Editor's note: Guys! Meet Carole. While we were all busy stuffing our faces with shortbread cookies and Christmas chocolate, Carole took one for the team and tried not one, not two, but THREE juice cleanses. And she's making a special guest appearance on BEAUTYEDITOR.ca to tell us all about them over the next few weeks. Over to you, Carole!
After an onslaught of holiday parties with buttery hors d’oeuvres and baked goods, I felt like the most wonderful time of the year left me more stuffed than a Christmas goose and doughier than a Hanukkah donut. Hoping to get the residual festive cider and gingerbread out of my system, I decided to kick off my juice cleansing series by test-driving a three-day program from the latest Toronto-based newcomer, Benourished.
Benourished offers two juice cleansing programs, each with two levels of "difficulty." For the novice detoxifier there is Glow, which is a combination of juice and food, and for those who have been there, done that, there is Sprout, which is an all-juice cleanse. Both levels offer cleanses for a duration of two, three, five or seven days. Since I successfully did the Master Cleanse a few years back, and had the will to challenge myself, Benourished's founder Julie McClure suggested I try level two of the Glow program. On this plan, days one and three consist of four different 525 mL juices, consumed throughout the day, and then a salad and snack for supper. On day two, you drink six of the 525 mL juices—so for one day you're having only liquid meals.
Going into it, I was reassured to know that if I felt like caving in to a craving, I did have some snack options. “In the case of persistent cravings, we recommend snacking on a few high-antioxidant organic fresh berries, organic fresh veggies with or without hummus, or an organic green apple and a handful of organic raw almonds," says McClure.
Benourished sends you the juice and food on your start date; it arrives sometime between 8am and 10:30am. (There's also the option to pick them up at their Yorkville location, which gives you a slight reduction in your total cost.) My delivery came in a box packed with reusable ice packets and a bag (the seven-day cleanses come with a lug cooler bag like the one pictured below).
The juices are fresh and unpasteurized so it's important to throw them in the fridge as soon as you receive them. For longer cleanses, you get only three days' worth of juice and food at a time, and then get a follow-up delivery for the rest of it.
I started my day with the Green Alkalizer, a green juice that includes celery and fennel to reduce bloating (just what I needed!), along with chlorophyll-rich Swiss chard for energy and mental clarity. Personally, I like green juices so I didn’t have any difficulty drinking the stuff, but depending on how much your taste buds have been shot with processed foods or sodium, it may be a bit harder to get down.
Around mid-morning, I had the Zesty Lemonade, made up of limes, lemon, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. It totally reminded me of the main drink in the Master Cleanse.
For a slightly later lunch, I had the Red Booster. Beets, the main ingredient in this richly-hued juice, aid in liver detoxification and iron intake. The hint of ginger (helpful for digestion) gave the juice a nice kick.
Finally, at around 3pm when I usually hit my mid-afternoon wall, I drank the Digestive Express, which was one of the fruitiest drinks. It has strong flavours of pineapple (a source of vitamin C) and peppermint leaves (to help soothe the digestive tract) and was the most pleasing to my palette due to its fruity familiarity.
By the end of the day, I was thrilled to scarf down some solid foods as I was feeling somewhat hungry and just wanted to chew something (I think I would have chewed a blade of grass at this point) and tucked into the Blueberry Charm salad.
A raw, gluten-free, and vegan salad never tasted so satisfying. I finished off my meal with my snack: a cup of white coconut cream tea and the Almond Allure, a treat of shredded coconut, almonds, dates and almond butter. This final sweet morsel to finish off the day cancelled out the thought that I was depriving myself of warm cookies earlier, and felt like a reward for sticking to the plan.
The following day, I awoke with some optimism and a sliver of fear. I felt great that I was able to stick to the plan without cheating so far, but was worried that the lack of solid food would soon have me flocking to the fridge for food.
I began with the same four juices from day one, but in lieu of a salad and snack, I had a second Green Alkalizer for an early dinner and an Almond Bliss nut milk two hours later for dinner part two. It was similar to a milkshake; the almonds serve as a source of protein, and the dates pump in some potassium. I treated it like a super-rich dessert—I’d much rather have this creamy treat than some vegetable sticks any day.
Day three resembled day one, but I got a Kolorful Kale salad...
... and a Coconut Dream treat to switch things up. The Coconut Dream is made of buckwheat paste, quinoa protein and coconut for a burst of energy that satisfied my sweet tooth.
Following a day of just liquids and nearing the end of the cleanse, this final day felt like a cakewalk (mmm, cake!).
Overall, I found the experience was more psychological than physical. You certainly become more aware of food and want it mainly because you can’t have it, not necessarily because you are hungry. With the juices and meals staggered throughout the day in two- to three-hour increments (with glasses of water and the ability to drink herbal teas in between), I didn't really find myself hungry—and when I did, it was time for me to have my juice or salad.
What I found really worked for me with the Glow plan was that I always had something to look forward to at the end of the day, whether it was a salad or the rich nut milk. By the end of it, I felt less bloated and my jeans pinched into my waist less than when I began. It was all served with a side of confidence that, yes, I CAN abstain from stealing a steam tray at a buffet.
The Sprout (all juice) cleanses start at $65 per day while the Glow plans start at $80 per day. (Slight discounts are offered if you go for the five- or seven-day plans). Unfortunately, the company only caters to Toronto and the GTA at this time. For more details, visit benourished.com. And stay tuned for a report on cleanse number two next week!
Carole Park is a Toronto-based freelance writer and beauty editor at FrontRowMag.com. She has contributed to TorontoLife.com, The Globe and Mail, BlackBookMag.com, ElleCanada.com, FASHION, Lush, Argyle and Strut. Follow her on Twitter: @carolepark.
Do you feel like you've collected some holiday bloat?
Have you ever tried a juice cleanse?
Does juicing just 'til dinner seem doable?