Rachel Grunwell is a fitness writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Worth the big squeeze

A raw vegetable and fruit juice cleanse may help you appreciate the benefits of a healthier diet.
A raw vegetable and fruit juice cleanse may help you appreciate the benefits of a healthier diet.

I presumed raw-juice cleanses would be almost exclusively of interest to women, but 40 per cent of clients using Pure Health Delivered (PHD) juice cleanses are male.

Rich Tangney, formerly a diver in the Royal New Zealand Navy, launched PHD two years ago with personal trainer James Ehau. They saw a gap in the market after noting juice cleanses were exploding in popularity in the United States.

However, most PHD buyers are in wealthier suburbs, probably because of the cost of the 100 per cent raw vegetable and fruit juice cleanses, which are delivered to your doorstep.

The idea behind the cleanse is not weight loss, but rather to reboot your digestive system, detox and kick-start users into following a healthier and cleaner diet.

It's not research-based, Tangney tells me. He simply hopes clients realise from doing a cleanse that they don't need "half the food they might be eating" and feel good from taking a swag of fruit and vegetable vitamins.

I trialled PHD's three-day cleanse ($189) to see what benefits, or not, it might bring. I've never done one before and wondered if I'd end up hungry and angry and wanting to gnaw an arm off. Surprisingly, the six drinks daily kept my stomach full-ish. It also kept me regularly making trips to the toilet.

I took mostly a green drink - cucumber, celery, kale, parsley, lemon, green apple, cos lettuce and spinach - but there is also a zesty lemonade drink, a sweet fruity "yellow hit" liquid and a night-time "cashew dream" flavour - a beetroot-inspired flavour has just been introduced.

The cashew dream is yummy, and the green one made me feel virtuous for swigging it, but it's not something I'd dub delicious.

Three days on a liquid diet was tough. I missed chewing. I also confess that I fell off the wagon for coffee Oh, the guilt.

I managed to keep up the three-day mission, I think, because I did it mid-week while working.

It also helped that my husband made the kids' meals these days so I couldn't be tempted to fall off the wagon - again. However, the juices were convenient and wonderfully mess-free.

I found it perhaps more tough than most as I exercise quite a bit and felt I wasn't getting enough calories to power my runs.

When I asked Tangney about this he said they have a "cheat sheet" for people like me because the 900-1220 calories daily from the juices may not be enough.

Wish I'd known that before I started.

He's also looking at expanding the juice business by offering the delivery of a clean meal at nights as part of the cleanses. I reckon that would really boost business.

Overall, two friends reckoned my skin appeared more "glowy" and I lost half a kilo. Another positive is that it has reminded me to bump up my vegetable quota.

But I also have a renewed appreciation for food and it's never tasted so good.

University of Auckland associate professor of nutrition and dietetics Clare Wall recommends Kiwis change their "health behaviours" long-term, rather than for just a few days.

Do this by eating mostly plant-based foods like whole fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods. Think about your dinner plate as half veg, quarter protein and a quarter from wholegrain sources (like brown rice, quinoa).

Think less takeaways, less processed foods and buy the freshest produce.

She says Kiwis tend to want "immediate gratification" with food, but should seek out healthy options. But it's often hard to do this when time-poor and access to healthy options is not always great.

Meanwhile, she says the big craze at the moment is the 5:2 diet, which is essentially eating normally for five days and restricting calories for two non-consecutive days weekly.

She reckons this diet is "kind of okay" as it makes people think about what they're eating, and if it spurs them into a trajectory of change that's great.

Another big craze is cooking with coconut oil and healthier-option foods, but she says ultimately these foods can still "deliver a lot of energy and they're expensive."

- Herald on Sunday

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