Recap: My Pure Kitchen Juice Cleanse
If you had asked me a year ago to do a juice cleanse, I would have told you to go take a hike.
Seriously. I was not a fan of them, I had never done one, but I wasn’t a fan of them. Even after studying nutrition, learning about them, understanding them and watching other people try them, I was not sold. I was the one saying exactly what every anti-juice cleanser says; “the body can detox itself“, “but what about the fibre”, “they are not a quick fix”, “they are high in sugar”, yada, yada, yada… But you see, the thing about being a nutritionist and working in this industry is that you often use yourself as an experiment for others. You try different diets, types of food, forms of cuisine and eventually you end up trying things you truly thought you would not. When it came to juice cleanses, it was always something I had really been on the fence about. Not because I thought is was the end-of-the-world if you did a juice cleanse, but I felt most people tried them for the wrong reasons; looking for a quick fix or thinking that a 3-day juice cleanse would “detox” them of their regular diet of muffins, burgers, pizza and pints. Not so much.
I don’t think I was alone in my thought process; if you google the words “juice cleanse” it’s a 50/50 split of haters to lovers, so I can see why the juice cleanse debate is confusing. Although I am of a scientific mindset when it comes to a lot of nutrition, I am also of a mindset that you don’t actually know until you try. So after considering it for some time, I decided to take the plunge into the land of juice cleanses, and when I did I knew my go-to Ottawa juice cleanse was going to come from one of my favourite restaurants in town; Pure Kitchen Ottawa. Below is a recap of my 3-day juice cleanse experience, how it all went down and my final thoughts on the subject.
If you’ve never been to Pure Kitchen Ottawa, they are a plant-based restaurant in Ottawa and in my opinion one of the freshest food options in town. As they describe themselves, they are “for the vegetarian, the vegan, the omnivore and the flexitarian”. They are trying to bring plant-based eating to more people in a friendly and appealing way (AKA – you don’t need to be a hard-core vegan to appreciate what they are doing, you just need to like food.)
I had been looking at Pure Kitchen’s juice cleanse for a while, but had been waiting for the right timing and time of year to do it. One of the impacts of doing a juice cleanse is that you can get rather cold during it (since the juices are cooling to the body), so I waited until a stretch of warm weather in the month of April to jump on this 3-day journey. After placing my order with Pure Kitchen I was sent a confirmation email including an introduction package to juicing that outlined all of the details of my juice cleanse; the types of juices I would be receiving, the order in which they should be consumed, as well as some tips and things to consider for getting the most out of my cleanse. Since I was starting my juice cleanse on a Monday, I arranged to pick up the first batch of my juices on the Sunday before. Pure Kitchen presses their juices fresh for every cleanse in order to ensure you are getting the most nutrient dense juices possible. So on the Sunday night I picked up my juices for day 1 and day 2, and planned to pick up my juices for day 3 on the Tuesday. The cleanse is organized so that you drink 6 juices per day; breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner and snack, and depending on the juice itself and the time of day, the juices are a blend of vegetables (mostly) and fruit. With juices from the Glow (greens, celery, fennel, lime) to the Grounded (beet, carrot, apple, celery, lemon, ginger), you are consuming a wide variety of veggies and fruit in various combinations. In addition to the six 16 ounce juices per day, you are given one elixir shot to take every morning. In a nutshell, elixir shots are designed to be a “super nutritious shot of goodness” and in the case of this juice cleanse were designed to be taken 20 to 30 minutes before your breakfast (aka – your first juice). The ingredients of the elixirs help to support the digestive progress, prime our stomach’s digestive juices, as well as provide a extra gut healing for the digestive tract.
So, with my juices and elixir shots in tow, my 3-day juice cleanse journey began.
You hear a lot of “horror” stories of people feeling absolutely terrible on a juice cleanse, so it goes without saying that I was a little nervous. I started my juice cleanse on a Monday morning, and just like every other Monday I decided to wake up and go to the gym. I wanted to try and stick to my regular routine as much as I could. I certainly did not go as hard or as “heavy” as I typically would because I knew I would not be able to refuel my body with food as I typically would. After the gym, the juices began. First step, elixir shot of lemon and aloe down the hatch: tasted bitter but I felt normal. 8:00am: Juice #1 down the hatch: very green, but felt normal. 10:00am: Juice #2 down the hatch: still felt normal. 12:00p: Juice #3 down the hatch: not quite a “filling lunch” but still felt normal. To be honest, by lunch time I felt totally normal. Almost like I had just skipped breakfast and lunch, but had normal energy. I would say around Juice #4 (afternoon snack) that I started to feel a little peckish and a little lower energy than normal, but I was not ravenous. I actually found the juices were helping to keep me full. I was doing my best to ensure that I was drinking a juice roughly every 2 hours, and drinking them slowly. When all you’ve got to hold you over is a juice, you take your time and enjoy it. When 6:00pm rolled around, it was dinner time and time for my final juice. This is typically the time of my day where I start to get dinner ready, and since I love cooking, watching John prepare his dinner while I stared at my juice was not ideal. Honestly, I was not hungry, I more so was just missing the act of cooking. Final juice down the hatch and that was it. When 8:00pm rolled around and I lay on the couch pretty tired, (not exhausted like “oh-my-god-I-can’t-move-off-this-couch-tired”, but I was definitely moving slower than usual) I decided to head to bed. When you are not eating and there is nothing good on TV, there is no point in staying up. And truthfully, I wanted to be well rested in anticipation for how I might feel on day 2.
On Tuesday morning I woke up at 6:00am to the light coming into my window, and I felt refreshed. No alarm clock, it was actually one of the nicest wake-ups I’d had a while. Instead of rushing out to the gym as I would normally do in the morning, I decided to start my morning a little slower and get some work done. I think one of the first thing I noticed on day 2 was how much less bloated I felt. I know your are thinking “Ya, because you haven’t eaten in 24 hours”, but it was different. Not like I had lost weight from drinking juice, but specifically less bloated on my lower abdomen. This was really interesting to me, because being a nutritionist I find I am very in tune with my body and what I am eating, so it was as if I had never really realized how bloated I was. Much like day 1, I continued with the juices every 2 hours, but also realized that I had probably not had enough water on day 1. Drinking the juices all day made me feel like I was getting a lot of fluid, but I had definitely decreased my overall water intake which is oh-so important on a cleanse and had certainly contributed to my low energy levels. As the day went on I started to find that my body was quite cold and I found myself really chilly. It was roughly 15 degrees every day during my juice cleanse but even at that temperature I found myself needing an extra layer. After getting some work done in the morning, I decided to go to a hot yoga class around mid-day. It’s important to keep your body moving on a cleanse (and if you know me, you know I hate not working out), and I also thought this class would help warm me up! After yoga I felt amazing, and remember how great it felt on the walk home in the sunshine with my Healed juice (carrot, pineapple, turmeric, ginger, lemon). On day 2, I was expecting to have hunger pains; like a grumbling tummy and hangry feelings, but they never came. By the afternoon I was not hungry at all but quite tired. My productivity level was at an all time low (very hard for a Type A personality) and I spend a lot of time starring at my computer instead of actually doing work. I was also really expecting to have some headaches, but these also never really seemed to surface for me, perhaps a little brain fog but nothing more. Once again, after waking up at 6:00am when 8:00pm rolled around I was ready to hit the hay and went to bed bright and early, loving every minute of it.
I think that overall day-3 was my best day. I woke up feeling energized and revived. Of all 3-days I most definitely had the most energy on day 3, so much so that I was able to go for a great 5KM run in the afternoon and felt great during and after it. By day 3 I had a very good handle on the juices, and how much water I needed to drink during the cleanse. This day more than other, I really felt myself craving to be outside in the sunshine; I think there is something about going through this process that is both physical and spiritual. Now, I am no spirit junkie, but I felt a sort of grounding that made me want to spend time outside breathing fresh air. You’d think that after 48 hours on liquids I would be dying to eat some form of solid foods, but overall my body felt nourished. I felt as though the juices were making me feel nourished and energized at the right times of the day. The morning juices were organized to be more rich in detoxifying veggies, while the lunch and afternoon snack juices provided more energy with slightly higher concentrations of fruits and natural sugars. And not to be forgotten, the Champion juice (almonds, hemp, dates, cinnamon, vanilla) which may be one of the singular reasons I survived my juice cleanse. When dinner time rolls around and you get to drink this delicious nut milk it feels like you are drinking a milkshake. Just that extra little bit on density, texture, and protein helps keep you going.
When I started the juice cleanse I was fully expecting to be disproportionately excited to eat breakfast on the morning of day 4, but the truth is I wasn’t really. I mean, I was looking forward to it, but I felt so good and my body felt nourished, that it didn’t feel like the end of the world. On day 4 when I woke up I felt good, and chose to reintroduce my foods a bit slower opting for a smoothie in the morning, light salad for lunch and a simple dinner with fresh seafood.
Overall, my 3-day juice cleanse was a really good experience and doing it made me realize a few things that perhaps I wasn’t expecting.
My body felt cleansed.
I typically hate words like detox or cleanse. I know that the body has the ability to detoxify itself every single day, which is what it does, but after these 3 days I felt different. I felt refreshed like my body was operating on a slightly more efficient level. It’s not like “toxins” escape your body like bats fleeing from a cave when you do a juice cleanse, but you are able to give you body some extra support through the liquid “shots” of nutrition from the fresh-pressed vegetable and fruit juices.
My digestion was out of wack. I consider myself very in tune with my body. I am aware of how all of the food I eat makes me feel and how my body processes it. Or at least I thought I was. What I realized during the 3-day juice cleanse is that my digestive tract wasn’t working 100% up to snuff. I noticed it from the slight lack of bloating and the shifts in my bowels (sorry, but I need to go there). Since I’ve re-introduced food to my diet I have been really conscious of what I am eating, and for me personally have found that some legumes were upsetting my tummy a little more than I had hoped so I have been keeping them out of my diet. I’ve also added an elixir shot to my morning routine, adding some apple cider vinegar to a splash of water with cayenne and a touch of maple syrup, and it has really been helping, and the bloating has not returned.
I was eating more than I needed.
I love food, that’s why I got into this business, so that I can talk about it all day long. After drinking only juices for 3 days and surviving, I realized that I was eating a whole lot more of what I “want” as opposed to what I “need”. I spend a lot of my day thinking about what I am going to make for dinner and coming up with fun and delicious meal ideas. The truth of the matter is that is all great, but it is not necessary. The body is magical instrument and can do a lot with a little, and this something I have been trying to implement since I finished the juice cleanse. Simple meals and less of them. I love snacks, but I don’t always need them.
I was forced to slow down.
I am 100% a Type A personality. I love to go-go-go. I wake up early, I love to workout, I a can crush a to-do list like it’s nobody’s business, but doing this juice cleanse forced me to take a much-needed chill-pill. It’s natural for the body to relax and unwind, and it made me realize that it is not the end of the world if items on your to do list have to wait until tomorrow.
It’s a mental game.
Every single day we are exposed to so many food choices. We have the luxury of deciding what we can eat, where we can eat and when we can eat. We can buy our food in a store or a restaurant and don’t have to go far out of our way to get it. It’s ridiculous when you think about it. The hard part of a juice cleanse is not the lack of food, it’s the mental aspect that goes with it. Naturally and historically speaking our bodies have gone through periods of starvation or famine, and survived. The hard part of the juice cleanse is the change of habits and the change of pace, not the lack of food.
My Tips for doing a Juice Cleanse
Overall, my juice cleanse experience with Pure Kitchen Ottawa was great and I would highly recommend their cleanse. I do not suggest a juice cleanse as a quick fix, or a weight loss program or a way to drop 5 pounds before your trip down south, but I do recommend it as reset that can help in certain specific situations for healthy individuals. If it is something you have been considering or are thinking about, here are a few tips to consider:
Cleanse your diet before you juice cleanse. A juice cleanse will not solve your unhealthy diet. In fact, it will probably send you in the opposite direction. If you want to do a juice cleanse, you need to clean up your diet before you embark on the cleanse. If you are eating bagels for breakfast, burgers for lunch and microwave meals for dinner, doing a juice cleanse is not going to feel good. Work towards eating whole unprocessed foods in their most natural state, and if you can lock this down for a long period of time, a juice cleanse might be a good fit for you. The cleaner your diet is, the easier your juice cleanse will be.
Do a juice cleanse at a warmer time of the year. Although some people do juice cleanses in the winter very successfully, I find that this can be a little rough on the body as the juices can really cool you down at a time of year when you are trying to warm up. Spring and summer are a great time of year to try a juice cleanse, especially as the seasons are changing. The same way you spring clean your closet, you can spring clean your diet.
Start with a 1-day or 3-day cleanse. There is no need to go from zero to hero with your juice cleanse. If you want to do a little introduction cleanse, try a one day cleanse and see how you feel. In my opinion, three days is more than enough to reap some benefits without doing any damage.
Pick a time when you are occupied but not busy. This is something that I want to emphasize. Although it might seem ideal to do a juice cleanse during a time when you have nothing to do but lie on the couch, it is actually not ideal. Find a period of time where you need to be out and about, but your schedule is not too packed. You’ll want to have time in your schedule to spend time outside as well. Fresh air and nature are really rejuvenating to our bodies which is the overall goal of this process.
Don’t binge after your cleanse. If you are going to do a 3-day juice cleanse and then drive yourself to the nearest drive-thru on the morning of day 4, don’t bother doing the cleanse. The best thing to do is to put a plan in place after your cleanse. Ensure that your fridge is stocked with whole foods and lots of fruits and vegetables. If you want extraordinary results, you need to put in extraordinary efforts. And this effort must go far beyond the 3-day juice cleanse.