What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
“Sean Lower has added a photo of you,” it said. I clicked on it and panicked. There was the proof that I was a fraud. Living a lie. Deceiving everyone.
My shame. My guilt. My Blueprint Cleanse. I told Sean to untag me from the photo and PLEASE not tell anyone.
I have an image to maintain.
Listen. Juice cleanses go against everything I stand for. They are all about not eating and I am very much about eating. I really hated myself for ordering these shiny overpriced bottles, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little excited.
The truth is that I was going to Chicago for my husband’s 30th birthday (and the Pitchfork Music Festival) and due to heat I was going to be wearing very little clothing. I just wanted to drop a few pounds and clear up my skin. I did not want to “restart my system” or “rid my body of harmful toxins” or anything like that. I wasn't doing it for my health. I just wanted to be a little prettier without doing any work. And I didn't tell you guys because you all seemed to be tired of talking about cleanses.
Also I was embarrassed.
Cleansing wasn't my best idea, but it was my worst idea. For one, I didn't do the “pre-cleanse” like I was supposed to. I didn’t eliminate meat from my diet. I didn’t eat only raw vegetables the day before. I did it all wrong like I always do. I never felt the surge of energy promised while cleansing and my skin stayed the same. I think I lost about seven pounds of water weight.
I also did it RIGHT BEFORE going to Chicago, which was a terrible plan because:
a) My once resilient stomach was now accustomed to fruit juice and was not prepared for the bone marrow and hot dogs and housemade bologna I feasted upon. I felt nauseated after every meal.
b) My alcohol tolerance plummeted. I don’t just mean I got drunk easier; every drink gave me a headache. A lot of you will point out that maybe this means that drinking is bad for me. Of course drinking is bad for me. Alcohol is terrible for your body but, oh, well, I like it.
None of the above is the fault of the cleanse though, it’s the fault of the Claire. I had weakened my digestive system right before an indulgent trip, right when I needed it at its most hardy.
Other than that, the cleanse itself was OK. I don’t know about other pre-packaged juice cleanses, but Blueprint is very very sweet. My teeth felt coated in a film by the end of day three.
So cleansing is not for me. Shocker.
But I can’t give any damns about whether or not someone else does one. I know it seems like I would be annoyed by juicing and the people that swear by it but juicing and juicers don’t bother me at all.
The Slate recently published a diatribe against juice cleanses and it was pretty much the same argument we've been hearing since the beginning. “There are no proven health benefits.” “Your liver is doing a great job by itself.” “You don’t know what a toxin is.”
The last argument is the only one I can really get worked up about. Like “chemical,” “toxin” is a word that is used as a scare tactic without ever being properly defined. A toxin is "a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms; synthetic substances created by artificial processes are thus excluded." Fat is not a toxin. Sugar is not a toxin. Botulinum is a toxin. And sometimes toxins are great! We wouldn't have Botox or THE BEST BRITNEY SONG OF ALL TIME without them.
Saying there that there are “no proven health benefits” isn't completely fair because there is no proven anything. In the world of science, you can’t prove; you can only disprove. All of the supporting evidence for cleansing is anecdotal, but I’m OK with that mostly because I don’t like discounting people’s experiences when it comes to their own health and bodies.
It's like gluten. I don't believe that everyone who claims to be allergic to gluten is really allergic to gluten, but if you quit eating it and you feel great then I see no reason to tell you that I don't believe in your allergy. I mean really, who the hell am I? If juice cleansing makes you happy, I am happy for you. If it gets you to stop eating processed food and put some plants in your body, fantastic. You could probably get the same benefits from just eating a ton of produce, but if the convenience of bottled juice will get you to consume more fruits and vegetables, then buy the little bottles.
Added bonus when you just eat a bunch of whole produce: Less diarrhea because veggies/fruits have fiber, something you lose when you juice.
All of that being said, I can't ignore the fact that these super expensive juice cleanses are a bit on the privileged side. The fact that I paid over 200 dollars to essentially not eat for three days is mortifying. People who brag about not eating are obnoxious for the obvious reason that some people don’t have access to food. Not eating is not morally superior because you will eventually die.
But in general, I'm not a big fan of people telling other people what to put or not put in their bodies. I've complained about people pushing paleo (that alliteration was an accident, I swear), but it's JUST AS OBNOXIOUS when people push less than healthy food. Few things are as frustrating as the following scenario:
Co-worker: Do you want a cookie/entire pizza/bag of Doritos?
Claire: No, thank you.
Claire: I just don’t thanks.
Co-Worker: Why? Are you on a diet? Diets don't work you know. You're not fat.
The coolest of cool stories, bro.
The fact that I do not desire the food offered (a scenario one may have a hard time imagining) should be enough of a reason. I just don't effing want it.
Maybe my stomach hurts. Maybe I ate a ramen burger or drank Bailey's from a shoe for a story last night and just can't. Maybe I JUST DON'T EFFING WANT DORITOS RIGHT NOW. But that reason is never enough.
Maybe I just wanted to drink juice for three days because I just wanted to drink juice for three days. Yeah, I "should know better" but I do stupid things all the time. It would have been nice if I didn't have to back up my desire to do a juice cleanse with science or logic, but since I work with a bunch of scientists (most of them middle-aged dudes) I didn't really have that luxury. I think I finally ended the conversation with “I’M JUST A VAIN STUPID GIRL. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR?”
So maybe juicing isn't healthy or virtuous, but I don't really think it makes one seem like a jerk. Policing everyone's choices makes one seem like a jerk.