It's over. The Mercury Juicing Scandal of 2013 came to a close yesterday—I am eating a sandwich as I type this—leaving a trail of controversy in its wake. It feels special that so many of you are concerned for our health!
As cleanses go, what we did was pretty mellow: only three days, tons of dense raw juice, plus chewable raw and steamed produce and nut butter if we wanted it. But it was enough to open up the arguments about whether or not such things are healthy/a ripoff/plain old bullshit. I'm not gonna act like I know for sure, but either way there's a really interesting article that came out in Harper's in March (you can read it online if you're a subscriber) that details how the practice and research on the possible benefits of fasting was gradually shooed out of the mainstream medical community by economic motives before official conclusions had been made. It's totally even handed and worth seeking out.
Even less officially, you can read the personal reflections of Team Mercury Juice after the cut.
- I'm kind of sick of looking at these for some reason.
Clare—who freelances mostly booze-related things for us—works as a pastry chef and describes herself as a "good drinker" who eats out a lot but "when I do cook it's all very clean—veggies in olive oil, eggs, etc." Given that her job requires some mandatory tasting, she took the cleanse somewhat casually, but managed to stick to it pretty closely.
Like any of us, physical hunger wasn't her gripe. It was crankiness, low energy, and she also noted that "Smelling food becomes enormously more pleasurable when that's the only way I'm experiencing it." By the end she reported feeling "fresh and light. I would do it again, just to kind of interrupt my eating habits when they start to get crappy again. I think it was absolutely healthy, if only to help you notice how you consume things by habit."
"Despite being hungry the whole time I knew I was putting something good into my system, which was very reassuring. I wouldn't necessarily do the juice fast again, but I would like to buy and/or make more fresh juices and use them as a supplement to my daily diet. Just knowing that I had all those vitamins and antioxidants flooding my system made me feel good. It's also interesting to reflect on feeling uncomfortable for three days. I'd never been on a fast before, but looking back this exercise in self-control can be seen as a good thing because it brought me into a more contemplative state about hunger in general. Still, if I were to do a juice cleanse again I would include some more substantial foods (whole grains, veggies, fruit) just to keep myself sane and happy."
"My stomach definitely felt better throughout the three days. I thought I would have to run to the toilet every hour to 'cleanse' but no such thing happened. I would do it again in the dead of winter when I can curl up under a blanket and not feel guilty I was not out in the sunshine, on a patio drinking or being social. The juice was tasty, so it wasn't like I had a problem slugging it down. I still have a few sitting in my fridge. I'm still not a firm believer in the 'detox' thing. But I do believe it will help me pay attention to how I feel after I eat certain foods. I can't see the exercise being unhealthy. I would never do it if I was training for a race or any other physically grueling activity."
"In terms of positive effects, I lost like five pounds! But my expectation I'd be thinking really clearly and be full of energy by the third day? Didn't happen. I was sluggish and headachy, and just sort of foggy. The best I've felt since Monday (and actually, maybe in a while), was sitting down on my front porch this morning with a cup of coffee. It's been beautiful. Maybe the juice fast, more than anything, is best seen as a Pollyanna-ish lesson to appreciate what you've got. Maybe it's more. I absolutely feel like I've done a bit of a reset in my digestive tract, whether or not I was actually 'shedding toxins' over the last 72 hours or not. I'd maybe do it again. Maybe not. There's a feeling of accomplishment, but it was not an easy nor a particularly comfortable three days. Even though I wasn't super hungry, there were constant food cravings. And the juice got really tiresome. I'm told things get easier at four or five days, but I'm damn glad I'm not on day four right now. It was certainly healthy. We were ingesting nothing but vegetable nutrients for three days. Healthy and decently unpleasant. To be real, I feel this morning sort of like I'm just getting over an illness. I felt under the weather the past three days. And now I'm eating oatmeal! INSTANT OATMEAL. Delicious."
Compared to longer cleanses I've done, three days isn't enough, at least for me, to feel some of the more extreme effects I've had in the past. I did the Master Cleanse for 10 days once and I've never had more energy. I'd spend two hours at the boxing gym and still feel like I could pick up a car in the parking lot. It also drove me batshit and I'll probably never do it again. I did a cleanse last month for a week that similarly involved mostly raw juice, but also vegetable soup every night. On day five I woke up with what felt like—what was—a horrible hangover through which I could barely function until after I finally puked my guts out. Judge me as you will, but I don't know what to attribute that to other than the release of stored toxins. Comparatively, this was far less impactful, and while I think it can hardly be bad for you, I think if you're going to do it at all it's worth doing it until you're over the cranky/low-energy hump.