In either 2012 or 2013 – I only remember that it was during my final year as an undergraduate university student – I made a strange decision to commit to a week-long juice diet. A cleanse of sorts that promised to deliver a kickstart into a healthier life. My very best friend and then flatmate had heard of the regime and wanted to try it out in an effort to, indeed, kickstart a healthier lifestyle – improve her nutrition and all that jazz. Firmly of the opinion that something so different from our usual intake of carbs on carbs on carbs (fresh or frozen) and other less-than-balanced meal options would indeed prove to be a challenge, I decided to jump on the juice bandwagon and do it with her. Obviously I wanted to gain from it too – it wasn’t a selfless act of support – and I even proclaimed, “I reckon it’ll be a laugh.”
Narrator: It was not a laugh.
“But how can I make it interesting for people to read?” I ask my friend, after telling her that I would be regaling ILY readers with the tale of our exploration of juice diet land, as part of the magazine’s continual exploration of beauty-focused regimes and routines, myths and magic. Because, to be very frank, the week itself namely lacked interest. Except, perhaps, for one particular highlight that had me more open than ever before about my own toilet-based activity. And if that hasn’t whet your appetite for me, I don’t know what will. Read on, you devil.
My friend wasn’t unserious in her researching of juice cleanses and had had a good look into which diets existed, and which would be best for her and what she was looking to get out of one. She opted for the 7-Day Juice Diet from Jason Vale, otherwise known as The Juice Master. His diets are among the most popular and successful. He – because what’s anything without a cliché-drenched backstory – was an addict and overweight, before juicing effectively changed his life. Good for him. And I truly mean that. Good for him, and good for anybody who has been inspired by his story, his methods and his motivation.
We were arguably less motivated than others. I remember that there were soundbites in the app (which my friend had of course downloaded with all the best intentions) where Jason would lord it over us. If I remember rightly, he’d tell us how we would be feeling – he was always wrong; we never either the energy or sense of achievement he was referring to – and how grateful we should be for such an opportunity. For more impoverished people in the world, who rarely if ever have enough to eat, would kill for the opportunity. Now, there’s some truth in there somewhere, Jason, but I can’t help but feel that even at the time my privileged, then empty stomach knew your comment was dangerously reductive.
The diet itself was quite uncomplicated, but did involve the purchasing of fruits and vegetables as per recipes denoted by the regime, and the preparation of a total of seven juices to be consumed throughout the day at specific times. Everything tasted… crap. It was a lot of dark green, iron-loaded vegetables. The warm apple juice at 11pm was as good as it got. The promise, as is stated on the fully fledged organisation’s website, is that “with [this] simple diet and exercise programme and inspirational message, you will not only lose weight, but also have higher energy levels, clearer skin and be set free from the dieting trap forever”.
Most prevalently, both my friend and I remember being tired. A lot. Where were the higher energy levels we’d been promised? I guess that our bodies were adjusting to the intake of nutrients and calories that were different from that which we were used to. “I fell asleep on the stairs – do you remember?” exclaims my friend, recalling how the flight of stairs to get to bed were, evidently, too much for her weakened self, and how she had only made it halfway up before needing to stop, where she paused… for a nap. (How dramatic!)
It’s worth noting again how bad everything tasted. And how difficult that made it to no longer have the privilege of thinking about food – planning meals, reveling in the knowledge of what we’d be eating that evening. Most social events were out of the question too. All of a sudden, with no coffee dates or glasses of wine to be had, we were presented with an awful lot of time to actually study. If only we’d experienced those elevated energy levels too. Imagine what studious superstars we might have blossomed into. Not that we didn’t have enough juice preparation to fill our time. An advisory note to anybody considering embarking on the adventure that is a juice cleanse and/or diet: opt for pre-packaged juices. The peeling, chopping and juicing of the various fruits and vegetables we were required to consume took simply forever. Made all the less enjoyable by knowing it would satiate neither appetite nor cravings.
I suppose the real lowlight of the week came afterwards though. Whether we didn’t commit to a healthier lifestyle post-cleanse, one could debate. Nonetheless, to regain weight lost, at the speed with which we did, felt like a bit of a slap in the face. An “I told you so” slap in the face, laced with the remnants of the doubts my friend and I had throughout the week that such fatigue, boredom and something clearly so not. for. us could offer enough return on investment. “Definitely not,” confirms my friend. “I put back on four pounds in the first day after the diet.”
My personal highlight during these seven days came in the form of particularly solid proof that something had come of this unusual adjustment from all-too-often high-sugar, high-salt, carb-loaded meal options to an 11am spinach juice and one singular bite of an orange segment. My poos, as scarce as they were, were bloody fantastic. I distinctly remember discussing with another friend who explained that I had indeed experienced my first “angel poo”. This is a poo that leaves your body in such good health, so to speak, that no wiping would actually be necessary. In fact, I had experienced the rare sub-species, the “ghost poo”. As per the Urban Dictionary definition, the “challenges your grasp on reality, because when you look in the bowl to see what you've done ... there is no smell and nothing there”. Amid the confusion of why I hadn’t eaten anything remotely delicious for so long, I can attest to this challenged grasp on reality. Of course, I didn’t know then that a “ghost poo is smooth and firm enough to be ejected with ‘toilet escape velocity’, i.e. you shot it right around the u-bend. So it not only disappears but there is no lingering pong, as it only had a millisecond of exposure to the atmosphere.” How truly enriching to have learned such terminology and its meaning.
And now you too. You’re welcome.
It’s important to disclaim my takeaways with the note that this is all based on my personal experience, and my experience alone. The conclusions I might draw from this account are neither scientifically based nor proven. I can however say that a juice diet is something to take on with seriousness and commitment. My friend and I were motivated primarily by promises of weight loss. And of course we lost weight. Anybody would if for seven days you ate nothing, consumed only liquidated produce and – as a result of such unusually high levels of fluids entering your body – were always peeing. The problem, of course, is that weight loss induced by a radical change to your diet is not sustainable. At least not when you move straight on to deep-fried carbs as soon as the designated time frame is over.
I think I prefer the idea of a juice cleanse to a juice diet. I felt very cleansed (see previous overshare) as a result of the 7-Day Juice Diet. Yet, unprepared and unwilling for a much longer journery to a healthier me, I reeped no benefits of weight loss or diet adjustment. For my friend and me, the experience merely outlined our typically millennial search for a quick fix. The problem with quick fixes? Whatever you thought you’d found a solution for will break again just as quickly.
Narrator: The two friends, exhausted from their seven-day juice marathon, indulged in a piled plateful of hash browns – the only food they could find in the freezer, as the clock struck midnight on day 7. They had broken their fast, and would soon learn what a waste of time it had been anyway.