Don't get me wrong, I love a green juice as much as the next girl; it can be a great way to get extra nutrition in. BUT drinking only juice, in the name of cleansing isn't going to help you meet your health goals. Here are a few of the reasons why you should swerve a cleanse this year, and work with a nutritionist or dietitian instead! That way you can get all the things that a juice cleanse promises; glowing skin, more energy, better sleep, as well as long term health, whilst still, you know, chewing.
1. There's no actual 'detoxing' or 'cleansing' going on.
Unless you're a drug addict or an alcoholic, the word 'detox' is pretty meaningless, and if you are either of those things, a juice cleanse isn't going to cut it. Likewise, if you're a reasonably healthy person who has just overdone it a bit during the holidays, a juice cleanse isn't going to 'detox your system' in a light-hearted attempt to 'reset your body'. Ditching the booze, cutting out added sugar, and eating unprocessed whole foods (mainly fruit & veg), and going for a long ass walk, will in fact get you 'back on track', even if they're not not as glamorous as a neatly branded, prettily packaged cold pressed juice cleanse. You see, your liver and kidneys are already super efficient at detoxing your body, and no juice cleanse will ever be as effective as cutting out crappy food and drink and replacing them with whole foods.
2. Juice cleanses reinforce bad habits
If you had a friend who fluctuated between eating nothing all day to then stuffing her face at night, and then repeating this behaviour in order to try and control her weight, you would probably say she has an eating disorder. How is it any different then, to overdo it at Christmas, and then drastically reduce your calorie and nutrient intake in the name of 'getting back on track'? Juice cleanses are the new, socially acceptable eating disorder. All they serve to do is to say "it's fine to go nuts at Christmas because you can totally compensate by starving yourself afterwards". NOPE. Doesn't work like that, and if you continue with this pattern of behaviour you'll just find yourself in the exact same place come next January, or worse, you'll begin to obsess over every little thing that passes your lips. More importantly, if you have ever suffered from disordered eating, or ever have obsessive or unhealthy thoughts about food, you need to stay the hell away from the juice cleanse; they reinforce damaging attitudes towards food, health, and body image and can trigger disordered eating (and guys are just as likely as the girls to be at risk).
Juice cleanses don't teach you how to eat healthily when you're busy and stressed. Juice cleanses can't help you prioritise your health goals while still climbing the career ladder. Juice cleanses don't help you figure out how to eat well when you're on the road, or at a restaurant, or visiting the in-laws. Juice cleanses can't offer you long-term good health so that you never need to do another effing cleanse.
3. Juices are basically sugar water
When you juice fruits and veg, you release the glucose (sugar) that would otherwise be bound up in the cell of the plant and get rid of all the pulp and fibre that's there to slow down the absorption of the glucose into the blood stream. What happens when you drink juices that are high in sugary fruit & veg (think apple, beet, carrot, pineapple etc...) is that your blood sugar levels spike way up, so that your pancreas has to pump out a bunch of insulin to bring the level back down to normal levels. It ends up dumping out so much insulin that it brings your blood sugar level down too low, requiring your liver to release fat into your blood stream to covert it back into sugar. Repeatedly pounding your pancreas and liver like this bad news and can lead to type 2 diabetes (and we have data to suggest that people drinking the most fruit juice are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes in the long term). Over the short term (like a 5 day juice cleanse), you're probably not going to get type 2 diabetes, but you are going to experience jittery highs, and crappy lows when your blood sugar levels crash.
4. You're missing out on a bunch of nutrients which will make you feel like crap.
Most juices clock in at under 1000kcals a day, and contain very little protein and carbohydrates, and even less fat. All the fibre is stripped out of the juice, meaning your bowel movements might be ~different~ than usual. And because you're on a low carb diet (<50g/day), your body will be in ketosis, meaning that it's running on ketone bodies, instead of using glucose for fuel. This can leave you feeling a bit spaced out, or even a little drunk. Plus, if you suffer from low blood pressure, juice cleanses can leave you feeling dizzy and faint, especially when you stand up after sitting, or if you're working out. This is because juice doesn't contain enough salt to keep our blood pressure in the healthy range. And, because you're eating so few calories, you're going to be all kinds of hangry. Plus, juice cleanses put you at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies too, what part of that seems healthy to you?
5. Empty Promises
Cleansing marketers are pretty out of control with the claims they make - there are exactly zero credible, peer-reviewed scientific papers documenting the benefits of a juice cleanse. Let's look at some of the claims juice companies make, and why they're bogus.
Yeah I guess it makes sense to eat hardly any food. That'll probably give you more energy!
Juice'll fix it! Definitely nothing to do with your 5-a-day coffee habit and midnight Netflix binge.
"Lose weight fast!"
Sure, juice'll shift a bunch of water weight, and probably some muscle mass too since you're not eating enough protein. And as soon as you stop the cleanse, you'll put all the weight right back on, and then some.
You get the point, juice cleanses are BS. So why do people claim to feel great after cleansing? Well, it's less to do with juice, and more to do with cutting out the added sugars, booze, caffeine, and processed foods. But as soon as you finishing cleansing, the shit starts to creep back in, you get 'busy' and you're back on the pizza. Next thing you know, you're in a pretty desperate and unbreakable Ben & Jerry's/Netflix spiral, that's if you haven't succumb to an eating disorder.
The best way to start 2016 is by committing yourself to setting small, incremental, attainable goals with a registered nutritionist or dietitian - I'm also available ;). They can help give you the tools and resources to get back on track (whatever that means for you) and STAY on track. For good. No weird faddy diets, no calorie counting (so 90s), and absolutely no juice cleanses.
P.S. Have you ever met anyone doing a juice cleanse? They are miserable. Bitches gotta chew!