And yet my diet is still far from perfect. We eat out an enormous amount - usually once a week at least, and I inevitably find myself scanning the menu for the things that come with chips (please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?) On the days when there's no food in the house, Tom and I inevitably have that moment where we look at each other slightly guiltily and utter "Pizza, then?" (Or McDonalds, or Chinese takeaway, etc). My workplace, like a lot of others, has a communal table for food in the canteen which is often full of cake and biscuits, and on a morning or afternoon when I'm feeling slightly peckish, I can't help but dip my hand in the biscuit tin.
I'd say I make healthy, nutritious choices about 70% of the time, but I do often wonder how much those weekly splurges hold back my progress. I've mentioned recently that I've been getting some tummy issues with bloating and stomach cramps, so there's definitely some things that I regularly eat that don't agree with me. And no matter what I do, my stomach measurement rarely changes, and it's the one area of my body I'd really like to lose weight from. My health is generally good, but I do get headaches and have trouble sleeping now and then. So there's definitely room for improvement.
Why I wanted to try a juice cleanse
I've been really intrigued by Juice Cleanses for a while - I've just started reading Crazy, Sexy, Diet and I like the idea of focussing on eating more plant-based foods and seeing the effect it has on my health. The author, Kris Carr, is a massive advocate of juicing - she says
"You can fit a lot more vegetable goodness in a green juice (a pound or more!) than you can eat with your fork in one sitting. What else can you drink that’ll do such phenomenal things for your health and put a large dent in your five recommended servings of fruits and veggies per day? (Hint: Nothing beats green juice!)"
So when The Source got in touch to offer the opportunity to try a two-day juice cleanse, I was excited, and nervous, all at the same time.
Who are The Source? Where can I buy their juices?
The Source offer cold-pressed juices, either delivered, or available in certain shops in London. All of their programs include five 500ml juices and one nut milk per day. A one-day cleanse costs £80, and a three-day cleanse costs £240. Whilst you might initially baulk at the cost, when you think of how much nutrition and quality, cold-pressed fruit and vegetables you're getting for your money (not to mention the health benefits), it starts to feel a lot more reasonable.
Before the cleanse
The Cleanse guide tells you to prepare for the cleanse by avoiding alcohol, sugar, caffeine, processed foods, meat and dairy, which I did do - except for a bit of meat at our barbecue (oops). I already drink a lot of water and green tea so I made sure I kept that up too. This is too ensure your body doesn't go too 'cold turkey' at the sudden withdrawal of caffeine and sugar etc.
The first thing I noticed when my box of juices turned up was quite how much juice there was. I thought I'd be struggling through the day feeling pretty hungry, but actually there were six big bottles per day, so I felt more reassured that I wasn't going to spend the whole day feeling completely ravenous. I was also intrigued by the sixth drink, the milk based drink, which sounded very yummy!
07.30 - I started the Cleanse on Sunday. I got up, had a glass of water with lemon, a green tea, and then my first juice (pineapple, apple, spinach, pear, clementine and mint). I was very pleasantly surprised - it was absolutely delicious! I then felt full up until my next juice. I usually have quite a light breakfast and I always start the day with a green tea anyway so it didn't feel too odd only having a juice.
10.00 - My next juice was at about 10am (you have a juice every two hours or so). My second juice was carrot, clementine, pineapple, pear, beetroot, lemon and chilli. The overall taste was definitely of beetroot, but I like beetroot, so that was fine.
Tom and I then went for a walk about midday, probably about three miles. It encourages light exercise during the cleanse - a brisk walk or yoga is ideal. I didn't take a juice with me, so when we got back about 2pm I must admit I was really hungry! We walked to an event at a Quay where there were burger vans, hog roast, and lots of other food and drink so I'm not sure how much of my hunger was due to me eyeing up Tom's crab roll though!
14.00 - I wolfed down number 3 (apple, pineapple, kale, cucumber lemon, ginger). I found the ginger taste quite strong, making it almost spicy tasting, but it was still nice. Ginger has a lot of health benefits including helping healthy digestion so I can understand its inclusion.
16.00 - The fourth juice was called 'Volcano' - carrot, pear, pineapple, lemon, ginger and turmeric. I must admit that I was starting to crave food by this point - it's amazing how much you miss the physical act of chewing something! Though I wasn't having pangs of hunger, I felt myself wanting to pick at things in the house like crisps or bread. This juice was nice, though again I found the ginger just a little overpowering (I took to pretending I was eating a ginger nut, haha!)
18.00 - The next juice was their signature 'green juice' - packed with cucumber, clementine, pear, kale, lemon, parsley and maca powder. I must admit that I didn't like the taste of this one as much and I found it quite difficult to drink. I'd also developed quite a bad headache and was feeling a bit dizzy and wobbly. Tom quite rightly pointed out that I hadn't actually drunk much water that day and we had had a walk outside in the sun, so after gulping down a couple of pints of water I did feel much better. Headaches are a common side effect of juice cleanses and can be due to your body craving the sugar and caffeine it normally has on a daily basis.
20.00 - Your last juice is usually taken a couple of hours before bed. This one was almond milk, alkaline water, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon and himalayan salt. I must admit that this one was really, really yummy and a nice treat before bed. I still felt a little light-headed by bedtime and went to bed quite early.
07.30 - I expected to wake up feeling really light-headed and exhausted, but I was actually surprised at how well I slept, and how energised I felt in the morning. Even though I felt hungry when I went to bed, I didn't feel hungry when I woke up, which just reinforces for me that your body definitely doesn't need a huge meal before bedtime! I was looking forward to my first juice as I knew how yummy it was from the day before. I packed three juices into my lunchbox and set off for work.
10.00 - I was making sure I'd had lots of water at work by filling up my Brita bottle and I definitely felt much better on the second day. I had my beetroot-y juice and another cup of green tea. I had a slight headache but other than that I felt fine.
13.00 - Time for my lunchtime juice. I didn't feel hungry but I had to nip to the supermarket on my lunchbreak and found myself drawn to the delicatessen and daydreaming about pizza! It really makes me realise how much I think about food even when I'm not actually hungry. Also - I was glad that my office is right next door to the toilets as I did have to go for a wee about every half an hour or so, I did not realise that that was a side effect of a juice cleanse - just a word of caution if you are attempting a juice cleanse, I'd make sure you're at home or somewhere where you can take regular loo breaks as I wouldn't have liked to be on a long train journey or something similar sat with my legs crossed!
16.00 - I had my Volcano juice just before I headed home from work. I must admit that I was getting really hungry again now and it felt a little odd to not be going home from work and cooking up dinner. There were only a few occasions when I felt really hungry throughout the cleanse, but this was definitely one of them. To be honest, I was feeling a little like a failure at this point - I wasn't even a full two days into a cleanse and I was really craving food!
18.00 - Time for my evening juice. After this one I felt less hungry and a lot more normal. It's weird to think that after two days of drinking just juice you can feel fine and still be reaping all of the benefits.
20.00 - I had my bedtime juice and went to bed about 10pm. I felt tired but no more tired than normal. Again, I slept brilliantly and felt much more rested than normal the next day.
I definitely learned a lot about my eating habits through doing the two-day juice cleanse. It's amazing how much more easily you can recognise genuine hunger vs boredom hunger when you're restricted to juices. When we were watching TV on the Sunday I found myself feeling restless because I wanted to go and find something snack-y in the cupboard, even though I wasn't actually hungry. It also made me realise how much I link my enjoyment of a day with eating - the thought of not being able to eat meals for a day made me feel a little out of kilter because I spend so much of my day looking forward to my next meal and planning what I'm going to eat. I definitely need to focus more on seeing food as fuel and nutrition, and being mindful of what I'm eating, rather than using it to give me something to look forward to at the end of a long day. I think it's made me realise that I'm a bit of an emotional eater (and a bit obsessed with food - okay, a lot obsessed with food. Remember that time I did the 5:2 diet and was actually dreaming about eating cake and pancakes?)
As for the juice cleanse itself, I'm definitely glad that I did it. Whilst it's difficult to pin down exact results after only two days, I can definitely say that I slept better and that it felt really good knowing I was taking in so many nutritious ingredients. I also had a flatter tum at the end of it, and though I don't want to focus on the weight loss as that's not why I did it, the scales tell me I've lost 3lbs. I don't know that I could do a cleanse for longer than about 2-3 days, but I think it's a really good way to have a detox, give your liver, stomach and gut a chance to rest and repair, and re-hydrate your body. I think it would be a good place to start if you were trying to find out which foods are not right for you, as slowly introducing back wheat, gluten and dairy after a juice cleanse will help you work out any triggers you have with certain foods. I would definitely try a cleanse again - next time I will make sure I drink enough water, and I'd probably do a midweek cleanse as I found it more difficult on the Sunday than on the Monday whilst at work.
Have you ever tried a juice cleanse?
You can order the juice cleanses from The Source online. I was provided with a two-day juice cleanse to give the service a try - all views, as always, are my own.