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Experiences

Collegiette Eats: I Survived a Juice Cleanse

Sick of eating cereal and ramen for lunch and dinner? Want to spend less money eating out and finally start cooking for yourself? Put down that frozen pizza, because HC’s Health Editor, Sammie Levin, is here to share her daily eats so you can get ideas for healthy, satisfying meals that are easy enough for any time-strapped collegiette to make. After you read Collegiette Eats, your taste buds, wallet and waistline will thank you.

I’ve always been intrigued by juice cleanses. I even wrote an article about them last year. Part of me has always wanted to try one to see if I could do it, but the other part has been too scared and too fond of good, old fashioned solid food. What if I spent all this money and then gave up after five hours? What if I passed out from hunger? What if I started eating inanimate objects that I mistook for food because I was so delirious? These are all what I considered to be very valid fears, and they kept me from ever going through with a cleanse. 

But then I found out that babo, a local health-food store in Ann Arbor, has a juicery that offers weekly three-, five- and seven-day juice cleanses. The three-day cleanse is $90, which is cheaper than many other options I had found when researching juice cleanses, especially considering I could just pick up the bottles at the store instead of needing to have them shipped. With a reasonable price and convenient pick-up option, I was interested. I spoke with an employee at the store who had done the cleanse, and she assured me that she was nervous before trying it for the first time, too, but was surprised by how much easier it was than she expected (and she, like me, expect it to be like death). It was also reassuring that the juice regime was specifically created to deliver the proper amount of daily calories and nutrients. My interest was growing, and then I found out that my friend had recently completed a juice cleanse and loved it, so that gave me the “if she can do it, I can do it” mentality that finally convinced me to go for it.

The cleanses start every Monday, so I picked up my juices Sunday night to be ready to start the next morning. Each daily set of juices was packaged separately and each bottle was numbered, which made the whole process really convenient and easy to follow. The boxes looked so pretty and official lined up in my fridge that I was actually pretty excited to start it the next day. 

The regime was the same each day, consisting of the following juices, which I was told to space out every three to four hours: 

  1. Morning tea: matcha green tea, cayenne, agave
  2. Breakfast juice: Granny Smith apple, kale, avocado, lime 
  3. Lunch juice: Granny Smith apple, chia seeds, romaine, spinach, celery
  4. Mid-afternoon juice: coconut water, pineapple, cucumber, aloe vera, mint
  5. Happy hour juice: beet, carrot, apple, ginger, lime 
  6. Dinner/night juice: kale, celery, romaine, spinach, green bell peppers, parsley, lemon 

Now, let’s get into the juicy deets. I’ll walk you through each day of the cleanse and then give you some tips based on my experience so that you can know what to expect, or so you can decide whether or not a cleanse is right for you. 

Day One

Day one was a roller coaster of emotions. I was excited to be trying something new and looked forward to tasting each juice for the first time. Luckily, I wasn’t too hungry when I woke up at 10 a.m. I took the morning tea and breakfast with me to the library. The tea was spicy from the cayenne, but I love spice so I really enjoyed it, and it helped to curb my hunger. I didn’t break into the breakfast juice until two hours later. The breakfast juice ended up being my favorite one of the whole cleanse. It was the creamiest because of the avocado and was so refreshing from the sweetness of the apple. I definitely want to recreate the flavor combination in smoothie form since I don’t have a juicer (yet). 

I had the lunch juice, which I loved because of the texture from the chia seeds, about three hours later. Then, I went to an hour-long hot yoga class. The people at babo recommended working out while on a cleanse, but other sites I found when I researched advised against it, so I decided to tone down my usual workout routine and just get some light exercise in. Hot yoga felt like the perfect choice because stretching in the hot room already feels kind of like a detox. I felt good throughout the class and had enough energy. I sipped on the mid-afternoon juice afterwards to rejuvenate. 

The next few hours were not as great as the beginning of the day. I had a group project meeting and started to feel kind of lightheaded and very hungry during it. But, after finishing another water bottle and having the happy hour juice later, I felt a lot better. By the time I finished the last drink, I actually wasn’t hungry at all, and I had a great night’s sleep. 

Day Two

I woke up hungrier on day two than I did on day one, but after the morning tea and breakfast juice, I felt a lot better. I didn’t work out on day two, but I did have to do a lot of random errands that kept me busy. My hunger never got too out of control, but I was much more tired than usual. I ended day two with a mug of warm water and lemon while watching TV and ended up falling asleep at 11, which is absurdly early for me. 

Day Three 

Day three was probably the easiest day because I knew I was more than halfway done and I just needed to get through this final day. The hardest part was that, as delicious as they all were, I started to get kind of sick of the juices. Besides eating a banana and nut butter almost every morning, I like the excitement of eating different foods throughout the day, so continuously consuming the same few juices was getting old, even after just two days. I wanted to switch it up! And I wanted real food! I missed chewing.

The final day made me realize that a three-day cleanse was enough for me, and I probably wouldn’t ever want to do one longer than that. If I end up doing one again in the future, I may actually only stick to two days because I felt like that was enough time for me to get the mental benefit without getting bored or desperate for food. But overall, I’m glad I did the cleanse. Now that I know what it’s like, I know I can do it and I know how to better understand the signals my mind and body are sending me when it comes to hunger. I also know I really like food. 

Thinking about trying a cleanse? Here are five lessons I learned from mine to get you started:

1. Plan it around your schedule 

You’re going to be hungrier than usual and possibly have less energy, so you want to plan to do a cleanse when your schedule allows for it. Don’t try to do one during finals week, for example, or on the weekend of your best friend’s 21st birthday. Pick a three-day period (or however long you’re doing it for) when you don’t have too much work to do, can afford to get sufficient sleep and won’t be going out at night. If you tend to get cranky when you’re hungry (aka “hangry”), warn your friends. 

2. Drink lots of water, hot and cold

Every juice cleanse I researched recommended drinking lots of water throughout the cleanse. I kept a water bottle filled with ice water and lemon slices with me throughout all three days, which helped to keep me hydrated and help me recognize when I was just thirsty as opposed to hungry. I found that the cold water made me feel refreshed and hydrated, while hot water with lemon helped settle my stomach when it felt a little weak from craving food. I especially recommend sipping hot water with lemon at night when all you want to do is dive into a jar of Nutella and eat your way out of it. 

3. Avoid putting yourself in tempting situations

The hardest parts of the cleanse were when I was surrounded by the smells and sights of tempting food. The top three were my friend eating a box of cheesy bread in front of me, sitting in Chipotle to interview the manager for a group project and walking by the line outside of Ben & Jerry’s for Free Cone Day on Tuesday. All of that was slightly tortuous and really tested my willpower. To avoid caving, try to minimize your interaction with temptations. For example, I follow a ton of food accounts on Instagram (foodstagrams), so I tried to avoid scrolling through my feed as often as I usually do. Definitely do not sit in Chipotle, unless you are a masochist. 

4. Don’t do it for weight loss

I learned from writing my article on juice cleanses that they are not intended for weight loss. As I wrote in my article: juicing should not be viewed as a quick fix for weight loss or a ticket to your dream body. While you may shed a few pounds in those three days, the rapid weight loss is not usually sustainable, and the pounds may come back as solid foods are incorporated back into the diet. babo explains on its website that the benefit of a cleanse is that “it helps us get back on track when our lifestyles and eating habits have been less than healthy. It’s a boost to our systems, improves the skin, reduces bloat around the stomach and overall helps us get back to eating healthier foods when finished.” As you can see, weight loss on the cleanse is not noted; a cleanse is the return to (or the start of!) eating healthier foods after the cleanse that would produce any sort of long-term, sustainable results. 

My reason for doing the cleanse was not to lose weight, but rather to test my willpower, complete a challenge I have always been curious about and take a break from thinking about food so much. Even though many of the meals I make are quick and easy to prepare, constantly cooking for myself can get tiresome. I especially felt this way after the dinner party I hosted. It takes time to plan what to make for a meal, make sure it has a healthy balance of nutrients, go to the grocery store and then actually prepare the meal in between classes. I liked how mindless my meal choices were during the cleanse; I just reached into the fridge and grabbed the next juice, no thought or preparation necessary. It definitely saved me a fair amount of time over the course of three days. It was a nice break, and now I’m more excited than I would be otherwise to cook my own meals and experiment with new recipes. 

5. Maximize your ROI

If you’re getting your cleanse through a company or store as opposed to making your own juices, then it’s probably going to be pricier than your usual diet. Mine averaged to be $30 per day, or $10 per meal, which is not awful, but definitely more than I typically spend since I always make my own breakfast and usually make my own lunch and/or dinner. If you’re going to be spending the big bucks, you may as well maximize your return on investment by taking the cleanse seriously and sticking to it as best as you can. Don’t drink alcohol or coffee (I know that cramps the collegiette lifestyle, but it’s only temporary), don’t add sugar or sweeteners to the juices and do take it as a time to reflect on your diet and health goals. If you feel like you need some solid food to get you through it, try to reach for fruits or vegetables. All of that being said, don’t feel the need to push through it if it’s making you totally miserable or if you feel ill or physically unable to continue. Don’t compromise your health in the process of trying to make healthy changes! Regardless of whether or not the cleanse goes as well as you would have hoped, it will be a valuable learning experience nonetheless. Focus on the positives. 

The bottom line is that a juice cleanse is not a panacea or a miracle solution, but rather a way to take a break and refocus your mind and energy on making healthy changes. If you’re looking for a challenge or a way to get more in touch with your mind-body connection, or you want to mark a definitive transition into a healthier diet, then a juice cleanse is one way to go about those goals. If you’re interested, see if any local stores offer cleanses or check out options online, such as the popular BluePrintCleanse

Now, it’s time for me to dig into a bowl of banana almond butter oats. I’ve missed it so much that I may cry upon my first bite. Oatmeal has never tasted so solid. 

Have you ever done a juice cleanse? Share your experience in the comments below!

Sammie is a student at the University of Michigan where she is pursuing a BBA. A foodie since birth, she enjoys cooking, eating, smelling, looking at, photographing, reading about, and playing with any and all types of food. Her idolization of culinary delights is complemented by her active spirit- she enjoys running, swimming, barre classes, and even spontaneous bursts of interpretative dance if the mood strikes her. She has completed two triathlons and a half-marathon and plans to tackle more races in the future. She also dreams of traveling the globe, saving the world, and marrying James and/or Dave Franco. 
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