From nouveau fitness gurus and ayurveda practitioners to new-age gym enthusiasts, fasting has long been a favourite detox practice for all kinds of people. Brainlessly starving yourself to weight loss or cleansing is not an ideal route, so I found a mid-way path – a juice cleanse.
While Mumbai got Jus Divine, a service that delivers juices at your doorstep, Delhi has Antidote. Both juiceries concoct unusual combinations using a variety of ingredients such as kokum, coconut milk, moringa, nut milk, green coffee, peppermint, aswagandha, aragula and green tea to name just a few. Then there is also RAW Pressery, a Mumbai-based service that specialises in cold-pressed juices.
I put myself through their three-day cleanse challenge that requires the dieter to survive on six bottles of juice through the day. Here's the lowdown:
Morning: Being a huge breakfast junkie, my breakfast is usually a combination of cereal, fruit, milk and nuts. The biggest challenge I face during this half of the day is settling for a bottle of juice and telling my stomach that this is all I get. The cleanse starts as early as 9 a.m. with a bottle of green juice that is a healthy but an unappetising combination of spinach, gourd and the very fashionable kale leaves. If you aren't a gym-trotting-green-smoothie-drinker, the juice fights tooth and nail with your taste buds until the last drops have been downed. It has high grassy notes coming from the serious-tasting vegetables and greens, the saving grace being the flavours of celery, green apple and juiced ginger that pop up occasionally.
Afternoon: By now, since I have skipped lunch, dragging myself to work seems like a chore. This next drink on schedule is a fresh mix of pineapple and pears. The lemon-coloured liquid tastes sweet and has a bite thanks to the fluffed up chai seeds that float inside. It tastes essentially sweet with few sour twangs and is good to keep me satiated until the 5 p.m. bottle. This hour is the toughest since it's usually the time when the colleagues start ordering-in and the whole office is filled with the greasy, appetising aroma of food from the streets.
Evening: I had enjoyed the idea of skipping dinner (which also meant not cooking dinner) but at this point of the cleanse I am ready to succumb. Food cravings and a mild headache emerge as the sun sets. The last drink of the day is an almond-water and cinnamon-based white-coloured milk. Controlling dinner-time hunger is manageble.
Morning: One claim of the cleanse is that it improves sleep pattern. This holds true for me because after following the recommended light walk, I am exhausted. The walking and office work uses up all the energy the juices bring in and puts me to sleep the moment I hit the bed. Morning is tough as I wake up feeling ravenously hungry. While the first green drink of the day calms my parched throat, it's only after the 2 p.m. mix of apple, beetroot and carrot that I can face the world. The drink is spiked with ginger and lemon and helps to fool the brain into thinking it's a cold soup.
Afternoon: After more than 24 hours into the cleanse, I realise that the juices provide ample energy through the day, released only at regular intervals as you open one bottle after another. For instance, I feel tired and restless between the 2 p.m. apple-carrot-beetroot and the 4.30 p.m. tangerine-ginger-ginger. The non-drinking times are the toughest and I miss chewing on solid food the most. Compared to day one, the hunger is quite manageable but nirvana seems far.
Evening: By sunset, energy levels are at its peak and unlike yesterday there is no sign of a headache. The cleanse claims to bring about 'mental clarity' but honestly all I dream about is stuffing my face with greasy Chinese noodles, sev puri and vada pav. The last drink of the day which is a combination of almonds, honey, cinnamon and sea salt ensures I am well-hydrated and full before bed time. It tastes largely diluted but is has a high satiation quotient.
Morning: The cleanse allows me to supplement the juice diet with a cup of green tea if the hunger is not manageable. On the last day, I take the liberty to make myself a cup. Considering this is the first hot drink in three days, it warms the stomach like sunshine on a cold day. Post that, the 9 a.m. green drink tastes just right. I am assuming my tongue has finally made friends with the greens.
Afternoon: The best thing happens now. All food cravings have magically disappeared and I don't miss eating lunch at all. As I sip on my 4 p.m. tangerine, carrot and ginger drink, I realise I have adjusted quite well to the sweet fruit and raw vegetable taste of this drink. Besides, the feeling of having conquered hunger pangs is unbeatable. There is also chatter about my lowing complexion. I would kill for this effect to last.
Evening: The 7 p.m. cucumber, coconut water, pineapple and aloe vera doesn't taste right even after three days of consumption. The cooling flavour of cucumber mixed with aloe vera's icy flavour tastes mostly like medicine. It's the only drink I have been gulping without savouring. But this moment is less about the juices and more about what's the first thing I am going to eat tomorrow. My guess is pizza for breakfast.
Ups and downs of the cleanse
All the juices are delivered at your door-step.
The liquids don't separate as with home-blended juices which means they taste fresh at all time.
Cold-pressing of fruits and vegetables doesn't generate heat, this prevents the nutrients from vanishing.
The combinations of fruits and veggies are unique.
The juices go down your gullet only when had cold. Finding a refrigerator at all times and carrying the bottles along can be a chore.
Though raw foods are permissible to keep uncontrollable hunger at bay, there is no mention of what kinds of salads, what dressings one can have, etc.
Some juices are too sweet, these might not be advisable for people with sugar problems.
Since all bottles need to be returned, keeping them in order can be tedious.
Macrobiotic nutritionist and author of Beauty Diet and Love Diet Shonali Sabherwal shares some pointers
A juice diet is not for everyone so don't be fadish. Talk to a holistic practitioner to get a go-ahead.
A cleanse can be undertaken after extreme festive or holiday indulgence.
Don't confuse cleanse with a diet. A diet is for weight loss whereas a cleanse is to detox.
Do not go for a juice cleanse if you have a weak constitution, are recently out of an illness, are on medication or antibiotics.
Go slow and try a day cleanse before you commit to something bigger.