I first started juicing more than six years ago when I was big into Barre Method and getting ready for my wedding. I made the wise decision of investing in a Breville juicer early on, and I still use it today—$150 very well spent if I do say so myself. I loved the ease of having meals all planned out for me and how clean I felt every morning after waking up. I’m not gluten intolerant, but I think anyone feels sluggish and bloated after having a carb-heavy dinner the night before. I prefer getting up feeling hungry and alive.
So this is not my first time to the rodeo.
After returning from Europe in 2014 and starting back in an office, I did a three-day cleanse with Juice Bar in Nashville to get back into the healthy eating habit after three weeks of gluttony. Most recently—Valentine’s weekend, in fact—I completed another juice cleanse with the Urban Juicer after I saw a deal on Groupon ($71 for the normal $135 cleanse … score!).
What I love about Juice Bar is that they have different options by way of cleanses; you can opt for the full shebang, the “Juice to Dinner” for $37/day—which entails four juices, two Real Waters and one large salad for dinner daily—or the “Daily Essential Cleanse” for $33/day comprising six juices daily. Or you can buy full-on growlers of juice, which I have done on multiple occasions even when I’m not cleansing.
Bonus: They come in adorable Mason jars, too (an extra $1.50 a juice, but worth it to build up your own stash). Who doesn’t love an adorable Mason jar?
For me, juicing is a natural companion to the 80/20 Paleo regimen we follow. And before you think of us as some trendy fad dieters—or CrossFitters, which we most definitely are not—I should add that we first did strict Paleo for eight weeks in 2013 and since then have more or less changed our at-home eating habits. We both loved how it made us feel; instead of thinking of it as a “diet,” I think of it as how we all should be eating but are not: Eating Paleo basically eliminates all refined sugars, carbs and processed foods. I also use it as a way to counteract all the eating out I do for my job when I’m traveling or restaurant reviewing.
That said, I’ll never give up booze. So there’s that.
For us, the 80/20 comes into play like this: I’m never going to fully eliminate one food group from my diet; that’s simply unrealistic with my transient lifestyle. But if SVV and I are following a Paleo plan for breakfast and lunch each day, as well as the dinners we cook at home, I won’t feel guilty if I occasionally splurge when we go out to dinner. Or drink bourbon. Because the hardest part for me is eradicatingbrown liquors—I’m not a huge fan of clear liquids like tequila, which is pretty much the only spirit that is semi-Paleo-compliant.
As for the most recent Urban Juicer cleanse I did, I loved the flavors of the juices themselves and how detailed the plan was: You consume six throughout the day, every two hours or so to prevent your blood sugar from getting low, as well as a nutrient-packed elixir: The Wake Up Call (orange-based), The Brave Heart (greens), The Liver Lover (beet juice), The Lemon Aid (self-explanatory), The Well Being (more greens), The Happy Heart (a filling and delicious cashew blend). Every one of them was super tasty except the beet juice (blech), which I could have done without. I love marinated beets, but when juiced, they simply aren’t my bag.
Some realities of juice cleansing:
You will get hungry. There’s just no way around it. For three days, my stomach growled mercilessly and I tried to fill it full of liquid, to little avail.
You should cut out—or at least, cut back—on gluten and grains the day before your cleanse. Don’t just go cold turkey; ease into it like a gentleman. Remember that what you eat impacts how you feel the next day, so if you’re gorging on pizza the night before your cleanse, you probably won’t feel stellar on Day 1.
On the flip side, don’t binge once your three days are up. Your stomach is going to be sensitive, and plus, do you really want to counteract all that hard work you just did? Instead, use this as the perfect time to change your diet and start incorporating quinoa, Chia seeds, sweet potatoes and other super foods into your daily eating plan. Need some healthy lunch ideas? I’ve got you covered, friends.
My tips to surviving a juice cleanse:
Rest, and if you get hungry, eat. They tell you to give your body a break while juice cleansing as it’s an exercise in itself, but I’ve never been great at following rules, so I worked out with my trainer two of the three days and took a three-hour acro workshop on the third. Unsurprisingly, I was even more starving than normal. So I had a handful of cashews midday on two of the days and a bowl of quinoa on the other. This helped abate the hunger ever so slightly, and I think it’s important to listen to your body. You’re going to get hungry, and if you’re starving, you should eat. What you shouldn’t do is eat simply out of boredom, as many of us are so inclined to do.
Pamper yourself. You deserve it. My skin felt healthier, and I was doubly motivated to do things like exfoliate and put on a face mask (things that simply aren’t a part of my regular daily beauty non-routine). Urban Juicer recommends brushing your skin and taking warm baths to remove dead skin cells and open your pores.
Drink lots of water. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not great at doing this on a regular basis. However, when you’re existing off liquids, drinking a glass or two of water every hour does help keep the hunger at bay.
Don’t forget: You can also make your own juice. We accumulated such a collection of mason jars when we did the first Juice Bar cleanse that I have quite the stash now, and even when I’m not juice cleansing, I typically make a batch every Sunday and store them in Mason jar—this serves as breakfast and snacks for SVV and me for the first few days of each week. Note: oranges and carrots store better longer than greens do; when I make green juices, I usually have to consume them within the first 24 hours as they simply don’t keep well.
My favorite homemade juice recipes:
- Orange, Carrot, Cardamom Juice. Juice equal parts carrots and oranges, then stir in a dash of raw honey, a teaspoon or so of vanilla and sprinkle cardamom on top.
- Pineapple, Apple, Mint Juice. Take a bag of Lady Gala apples, a full pineapple, juice them in the juicer with big handfuls of mint stuffed in between the fruit. You’ll need a lot of mint as each leaf doesn’t produce a whole lot of juice. This is when planting mint in your garden truly comes in handy (as well as for mojitos!).
- The Everything But the Kitchen Sink Green Juice. Anytime all my produce is on the brink of going bad, I throw it all in the juicer—broccoli, kale, chard, asparagus—but I’ll add in some apples for a touch of sweetness and some ginger for a nice tang as too many greens do a bitter juice make.
Since you can’t really use a juicer for berries or bananas or any other soft foods, I also have a cheapie $20 Oster blender for smoothies that’s super easy to use, and bonus: It doubles as a travel mug so minimal cleanup and you can drink it straight out of the blender!
What I keep on hand for at-home juicing:
- an assortment of greens
- a fresh pineapple
- herbs like mint and basil in the garden
- fresh ginger
- fresh turmeric (or ground)
- ground Cardamom
- Chia seeds
- vanilla extract
- raw honey
- raw cashews and almonds (no preservatives)
- nut butter (I prefer cashew)
- nut milk (any brand will work as long as it doesn’t contain Carrageenan)
- coconut milk (the three-ingredient kind: Guar gum, coconut, water)
- Greek yogurt (non-fat, plain, lowest in sugar you can find)
At the end of my most recent three-day cleanse, I had lost three pounds, and I felt great (albeit hungry). I’ll definitely be doing one of these every month or two, and in the meantime, I’ll continue to batch-make the above juices for breakfast and snack time so I get my daily allotment of greens and fruit.
Because apparently a girl needs more than muddled berries in her craft cocktail to survive—who knew?
**Note: None of this was sponsored, nor am I a nutritionist or doctor (I faint at the mere mention of blood). As an athlete and advocate for healthy living, this is simply my experience and what makes me feel the best. Please consult your own medical professional before making any drastic changes to your diet or routine!