Juice Fasts Take Root in Tokyo
The latest health trend that's blowing up all across the United States and elsewhere is juicing, and it's accompanying juice fasts. Now, thanks to Canadian-born self-taught nutrition expert Nicole Batten, Tokyoites can also enjoy the many benefits of drinking their vegetables. Through a new service called SuperNatural Cleanse, Nicole offers all-inclusive juice fasts lasting between one and seven days. The concept was fairly new to me, but after several days of rich foods and lots of wine over the holiday season, I decided to try a three-day juice cleanse to see if the detoxing benefits were all they're hyped up to be.
Nicole’s service starts with a face-to-face consultation, during which time she explains the process of the juice fast and what you can expect. She also gives her clients some helpful documentation that outlines a few rules they must follow in order to make the cleanse a success. One thing I hadn’t expected was the instruction to maintain a fairly strict diet for at least two days before and two days after the cleanse, meaning the entire detoxing process would last for seven days. I met with Nicole for the consultation in late December, just before heading off on a two-week vacation. I started the detox the day after I returned to Tokyo.
I wake up around 7 a.m. and wander into the kitchen. I find the documents Nicole gave me at our consultation and remind myself of the things I’m not supposed to be eating or drinking for the next two days: caffeine, sugar, meat, dairy, eggs, excessive salt, wheat, fish and soy. Then I look around my kitchen, next to bare after a two-week vacation. It’s clear I’ll need to do some shopping, but at the moment I’m starving, so I cut up some potatoes and roast them with olive oil, garlic and herbs. I wash this down with coconut water and call it breakfast. At the supermarket later on, I read the labels on things like tomato puree and sauces; nearly everything, it would appear, contains sugar, salt or both. So I head to the local vegetable shop and stock up on fresh fruit and veggies. At Seijo Ishii, I find a brand of almond milk (Eco Mil) that is sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar, and I pick up some unsalted nuts and unsweetened dried fruit as well. Back at home, I cook some beans and lentils from a mix I have on hand, and later add the vegetables to make a hearty bean and veggie soup. Generous seasoning with garlic, ginger, chili peppers and oregano makes it surprisingly flavorful. When I start to crave a little snack at night, I have a small handful of cashews and a couple of dried apricots. Jet lag aside, I feel pretty good.
I feel more confident about being able to feed myself today than I did yesterday. For breakfast I have cooked oats with almond milk, topped with a sliced banana and accompanied with açai, pomegranate and raspberry juice. It’s delicious, and I make a mental note to add it to my regular breakfast rotation after I finish the juice cleanse. For lunch, I add cayenne pepper and cumin to the leftovers of yesterday’s soup, then cook it down until it’s a vegetarian chili. This is another winner. I head out on my bike to do some errands and go to a meeting, and I have plenty of energy, despite the jet lag. When I get back in the evening, I’m not even hungry for dinner, so I have fresh fruit and a few nuts, then settle in for the night. I go to bed with a nagging headache, but I hope that a good night’s sleep will take care of it.
After a restless night, I wake up with a terrible headache (Nicole warned that this is a common side effect, usually due to caffeine withdrawal). I assume that any kind of medication has the potential to interfere with the detox process, but I am desperate, so I take some ibuprofen to get through the day. The juices start today. Nicole dropped them off last night, all clearly labeled with their ingredients, the order and time at which to drink them, and a few other special instructions. For the most part, they are tasty and extremely easy to drink. My favorites are the second and fourth ones of the day (a light green mix of fruits and veggies, and an apple, carrot and beetroot concoction), and the cashew milk is yummy and soothing in the evening. The only juice I struggle with is the third one: a spicy lemonade made with cayenne pepper. Nicole had mentioned in advance to dilute it with water if it was too spicy, but I still have trouble getting it down. I love spicy foods and use cayenne pepper regularly in my cooking, but somehow it seems very off-putting to me in a juice. One thing that surprises me (even though Nicole told me I could expect it) is that I don’t feel hungry in the slightest. Sure, when my fiancé warms up a cinnamon role the smell is a little bit tempting, but I don’t feel at all desperate for food.
Today marks the halfway point in my detoxing process, and I’m feeling good. I have a slight headache when I wake up, but nothing compared to yesterday, so I manage to stay away from any medication. Heavily diluted and drunk over the space of about an hour, even the spicy lemonade goes down better today. I start to feel slightly lightheaded as I’m out window shopping in Omotesando with my fiancé, but the fresh air helps keep me focused. Back at home, I drink the next juice and then take a short nap (the jet lag seems to have reached its peak). Nicole comes by in the evening to drop off the juices for the last day, and mentions that she’s gone easy on the cayenne pepper in this batch of spicy lemonade. I forget to add the chia seeds to the fifth juice, so I add them to a glass of lukewarm water that I drink right after. Having fallen asleep on the sofa while watching TV, I decide to turn in early.
For the first time during the detox regimen, I wake up feeling hungry. Not starving, but just slightly peckish. I drink the first juice about an hour before its prescribed time of 9 a.m., along with several glasses of water. My head feels clear today. Throughout the entire day, the juices taste delicious and satisfying (even that spicy lemonade!). I still am not hungry for food, but I admit that I’m starting to feel a bit bored by the repetition of consuming nothing but juice. Probably because of the weather, I’m also missing having hot food in my belly (Nicole says she will be combating this by including herbal teas with the cleanse in the future).
Days 6 and 7
Unlike before the juice fast, I don’t struggle to find foods that fit into the detox diet. I eat things like vegetable stir fry with brown rice, and a chopped salad with quinoa. I am loving all of the foods, and many of them I know I will make again. Physically, I feel energized and clear headed, able to focus on work more reliably and for longer periods of time. I have fewer mid-morning or mid-afternoon cravings, and I am sleeping soundly and waking up feeling refreshed. I also get the sense that all of the liquids I have been consuming have helped combat the dry skin I suffer from every winter. And just to satisfy my curiosity, I weigh myself and find I’m over two kilograms lighter than I was before the cleanse. No complaints there!
Overall, I would say the juice cleanse was definitely successful, and I can even see myself doing it again in a few months’ time (Nicole recommends monthly juice fasts, but I think that’s something I may have to work up to). If you’re curious about it but unsure you can last three days or more without food, SuperNatural Cleanse also offers a one-day introductory cleanse. Prices are listed below, and include a consultation, delivery of juices every two days to your home or office (currently limited to Minato-ku and Shibuya-ku), five juices plus one nut milk each day, supplements (chia seeds, wheatgrass, spirulina) to add to the juices, herbal tea, and support throughout the cleanse. For more information, email Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prices for SuperNatural Cleanse Juice Fasts
One day: ¥7,500
Three days: ¥20,000
Five days: ¥32,500
Seven days: ¥45,000