Most of us have been stuffing our faces and beating up our livers for the past month or so. These facts combined with the pressure to choose a New Year's resolution make this time of year a particularly busy one for the body detox industry.
There are all sorts of capsules, bottled concoctions, and powders you can buy that promise to help you shed the pounds that have crept up on you over the holiday season. But in my opinion, the best cleanse is one that is done with water, plant foods, and raw organic juices, which you can make fresh in your juicer at home or purchase at a juice bar. (No, Tropicana and Welch's are not juice-cleanse approved!) The energy you get from these sources is pure, organic, and powerful, in contrast to the strange bottles of "detox" sludge that often contain a host of chemical preservatives, fillers, and artificial colors and flavors.
When you drink raw organic juice in lieu of solid food, you save your body the energy it normally expends during digestion. Your body can then redirect this surplus of energy toward healing and improved organ function. The raw vegan juices also supply a highly-concentrated dose of phytonutrients and immune-boosting antioxidants. This is why many people who suffer from auto-immune diseases, cancer, and other maladies are able to heal without drugs when they make juice fasting part of their therapy. This is why I think of juice cleansing as a gift to the health of your internal organs, where the loss of impacted food weight and excess fat is a welcome side effect.
But juice fasting and cleansing, like any other detox process, can be difficult. Yesterday, I shared some guidance on transitioning into and out of a juice cleanse from Alina Zhukovskaya, the Detox Specialist and Raw Food Guru at OnJuice, a Boca-based juice delivery service. Their program caters to people who have wanted to do a juice cleanse but thought the juice preparation process too time-consuming or messy. They deliver to your door on a daily basis all the fruit and vegetable juices you need for each day of your fast, in inventive and functional flavor combinations with names like "Pina Kale Lotta." And because of the mega-sophisticated hydraulic press juicer and airtight bottling system they use, OnJuice juices maintain their nutrient content for up to six days, whereas juice you make at home will often rancify within an hour.) Today, I'm going to share Zhukovskaya's insight on how to weather the most detoxifying -- and often the most trying -- days of your juice cleanse.
1. Make a list of reasons why you're doing this.
The decision to start a cleanse is usually made for good reason. Maybe you've been feeling sluggish and want to give your system a chance to reboot after the abuse of excessive holiday food and drink. Maybe you want to clear up your complexion; Zhukovskaya explains that your skin, your "most detoxifying organ," can be cleared of acne and other conditions with a thorough cleanse. Maybe your reasons are more spiritual; many find that abstaining from solid food and instead consuming pure and natural juices from plants gives them mental clarity and a feeling of gratitude for what they have. Some use juice cleansing to wean off of caffeine or to reset sleep patterns (I've personally found juicing very useful as a remedy for insomnia).
Whatever your reasons are, write them down so that you can refer to your list when your resolve gets weak. "We are always bombarded by influences from outside. Your friends may go, 'Come on, let's live a little! Don't you want to have a good time! And you're like, 'Uh, yeah, I do want to have a good time!' Or a commercial comes on and it's like, 'Hey, eat this burger and you're going to be happy and smiling like this girl in the commercial.' And you go, 'Yeah, I want to be happy!' It's all about our wants-wants-wants," Zhukovskaya said. "So when you have a list that actually shows you in your own handwriting, 'Hey, this is what I actually want: I want to have a slender body, I want to have energy to play with my kids, I want to get rid of disease,' you see the reasons you've been thinking about for a very long time and they are much stronger than anything that might overpower you if you didn't have that list."
2. Make variety part of your detox program.
A close friend of mine once tried a juice fast during which she drank juices made only from the same four ingredients: carrots, kale, lemons, and ginger. This very short list meant that not only was the nutrient palette she consumed too limited to ensure that she was thoroughly nourished throughout her fast, but it also guaranteed quick and sickening juice fast burnout. "I cannot look at or smell another juice," she explained, and she ended her fast several days before she had planned to do so.
Zhukovskaya assures us that this feeling is avoidable. In fact, when you consistently make or buy organic juices in creative and delicious produce combinations, you will not dread but instead look forward to your next juice and the fresh flavors it will bring. In fact, you may be surprised at how excited you get over juice; when you are in mild deprivation mode, your threshold for what excites you is much lower than normal.
"When I did my three-day cleanse with the OnJuice program, I had six different drinks to choose from each day," Zhukovskaya said. "Chances are, if you are thinking of doing a cleanse, it's because you overindulged. You were seeking excitement and you had a good time. So I'm suggesting that when you cleanse, you make sure that you are still stimulated in a positive way. Try something new and taste something that's good so you don't get bored. Have a variety of greens and reds and yellows, and use raw vegan milks, and coconut. You'll be excited to have different flavors in your mouth, and that will make you look forward to your next drink."
3. Feast your senses and emotions.
"A couple of years ago, I was in love. I fell in love and it was great, and I met this person right before I went on a juice cleanse. And that was the easiest juice cleanse ever, because all I could think about was all the romantic things, when we were going to see each other... I couldn't care less about food," Zhukovskaya said. "I don't advise you to go and find a new boyfriend or girlfriend before you start to juice, but I want you to do something that excites you in your personal life that doesn't have to do with food. So they get carried away with excitement from cultural activities, excitement from exercise, a fun project to start at work, a volunteer project. Something that gets you really excited and keeps all of your thoughts in that direction and not on what they're going to have for lunch or 'Poor me, I didn't have any solid food for the last three hours.'" If you practice yoga, prayer, or meditation, a cleanse is a great opportunity to go deeper into those disciplines. And you will find that not having to prepare or seek normal meals will give you much more time and head space to take care of things (letters you've been meaning to write, repairs or cleaning you've been meaning to do) that otherwise often fall to the wayside.
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4. "Move things along" with a magnesium supplement
Zhukovskaya says that sometimes people complain of bloating and constipation during their cleanses. She recommends taking an all-natural magnesium supplement to avoid this unpleasant side effect. "My favorite one comes in powder form and it's called Calm. You can get it in little packets or a full bottle," she says. "What I like about it is that you're going to have stored toxins circulating into your system, coming out of your fat cells during the duration of the fast. If you're not doing any solid foods, the magnesium supplement helps the waste move out." She says the supplement also has a calming effect on the consumer, and can help you sleep.
Zhukovskaya's closing words of encouragement for anyone interested in trying a juice fast: "When you do a juice cleanse, you really discover so much more about life. You stop thinking about food and you realize how much more free time you have. [When I'm cleansing], I am so happy, have so much energy, I fit into my skinny jeans, and just get this great feeling of lightness which is really something to look forward to."
She says the success of your juice cleanse is dependent primarily on your attitude. "Focus on what you get from it -- all the great benefits -- and not the 'Oh, poor me, I cannot have that,' and 'Oh, I would love a piece of pizza.' Replace those thoughts immediately with 'Wow, I feel so great right now, having this juice,' and 'I can feel my body releasing all these toxins and I'm becoming lighter,' and you will become happy inside and out," she said.