Juicing (and juggling normal life!)
The last time I embarked on a juice cleanse I was at a retreat in a remote part of Cambodia. We woke up with sun salutations, replaced meal times with massages and spent our afternoons strolling along beautiful beaches or reading in a hammock. It was the perfect place to press pause on my usual eating patterns and by the end of the week, I was really starting to listen to the signs and signals my body was giving me: eating when hungry, stopping when full. It sounds so simple and yet after years of struggling with what to eat or how much to eat, I was amazed at my body’s intrinsic intelligence, compared to my brain’s confusing and often contradictory ideas about food. Finally, I had discovered a way of eating that worked for me. A diet led by my inner world, instead of dictated by external resources. But mindful meals in Cambodia were a piece of cake compared to lunches in London…
When I am living in the busy bubble of the city, I find it much harder to listen to my body simply because my schedule doesn’t offer a lot of space to do so. Which is why I decided to sign up for My Juice Programme’s 5-day juice programme. I wanted to experience the benefits of juicing without having to go on a retreat. And yes, I was certainly apprehensive because the cleanse was going to coincide with my normal life: work, socialising and city-living. I wondered how my will power would hold up when surrounded by a wealth of different food cues, deliberately designed to stimulate my senses. In Cambodia the most challenging food cue was probably a mango, so London certainly offered quite a different back drop for the cleanse!
I’ve tried DIY juicing at home without success. I found that it was expensive, a lot of effort and somehow had me thinking more about food (probably because I was chopping fruit and veg multiple times a day!) I’m sure there are simpler ways of doing a homemade juice cleanse, but personally, I felt that the organisation involved discouraged me from wanting to detox at all! Which is why I was tempted to try a ready-made juice cleanse delivered directly to my door. The juices are frozen for freshness and go straight into the freezer. So, all I had to do in preparation for this cleanse was take my first 4 juices out of the freezer the night before. A nice simple start for the 5-day juice!
Day 1 is definitely the hardest (and I remember thinking the same at the retreat) because it shakes up your normal eating patterns. Suddenly you notice gaps in your day normally filled with food and for me, the one I missed the most, was my evening meal with my fiancé. Dinner has become a ritual where we download what has happened in our respective days and reconnect with each other. Yet, I also became aware of my not so mindful moments where I was reaching for food out of boredom or stress. I sometimes found myself wanting to snack simply because it was something to do. Which makes sense because according to neuroscience research we are acting on autopilot 95% of the time! Above everything else, this is why I love juice cleansing because is heightens my awareness and helps me to become conscious of my unconscious habits.
By the end of day 2 the juice routine felt surprisingly familiar. It’s amazing how quickly the mind can normalise new behavioural patterns and is perhaps part of the reason why I found the final 3 days much easier. What seemed impossible at the start was now something my body and brain had managed to adapt to and accept. And I must admit I actually enjoyed the cleanse. There were of course difficult moments, for example when I met friends at my favourite Vietnamese restaurant. But even then, the absence of food created space for something else. Because juicing doesn’t just offer the digestive system a break: it also frees the mind from ‘food thoughts’, which is why people often report feeling clear headed on a cleanse. So, whilst I wasn’t able to enjoy noodle soup, I was able to be more present with the people I was with.
After the 5-day cleanse I can honestly say that juicing in the city isn’t half as hard as I thought and a big part of that was down to the ease of the programme. It was so simple and seamless that it wasn’t hard to settle into a juice routine for a couple of days. In the past, I have been put off ready-made juice programmes because of the cost. However, My Juice Programmes offers a variety of really reasonably programmes, costing just over £15 per day (which, in London can easily be the cost of a coffee and a sandwich!) So, I will definitely be doing another juice in the near future (probably a 3-day Pro+ Programme, which uses vegetable-based juices). And it’s great to know I don’t have to fly all the way back to Cambodia to reap the mind body benefits of juicing!!