and that anyone who eats their lunch within your vicinity is a terrible monster of a human being.
But then you hit day three, and the promise of real food on the horizon will fill you with resolve and a strange sort of amnesia about how terrible the whole process was. Your stomach will be a little flatter. Your body will have adjusted to being constantly hungry. You’ll start thinking about how you don’t even miss food that much and then you’ll start looking all judgy-like at your coworkers when they hit up the free food table for cake balls. And then it will be over. You will have survived.
Do I recommend juice cleanses? I don’t know. It’s your body. Do what you want. I’ve had a headache every day since I stopped mine, but probably because I didn’t transition out of it slowly enough (read: definitely had a glass of wine and some homemade pizza two days after). But I’m glad I did it, I loved loved Organic Avenue’s tonics, and I found the whole process really freeing since I didn’t have to worry about cooking or working out. If you’re interested, give one a shot. They’re not just for raw food purists and health nuts. If a beer loving chick with low self-control around office treats can do it, anyone can. I promise.