Indulge a bit over the holidays? Finding your energy a bit low and your pants a bit snug? Feeling the need for a physical or mental reboot?
A juice cleanse might be just the thing to get you thinking and feeling differently. With so many juice bars across South Florida, the idea of doing a one-day, three-day, five-day, or even weeklong juice fast is more appealing -- and easy -- than ever.
Never done a cleanse before? Here's what to you'll need to know before you take the plunge.
The idea of drinking the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables isn't new. We know. Remember fitness and health guru Jack LaLanne, who touted the value of raw fruit and vegetables with his self-named Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer back in the 80's? He was on to something...
Today, we know LaLanne is smiling down on the juice bars popping up nationwide. They're big business, a Hollywood celeb-style fad making bold claims that juice drinking can help remove toxins, cleanse your digestive system, and aid in weight loss.
Does it? Researchers on both sides argue evidence supporting and refuting these claims -- but what we do know is that a diet high in fruits and vegetables does reduce the risk of certain diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, while aiding in weight management. Add that to the fact that most Americans don't eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, and the alternative is finding a way to chow down on a pile of fresh produce every day.
And the alternative? Just juice it. To respond to the growing fad, juice bars have set up shop, proudly proclaiming the use of high-tech juicers that extract juice under high pressure, activating and "protecting" all those vital nutrients and enzymes.
If you're considering a juice fast to get you started down a healthier, happier path in 2014, keep reading for some tips on how to have a successful cleanse:
What Is Juice Cleansing (Fasting)?
We've all been there -- that awful feeling when you have no energy, your eyes are lifeless, your skin is dull and dry, and you swear you can't remember the last time you had a healthy meal. You're all clogged up -- like a sports car in need of an oil change. Well, that's what a cleanse will do for your body: It's like an oil change for your guts. A juice fast is the perfect way recharge your insides and replenish your body with the nutrients it needs to heal.
After all the chemicals, preservatives, and genetically modified toxins our bodies are forced to absorb on a daily basis, it's something to consider doing a few times a year.
Yes, you heard that right. Not just once, but several times a year! To do so, the best source of nutrients that our bodies crave can be found in something as simple as fresh fruits and vegetables. With the right tools, know-how, and skill, the prefect prescription to optimum health and vitality can be extracted from these sources.
Cleansing is the perfect way to "reboot" and begin the process of restoring natural balance. When you consume only the juice of the vegetables and fruits, you're giving you digestive system a much needed "rest," allowing your systems to repair and regain an optimal pH balance to help create a healthy alkaline environment free from chronic fatigue, headaches, insomnia, depression, allergies, aches, pains, digestive problems, and more.
Have a Plan
Before you start a juice fast, the first thing you need to ask yourself is: What are my goals? Do I want to lose weight, have more energy, jump-start a healthier diet? A cleanse can help with each of these, but different ones will give you different results.
Did you know that seasoned fasters can go for as long as three weeks on a juice fast? (And we thought three days without solid food was near impossible!) If this is your first time fasting, it's recommended that you don't go for the gold. Try a single-day juice fast first to see what it's like; it will make it easier to prepare for a three-day cleanse. Fasting isn't easy -- both physically and mentally -- so the more you plan to set yourself up for success, the better.
The most important part is planning. Be sure to add two days to the cleanse you'd like to accomplish. If you're planning on a three-day, set aside five days to actually complete the juice fast. Why? You'll need a day to ease your body into the cleanse and one more to ease out. Many first-time fasters plan their juice fast for over a weekend, from Friday to Sunday, when they can be at home for extended periods of time.
Some fasters suffer from headaches and low energy when completing a fast (though others claim to have higher energy levels than normal), and you may find yourself needing to nap in the middle of the afternoon to conserve energy. Do your best to plan the fast over the course of several days when you know you won't be led to temptation (no office parties or business lunches), and don't make plans to go out with friends. You can't deviate from the juice, and social activities that involve eating or drinking will only make it harder. (Plus, you'll have to explain your crazy ass to all your friends -- over and over.)
What Cleanse Should I Choose?
If you haven't read our blog on the Ten Best Juice Bars in Broward and Palm Beach, check it out. It gives a list of our area's juice bars, most of which offer cleanse programs priced anywhere from $40 to $65 per day. It may be easier than buying the produce and equipment to do it yourself at home -- and, at the end of the day, a whole lot less expensive. To choose which one is best for you, try a little taste-testing. If you don't like the way a particular bar's juices taste, chances are you're not going to even go through with the first day.
Next, see what juice program works best for you by doing a little research. Fresh-pressed juice goes "bad" after a few days because it isn't pasteurized, meaning you won't want to drink it after more than 48 to 96 hours in your fridge. That means you need to pick a spot that's close to where you work and live so simply getting your juices for the fast won't be a problem. Take Swami Juice in Boca Raton, for example: It delivers free of charge when you order six or more juices. Or OnJuice, the delivery service, has plans that allow for both meal and juice delivery anywhere you like -- so if getting away from work to pick up your cleanse is a problem, you might consider a place that offers a convenient alternative.
Last, go shopping. You'll need foods in the house that work with your precleanse routine -- fruits and vegetables that will allow you to make meals free of wheat, sugar, dairy, and meat. If you don't have time to cook raw food meals for the day before and after your cleanse, try a place like Raw Juce in Boca Raton. It sells raw food meals, giving you an alternative to preparing one yourself thanks to its one-stop shop.
How to Precleanse
It is incredibly important to understand that your precleanse routine is essentially just as important as the cleanse itself. Eating too much sugar, cooked food, meat, and processed crap too close to the start of your cleanse could cause extreme abdominal pain once you begin. You'll also want to refrain from any wheat, alcohol, nicotine, coffee, and dairy at least two days before you begin juice fasting or the cleanse will not be able to do its work.
Many people begin a cleanse by having a set routine for what they will eat and drink. Most choose to begin their day with a cup of warm water with lemon and cayenne. This helps to awaken your digestive system and get your body prepared for cleansing. Wait to drink your first juice no more than one hour after waking, and make sure to consume each juice at least two hours apart from each another.
During Your Cleanse
A juice fast isn't supposed to leave you starving. If your precleanse is done right, your body will adjust to the liquid diet with ease and will need the vitamins and nutrients from the juice to keep you going and do the important work of cleansing your body. For this reason, there is no real "limit" to the amount of juice you should drink throughout the day. However, when you purchase a cleanse from a juice bar, many will limit you to six juices a day, allowing you only hot vegetable broth or lemon water to fill in between juices. Whenever you feel hungry or thirsty, you should drink a juice.
Drinking plenty of water is critical to having a successful cleanse. Staying hydrated is extremely important when on a juice cleanse, as the water will help to flush toxins from your system, along with helping you to rehydrate after eliminations. Drinking water will also help to keep sensations of hunger at bay. You should aim to drink at least 16 ounces of water with each juice, either by diluting the juice with water or drinking it separately. You should also drink additional water between juices. Feeling bored of juice and water? Try herbal tea or plain vegetable broth (no salt added). Both will give you the feeling of drinking something hot and soothing -- just be sure to stick to noncaffeinated, and don't add sugar or dairy.
Also, don't go too hard at the gym. A little light exercise each day of the fast will allow you to take your mind off any hunger symptoms and will help to stimulate digestive movement. Take a walk or do yoga, but refrain from anything more strenuous, as it may leave you feeling weak, tired, and hungry.
After experiencing a liquid cleanse, your digestive system should be well-rested and therefore needs to be introduced to cooked foods as slowly as possible. If you jump right back into your former eating habits, you could cause some serious discomfort to your digestive system (think lots of gas and bloating) and even a little unwanted weight gain due to bloat. To keep the results of your fast long-term, we suggest starting with easily digested foods like raw vegetables and salads, simple dressings like lemon and oil.
Here, Melanie Haraldson from Raw Juce gives you a raw food recipe to get you in the mood for your fast:
Melanie's Chia Seed Breakfast Bowl
Of course, breakfast is a natural way to start the day on the right food. I'm a big fan of breakfasts that can be made in advance, such as a green smoothie (just give it a good stir in the morning), overnight oats, and this chia pudding. Even though they take just a few minutes to throw together before bed, I sometimes fall out of the habit of prepping them, but man oh man, it makes such a difference to wake up to a nutritious breakfast ready to be enjoyed! This recipe makes two servings so you can share it with a loved one or wrap up the leftovers for your next craving -- which, if you are like me, won't be far off.
4 tablespoons chia seeds
1 - 1 1/4 cup almond milk (it's great made with homemade almond milk)
2 small bananas, chopped small
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Two pinches of cinnamon
1. Mash bananas in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in chia seeds. Whisk in the almond milk, vanilla, and cinnamon until combined. Place in fridge overnight to thicken.
2. In the morning, place your desired amount of chia pudding into a bowl. You can add more almond milk if you want to thin it out in the morning. Or, if it's too thin, add more chia seeds to thicken it up. Top with a pinch of cinnamon and sliced bananas or strawberries.
No matter how enthusiastic you feel at the beginning of your cleanse, you are sure to be faced with temptations during the course of your fast. Stay strong and remember why you're doing this: to help your body flush out toxins and recharge. Keep in mind that some people actually learn to enjoy the fasting process and claim to feel more energized, clear-headed, and full of life. That could be you! But you'll never know until you try.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.