Here’s the truth: the reasons why I do a juice cleanse now are extremely different to my why a few years ago.
Over the years I have written quite a few blog articles and posts on juice cleanses. The relationship that I have to juice cleansing and juicing in general has evolved over the years as my relationship with my body has evolved.
The first time I did a juice cleanse, it was almost purely superficial. Despite the fact that I had an interest in the nutrition and the physiology behind it, I was drawn to it because I just wanted to be and feel skinny. The idea of cutting out food, restricting calories and just drinking juice for 3-5 days sounded pretty brilliant to me. My control brain loved it. The thing is, I would just sit at home for 5 days, resting, watching tv shows and drinking juice. These 5 days would also be accompanied by a lot of thoughts circling around about how I was feeling and checking the way that my body looked and felt every single hour. The tape in my mind was on a repetition of “you’re not good enough” stories. I was hoping for my body to change. It was most definitely destructive. The worst part about it all is that I would end my juice cleanse with a party or night out- a tight and revealing outfit to show off my newly “cleansed” body and alcohol.
The reason I am writing about my past experiences with juice cleanses is because I do want to shed light on what I believe does still happen from time to time. It is no lie that things like vegan and raw diets and juice cleanses draw in the minds of ‘control oriented minds’ and disordered eating mentalities. Not only is it alluring but it also guarantees a lot of the things that you are looking for in the beginning. To feel lighter, to feel in more control and to feel empty.
And the truth is, when I embark on a “cleanse” now a days, I can still hear the silent whisper of my past fixations. A certain excitement can emerge as my mind begins to think that maybe I will be able to gain even more control and become a more perfect/thinner version of myself. The difference is now I can hear it and can choose whether or not to follow it. The major difference is my relationship with my body.
What was once a relationship of fear and rejection is now a relationship of love and celebration.
It all has to do with the relationship that you have with your body. This can relate to absolutely everything in life too. Asking yourself before you eat or drink something (or do something), “why is my intention in doing this?” Is it to support, love and nourish or is to change or resist?
There are a lot of reasons why someone might embark on a juice cleanse. As with anything in life, when something becomes trendy it tends to blend in with the limelight of what a trend brings: bright lights, excitement, fashion, style and celebrity. The good thing is that juice cleanses and juicing has now been around for a few years and as a result has developed more depth and understanding around what it is and why it might be good for you. You are now able to go to any city in the world and find somewhere that does cold-pressed juices and smoothies (i’ve tested this). Most juicing businesses have branched out and not only offer juice but also juices + smoothies, juices + soups, raw/vegan food cleanses and meal plans and broths (think: bone broth, vegetable broth). There is a lot more out there. In relation to the foundation of Holistic Nutrition, which is, one size does not fit all- the juicing industry has begun to embrace the idea that not every cleanse is meant for every person.
And this is the point I am getting to in this blog post. When I first started working in the juice industry, it was pretty standard, you had 3 levels of cleanses and they varied based on how green they were. You were either a nutrition/health extremist or loved the variety (and the fruit sugars). Now a days, not only do you have different type of cleanses (including food, soups and smoothies too) but cleanses also include a lot of herbal medicine, Ayurveda and TCM too. The medicinal focus of cleansing is becoming more and more important and we are realising how precious our dear livers (and other organs are). We are becoming more aware of the importance of ritual and how our bodies innate circadian clocks appreciate ritual and routine. We are beginning to build appreciation for how incredible our bodies are and how connected they are to nature.
As always, there is that fine line between working with your body (and witnessing it as your temple/teacher) and thinking that you are in control of your body and thinking that your mind and intelligence is the temple/teacher. What we have come to realise time and time again is that no matter what we do or try to do- we cannot control our bodies. With or without us, our bodies will continue to work as the machine it was created to be. We do not control natural detoxifcation. We do not dictate how our livers work or when or how much toxic burden our body can handle. If anything is clear from human experience, it’s that our bodies are incredible and they can and will continue to shock us in how resilient and powerful they are. We just have to let them do their job.
I just recently watched the movie “Hacksaw Ridge” and was overwhelmed with the story (which is true by the way). One of the major plot lines is that the protagonist refuses to use weaponry in the war and manages to work all night to carry 72 injured soldiers (behind enemy lines) back to safety- without any water, nourishment, warmth or help. This movie is a clear example of what happens when our bodies go into magic mode and shuts off all communication to our brain. Our bodies knows what it needs to get us through an intense state of stress and threat. It was pure magic. Of course, the moment the protagonist arrived at his camp and was greeted by his fellow soldiers, his mind kicked in and he collapsed out of complete exhaustion, hunger and dehydration.
I am sure that people received many different messages of empowerment from this scene in the movie. For me, it was very clear that the message was: our bodies are incredible and work in wonder beyond our greatest imagination. Also: we cannot control our bodies. We must move in alignment with them and work with them.
Ok, I have fallen completely off track here. Alas, I have a connection!
The reason I write all this is because I want to highlight what a Holistic Nutritionist’ intentions and purposes are for a Juice Cleanse. It is not to work against your body or to try to change it. It is to witness how incredible your body is, and to try your best to support it as best you can. There is no arguing that when you offer your body proper nutrition and for instance, drink a green juice for the first time- something happens. To a certain extent, it’s as if your body comes alive for the first time. When we offer our bodies to do their job without pouring in an assembly line of burdens- it has the space to do amazing things. And that is where I want to draw your attention to in this article. How you can better support your body with rituals like juicing. Let’s chat about it.
What is a ritual?
Elizabeth Gilbert says it beautifully: “This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn’t have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet.”
A ritual is about awareness. Every single time that I speak about a juice cleanse, I focus on the emotional and spiritual space that we create to just be and process what is here. When you do a juice cleanse, it has just as much to do with the mind and soul as it does the body. When you look to ancient traditions, religions and cultures you will find that cleansing was an integral part of life.
WHY A JUICING RITUAL?
There are several parts to this area. In the most literal sense, when you are drinking the pure juice of nourishing fruits and vegetables, you are also absorbing their natural waters. Fruits and vegetables are very hydrating. In addition to this, when you remove solid food, fibre and inflammatory foods from your diet, your body is able to use it’s water reserves for other processes (water isn’t being used up to process/digest food and rebalance acidity from caffeine/inflammatory foods).
To offer a surge of nutrition
This one is pretty obvious. When you consume an abundance of vegetables and fruits, you are consuming an abundance of nutrients (think vitamins, minerals, plant enzymes). This is increased when you don’t have the fibre because there are less obstacles preventing nutrient absorption. This is especially true for people who have digestive issues.
To support the liver
Our livers do a lot of work. They are certainly the workhorse of the body, filtering and cleaning all day and night long. When we remove toxin exposure and limit the amount of toxins that are entering the body- our livers no doubt thank us. In addition to this, a lot of the ingredients that are in cold-pressed juices are amazing liver cleansers and boosters and really aid the liver in it’s job. This becomes especially true when you look at some of the juices that are designed with TCM, herbal medicine and ayurveda.
To take time for spiritual and emotional processing (Emotional Space)
Every person that does a juice cleanse realises that it is not just about the juice (or the removal of food). When you stop worrying about what you’re going to eat and when you are going to eat- you have a lot more space for other things. In this case, you have more space to notice other thoughts, feelings and stories- as they come up. We all have an addiction to food, and for a lot of us- food is one of the distractions in our life. Feeling sad? Eat. Angry? Eat. Bored? Eat. So what happens when you don’t have these distractions anymore. Then, you are left with space. To sit with your feelings. To hear them. To feel them.
The other wonderful thing about juicing is that when it is done from a space of love it can be a beautiful self-love ritual. It offers you time to be introspective, to pay attention to how your body feels, and to listen to it’s signals, signs and messages. Does it need a digestive break? Is your IBS coming from food or something else? How does it feel to drink a lot of liquid? Are you dehydrated? And of course, what else is going on? When we take the time to listen to our bodies and remove distractions like food and drink (alcohol, coffee), we create space for major transformation. That’s just what happens.
When it comes to juicing, especially cleansing- I have a few guidelines that I really like to follow:
There are a lot of juice companies out there and a lot of juice opinions. Don’t get me wrong- I am a big lover of all small businesses and really like to support the ones who are built upon a lot of love, passion and purpose. I have certainly drank my fair share of juice out of high quality plastic and understand that this is not always an option for a) the business and b) the customer. However, when we are talking about juice standards, certainly, glass is best (with regards to nutrition and quality).
This can very much relate to the glass point when it comes to accessibility and cost. I get it. However in general, organic is best when it comes to juicing. Why? Different to eating smoothies or solid food, because the fibre is missing from juices (especially cold-pressed juices) organic is really important because it is going almost immediately into your blood stream. So, when you are consuming something for nutrition and cleansing properties, it’s best to choose organic so that you are actually doing your body good.
This point comes with the evolution of the juice/health industry. When it all started- we found green juices to be outlandish and crazy. Now that green is the norm- we are able to stretch our experience and tap into some of the more ancient traditions around healing: herbs. Whether you are using mushrooms, wild flowers or traditional chinese medicine- I am all for juices that combine cold-pressed juicing with herbal medicine to create products that are even more nutritious and can target specific imbalances. Answering the point of ‘food as medicine’ even more.
This point refers both to health and to community. When you are purchasing local product, you are most likely supporting your local farmers (and you can simply ask to find out) and you are helping to support your local economy (as opposed to the larger conglomerates that love so much to control industry). With regards to health, it’s pretty simple- when you simplify living to the very basics, where our bodies are from and where they are born- impacts what food and conditions they thrive on. If you are from a country where pineapples wouldn’t be found anywhere- then maybe pineapple juice daily isn’t the best option for you. This is certainly food for thought, if anything. This doesn’t mean never having pineapple juice, but perhaps not having it as a staple.
I feel like most people get this point now. I remember when I first started working in the juicing industry and I would have many chats every day about the difference between say cold-pressed juicing and squeezing juice from an orange with your kitchen juicer. And then, there was confusion of what a cold-pressed juicer is versus a masticating juicer or centrifugal juicer. So, to keep it simple- the reason that I choose cold-pressed always is because there is no heat in the processing, the nutrients remain in-tact and the shelf-life is longest. So, in short- the most nutritious.
And that’s it folks! My honest and authentic thoughts when it comes to juicing and why I do it and what my story has been from the first cleanse to now. If you have any questions or stories that you would like to share with me about this post, please email me at email@example.com or comment below! What’s your favourite ritual?
This post is inspired by Tori Holmes, one of my favourite juicing/herbal expert’s here in Vancouver who is the creator and co-founder of Nectar Juicery. Want to learn more (and hear us chat about her story, juicing, herbal medicine and more)? Tune into my Conscious Conversations Podcast episode with Tori Holmes.
Interested in doing a juice cleanse with Nectar Juicery or checking out their products, head to their website to book your cleanse or you can simply pop into the store in Gastown (102 West Hastings) (which is filled with some awesome holistic goodies too like palo santo, sage and matcha. Hint: their adaptogen lattes are amazing!) to chat with one of their Holistic Nutritionist’s.