Often followed by, ‘How are you still standing?’ As you can glimpse from those affectionate – well, I choose to think so – yet quite unforgiving nicknames, I was never one to turn away an offering of food, cut out carbohydrates (what would my life be without a daily baguette intake?), shun sugary treats or go wild for the latest diet fad. According to the latest gossip magazines, some celebrities are now devoted clay eaters. What’s next, Playdough straight from the packet?
To be perfectly honest, juicing for me firmly belonged to that diet craze category.
I have been known to make regrettable sacrifices in the name of journalistic research, even giving up my food staples – bread and cheese- for a week-long foray into veganism.
This disastrous experiment tested my sanity, relationship and left me swimming in a state of constant lethargy.
With this in mind, I was more than a little reluctant when I was offered to detox with the help of Old Town juice bar The Core’s latest juicing programme.
As drastic as giving up meat, fish, bread, dairy and even some types of beer – this is by no means an exhaustive list of what I had to forego during that week from hell– this was not a scratch on excluding all food groups expect fruit and vegetables.
But I’m nothing if completely reckless so I found myself being tempted by this intriguing if barmy detox plan. If anything it would make a good anecdote or cautionary tale, depending on the outcome, at the next dinner party.
Pro’s & Con’s
Trawling through the internet, it was blatant that the cons outweighed the pros. I was never one to worry about my daily sugar intake but I must admit I had never quite considered how loaded with sugar a piece of fruit was until I started looking into juicing. Doing without my five daily (minimum) cups of tea was also a terrifying prospect.
Discussing the benefits of juicing with The Core owner, Kris Talikowski, I realised that cutting out hard food altogether would simply be unthinkable so he suggested the Sustain programme which, as well as four daily bottles of juices and smoothie includes a food bowl in the morning with either granola yogurt and fruit or a scrummy quinoa, peppers and avocado. As he explained, juicing was about detoxing, not starving so complementing my juice fest (as I began referring to it) with nuts, avocado and bananas was allowed. I proceeded to but a kilo of nuts.
Picking up my nut bowl and Calcium kick, Carotene and Blood booster juices and smoothies – to be taken/drank/ingested at 10am, 1pm, 3pm and 7pm, I was nervous. Would I starve? Would my body crash? Would I faint? Would hunger drive me to extremes, like assault any colleague bold enough to approach my desk in my weakened state? These scenarios were highly plausible.
Said colleagues’ reaction did not fill me with confidence. I attracted some perplexed, not to mention alarmed, looks as I laid out my first batch of juices in the office mini-fridge.
But sipping my Calcium kick (a green blend of spinach, cucumber, pear, ginger, apple, avocado, celery and lime) at lunchtime, I was pleasantly surprised.
Day two proved similarly smooth. I was suitably sated and not in any need whatsoever of my emergency nut and banana stash. In fact, for someone so used to snacking between meals, I did not feel the urge to indulge. That could well have come from the fact that all my ‘meals’ consisted of sweet drinks and fulfilled all the cravings of my sweet-toothed self.
And I was eating between 10 and 15 portions of fruit and vegetables a day – much more than my too-often missed five–a-day target.
Even the headaches which Kris had warned me about due to caffeine withdrawal did not manifest. I was not only baffled, I was impressed. My energy levels were at an all-time high. I was even in a better mood – which frankly was a relief for my partner who feared a hunger-induced breakdown.
By day four, however, I was overcome by a craving for bread. There is only so long you can realistically expect a Frenchwoman to survive without a crispy petit pain.
The novelty effect and initially buzz had worn off somewhat and I missed chewing, of all things. I felt full, there was no question about that and yet I couldn’t reconcile my stomach with the concept of a liquid meal. I knew I was eating but the fact that no hard foods were passing my lips grew increasingly odd. I suppose it was a shock to the system.
And my bread-starved, chewing-denied body was sending me mayday signals.
Sunday, day 7, or D day, was frozen day. I had picked up two days worth of juices on Saturday and immediately slipped Sunday’s bottles in the freezer to ensure they kept fresh. Juice is only considered fresh for a day, before it starts losing some of its nutrients, so freezing minimises the loss to around 5%.
I must admit as I polished off my last smoothie – I saved my favourite, Supergreens, for last, I was more than ready to resumed life as my old carnivore ‘eating machine’ self.
I confess I cheated. The last drop swallowed, I bolted to the door and power-walked to Morrisons for a tiger loaf. At that time of night, it was rather stale and on the hard side but beggars can’t be choosers. It tasted like a little piece of heaven and my stomach grumbled with delight.
I must say that this experience made me reassess my preconceptions. Because celebrities all fall over themselves to try some new health regime, does not automatically mean it is a ludicrous craze. Some detox plans are beneficial, if planned sensibly – I would never have been able to do it on my own. But the next time I attempt a juice fest, I will probably cap my intake at two days maximum.
Sustain costs £147 for seven weeks or £21 a day.
To find out more about the programme go to www.thecoreswindon.com or pop in The Core, 4 Devizes Road.
Caroline Peyton, a nutritional therapist at Wood Street Wellbeing answers Marion’s questions about juicing.
Would you recommend juicing?
I would never consider a pure “juice” diet. What people are unaware of is the amount of (natural) sugars – glucose and fructose- that fruit- and to a lesser extent- vegetables contain.
Is it bad for our health?
Let’s be clear- fruit and vegetables are full of wonderful nutrients vital to our health. These are the vitamins and minerals and many “phytonutrients” (plant-based nutrients) that you may hear as names like flavonoids and proanthocyanidins. We know the UK guide is “five a day” (based on advice from the World Health Organization) but in countries like Australia, it is more like nine a day. The WHO recommends a minimum of 400 g of fruit and vegetables each day to lower the risk of serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Hence 5 portions of 80g (aiming for 400g a day).
But in the UK we fall far short of this quota. Less than 20% of Brittons eat their five a day.
I can see why juicing is therefore so attractive but it may be detrimental to our health because of the way the body metabolises the sugars and the lack of balance to the meals and lack of fibre.
What would your concerns be about juicing, if any?
Juicing usually removes all the valuable fibre which is essential for bowel health. I am aware that there are modern machines that do retain the fibre (which is a benefit) but as stated previously juices deliver a massive hit of sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream. This is because there is no digestion required and so the sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream rapidly. This can create imbalanced blood sugar levels leading to symptoms like fluctuating energy levels, poor concentration, irritability and even weight gain (the body has to do something with the excess sugar and it will usually try to store it as fat around the abdomen). As a “meal” there is no balance to it as it is pure carbohydrate with no protein and (good) fats. Nutritional therapists encourage their clients to focus on (a rainbow of) vegetables rather than fruit, limiting fruit to a maximum of 2 pieces a day. Consider how many pieces of fruit usually go into one juice!
If people choose to detox what would you recommend they do (alongside or instead of juicing)?
People are unaware that the liver is detoxing all the time. And in order to perform this role it requires vital nutrients like amino acids (from protein foods). So when we juice alone we are not assisting the liver to perform its detoxification role as juices contain no protein.
The best way to cleanse the body is to eat a clean diet- using whole natural foods, perhaps organic vegetables (which will not have been exposed to chemicals in fertilisers and pesticides), protein such as grass fed beef, lamb, wild Alaskan salmon (not farmed), nuts and seeds, organic eggs, pulses, fermented soya (natto, tempeh miso), good fats from oily fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon as above), nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados. One meal a day could be replaced with a juice but it should always contain protein either as a protein powder, nuts or seeds to balance the meal; and to focus on more vegetables with just a little fruit.
Thanks for reading. Keep your eye out for more articles and Peyton Principles in the media.
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