Food is one of my favourite things. I love strolling around the supermarket, cooking up a storm, eating out, eating in, eating new things, eating weird things.
But I've put all this aside for three days to road-test a new juice detox that claims to clear my skin, enhance my mood, give me a better night's sleep and fuel me with more energy.
What's the point?
The PHD cleanse website says toxins from things like household products, food additives and cigarette smoke are stored in our fat cells until we detoxify.
"Our bodies are designed to detoxify naturally however, without adequate vitamins and minerals in your system the detoxification can be slow and impaired," according to the PHD website.
"PHD Cleanse can help to accelerate the natural process of eradicating and eliminating toxins from your body by flooding it with the essential enzymes, vitamins and minerals required for detoxification.
"Unlike most cleanses, a juice cleanse requires the ingredients to be freshly pressed, raw and unpasteurized in order to reap the benefits of its 'live' enzymes. In fact, the enzymes in the PHD Cleanse are only active for around 72 hours so, we freshly cold-press the juice and continue chilling it until delivered.
"The PHD system will also nourish your body, one daily system can contain anywhere between 900 - 1200 calories ensuring you have enough energy to carry out your daily routine."
So here's the deal:
Before kicking off a cleanse, it's suggested you cut back to a basic diet of fruit and vegetables for at least three days leading in. It's been a while since I've had coffee or alcohol and my meat intake is minimal. This should put me in good stead for cleansing.
Each day follows the same cycle. I start the day with a glass of warm water and a squeeze of lemon.
When I arrive at work about half-an-hour later it's time for green juice number one. Packed with six different green goodies like spinach, kale and celery, this is meant to be the most "active" juice. "It's set to alkalise your system aiding in digestion." I have 500mL of this greenie again at lunch and dinner time.
Mid-morning is a highlight - the yellow juice is a combo of apple, pineapple and mint. It has anti-inflammatory properties and will help with digestions, while the mint makes sure my breath stays fresh.
Afternoon juice is silver and made of lemons, spicy cayenne pepper, sweet agave nectar and filtered water. Apparently the citric acid of the lemon can break down calcified substances in my body like kidney stones. The cayenne pepper can reduce pain, has cardiovascular benefits, could help raise my metabolism help with some digestive disorders. The agave nectar should give me an energy boost. I sure hope this combo does something super. Something that tastes this bad must be good for me.
My night cap is a creamy white juice made of cashew nut milk, cinnamon, vanilla and agave nectar. The nuts are packed with good fats that will help my immune system fight fit and the magnesium can have a calming effect.
How'd it go?
I woke up feeling a bit under the weather - it's like the toxins in my body knew I was coming to get them so started an early evacuation. Cold and flu symptoms aside, I'm feeling good as gold. The juices are tasty so it's not hard to get them down. The hardest part is keeping up with the clock - I'm meant to drink one every couple of hours, plus get through as much water as I can. I'm constantly sipping something (in between regular bathroom breaks). I'm a bit more sleepy and far more sniffly than usual, but the cleanse co-creator Richie Tangney tells me that the juices will sort my symptoms out quick smart. He tells me to keep up the water to flush away the toxins. I've downed 3L and heading home for a bit of rest and recoup.
This morning I'm feeling fresh and full of beans. I managed to beat off any signs that a winter lergy was going to take me down. The afternoon juice that had me cringe on day one doesn't taste so bad today and I'm surprised there's no sign of hunger pangs. I manage to spend a couple of hours at the gym and head home for a great night's sleep.
After going without for three days, I am starting to become a bit obsessed with food. Everything smells so good, I find myself looking at food porn for hours and I can't stop thinking about the first thing I'll eat. It hasn't been a very social three days, but it's mid-week so it hasn't been a huge loss. The green juice puts such a spring in my step I'd like to give it a regular spot in my diet.
Considering I've been food-free for three days I'm feeling pretty sprightly. I thought I'd be hungry (and consequentially, grumpy), but this isn't the case. I'm craving carbs and a bit of variety but I also don't want to taint my cleansed body. I've been off caffeine and sugar (mostly) for a while so there was no remarkable change in my sleeping patterns. My skin seems to be clearer and my empty belly means no bloating or lethargy so I feel lighter.
A three-day juice cleanse isn't necessary. However, it can be a great springboard to better health. In my case, it reinforced healthy eating habits and gave me a bit of a boost in to winter. I missed variety in my diet and socially it was a bit of a hindrance but I can afford to lay low for three days.
What the nutritionist says:
I wanted to find our more about the juice cleanse concept so I put in a call to Kath Fouhy, a nutritionist from the NZ Dietitians Society. "If that's what it takes to make you feel good, and in turn, make further lifestyle changes then it's great," she said.
"Sometimes that's what people need. They need to feel better about themselves, they need a little bit of motivation and once they get that, they start on a really good path."
She said our bodies are constantly detoxifying - that's how we process medication and alcohol - so there's no need for a formal cleansing period. However, there's nothing wrong with treating your body to three days of goodness.
Follow Nicky Park on Twitter.By Nicky Park @Nicky_Park Email Nicky