If you want to sound like a smug, elitist jerk, tell people you’re on a juice cleanse. I know this from personal experience, because after a long overseas trip where I did little more than eat and drink as if empty calories meant invisible calories, I decided to go on a major detox. I contacted the folks at Suja Juice in San Diego about going on a five-day juice cleanse, and they happily obliged my request.
After five days of nothing but juice, I emerged… hungry. I was also happy and healthy and not at all regretful. As it turns out, drinking nothing but USDA-certified organic juice for an entire week isn’t nearly as hard as it may sound.
The program is simple. You pay them money, they send you juice (or you buy it from stores like Whole Foods). There are six juices a day, and each juice is made up of different combinations of raw, organic fruits and vegetables that are cold-pressed and stored in BPA-free plastic bottles. It’s a set routine and, if you’re down with rote consumption, it’s really not that hard.
Truthfully, I expected to hate it. I thought I’d get bored with drinking the same juice at the same time for five days straight. But I loved it. The anxiety of deciding what to eat—and believe me, that process makes me more anxious than it should—went out the window. My friend Paul Lieberstein, who you may know as Toby from NBC’s The Office, used to talk about the same problem, and came up with an imaginary solution called Human Kibble. What’s Human Kibble, you ask? I’ll let Paul explain.
“Human kibble is a completely balanced food that I can wear in a pouch attached to my belt and nibble on all day long, never pausing, never thinking, seamlessly multitasking,” says Lieberstein. “The pellets contain all my vitamins and minerals, a crunch for healthy gums, perhaps tartar control, vegetables and protein (maybe from soy, no one should die for this, not for this), and very little taste.”
Not having to think about what to eat is a dream for those of us who grapple with it on a daily basis. With a juice cleanse, that all disappears. All you have to do is walk to the fridge, open a bottle, and get your cleanse on. It’s so easy.
But is it good? For the most part, the answer is yes. There’s a good amount of fruit juice used in the concoctions, so they’re sweet enough to make you forget you’re drinking liquid kale. Also, they’re cleverly named so you think you’re living better no matter what. “Glow,” “Fuel,” “Purify”—these are happy thoughts for juice cleansers. They get you through the day. Is it worth it to give up pizza? Sure, as long as there is some purifying going on. People may tell you that you’ll feel radiant and energetic and all kinds of other hippie-dippie promises, but at the end of the day, you feel good because all you’ve got inside of you is juice.
Ultimately, everyone wants to know the same thing about a juice cleanse: does it work? My answer after five full days is yes, but it all depends on your own personal criteria. Personally, I wanted to detoxify my body. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to feel lighter and cleaner and, overall, better. All of those things happened. To me, that’s a successful cleanse. You may feel differently. For some people, it’s really hard to give up solid food even for one day, let alone five.
I learned a lot of things during my five-day cleanse, but the most important lesson is this: Sometimes it’s worth being a smug, elitist jerk if it means you get to unburden yourself of the ghosts of all those cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and milk shakes that have been haunting your insides for years.
JASON KESSLER is a lifestyle writer/columnist for Bon Appetit, Food Republic and a slew of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @TheHungryClown.