I would like to apologize for the enormous rumbling sound you’ve been hearing for the past week. To clarify, that would be my stomach, burbling so loudly we’ve all been bracing for an Alien-style invasion. See, stomachs do that when you don’t put anything in them for five days. Well, anything except juice.
Nick and I were on a juice diet this week, and by “juice diet” I mean “consuming nothing but
unappetizing nasty healthy juices made in our juicer from fresh fruits and veggies.” And when I say, “nothing,” I mean nothing. No food. Nada. Zilch.
Like refugees. Or prisoners of war.
I can hear you shaking your heads from here. Or see you. Whatever. All of the energy that would normally go to making my brain function has been used to keep me upright.
The reason for wanting to go on a juice diet was pretty simple: we are crazy. Or, equally accurately, I am crazy about my husband. Believe it or not, Nick was the driving force behind this; I just went along for the ride. The long, cold, slow, joyless ride.
Nick had been talking about going on a juice diet since last summer, when two (married) college friends of ours posted about their very successful juice diet on Facebook. By successful, I mean that they’d been motivated to better their eating choices – and their overall health – by the movie Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, and decided to begin their journeys with a ten-day juice fast. They wrote of losing relatively significant amounts of weight and generally feeling fantastic both during and after the fast. It was, I’ll admit, tantalizing and inspirational – but we just couldn’t find the time to make it work.
There simply wasn’t a week when nothing else was going on — no traveling, no work dinners, no family visits — during which we could give up eating and take up juicing. Which was just fine by me. I (very luckily) don’t really need to lose any weight, and my diet is pretty good overall (save for my Starbucks addiction), so I wasn’t in such a hurry to do the juice thing.
Nick, on the other hand, never forgot. (Unlike the cable boxes that remained in his car for over a year-and-a-half and never made it back to Time Warner. Not that I’m counting.) He’s been wanting to take better charge of his health for quite some time now, but really wanted a way to jumpstart the process, especially after having been in such an emotional haze since early summer. When he looked at the calendar and realized that we had over a full week between family visits and his next work trip, he decided to take the plunge. Being the
martyr ever-devoted wife that I am, I decided to join him. Like a lemming.
He bought a juicer, researched juice recipes, bought a crap-ton of fresh produce, and we were on our way. I wanted to support Nick, yes, but I was also eager for the other benefits that juicing was sure to bring. For one, I was excited to be all cleared out — removing the toxins and all that. Some of it sounds like mumbo-jumbo, but it makes sense; we eat junk, and some of the junky stuff gets stuck in our bodies. I’ve got IBS. I know what junky feels like. And getting rid of some of that was pretty darn appealing.
I was also hoping to break my late-night snacking habit. Dessert, fine. (Or, should I say, dessert, HELLZ YES.). But, a handful of Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered toffee pieces and a bowl of ice cream and some dried cherries and two handfuls of gluten free pretzels, just aren’t necessary. Usually. Despite my constant admonitions to knock it the heck off, I do this almost nightly, and I was hoping that juicing would help break that habit.
Also, everyone on a juice diet feels amazing. At least, that’s what the websites say. Yeah, the first few days are torture, but after that, it’s nirvana. Your skin glows. You gain abundant energy. You feel clear-headed. You feel clean. Each glass of juice is might as well be water that’s been turned into wine by Jesus. It’s that incredible.
Y’all, while I may be naive about a good many things, I’m not entirely stupid; I knew, no matter what The Internet says, that this wouldn’t be easy. I knew it would be a rough week. But I figured I could tough it out through those first difficult days and then be on my way to Last Supper bliss. I’d read a bazillion websites (and even one actual book) and I understood things. As nutty as it sounds (because, um, omg, NO. FOOD), I started on Monday feeling hopeful and optimistic.
By Tuesday afternoon, that optimism and hope had been replaced by depression and rage. And hunger pains so deep, my children were afraid to look at me because they were afraid I’d try to eat them.
First of all, juicing is expensive. Do you have any idea how many cucumbers it takes to make enough juice to fill someone up for a day? A LOT. An entire refrigerator’s worth, in fact. It just isn’t cheap.
Pretty, yes. As expensive as a dozen pizzas, also yes.
Secondly, juicing takes a long freakin’ time. We prepped most of the fruits and vegetables the night before (so we could immediately juice our breakfast and lunch in the a.m.), and that process alone took an hour.
“Breakfast” and “lunch.”
Then, in the morning, it took thirty minutes to juice everything, pour it into our containers, clean out the juicer, and wipe down the counter. So we’re talking ninety minutes to prepare and make and clean up breakfast and lunch. If I were to make from-scratch pancakes and a hot lunch every day, maaaybe I could approach ninety minutes. But when you’re eating Greek yogurt out of the container and eating some peanut butter on gluten free bread, you’re just not spending that much time in the kitchen. Juicing takes time.
It should also be mentioned that most of the juices don’t taste good. They don’t taste terrible (except for the gazpacho juice that was slightly vomit-flavored; Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor earwax beans have nothing on this juice), but they don’t taste good. When the only thing you’re ingesting is juice, you at least want it to taste amazing. Turns out, I like celery and cucumbers just fine when they’re real foods, but when they’re liquified, they just don’t do it for me. BUMMER.
BTW: liquid parsley is nasty.
As anticipated, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were horrendous. The days dragged on forever; we had absolutely no energy, were ravenous, and couldn’t shake our terrible moods. We were also experiencing many of the common side effects of going on a juice-only diet, including chills, sweating, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and chicken pox. Okay, maybe not pox. But it was miserable.
I was looking forward to Thursday and Friday, though, because that’s when Jesus was supposed to appear and we’d be reborn. We’d have flushed the majority of the toxins out and drawn in so many vitamins and nutrients, we couldn’t help but radiate warmth and health and juicy goodness.
Except… it never happened. Maybe we’re just juicing broken, but the nirvana moments never arrived. I didn’t feel quite as exhausted and draggy, but I didn’t feel great, either. I had lost weight, which was a nice enough side effect, but it wasn’t quite enough to make me feel all Born Again incredible. I was still hungry. I was still cranky. And, dear God, was I sick of going to the bathroom. Not in the TMI sense (although there was plenty of that, too… TMI?), but simply because when you put that much liquid in our body (along with the obscene amounts of water you need to properly hydrate and flush your system), it’s going to come out at some point.
Come to think of it, going to the bathroom probably accounted for half of the weight I lost. Not because of the fluids lost, but because of the actual going to the bathroom; when you sprint to the loo every forty-five minutes (especially when you’re substitute teaching – yay!), you’re bound to burn some calories.
Thankfully, the girls didn’t seem to mind our foul moods too much. They were generally really supportive of us, which was very nice of them but also probably easy, considering that their stomachs were full because I was still cooking them delicious, hot meals every day. That was a good time.
They, on the other hand, made our meals without any difficulty at all.
Creating our final day’s juices all on her own.
The juicing wasn’t without its benefits. Ever since my bout with bronchitis three (four?) weeks ago, I’ve had lingering bronchial and sinus issues. At first, I’d thought that this would negatively impact the whole juicing thing, but no! Because when you cannot breathe, you cannot taste. THANK GOD. Additionally, my cough was so bad, I desperately needed cough drops. And when you’re not eating, cough drops are the greatest things to ever hit your tongue.
Another bonus to juicing was that I stopped flossing. Nothing chewed, nothing between my teeth. Boo-yah. (Dentists, no need to chime in. Let me have my moment.) This may not seem like a big deal – probalby because it’s not – but when you’re stuck inside a gigantic, starving cloud, that floss makes a mighty fine silver lining.
By Friday, I was done. Done with having the kitchen floor be constantly filthy because washing a million fruits and veggies and then moving them to the chopping board meant dripping a million drops of water onto the floor, which in turn meant inviting the dogs to trek through the water and leave paw prints everywhere. Juicing is dirty, you guys. I was done with having the skin underneath my fingernails sting madly after being pulled back waaay too far peeling lemons and limes. There’s a reason why people don’t consume these like oranges, and it’s not just because they’re tart.
According to the website we followed the most closely, when your’e done with a juice fast, you’re supposed to gradually add food back into your diet, starting with only fruits and veggies for a few days, then slowly adding in other foods, while avoiding dairy and meat for at least a week. We’d hoped to do that, but Nick’s going out of town on Tuesday, and he wanted to reintroduce food a bit more quickly so that his system isn’t in for such a shock when he’s at business dinners next week. I, too, was ready to reintroduce solid food into my diet, and maybe most of all, I was ready to not spend half my day in the bathroom.
But when the time came, I found my system wasn’t quite ready to move ahead all that quickly… So I started small:
I’ve eaten a little more since then, but am still taking it slow. It may have “only” been five days (WITHOUT FOOD. OR STARBUCKS), but I guess my stomach shrunk or something (I took AP biology but that was a long time ago) because every time I eat, it feels like my stomach has been hit with a ton of bricks. That said, even though it was a depressingly awful experience, I’m glad we did it. I haven’t late-night-snacked in over a week, and I don’t miss it. I have an intimate knowledge of every bathroom within a five mile radius of the house. Maybe most of all, I feel like a badass for actually having completed it. And that’s a pretty amazing feeling.
I’m under no illusion that juicing was some magic cure-all. Although I’m glad we did it, I’m even gladder (yes, I said it) that it’s over. Because it sucked. I’m bummed that we never experienced the euphoria that the people of The Internet describe; maybe we were doing it wrong, or maybe we just aren’t really cut out for juicing. Or maybe we needed to do it longer, in order to truly get to that place.
Which means we’ll just have to skip it, because five days was more than enough, thanks very much. I’ll read the Frommer’s Guide and call it a day.
Nick and I have definitely reconsidered the way we approach food and eating. We’re planning to add juicing to our regular diet, in spite of the aching fingers and the filthy floors. We’re committing to eating more vegetables and cutting out (a lot of) the dairy and crap. Nick’s really hoping that the weight he’s lost is only the beginning. Today, we both feel better, both physically and emotionally. We’re excited; it’s good.
When we started this, I’d assumed that chocolate was what I’d miss the most, and I was partially right; I definitely miss me some chocolate. But I was surprised to learn that what I really craved were Caramel Macchiatos and my favorite Starbucks lattes. Which means that, while on a juice-only diet, I craved liquids. The irony is not lost on me.
I’m eager to regain my energy and to use less toilet paper. I’m eager to try out new recipes, especially the ones that have been taunting me all week; if you’re not supposed to go to the grocery store when you’re hungry, looking at cooking magazines when you’re not eating is spectacularly stupid. I’m excited to see if we can maintain the changes we’ve made so far, to see if my ADHD – squirrel! – self can follow through on this one.
And I’m damn excited for the decaf tall soy Pumpkin Spice Latte with my name on it.
I mean that literally. They put my name on the cup. Cheers!