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I broke the cleanse.

Nothing I’d feared about this juice cleanse actually happened. I didn’t attempt to chew off anyone’s arm or my own fingers, I didn’t have the urge to lick random things, and mostly, I wasn’t even hungry.

I woke up on Day 2 completely pumped and ready for another day of juicing. That morning I had plenty of energy, but having read warnings that those feelings were simply surges and weren’t real sustainable energy, I contained myself and only did a few simple stretches. I wasn’t hungry but frankly I still spent a lot of time looking at recipes and checking out new restaurants to hit. I guess food plays too big of a role in my life to avoid.

By late afternoon I was feeling a little bit off, slightly lightheaded and fatigued. I couldn’t really tell if they were signs that I needed to stop the cleanse or if it was just because I had been staring at my laptop editing all day. Then in the evening this miserable headache arrived. I had spent a lot of time reading about other people’s (Peeled) cleanse experiences, mostly to make sure I wasn’t dying, that nothing out of the ordinary was happening. I also consulted everything available on the net about juice cleanses, warning signs, and when to stop. (A warning here, though, to have some skepticism about what you read on the Web.) Everything I could find said the Day 2 headache was normal. I couldn’t, however, find any sound medical approval for this.

After debating with myself about whether a hot shower would be a good idea, I hopped in for a quick rinse right around the height of this headache. I had read a New York Times article on juice cleanses where someone had commented that they had done a cleanse and had lost hair from it! I wasn’t sure that was worthy of believing, but I did freak out a little bit when a few strands of hair left their follicles during the shower, despite the fact that’s completely normal for me.

Immediately following the shower I felt better. I re-hydrated and then went on to drink the Cashew Milk, which I am happy to announce is at least tasty. By Day 2 it even tasted delicious. It might as well as have been a milkshake to my by-then-delirious taste buds and brain cells.

But by around 8:45 p.m. I knew it was time to stop. Nothing about my body felt right. My chest felt tight, I was shaking and I could barely hold the pen I was using to log footage from my documentary. In other words, I was showing all the signs of hypoglycemia.

I wasn’t physically hungry, but my body was starving.

And so I broke the cleanse. Juice cleanse and raw food sites kept on saying that those symptoms were A-OK, but I couldn’t find any reliable medical sources, so I decided to end my cleanse after two days.

I had tried to clear my fridge as much as possible before the cleanse, so the only fruit I had left beside lemons for the lemon water was one lonely little kiwi. I also had a few almonds to help stabilize myself. Unfortunately because I had cleared my fridge, I didn’t have many foods that could be eaten raw. Radishes and carrots were options, but I felt both of them would have been too hard to digest for my fatigued body. After all, you usually start post-cleanse eating after a night of sleep.

So I used what I could find and adapted Alton Brown’s Garden Vegetable Soup. Instead of leeks, which I didn’t have, I used one medium sweet Vidalia onion. I also didn’t have potatoes on hand (a rare occasion for me) so I added diced mushrooms for some substance instead. I used water instead of broth, had nothing to substitute the parsley, and left out the lemon juice on purpose. Believe me, after 2 days of countless liters of lemon water, I don’t want to taste lemons for a while. I cooked it pretty much according to Alton’s directions, and then after it cooled to the touch, scooped the solids and a little bit of liquid (using a 4:1 ratio) into a blender and pureed it for easier digestion.

You’d be surprised how much your body appreciates these half-solids and a little flavor.

The solid version of the soup. Apologies for the crappy lighting and focus.

Even though I didn’t finish the cleanse, I would say that it is completely possible. My reactions could very well be related to the fact that my usual daily calorie intake is considerably higher than most people’s due to my very fast metabolism, and therefore what would have been enough for most people was not enough for me. I am going to talk to my doctor about this at my annual checkup though. These reactions may reveal important things about my health.

A few last thoughts for both Peeled and potential cleansers:

– It would have been really nice to have a little guide on what to expect so I’m not freaking out that I’m actually dying.

This info card only really gave info on the juices.

– The taste: someone at Peeled please make these juices more bearable! The green got better on Day 2, and the Haute Lemonade, which I had previously labeled the Cayenne Lemonade (although it does have cayenne pepper in it), did not irritate me as it did many other cleansers, but the beet juice was just awful all the way through. I hear in the summer months there is a watermelon option instead for the red juice. Why aren’t watermelons in season right now?!?

– I read that other cleanse companies send encouragement emails to cleansers at the end of each day. I did get a tweet of encouragement back when I tagged Peeled in my tweet of my first post, but I do think a simple little daily message to their cleansers would be a nice touch.

– For cleansers – In past articles and blogs, cleansers have said that the juices from Peeled weren’t labeled. Fear not, they are now! …not that you wouldn’t know which was which anyway.

– You should probably choose to do your cleanses on days when you have less work and social commitments. I’m lucky I can both edit my footage and work for pay from home, but I went further by avoiding going out when possible for the sake of a) bathroom availability, b) not having to see food everywhere, and c) not expending unnecessary energy. Unintended consequence? Missing out on the gorgeous weather these past few days.

– Tip: Don’t use a straw for any of your liquid consumption. The straw can cause you to inhale air bubbles which will make you feel bloated and uncomfortable.

The juice cleanse was meant to be an experience and an experience it was. The cleanse part didn’t take much will and determination, but not allowing myself to binge eat now will. All I want right now is scones, bagels, and potatoes – essentially, all the carbohydrates and starches I didn’t get during the cleanse. That crab cake on today’s front page of Allrecipes.com also looks amazing. NOM.

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