FARGO — It wasn’t so much a juice fast as a juice Swift.
But after interviewing Renae Mitchell, the “Juice Box Hero” behind Juice Box Fargo, I found myself seriously pondering a juice fast.
Prior to meeting Mitchell, I'd viewed juice fasts as a fad — something that Jennifer Aniston did after learning that that single vegan chocolate chip she accidentally ingested wasn’t humanely sourced.
But Mitchell was such a convincing billboard for the benefits of juicing, that I just had to give it a try.
I really liked the structure of the fast, because it allows you to graze — or, more accurately, sip — all day long. The idea is to start with a detoxifying celery juice at 8 a.m., then alternate between filtered water and a different type of juice every hour on the hour until 6 p.m.
You could say the water was my Waterloo, even though H2O is essential to the juice fast as it flushes out toxins, keeps the body hydrated and helps one feel "full."
Even so, I've argued that if God wanted us to drink more water, he would have made water taste less like water. But I did my best, sipping on ice-cold agua as I went about my day.
The juices were easier, as they were blended in zippy combinations and tasted quite refreshing. I actually liked Juice Box's Beet It juice, even though I haven’t successfully choked down that root vegetable since grade school, when the lunchroom nun wouldn't let me go out for recess until I finished my canned beets. The drink's fusion of beet juice with orange, apple and lime juices made it taste less topsoil-y, but it also felt good to drink something loaded with nutrients.
I can't say the same for the celery juice. Aware of my status as a nutrition neophyte (perhaps after seeing those Reese’s wrappers fall out of my purse), Mitchell wisely swapped out the straight celery juice with the Love Your Liver flavor, a blend of celery, pineapple, apple and lime juices.
Even so, I cringed whenever I drank it. The grassy flavor seemed to dominate every reluctant sip. It’s strange that celery has such a strong taste, as it seems like one of those ingredients you notice only if it’s missing. I mean, eating peanut butter on celery is a lot like eating peanut butter off a wet branch.
It figured that celery juice happens to be the one that many juicers consider to be a magical elixir. Although some detractors link celery juice to pseudo-science, the pro-celery camp claims it does everything from detox the system and prevent inflammation to fight acne and enhance digestion.
It reminded me of something my dad used to say: “If you eat a wheat-free, meat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet, you can live to be in your 90s, but — at that rate — you won’t want to.”
Cravings were another bugaboo. They were the worst on Day 1, when I found myself hungrily eyeing a fossilized piece of toast in the trash and then obsessively pinning dessert recipes on Pinterest.
But the worst is when my boyfriend brazenly grilled a burger for dinner. How dare he? Didn’t he notice me over in the corner, forcing down a bottle of milky-green liquid and sobbing quietly? In that moment, I would have given him the deed to my house for that burger.
Somehow, I muddled through.
Along the way, I formed a few other general observations:
- There's a reason this is also sometimes referred to as a juice cleanse. You won't want to do this if you have back-to-back appointments or plan to run a marathon. Let's just leave it at that.
- A juice fast isn't recommended for everyone, especially those with eating disorders, blood sugar issues or certain medical problems. Always check with your doctor before trying one.
I did feel significantly better after this fast. I had energy, my joints didn’t ache and I felt more alert. The heartburn and tummy issues I'd developed during COVID disappeared. I realize some of these positive effects may have stemmed mainly from the fact I was fully hydrated and had given my body a rest from digesting heavy meals. Although I probably won't become a routine juice faster, my experience reminded me of the powerful role that food plays in powering the human machine.
The fast reminded me of how much I lean on food to get me through the day. I eat for so many reasons. Because I’m stressed. Because I’m bored. Because I'm stuck on a story. Because I'm feeling too much or I'm feeling too numb. Food fills a lot of the uncomfortable voids in our lives, which can't be quenched with juice.
Especially celery juice.