Food is life... well, more accurately, food is MY life. After a year gallivanting around the world as a flight attendant, I’ve found that settling back into reality is hard. And more importantly, it has been hard on my gut.
It seems to be a pretty common problem with me when I travel. For months after I returned home, my tummy still felt heavy from from all the food I let myself eat because, with my flight schedule, I never knew when I was going to be able to eat again.
In 2016, I decided it was time to put my health and wellbeing first. And what better way to kickstart a lifestyle change than with a total detox?
I decided to try a program with Sol Cleanse and chatted to owner Miriam ter Borg about my options. As Miriam said, “Level one is a bit easier with the Dahl and if you have a busy schedule. Level two is suitable for these hotter months when you don’t feel like eating as much. It will really depend on what kind of challenge you’re up for!”
Basically I heard the word “challenge” and my brain went into total “go hard or go home” mode. I signed up for the five-day cleanse – the longest detox on offer. I also thought it would be a great idea to give myself a really thorough scrub with the level two cleanse. Aimed at the more adventurous cleanser, or someone who has been living a relatively “clean” lifestyle already, the level two juice cleanse consists of six liquid meals a day. For the next five days, my life would consist of one green smoothie, four different juices and one nut mylk. Easy, right?
Day one to three saw my food envy soar to new heights. Lusting over colleagues’ meals, I was hangry and boy did they know about it. I couldn’t concentrate and was exhausted by 8pm every night.
I have no problem admitting that, by the second day, I had caved to the needs of my grumbling tummy and bought some unsalted nuts and fruit to get me through work.
I wanted to know if what I was doing was actually having a positive effect on my body, so I turned to nutritionist, strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer Brooke Richardson for a bit of extra advice.
While she strongly believes in detoxing the body, Brooke isn’t an advocate for juice cleanses. “A juice detox definitely will give your digestive system a rest, but be mindful that it may also put unnecessary stress on the rest of your body,” Brooke says. “The body will pull nutrients from its backup stores as you are not consuming the protein, fat and carbohydrates it thrives off.
“A juice detox can be a challenging mental game. Our mind controls our body, and when we start putting extra stress on the body, the body responds with a hormone known as cortisol – beginning the cycle of stress eating – the last thing you want to happen on a five-day detox”.
Instead, Brooke suggests a full-time diet of fresh, wholesome and nutrient-dense foods that will nourish your body.
“Build your meals around organic, pesticide-free vegetables such as greens, beans, broccoli, sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot. Include organic, free-range proteins such as chicken, eggs and sustainably sourced fish. Don't be scared of omega-3 rich fatty foods such as salmon, avocado, coconut oil, ghee, butter, nuts, and seeds.
“These foods are all you need and are a beautiful detox from the processed, preservative laden, and toxic foods of the standard Australian diet.”
Even more inspired to overhaul my diet once the cleanse was over, on days four and five I found the cleanse to be so much easier. I was OK with just sipping on my juice and nibbling on a few cashews. I would even go as far to say that I was enjoying it. Crazy, I know.
The verdict? The day after the cleanse finished, I felt lighter, brighter and craving-free. My tummy felt flatter – which, of course, it should after living on a liquid diet for five days – but I didn’t feel starved.
My skin was brighter and had cleared up quite a bit. Despite being told I looked tired on days one to three, I was pretty happy with how my skin glowed on day six.
I thought I would be desperate to eat a naughty treat after five days of predominately juice, but I was surprised to find that I didn’t have any cravings.
Of course, the first thing I did on the Sunday morning post-juice cleanse was head to breakfast with a girlfriend! But I was a good girl and ordered a simple avocado and feta on sourdough, with a soy latte (ahhh coffee, how I missed you!).
The most surprising result was how my energy stayed level on the final day of the cleanse and the day after. I didn’t experience waves of exhaustion throughout the day like I usually would; I woke up feeling good, and stayed feeling that way throughout the entire day.
Would I do another juice cleanse after completing this one? Probably not. I believe the cleanse taught me everything I needed to know: that I have to fuel my body with the right foods for it to run properly and healthily.
Would I recommend the juice cleanse to others? Look, it’s not for everyone but I would love to see more people coming out the other side with the same appreciation for food and nutrients that I have. If you’re worried about undertaking a juice cleanse, talk with your doctor or nutritionist about how it might affect you before taking the plunge.
My tips for juice cleansing:
- Think about when you are going to be doing your cleanse. Will you be having a busy week at work? Do you have a lot of social commitments during the cleanse period? I highly recommend cleansing while you’re on holidays so that any lethargy doesn’t impact your work or social life.
- Don’t have hot baths. The heat from a bath can lower your blood pressure and cause you to faint (like I did, at one point). If you insist on having a bath, keep it lukewarm (or cold if you can handle it) and make sure someone else is at home with you, just in case (thanks, Dad!).
- If you are really struggling, take Miriam’s advice and opt for healthy snacks like an apple or nuts. They will make the world of difference. And do not feel guilty. It is honestly the only way I got through the entire five days while working.
- Enjoy it! Five days of juices means no meal prep and no grocery shopping – just two deliveries of delicious juices. The five days will be over before you know it so go with the flow and learn everything you can about your body while you’re at it.
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