Learning Goal: Help you make a decision about whether a juice cleanse is beneficial to your well-being.
Overview: Juice Cleansing can increase fruit and vegetable intake, but many of its claimed health benefits are not proven, however juicing may be psychologically beneficial for changing eating behaviors.
My personal trainer has been blabbing on and on about how amazing juice is. A lot of the time I just roll my eyes and think in my head “You are crazy.”
I recently got super sick, and for some reason I started craving fruits and vegetables more. It could also be because I spent my sick time watching dozens of food documentaries on Netflix (my favorite being Hungry For Change). Either way, I decided that I really wanted to make an effort to make my diet mostly vegetables and fruits.
I love bread, pasta, cheese, cheese, and more cheese. So I know this will not be easy.
I decided I would actually listen to my trainer and do a 3-Day Juice Cleanse. Check out this article to see how I prepared for my juice cleanse and this live journal update of how I am doing on my cleanse.
I wanted to make sure that I was not just buying into a fad and that I was doing something that would actually benefit my body.
Concerns About Claims
Many believe that juicing is just a fad. There is a debate behind the nutritional benefits of juicing. Some of the claims are that being debated and are of concern are:
1. Juicing to lose weight is not smart. Most people will gain it back as soon as they go back to eating foods normally. Some people will even go on a binge after the cleanse, and wind up eating more and gaining more weight than before the cleanse. Also, if you are juicing for too long and not meeting your caloric and full nutritional needs (proteins and fats), you can mess up your metabolism, which can cause you to gain even more weight.
2. Your Body Detoxes on Its Own. Many dietitians and toxicologist believe the body does a good job of detoxing on its own so doing a cleanse is not necessary. Also, what are these “toxins” that juicers are referring to?
3. You cannot fulfill all your nutritional needs from the juice. Certain methods of juicing remove a lot of fiber from the vegetables in fruits and fiber are essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system. To make sure you are getting fiber, continue to eat whole fruits or use a blender and drink the pulp. Also, some of the nutrients interact with the air when juiced, causing them to change and be less potent and beneficial. Another important thing to remember is that many vitamins are fat soluble, meaning your body needs fat to use them properly. Your body also needs protein, which is often not found in fruit and vegetable juice, in order to maintain and build muscles and to keep your immune system strong.
4. Juicing is not safe for everyone. Some people have health conditions like diabetes, hepatitis, or kidney problems which affect how you digest your food. One must consult with a doctor before adopting any kind of major change in diet to make sure it will harm you.
Although all your nutritional needs cannot be met from juices, you are able to pack in a lot of veggies and fruit into one juice. I currently do not eat the recommended 9 servings of fruits and vegetables. If I throw my fruits and juices into a blender I can quickly my veggie requirement, which includes all their vitamins and antioxidants. Anything that helps me eat all my fruits and vegetables cannot be a bad thing.
Psychological Benefits of Juicing
Most of the reasons I found on the cleanse were actually psychological.
1. Take A Mental and Physical Break From Thinking About Food
Juicing gives your mind and body time to take a break. I did not realize how much time I spent thinking and stressing about my next meal, until I did not have to. I’ve tried planning meals out ahead of time so I did not have to think, but I would sometimes get too tired to cook the meal I planned. With a juice cleanse, there is almost no thinking involved as long as you plan it out ahead of time. Not having to think about food has been incredibly freeing of my time and energy.
2. Take Food Off Its Pedestal
Food is unhealthily on a pedestal in my life. For some reason, I always feel like food is this magical unobtainable thing, and I eat like I am never going to eat again. I sometimes will spend a good amount of time thinking about what I am going to eat that day. It consumes my thinking.
I love eating and tasting the food, and there is nothing wrong with that – I see it as enjoying life – but I often use taste and the physical sensation of eating as an excuse as to why I was not treating my body right and nourishing myself with healthy foods. Spending some time dedicated to meeting my nutritional needs without including taste and sensation into the equation helps me put food into perspective.
It is a wonderful thing that I enjoy food culturally and physically – but the food is meant to be our fuel. If I can go three days without indulging, I know that I can make better decisions about what I am putting into my body, regardless of my desire for those sensations, because most of the time refueling is ultimately more important.
This does not mean I will not enjoy my food like I used to, it just means that I need to make sure that indulgence is in moderation and used during times that are worth it (traveling, at a nice restaurant, a friend cooks for you, etc.)
3. Escalating Commitment
Economist has studied human behavior and has noticed that people tend to make decisions based on how much they already previously committed or invested. For example, a common reason people do not break up with a significant other, even though the relationship obviously sucks because they do want to “throw away” x amount of years. Another example could be eating all your food at a restaurant, even though you are very full because you paid a lot of money for it.
If your mind thinks this way for things that are not good for you, the same thinking applies for healthy behaviors. I know that I have stuck to working out because I invested money into a personal trainer. If you invest time and money (buying a juicer or buying juices) and make a commitment to cleansing for 3 days, it will help escalate or increase your commitment to eating healthier in the future.
4. Joining a Community
I put my cleanse on Facebook and got a ton of responses from friends who I had no idea was interested in health, who either told me about their experience or who wanted to try it themselves. Doing this cleanse helped me feel more connected to those who are also health conscious, and those are the people with whom you want to share meals, go for a hike, or call when you feel like baking a pan of brownies and eating them all.
Juice Cleanse Judgement and Tips
- If you choose to do a cleanse, eat small snacks of the whole, raw, nuts, half an avocado, hemp protein in almond milk, or other raw fruit and veggies in between juices to make sure you are getting your protein, fats, and fiber.
- Cleanses can help you mentally prepare for lifestyle changes involving your food.
- Use a blender instead of juicer to get all the pulp from the vegetables and fruit
- Instead of doing a cleanse, just drink at least 1-2 juices a day in between meals to make sure you are getting all your vitamins
- Continue the pre-cleanse tips