I’ve actually done a cleanse once before, so I was shocked at how hard it was to get through the first day. Perhaps my sugar-and-processed-food addiction has gotten worse since last year. My head is cloudy, I’m more tired than normal despite sleeping eight hours last night and I have a throbbing headache from forgoing my morning coffee. I’m told Aleve is a no-no, but I caved and took two any way. The good news is that the juices are yummy—Doctor Green Juice (a fruit and vegetable medley) and Good Weed (a hemp seed, tahini, coconut sugar and cinnamon concoction) are my favorites.
I’m also surprisingly full; combined, my juices contain about 1,300 calories. But on a whole, they are too sweet for me, and I find myself craving pretzels or veggies with soy sauce or anything salty. My desire to chew on something, anything, isn’t helping. In fact, the thought of scarfing down a toasted bagel with cream cheese elicits such an emotional response that I’m certain I need to evaluate the reasons I really eat. #feelinglikeafailure #cranky.
I was such a basket case yesterday that my cleanse guru, Alex Jay, suggested I add some raw food to my regimen. According to her, raw food also cleanses the body, it just takes longer than a juice-only diet. But oh, the wait is worth it. Within minutes of devouring my For the Love of Kale salad, I felt more energetic and satiated. Along with my two meals (the other was a faux falafel concoction), I drank four juices, including my new favorite, Doctor Earth (a delicious and not-too-sweet blend of apple, kale, cucumber, celery, swiss chard, lemon, dandelion and best of all, ginger). I don’t know if it was the food or the steaming cup of coffee I snuck this morning, but I’m feeling great! Less bloated and more energetic. And it turns out raw food is delicious. So much so that I plan to incorporate some meals into my regular diet. Going 100 percent raw seems too ambitious and too expensive. Baby steps.
I caved. I spent the final night of my cleanse nibbling on cheese and sipping red wine. I just couldn’t bring myself to sit on my couch guzzling greens while my friends convened on our favorite Friday-night haunt. But I tried to stick to simple, non-processed foods, and I feel pretty good about my choices. I didn’t lose weight on my cleanse (nor did I gain any, for that matter). But I probably consumed more calories in the past three days than I normally would, and I feel less bloated, more energetic and, dare I say it, healthier.
Eat more, gain nothing? Sign me up. That's what happened during my cleanse, and I was so inspired that for the next two weeks I made a conscious effort to eat raw. Who knew "cooking" raw food was so complicated (you need a dehydrator and food processor; I barely have counter space for a microwave and a toaster), not to mention time consuming (three hours to make pancakes? Not on this schedule).
To keep my sanity, I purchased most of my meals from Juice Press and, when I ate out on weekends and the occasional week night, aimed for the healthy options—fish and veggies; no pasta. The result was that I was more full and less bloated—the latter of which I'll attribute to a dramatically reduced salt intake. Unfortunately for my wallet, I was spending more than $75 a day on my new dietary hobby. And because I was at the mercy of a small menu, I was eating the same options repeatedly (kale salad, raw falafel, ravioli and, my faves, gladiator cookies and goji berries). Going 100 percent raw, I decided, takes too much dedication. But I am making a concerted effort to cut out processed junk when I can: I've swapped my morning Zone Bar for Greek Yogurt. It's a start.