The life of a food columnist may seem glamorous to some -- tasting events, restaurant openings, dining out several nights a week -- but sometimes it feels downright gluttonous. After a particularly over-the-top week, when I received an email from the folks at Blueprint Cleanse offering me a free sample 3-day juice cleanse, I jumped right on it.
The idea behind a three-day juice cleanse is that it will help your body purge the "toxins" you build up in your system during the course of your everyday life (and boy, do I build up toxins). The cleanses come in three intensity levels -- the website provides guidelines to help you select the level that matches your current eating style. I opted for the level two cleanse, which is basically the middle of the road. The site is also chock-full of information about how to prepare for the cleanse (try to slow down on the meat, cheese, alcohol and processed foods a few days before), answers to frequently asked questions, and an entire page devoted to "detox assistance," which made me somewhat nervous.
The night before the cleanse was to start, I received two small insulated bags containing two days worth of juice. I eyed the packages suspciously -- was this really all I was going to ingest for the next few days? Was I crazy?!? I was relieved to find a "cheat sheet" tucked into the bag, with specific methods of "cheating" that would interfere the least with the cleanse. Okay -- if I could cheat, it couldn't be that bad. I woke up the next morning, sipped on hot water and lemon as I was advised by the Blueprint Cleanse staff in an email they sent to get me started, and I was off.
I kept up my regular workout routine during the entire three days, so after the gym I had my first juice -- a vegetable-based powerhouse that served as the backbone of the cleanse I had chosen. Of each day's six juices, which are conveniently numbered so that you drink them in the proper order, three were the vegetable-based juice. The one problem I had with this concoction was the presence of celery. I hate celery, so of course all I could taste was celery. This could be rough -- this was half of what I was to eat for the next three days. I powered through it and headed to work. According to the instructions, I needed to drink at least 12 ounces of water in between juices, and I could have as much green tea as I wanted, which I was hoping would provide me with enough caffeine to make up for my daily dose of java.
Day one was, in a word, awful. I had a low-grade headache, I felt nauseated on and off throughout the day, and wanted to just crawl into bed. I cursed myself for not really cutting down on anything in the days before the cleanse -- how could I resist sharing the delicious chicken liver toasts and the roquefort burger at the Spotted Pig two days earlier? I found the celery-free juices to be much more to my liking -- one was a pineapple mint, another tasted like lemonade with a touch of cayenne, and the final juice of the day contained cashew nut milk -- it was almost like a dessert.
Day two was infinitely better. The headaches and nausea were gone and I had enough energy to make it through a personal training session and a swim class. I did, however, find myself thinking about food. A lot. On my way to swimming I got a whiff of someone cooking garlic that smelled better than I remember garlic ever smelling before. The memory of the meal at I had eaten at the Spotted Pig a few days earlier was the subject of several daydreams. I also realized what a large role food plays in my life -- even something as simple as heading to my office cafeteria, putting together a salad at the salad bar, and bringing it back to my desk is a welcome break in my day. I love to cook, shop for food at the farmer's market, and I read about 60 food-related blogs a day (I still had to read these during the course of the cleanse, which didn't make things any easier). Food is also a key part of my social life -- if I'm not at a work event or a food event for Gothamist, I'm often meeting up with friends over a meal. I'd imagine this isn't the case for everyone, but cutting out food for three days actually meant that I wasn't particularly social -- I stuck to work, the gym, and home. As I was scheduling the cleanse, I found it difficult to even find three days in a row I didn't have some sort of food-related event that I had to attend; I went to one lunch meeting at work, my juice in tow.
I woke up on day three quite relieved that it was my last day. I had received my last juice delivery the night before -- I was hoping that maybe day three didn't have the veggie/celery juice, but no such luck. I progressed through them, and as I finished off my last juice in the evening, I realized something interesting -- despite how awful I felt the first day, I didn't once feel hungry during the course of the cleanse.
Taking a three-day break from food was truly challenging for me. That said, when it was all said and done, I felt pretty healthy. When I woke up the next morning, I stepped onto the scale -- I had lost four pounds in three days. I was so excited to introduce solid food back into my life, although the instructions on the site warned me to go slow. I tried -- I really did. I had a smoothie for breakfast, so as not to shock my system. I had a salad for lunch which I swear was the best work cafeteria salad I have ever eaten. I marvelled at the texture of each ingredient, and noticed how much I had missed texture during the course of the cleanse. By the time dinner rolled around, I ended up joining some friends for tacos at Mercadito Grove. So much for easing back into it.
My friends and family have all asked me if I would do it again. As hard as it was for me, I'd have to say that I might. If I wanted to drop a few pounds quickly for a special event (I've never done this, but I could imagine a situaton where I might -- something like an ex-boyfriend's wedding) or if I felt like I was in dire need of detox (like how I felt when I returned from JazzFest in New Orleans a few years back, for example), I'd certainly consider it. It was simple -- the folks at Blueprint did all the work for me, were available when I had questions, and delivered the juices to my door. If you're considering doing a cleanse and are not as food-focused as I am, you might even find it to be relatively painless. I would, however, check in with my doctor before doing it again, and would recommend that you do so as well. When I told my doctor that I did this, she cautioned that a cleanse may in fact flush out healthy bacteria in your digestive tract along with everything else and that any weight lost would likely come right back (she was right on that front).
A three-day, level-two cleanse like the one I did is $195, which includes delivery. For more information, visit Blueprintcleanse.com.