So, after all those holiday cookies and hangovers, CLEANSE and DETOX appear to be the buzz words of the month. (And judging by the fact that two local Borders stores were sold out of Dr. Alex Junger’s “Clean” book, I think all of L.A. has jumped on the bandwagon.) Prompted by my curious husband (who despite feeling sluggish after the new year was suspicious of the detox trend), I enlisted us in a cleansing experiment: 5 days of raw-food-eating and 2 days of Lori C. Kenyon and Marra O. St. Clair’s Ritual Cleanse — an Irvine, Calif.-based juice cleansing program designed to “reset” the body.
Now, I know, some people do “Beyonce’s maple syrup diet” for well over a week, and many follow Dr. Junger’s advice (endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow) for at least three weeks, but honestly, feeling faint, weak, mucus-y and stuck with a headache is not my idea of a good time … no matter how skinny, light or euphoric I’m supposed to feel. One week of abstaining from all the things I love about food — caffeine, all meat, refined sugar, dairy, alcohol, soy, wheat, gluten — was about all I could stomach. That’s why I chose this route. With raw food, we got to eat a bunch of vegetables and feel full; and with Ritual Cleanse, we didn’t have to prepare meals (vegetables are time-consuming!) and worry whether we did so correctly.
So how did it go? The first part of the experiment was pretty easy. My only seriously undesirable symptom was at the beginning, when I battled a 48-hour headache while going without coffee (ouch!). Surprisingly, I didn’t miss coffee after that, especially since I was filling up on water, lemon and veggie-fruit smoothies early in the morning. And we actually had fun coming up with new ingredients for salads (who knew carrots could function as noodles)? The real challenge was the Ritual Cleanse. The program makes the cleansing process simple, but it’s not for the foodie who is faint of heart. You don’t consume anything ALL DAY but water with lemon in it (tea is allowed) and freshly made Ritual Cleanse organic juices.
Motivated by their own health issues (a gastric disorder, Celiac’s disease), Ritual Cleanse founders Marra (far left) and Lori came up with the program as a certified-organic, non-toxic, environmentally friendly and “better” way to cleanse. They built in the convenience of having pre-made juices delivered to your door and enough calories and nutrients to avoid harsh side effects while fueling an active, busy lifestyle. The juices are free of additives, powders or pills to take, and all the bottles are biodegradable. (They’re also delivered in brilliant reusable, insulated cooler bags!) Broken down into three types, the program allows you to choose from a Classic Reset (think of that as the standard menu), a Seasonal Reset (the seasonal menu) and the Shred component (2 extra juices to boost energy pre- and post-workout).
Now, the pros and cons: On the plus side, having the juices with you all day keeps you hydrated, full and able to take on the day without worrying about stopping to eat (although I do advocate stopping to eat). I can’t remember the last time I felt so lightweight, pain-free and alert … and I got a lot of compliments on my skin. Also, the juices taste good, which is impressive because they each contain a handful of organic, raw ingredients (no added sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, nothing “bad”). On the minus side, some of the juices have a dominate flavor, so if you don’t like that flavor (e.g., celery), you might not look forward to drinking that particular juice. Also, the program is rather pricey at $80+ a day. (The site recommends three days for the best results.) But here’s an excuse to splurge: TDO readers, get 10 percent off your order with promo code thedailyO until Feb. 21, 2011!
Finally, I’m not a big fan of diets, cleanses, detoxes and all such activities in general. And even though my body felt pretty great during this experiment, my mind is still not sold on the merits of cleansing. I missed chewing, and chewing fat in particular. (The closest thing I got to that was an avocado.) If anything, this experiment proved that I would rather die bloated and bogged down with champagne, aged cheddar and filet mignon than live skinny and clear-headed with vegetable juice coursing through my veins. That said, I did learn a few things: 1. I must start respecting my lactose intolerance, 2. Water with lemon and a veggie smoothie really is a better way to start the morning than a cup of coffee, and 3. Alcohol is my biggest weakness (OK, I cheated a few times).
My husband, for the record, didn’t make it all the way through the last day (he traded Juice #6 for a corned beef sandwich … big no-no). But he too felt lighter, slimmer and more regular by the end of Ritual Cleanse Day 1. And so, it appeared that our little experiment worked well enough to produce some lasting effects. I will credit eating raw veggies, drinking lots of water and trying the Ritual Cleanse with inspiring us to “reset” the way we approach our usual diet. (From now on, we are eating fruits, veggies and fish on weekdays and whatever we want on weekends.)
Did we need to do a cleanse to figure this out? Probably not. But sometimes it’s just fun to kick yourself in the pants … and this is a great way to do it.
Get the “skinny” on Ritual Cleanse at www.ritualcleanse.com.