Heater, Mother of Lance

dooce juice

(Forgive any typos, I’ve been awake all night with Leta who has yet another high fever. Damn these winter bugs.)

On Tuesday night Leta had a double piano lesson, an unusual event for that night of the week. Last week she missed her lesson due to illness and this week her teacher is out of town for the normal Thursday night event. I usually look forward to these nights that I get to spend out alone with Marlo, the two of us eating dinner at Whole Fruits where, as I’m paying for dinner, she will tell the cashier, “My mom is going to buy me three cookiesth from over there,” having not discussed this with me beforehand.

I did not buy her those cookiesth. At least, not right then.

Tuesday night I felt trepidation, however, being on day two of a five-day juice cleanse. Yes. A juice cleanse. One of those things. Those fads. Those ridiculous things that people do to their bodies that some would argue have no nutritional benefit whatsoever. Juice and only juice for five straight days. You’ve already skipped to the bottom of this post to leave a comment calling me an idiot. Listen. My being an idiot has nothing to do with deciding to do a juice cleanse and everything to do with my I.Q. So try to be accurate in your comment.


I feared that walking into a Whole Fruits, especially one with a wide and varied food court, would be somewhat uncomfortable. Not unlike arm wrestling a toaster in my bathtub. All those amazing smells and more amazing smells and even more amazing smells? There would be amazing smells and I would be smelling them. Juice cleanses should come with a complimentary clothespin for your nose.

Our Whole Fruits makes a killer chicken tikka masala that I always put on the same plate as a mound of rice for Marlo. She calls it “the sthpicy sthtuff” and mixes it with a few bites of her rice, and when she noticed that I wasn’t filling the plate with it she tapped me on the leg several times.

“What? I’m getting you rice,” I explained. “You were really excited about the rice.”

“Meow,” she said in return.

“Oh god, with this again.”


Marlo does this thing that is a lot more adorable than I am giving her credit for where she will say “meow” in a very clipped voice, very soft and low, her lips barely moving. And she knows it’s frustrating to everyone but her and yet simultaneously hysterical.

“Meow is not helping me.”


“You tapped my leg for a reason.”


She finally took mercy on me and repeatedly used her index finger to point to the chicken tikka masala. “The sthpicy sthtuff.”

“Oh, you want some. That’s awesome. Meow. NOW I HAVE TO SMELL IT.”

I added a few spoonfuls to the plate thinking that the aroma would knock me over with a hunger pang, but this has been the most surprising thing about this cleanse AND THERE HAVE BEEN MANY SURPRISING THINGS AT LEAST TWO ALREADY.

I don’t feel hunger like I thought I would. Here I am on the morning of the fourth day of this cleanse and the only time I felt actual hunger was when I forgot to drink the lunch portion Tuesday afternoon. Okay. That’s not true. Twice. I experienced hunger twice. Once Tuesday afternoon. The first time was the first night when Leta was eating a bean and cheese burrito and I sized that thing up and realized I could fit the whole thing down my throat without chewing it. TECHNICALLY NOT A SOLID FOOD SINCE I WOULDN’T BE USING MY TEETH. I also contemplated eating the granite countertop.

I had this idea that since I’ve already eliminated most of the bad stuff from my diet that this cleanse would be a lot easier than it has been: I don’t eat any grains. I rarely consume any dairy. I eat no processed sugar. But day one hit me like a hammer to the head and the fatigue has been grueling. I battled several hours with my brain on the first night over whether or not to give up, ultimately calling on the same quadrant in my skull that kept my feet moving during the marathon. And so here I am on the morning of day four still going, still thinking that people who enjoy these cleanses are certifiably insane.

WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? Take out your batteries and show them to us.

Mornings are fantastic (minus this morning, this morning was not fantastic). I feel rested when I get out of bed, and I haven’t been able to say that in a very long time (minus this morning, I was not rested this morning). However, there is a debilitating afternoon slump that verges on paralyzing. I eat a lot of animal protein, so I’m guessing my body is missing this component of my usual diet. I get so tired that I feel like I could sleep through a Republican winning the presidential election.

Why did I do this? I’ve talked with several friends who’ve done something similar, all for different reasons. I got a little off track with my diet in Haiti and continued down several winding paths throughout the holidays (good lord, the bowls and bowls of roasted pistachios). I wanted a hard reboot. A fresh start. I wanted to look at my cravings (HELLO, SALT), examine them from a distance and see what I could do better. I also wanted this exercise in self-discipline that many religious people including Mormons go through as a means of self improvement. This isn’t technically a fast, but there is a similar goal: the delay of gratification. If you listen to your brain during the more painful moments, you learn quite a bit about yourself and how your body copes. You realize how strong you can be. It’s interesting to grapple with your weaknesses in such a visceral and raw way.

I’d never do this for longer than five days. It’s just not compatible with my exercise regimen. This isn’t for everyone, no. It doesn’t cure diseases. It will not solve your credit problems or improve your relationship with your father. It will not organize your closet or clean out your garage. You might lose weight but I’m willing to bet you’d put most of it right back on once you went back to your normal way of eating. I’m sharing this here only because it’s an honest account of what this feels like in case you were ever considering the same endeavor. These are all my initial thoughts on this process. It’s not fun, and when it’s over I will most likely examine the pros and cons in a more thorough way and share that with you. (Earlier I saw a box of raisins—RAISINS—and I thought, “What a glorious food!” Glorious. If I saw a the sun setting over the ocean right now I think my brain would explode.)

But here, just on the other side of halfway through, I’ve learned so much about myself. It’s already been worth it.

  • tmb

    2014/01/16 at 9:37 am

    The reasons you give (delayed gratification, salt cravings) are a totally legit reason to do something like this. My issue with these fads is that they’re always called a “cleanse.” Let me tell ya, it’s not cleaning shit. Literally or figuratively. That’s what your liver, large intestine, and colon are for.

  • Sarah

    2014/01/16 at 9:38 am

    For those of us who are interested in a juice cleanse as well, can you share the guidelines you followed and some of the recipes you used? It seems like everyone has hopped on the “juice fad” but doing it in the wrong way by making high-sugar-all-fruit-no-veggies-in-sight smoothies. Yummy yes, but helpful in a cleanse, no.

  • Jo D

    2014/01/16 at 9:42 am

    I’m halfway through my own cleanse right now, as well. Vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, alcohol and caffeine-free eating for 10 days. I did it 6 months ago to jump start weight loss and it was sooo challenging, but I felt amazing at the end and I was 10 pounds lighter. (Bonus, only 2 came back over the next few weeks as I returned to my normal eating.) This time around I’m not feeling deprived or craving burgers, just very zen about the whole thing. But I DO get to chew my food, so I guess I’ve got you there.

  • nk

    2014/01/16 at 9:48 am

    I did a 5 day cleanse too… loved it for all the reasons you are suggesting, aside from the explosive shits on night 4. For that reason alone, I’d stick to 3 days in the future. Hope you don’t have the same experience!

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/01/16 at 9:58 am

    I very much agree with you. Our bodies already do a really good job of cleaning out “toxins” in our system. This is more for my brain.

  • onthegomom

    2014/01/16 at 10:00 am

    I would be interested in the specifics of the what’s and how’s of your juice cleanse. I need to jump start my system too and have been looking into doing something like this.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/01/16 at 10:01 am

    I will definitely do a follow-up post. I’m drinking mostly veggies and, um, it isn’t so tasty. Maybe something is wrong with my tastebuds, but I’m not thrilled with it and I have to gulp the juices to get them down.

  • Annie B (Kyoodled)

    2014/01/16 at 10:19 am

    I did a 30 day juice fast a year and a half ago, on the encouragement of a guy I know. I watched “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” I was sold on it and was sure it was going to fix my arthritic knee and back and lose that last 10 pounds. Made it through, didn’t die (though I wanted to the first week)….and I fully believe it totally screwed up my metabolism. I tried to follow a paleo diet after, and then restricted it more, and more, and more, counting calories, no nuts, blah, blah, blah. And gained 20 pounds. I am now having to follow a medically supervised 900 calorie a day diet and finally losing the weight.

  • Lorna.Fleener

    2014/01/16 at 10:23 am

    I do a juice fast twice a year – spring and fall equinox – and to prepare I eat pretty much paleo, but also without meat, the week before. I find it liberating, as you stated its not as hard as you think it will be and the best thing is it really does eliminate cravings and reset your system to remove those cravings for that crap you have let slip back in and take over…

  • delpien

    2014/01/16 at 10:25 am

    from the great comedian john pinett: if you’re juicing a ham and your arm goes numb, wait an hour; I’m no doctor, but….

  • Jennifer Wagner

    2014/01/16 at 10:33 am

    I typically don’t do fads, but have had a hard time with will power and strength to feed myself well after I had my daughter (16 months ago!) So I started doing a protein shake meal plan that has 4 cleanse days built in during the month, shakes for breakfast, low cal, low glycemic index, high protein meals and snacks. After a week, I felt that shift in what I wanted to eat “reset”. Junk food and too many carbs gives me a bit of a tummy ache and I am finding I am wanting to eat more fruits, veggies, am feeling satisfied when I eat and I have more energy. Its been great to do that to help break the cycle of poor eating. I did cleanse days to days in a row and was a beast, so now I do once a week and its not bad 😉

  • Kimberly Wydeen

    2014/01/16 at 10:36 am

    Are you sticking to your regular work out routine while you are on the clense?

  • Sarah

    2014/01/16 at 10:43 am

    Well you know someone’s going to be a bit nasty, so here is is – sorry in advance.
    My question would be how beneficial this can be for your body and especially your brain and how probable it is that messing with your diet can affect your depression? And also, I hope your girls don’t grow up thinking they need worry too much (beyond the usual to eat healthy) when they see you going through these rituals. Sorry, it just seems a little wierd to me to be honest.

  • Torchness

    2014/01/16 at 10:44 am

    I learned long ago that carrying that extra 25 lbs made me a lot happier. Ergo, I eat cheese, bread, pizza, and drink champagne, and it is marvelous. Okay, I’m still a fairly hefty size 8, but I’m really at peace with this. My husband is happier too, as I’ll gladly eat a burger with him. Sometimes I wonder if people focus too much on all (size 14 and above) or nothing (size 4 and below) instead of existing in the happy medium in between.

  • chuck

    2014/01/16 at 10:50 am

    okay. not going to lecture here. whenever a human eats less than six ounces of protein a day they lose muscle mass. this is not good for your body, mind or soul. not eating at least six ounces of protein a day for five days is bad. so i lied. i did lecture you. i hope your girls feel better soon.

  • spodie

    2014/01/16 at 11:04 am

    I wonder if you’re sleeping better because the juice is easier to digest than the animal proteins. That is fascinating to me, and that alone makes me want to try it. When I’m not pregnant, that is. I don’t need to be more tired than I already am.

  • Breanne

    2014/01/16 at 11:07 am

    I’m right in the middle of a 21-day challenge similar to how to your regular diet – but also no fruit. My cravings are greatly diminished and while I know the weight loss won’t be permanent (well some will), I know that I am definitely accomplishing the reset that I needed (especially after the holidays). There are things I miss, but it’s more manageable that I expected.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/01/16 at 11:07 am

    I’m drinking a juice filled with protein from almonds. I’m getting at least 10-15 grams a day through that.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/01/16 at 11:13 am

    No. I tried a workout the first day and it was terrible. I’m doing a lot of walking just to maintain some activity.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/01/16 at 11:28 am

    I’m not sure how engaging in a “ritual” of self improvement is a bad thing for my girls to witness. Mormon children fast once a month every month, meaning they go without food for three meals. They don’t eat for an entire day. What I’m doing is very similar in its goal: spiritual health. It’s not about weight. It’s about self exploration.

    As for my depression, I haven’t stopped taking any of my medication, and four days in I actually feel a distinct and unexpected lift in my mood. And this has happened despite the fact that I was awake all night.

    You may think it’s weird, but I’m finding the whole experience to be really enlightening.

  • Sarah

    2014/01/16 at 11:48 am

    That’s actually interesting that your mood has lifted. I remember you did this a few years back and had a reaction with outbreaks etc. I’m sure you’re hoping they don’t happen this time. Thanks for englightening me. Not that I’ll try a cleanse anytime soon, I’m a little scared of the hunger pains :(.

  • Amy Hanson

    2014/01/16 at 12:04 pm

    It’s two meals 🙂

  • Lauren

    2014/01/16 at 12:05 pm

    I dunno, I love you Heather but these types of things just worry and don’t make sense to me. I dealt with anorexia (I restricted food and over-exercised) through most of my teen years. I feel like I’ve read here in the past that you did too (but could be remembering wrong). This just seems like a food-obsessive behavior. If you or others who have done this feel like it, I would like reading a bit more of an explanation of what kind of learning and self improvement this lends itself to.

    As far as kids’ views of these kinds of things, I don’t have my own kids — and I don’t know your kids — so I may very well be speaking out of my ass, though I have been a close part of my nieces & nephews’ childhoods… but I feel like the only thing kids can grasp from observing an exercise like this is, “food is something I have to battle and take a break from sometimes.”

    All that said, I just wanted to give my perspective and am in no way attacking you. As I’ve said here before, I know you’re a fantastic mother and you don’t even need the internet to tell you that.

  • Tiffany

    2014/01/16 at 12:11 pm

    Are you making all of your own juices or did you buy a package like Nekter, Suja, etc? I’ve been wanting to do something similar for a while now, but feel like I don’t have the time to be making juice all day (I’m away from home from 9 am – 8 pm), and the “cleanses” you can buy are pretty pricey, and I don’t know if they’re as good for you as making your own fresh juice. Thoughts?

  • BornInaZoo

    2014/01/16 at 12:12 pm

    It was about a year ago to the day that my sister did a juice cleanse. I’d never do one, but it was what she needed to prepare herself mentally for the upcoming year. He goal was to lose 70 pounds to get out of obese into ideal weight range. She fell 5 pounds short of her goal by her birthday (Sept 28) and gained back a few more over the holidays.

    She looks amazing … and I wouldn’t want her to pack a punch to my face. That girl has some fantastic biceps and many other muscles.

    The holidays were her downfall. Another cleanse soon & then lose those last 20 pounds by summer.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/01/16 at 12:13 pm

    “24 hours” which is a pretty long time for anyone, especially kids. 🙂

  • Gina

    2014/01/16 at 12:15 pm

    You had me at the freaking juice cleanse!!! I started on Monday (through Freshii) so this here is day freaking four and I’m starving! Actually just had my lunch juice but before that and shortly, I will be starving again. I’m blaming it on a friend who wanted commiseration. The whole misery loves company thing. I didn’t even have the energy or focus to finish reading your post beyond…Juice Cleanse! 😉

  • elephantsoap

    2014/01/16 at 12:31 pm

    I did a seven day juice cleanse once. I was leery to do it because one of my biggest fears is being hungry. I was surprised that was never really an issue. Day five though, I walked into a Whole foods. It was a bad time of day to go. I was a little bit hungry and they have all those free samples. I had to remove myself from that place quickly before I started stabbing people. Chewing food was a joy after that cleanse. I also learned that you can juice sweet potatoes. It was good.

  • Amy Hanson

    2014/01/16 at 12:45 pm

    Valid….and for me!

  • ɯoɔ˙ɹǝƃƃolquǝʞoʇ

    2014/01/16 at 12:52 pm

    Okay, so I watched “Fat, Sick, and nearly Dead,” too.

    I bought a really nice juicer.

    It’s still in the box on the kitchen stool.

    The closest I’ve come (to juicing) is a can bean soup (water added) run through the magic bullet, nuke if for a couple of minutes, and yum. That’s stuff is creamy, delicious, and obviously not kosher — but then I’ve never seen any hint of bacon in a single can!

    I actually washed and prepared fruits (twice) and veggies (once), but I never got to getting the juicer out of the box. I love raw fruits and veggies, so yeah, I just ate them.

    I couldn’t help it, they were just so clean and delicious looking.

  • KristenfromMA

    2014/01/16 at 1:00 pm

    Glad you wrote that. Scientists have found no evidence of any removal of toxins from the body. It’s a juice fast.

  • KristenfromMA

    2014/01/16 at 1:03 pm

    Talk about moving the goal posts. Size 8 used to be the ideal. It’s definitely not “in between.” (Not a criticism of you or your comment!)

  • americanrecluse

    2014/01/16 at 1:12 pm

    I know other commenters have said this but I’m just chiming in to say that I would also love to know the details – whether you make or buy, which, what, how to decide, all that stuff. Also, nothing that color should ever be allowed to taste gross. Purply-red = “grape” darn it!

  • JudithNYC

    2014/01/16 at 1:19 pm

    Not that I think a size 8 is a bad thing, but a size 8 today is much larger than when it used to be the ideal size. Ask me how I know.

  • JudithNYC

    2014/01/16 at 1:23 pm

    Not to invalidate your reasoning otherwise, but citing Mormon practices does not make it more appealing/reasonable to me.

    On the other hand, even though I would never do a fast, juice or otherwise, I will not criticize your fasting. You know your own body and mind and can choose the ways you want to improve them.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/01/16 at 1:28 pm

    Yeah, I wasn’t prepared AT ALL for that cleanse back in 2008. I was eating fried and processed food all the time, a ton of dairy, pasta, all of it. It gave me a raging sinus infection. I think if anyone is going to try something like this they should ease into it by eliminating some things gradually.

  • tmb

    2014/01/16 at 1:49 pm

    lots of religions practice fasting. Mormonism is just the one Heather is most familiar with.

  • tmb

    2014/01/16 at 1:51 pm

    can you add pears or some sweeter fruit to help with that? Or does it defeat the purpose?

  • SmithShack71

    2014/01/16 at 4:47 pm

    While it’s probably not as extreme, or it may be depending on the willpower of a person (I’m thinking it would be damn extreme for me, I’m a wuss. Like, I think I would chase a cow down in a field and eat him alive by day 3), it reminds me a little of David Blaine when he was in ice or water for so long. It was very enlightening for him. It was about endurance and inner strength. I applaud anyone for that. Especially since he didn’t die. Love him.

  • sherewin.com

    2014/01/16 at 4:52 pm

    Congratulations! You are the valedictorian of diets! 😉

  • Taylor

    2014/01/16 at 5:53 pm

    I’m on a similar thing right now where I only drink nutritionally sufficient shakes while I work through my food issues with a therapist and dietitian. It’s a long story. Basically I just wanted to chime in to say that not only do I relate to the raisins thing, but around day three I was seriously tempted by my dogs CANNED FOOD. It crossed my mind to lick the spoon.

    Of course I didn’t. And I’m better now after the hump of the first week or so, but man, hunger will do AMAZING things to your senses. I kinda wish everything always smelled this good.

  • KathyB

    2014/01/16 at 5:59 pm

    And you have the joys of colonoscopy preps to look forward to in your dotage 🙂 I’m on the five year plan thanks to father’s colon cancer (surgery but no follow up needed – ten years ago).

  • Lisa

    2014/01/17 at 7:51 am

    I juice, but not as a fast, just as a snack. I’m always surprised at how a glass of kale/apple/lemon/ginger will stave off my appetite for hours no matter how hungry I am before I drink it.

  • DMM

    2014/01/17 at 8:01 am

    Most sources say women need at least 46 grams of protein a day. 10-15 a day for five days is not healthy!

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/01/17 at 8:04 am

    Most Americans’ diets are not healthy for 365 days of the year.

  • DMM

    2014/01/17 at 8:16 am

    Well, it seems like your paleo diet is supposed to be healthy, right? And even if our diets aren’t healthy, that doesn’t mean it’s good to swing the pendulum the other way and ignore generally accepted guidelines on minimum protein intake (by a lot, based on the 10-15 gram figure). It sounds like you acknowledge that this isn’t a healthy thing, but since other people aren’t healthy either, it’s ok.

  • Michael Mathews

    2014/01/17 at 9:01 am

    I try to juice for breakfast a few days per week. I thought I would want to eat my arm by 10 am, but I actually do ok most mornings. It seems to help me choose better at lunch when I start the day with fruits and veggies. I’ll have to try that combination as I love all of those individually.

  • vattenskada

    2014/01/17 at 9:46 am

    Interesting to see … thank you it’s well done 🙂

  • LC Arami

    2014/01/17 at 10:29 am

    I would be interested in knowing the ingredients that make up these juices, and are you making them yourself? and if so, is that process time consuming?

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/01/17 at 10:58 am

    I did not acknowledge that this isn’t healthy. You’re singling out five days worth of my protein intake and my protein intake alone. Aside from the almond juice, I’m consuming far more green vegetables than I eat in my normal diet. I’d say I’m getting more healthy ingredients in this “fast” than I have been lately in my normal Paleo diet, and this is something I want to change. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this in the first place.

    I’m pointing out that most Americans consume quantities of sugar and salt and processed food far beyond what is healthy on a daily basis. Every single day. A five-day juice cleanse wherein I’m filling my body with green vegetables? Direct your ire elsewhere.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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