The decision to detox, like most important decisions, is a deeply personal one, often mulled over for months. The concept begins to gel when you notice the toll that our post-modern lifestyle takes, gradually diminishing the body and spirit of that near-perfect person born so long ago. And once the decision to detox is made, a method must be chosen. Many have turned to macrobiotics, with its proven track record of disease reversal. And this is a great option. But it takes time. Months. Years. And if you are a foodie like me, with an inspired palate, it’s a tough diet to stick with forever. After five-years of macrobiotics, perhaps the cleanest diet on the planet, the old toxic temptations (coffee, wine, cheese) began to creep back into my life. Sure, I always bought organic coffee and natural cheeses; that’s how I justified my indulgences, but organic or not, it was still caffeine, alcohol and dairy that I began to dump in my body again. With time, my energy level waned. My spirit struggled. I knew it was time to detox, again. This time I turned to juicing, accidentally.
It was April, with the hot horns of Carnival signal the end of ‘high season’ on St. Thomas. I was alone. Leslie Ann, my dear wife, had flown to DC for a national teachers’ convention and we were between guests at Chef’s House, our little inn. Perfect time to finish one or two of the many projects I’m always juggling. I hit one of those insidious big-box stores that have cropped up here to buy Bunn coffee filters and ink for my printer. Inside, I give my eyes a few moments to adjust from the blazing sun. And when I can see again, right there in front of me, is a display table full of juicers.
Whoa! Forty-nine bucks! Mine!
Next stop, The Fruit Bowl, where I tell the cashier, “Yup…you’re right… that is a lot of carrots!” She didn’t seem so impressed with all the apples, celery, collards, cucumbers, strawberries and watercress.
The juicer is nothing special, just a consumer-grade (read: cheap) Hamilton Beach model… mostly plastic parts… lots of crevices… kind of a pain to clean. But hey… it was forty-nine bucks! So back off! Its one cool feature: A big mouth, big enough for whole apple down there! Nice.
So I scrub up a pound of carrots, rinse off three stalks of celery and with the gentle whir of an electric saw ripping down 2x4’s, I suddenly had a 12-ounce glass of cosmic change in my hands. I suck it down. Slowly. Within 15-minutes, I feel a slight change in my energy field. I bury myself in work. Four hours later, I think about dinner. I open the ‘fridge to see what inspires me. I close the door bewildered. Then I hear the juicer calling to me. My body was telling me: More Juice! I obey.
Three days later, as I spring out of bed, it occurs to me that I haven’t eaten any solid food since Leslie Ann left. Haven’t missed it, either. Weird. The scale says I’ve lost four-pounds. Wow!
This continued and on the fifth day, I began eating light dinners of tapas size portions of grilled fish, fresh veggies and wine. No carbs for now. The first week I dropped eight pounds. By the time I picked Leslie Ann up at the airport, I had lost four more. My complexion glowed. My spirit flew free and strong.
“Look at you!” she said. “What have you been doing?”
Here’s my detox regime. Morning: Sweet Juice (before coffee/tea). Mid-Day: Green Juice. Snack: Wildcard Juice. Light dinner.
Sweet juice can be any combination of carrot, apple, pear, grape, cherry, strawberry, blueberry, orange, papaya… whatever. Green juice, yum! A manly favorite! What Leslie Ann calls “swamp water” is really collards, celery, string beans, cucumbers, kale or anything green. This stuff will give you the strength to knock over small buildings with you forearm, if you’re into that kind of thing. I often add a whole Key Lime or even a few drops of rice-wine vinegar to my greenies. Wildcard is just that… fresh tomato juice anyone? Pineapple? Oh, my!
Some tips: Buy pesticide-free organics. Wash leafy greens thoroughly. Scrub root veggies, whole apples, oranges and the like. Soak hard veggies, like carrots in water for a few hours. Save any trim from veggies you cook (like collard veins and broccoli stems) for juicing. Compost the fiber. Your garden will thank you.
The natural sodium in celery juice will help lower blood pressure and decrease the dominance of the salt component of your taste buds, opening you to a brave new world of flavor. And while you can juice anything (for a real treat, try pumpkin apple juice) some things are to be avoided. Spinach is very constrictive and should not be juiced. Beets, while great for the blood, need to be juiced in moderation. They can upset the stomach. Onions, garlic, hot peppers… don’t try it. You’ve been warned.
You can’t juice/detox forever, although it’s temping to try. I did it for three weeks then gradually normalized my diet. Within three months I lost 20 pounds, shaved 30 points of my blood pressure, never got hungry and channeled some amazing energy. Today, I juice at least once every day and whole grains are back on the plate for breakfast and/or dinner. I love juicing! When this cheap machine breaks, I’ll replace with a pro model. Meantime, bottoms up, juiceheads!