May 16, 2010

Three days with no food - just these strange, cleansing vegetable juices. Will I feel any better? I'm going to need stamina and discipline for this - qualities for which I am not renowned…

Recently I decided to spend three days drinking juice. Three days where I have no food and cut out caffeine entirely. I'm not sure what prompted this decision. Maybe it was temporary insanity. Maybe because everyone was spring cleaning; I couldn't deal with my closets so I figured I'd clean my colon. Consider this: I have not gone a day without coffee since I was 13. A hundred years ago.

I rarely deprive myself and never diet. My idea of depriving myself is not eating the entire bar of dark chocolate. Or passing on a third double espresso. When I eat too much and gain weight, I'll eat less for a few days and exercise. Or I'll sleep more as a way to curb my appetite.

The cleanse would require stamina. Discipline. People say it's good to push your limits. According to the testimonials on the website for the cleanse, I would lose weight, increase my energy levels and my skin would glow. How hard could it be?

I should have known to be sceptical of the testimonials. They were all positive. Everything was amazing. The cleanse was amazing. Concentration levels were amazing. The parsley protected the liver and spleen. Amazing! It was amazing that no one mentioned being hungry.

The plan was that every day I would consume six 16oz bottles of raw vegetable and fruit juice. Not the pulpy kind that gives the impression you're drinking something that resembles food.These juices had the consistency of water. Expensive flavoured water. There were three types of programmes available: the Renovation cleanse for beginners, the Foundation cleanse, and the Excavation cleanse which explained: "We're digging deep!"

Naturally, I went for the one with the most sugar - Renovation. Even though I didn't fit the renovating type at all. On the site there is a mini-profile of what sort of person would be suited to do each cleanse and this one is for someone who considers ketchup a vegetable and a cheeseburger a staple. This is the cleanse for a lorry driver.

What I did find appealing, almost mesmerising, was the aesthetic. It's a very luxurious way to drink juice. The bottles are pristine and almost medicinal looking. The obsessive compulsive in me appreciated that they lined up nicely in the fridge. Plus, they were delivered to my door. All of them labelled with a number so that you knew when to drink which juice. Juice number one was green - kale, parsley, cucumber, romaine, celery - all vegetables which I enjoy chewing. Drinking them was another matter. It was like sipping a lawn.

Juice number two was tastier. Apple, pineapple and mint. Number three was another green one and four - a spicy lemonade - was really uneventful. Five was slightly more exciting. Carrot, apple, beet, ginger. The main event was number six. This is the juice that gets you through the day. Cashew nut milk with vanilla bean, agave nectar and cinnamon. If George Clooney was pouring this for me personally I could not have looked forward to it more.

The first day of the cleanse I realised that without coffee, I have no incentive to get out of bed. And that night, I made the mistake of going out. It was my friend Liza's birthday and the instructions were to arrive for dessert at the restaurant at 9pm. Having finished my cashew nut milk at 7pm, I had two hours to kill before being seated in front of a cake. At the table, it was announced there would be "one of everything" and the desserts were passed callously under my nose. I didn't have a bite. Not a sugar-coated berry. I had the discipline of an Olympic athlete. Who knew? When asked why I was sipping camomile tea and not eating I mentioned the cleanse I was on. Several of the women at the table had heard of it and one had done it. "You're on day one?" she asked. I nodded. She seemed impressed that I was functional. I should have known it was destined to go downhill when her parting words to me were: "Be brave."

Day two, caffeine withdrawal. I woke up with a crippling headache and my energy level was nonexistent. I missed chewing. I was cranky and wanted something to eat. I needed something to live for. Oh wait, I had a green bottle of liquid kale in the fridge. Never mind. That evening was spent shopping for herbal tea. So far, the only thing that had increased was my focus on wanting actual food.

Day three made day two seem like a holiday. All I could do was sit and pray that my headache wasn't a brain haemorrhage. Even my teeth ached. Not only did I realise I was completely dependant on coffee but I realised something even more useful: I didn't care.

Overall, I can't say I'm happy I did it. I learned how much peppermint tea I could drink. I stuck to it, which I'm proud of, but the reward was minimal. The most positive thing? Not having to wash any dishes for three days.