Food & Drink

Over the Strawberry Moon

How I Learned to Stop Eating Food and Not Love Living on Juice Alone

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Anna Minard
GIN AND JUICE Minus the gin.

I am a comfort animal—a devoted hedonist, a coffee addict, a person who many weekday mornings sits down to a full breakfast of sausage and eggs. A few weeks ago, a local juice company called Strawberry Moon offered us a free juice fast. It did not make a lot of sense for me to accept. The instructions read, in part: "If you absolutely need to eat, first try raw food... But the food desire is more of a head game. You can easily survive 30 days without food." Easily! Really. Who knew. I would try this juice fast! When I told a friend it meant I couldn't drink coffee, she laughed so hard she hit her head on a table.

Strawberry Moon offers a three-day fast, but they said that many people start to feel "really good" on the third day and wish they had "gone for the five-day instead." So I went for it. I was allotted four 16-ounce juices a day. For five days. "Once your juice arrives, remove solid foods from your diet, [and] flood the body with healthy nutrient-dense and enzyme-packed juice," warbled the instructions. Simple!

My first juice was green-brown: carrot, fennel, spinach, apple, cucumber. It made my mouth tingle with fennel. I felt cleansed-er already. And already hungry as fuck. While I was drinking it, Megan Seling sent an officewide e-mail with a picture of four different kinds of cupcakes she'd just brought in, adding, "I even brought my culinary torch for the brûlée!" It was going to be a very long week.

The science on juice cleanses is spotty. People who "cleanse" talk a lot about "toxins," but in any serious article about juicing, there's a quote from a reputable doctor who explains that your liver exists to filter out toxins from your food, and it doesn't need a "break" from its job. Strawberry Moon owner Sean Dereck told me in an e-mail that it was more about enzymes: "When digestive enzymes are always in demand, the body knows how to switch a systemic enzyme (for repairs) into a digestive enzyme. As systemic enzymes deplete, the aging process accelerates." I didn't feel younger at all, just tired—very tired, on the very first day.

My dinner juice was kale, celery, parsley, dandelion, ginger, and lime. The combo made my mouth burn, like if your front lawn came to life and you gave it a blowjob, and then you found out it had grass STIs. My mouth felt like that for an hour. When I woke up, I was hungry. I had a juice. It was orange, almond, and alfalfa. It tasted like a watered-down Creamsicle that came from a farm. I was still hungry.

When I walked in to work on day two carrying juice number two, which looked surprisingly like the Jolly Green Giant's diarrhea sample, my coworker Cienna Madrid, who was supposed to be juice-fasting with me, said, "Um... I owe you a hamburger." She'd fallen off the wagon after about nine hours. She spoke of paella and something wrapped in bacon. I missed chewing.

People asked a lot, so here is how I felt: hungry and bone-tired. I was always cold, I had a headache nonstop for three of the five days, and I was buried under a deep blanket of ennui. I looked around the world and couldn't for the life of me understand why people were bothering to go about their day. Nothing was meaningful. I looked forward to little else but going home each day and getting straight in bed, another fucking bottle of juice next to me.

Halfway through, I "absolutely" needed to eat a raw food. I had a single avocado for dinner. You cannot imagine how enjoyable it was. It smelled amazing, the texture was lovely, I'd somehow picked one at the perfect stage of ripeness. It was the best avocado ever. Could there be an upside to this juice fast?

Like many modern humans, I have a complicated relationship to food. I am a hungry girl and I love to eat. I wake up in the night wishing I could have breakfast already. I'm rarely picky, and I was raised by people who spend the bulk of their entertainment budget on delicious and beautiful food. In giving up solid food, I suddenly had to account for hours and dollars I hadn't thought much of. Without food, coffee, and alcohol, how and where could I socialize? How did I reward myself for hard work? How did I relax?

I had a big party with friends where we all drank juice (they also drank gin, and I almost did too). I got a lot more sleep, because there was no point in staying up. It got easier to live with the constant feeling of hunger, but I did not feel "light" or enlightened or free. I felt disconnected from the world—in a disturbing way, not a meditative way. I misdialed phone numbers all the time, made stupid typos. I kept thinking of a Sylvia Plath poem about a long fever ("Water, water make me retch./I am too pure for you or anyone./Your body/Hurts me as the world hurts God"). Other than that, I just thought about food.

And then it was Friday. I broke my fast at dinner, at a birthday party. Everyone in the office was concerned about the breaking of the fast—start small, they said. Try pale, tasteless things. I asked Strawberry Moon for advice; they said that "salads, smoothies, soups are easy to digest" and to "go easy on the booze."

I ended up eating three pieces of the greasiest, heaviest pizza I know of—from Northlake Tavern—and I washed it down with a great pinot noir. It was, obviously, fucking incredible. I had a slice of half-butter, half-chocolate birthday cake baked out of the Dahlia Bakery's cookbook, and then I went to a show and drank beer until close. My body was delighted. It did not complain. My skin, which had been breaking out all week, cleared up immediately. My brain came back online. The world was new again.

Everyone keeps asking me why on earth I would do this thing. Because it was crazy? Because Cienna said she would do it, too? (I collected my apology cheeseburger, with bacon jam and bleu cheese, from Cienna at Skillet Diner.) I didn't do it because of toxins or enzymes; I think that's crap. I approached it as a project, a dare, a test of will, a curiosity exercise. It seemed insane and impossible, and sometimes it's fun to see if you can do something that seems impossibly insane, just to test yourself.

I don't regret it at all. The juice people might—Strawberry Moon wrote on their Facebook page that "we never heard if she slept better, weight loss, skin change, or any sick details about the sick details." (My extra sleep might seem better, but it was out of boredom and sadness. I think I lost three pounds. The "sick details" weren't sick, they were just green.) "And," they wrote, "if you play hard, a juice fast is going to be more difficult than for the more health regimented." I don't regret the fast, but I also don't regret "playing hard," whatever that means—birthday cake and gin and dive bars are not things I want to cleanse myself of. recommended


Comments (18) RSS

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McBomber 18
Loved the article, Anna, and nice work getting through all five days! My wife and I make our own juice and it actually tastes like vegetables instead of hay. I love it, but only as a supplement to burgers and beer and all of the other delicious offerings out there. Recently I've been taking juice to work and drinking that instead of afternoon caffeine. It wakes me up, brain and body, but doesn't keep me up into the night. Everything in moderation, right?
Posted by McBomber on March 1, 2013 at 9:36 PM · Report this
Hmmm the things I read suggest putting your body into starvation mode via this, anorexia, etc., is never a good idea. Your body shuts metabolism way down, starts to digest its own muscle for calories, and when you start to eat 'normal' again you have less muscle mass, a slower metabolism, and get fatter than ever. To say eat more veggies, less fatty/red meat/junk food makes a hell of a lot more sense than to do these kind of extreme diets/'cleansings'/whatevs, in my opinion...
Posted by freshnycman on February 28, 2013 at 11:42 AM · Report this
PSV54 16
I was excited to see something written about fasting, but disappointed in the far-from-beneficial results. I have been fasting yearly for 20 years. I see it as a cleansing fast and I usually do it in the spring, after a winter of bad eating habits. It's a 14 day liquids fast: 3 transition days in and out and then 6-8 days on only juices or vegetable broth. The first three days are the hardest for me, even while I'm still eating because my body and mind knows what's coming. I have read that periods of 'starvation' are natural to our species and our bodies can go without food for up to 40 days. It's the feast or famine you've heard of. In the modern day, it has to be done voluntarily because food is everywhere all the time in whatever quantity you like or can afford. As soon as I make the decision to do the fast, my body goes into fast-mode: I imagine my tongue coating with toxins oozing out and I get a pre-buzz. I think one reason you didn't get any of the benefits is that you don't really start to feel them until day 8 or 9. In the fast I do, your stomach shuts down and you need to give yourself daily enemas to clean out the intestine. Even they become routine. It's all about discipline, like learning a language or playing an instrument. I like the practice...
Posted by PSV54 on February 25, 2013 at 9:09 PM · Report this
Extreme fatigue and/or its opposite, restlessness
Headache (believed to be caused by buildup of toxins in the blood) <--Anna
Aches, Pains
Arthritic flair up
Insomnia <---Anna
Sinus congestion
Fever (usually low grade) and/or chills <--Anna
Frequent urination and/or urinary tract discharges
Drop in blood pressure
Skin eruptions, including: boils, hives, and rashes. <---Anna
Cold or flu-like symptoms
Strong emotions: anger, despair, sadness, fear, etc. <---Anna
Suppressed memories arise
Anxiety <--Anna
Mood swings

(Link Below)…

Posted by JZesbaugh on February 25, 2013 at 4:52 PM · Report this
The thing written about toxins is very misleading. Anyone who has ever taken a drug test knows that toxins store up in the body, anyone who understands the cumulative effects of heavy metals, and pesticides knows that toxins store up in the body. This has been shown over and over some of the strongest cases being detoxing those with radiation sickness after the bombings of japan in world war 2.… (radiation)

Some are exuded through the skin ("My skin, which had been breaking out all week, cleared up immediately."), which the author seems to have began to experience. Many other toxins called fat soluble toxins can stay in the body for quite a while. The fat soluble ones begin to pour out when a person begins a fast, leading to every symptom the author described.

While water soluble ones move through fairly quickly. Which the author half grasped, was done by the liver, and kidneys, and of course skin.… to tell if your detoxing to fast, because it happened to the author)

The author did not do enough research, and was not prepared, people who eat a western diet are very toxic, hence the high rates of disease (Many dispute this, do so if you like). If you are going to detox, move into it slowly, follow what your body tells you. You might find that a juice and the morning a raw salad for lunch, and a lite cooked dinner, are the right way to wade in. Getting your body healthy and toxin free is not a contest.

Remember these timeless words. ANNA MINARD
“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” --Hippocrates

Because from what you described, your body has years of built up gunk.
Here is a list of what happens when you detox (AT FIRST):

Extreme fatigue and/or its opposite, restlessness
Posted by JZesbaugh on February 25, 2013 at 4:48 PM · Report this
Enzymes are not like Santa Claus they actually scientifically exist. Strawberry Moon juices do not look like my juices, which is everything fresh in my shopping cart/veggie drawer. It seems the fresh pressed juices would be worth it, and at $10 a bottle I think I NEED to try! They look gorgeous!
Posted by dropandgogirl on February 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM · Report this
this was friggin' hilarious.
Posted by perfectscreenname on February 22, 2013 at 3:25 PM · Report this
Anna, you're great!!! Please write more!!
I don't think I could live on juice alone.
Kudos to you for taking the dare.

Long live red wine & cheeseburgers!!!!!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on February 22, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 10

Maybe you should try reading some stuff not written by hacks. Excluding late great Douglas Adams of course, though comparing this girls over privileged whiny drivel to Adams is rather insulting. On the positive side Minard writes circles around most of The Strangers over the hill still trying to be edgy staff. She has a lot of potential once she gains some perspective.

Posted by Cascadian Bacon on February 21, 2013 at 8:46 PM · Report this
Does anyone ever notice that many of the writers for this rag sound like bitchy drag queens (oh, honey, let me tell you 'bout the time I GAVE UP FOOD! OMG!) Whether or not Strawberry Moon is a good or bad idea healthwise, having some sarcastic a-hole go off about her idiotic misadventure is neither entertaining or enlightening. It's just irritating and annoying, which I guess is the goal (and no, a perfunctory and obvious misplaced literary reference to Sylvia Plath does not imbue you with any cred, sweetie--it's just pathetic). Sorry, my bad for reading, guess I read the Stranger the way liberals watch Fox News and then get pissed at it. Mea Culpa (need to learn to just cut out Muede and throw the rest of the paper in the recycle).
Posted by Mirandaw on February 21, 2013 at 6:53 PM · Report this
You're a wonderful writer! And you have way more willpower than me. Very jealous.

Oh, and for the tool who said "First World Problems?" Shut the fuck up.
Posted by portland scribe on February 21, 2013 at 5:13 PM · Report this
OMG. So well written.

"The combo made my mouth burn, like if your front lawn came to life and you gave it a blowjob, and then you found out it had grass STIs."

Second best sentence I've read this month, and I usually read the entire New York Times plus everything Dan Savage writes (I know, weird combo, huh?). (Best sentence this month was something Douglas Adams wrote, I've been re-reading his books. He was one hell of a writer, multiple sentencegasms. Yours came close to rivaling the great Adams!)
Posted by delta35 on February 21, 2013 at 4:24 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 6
First world problems.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on February 21, 2013 at 3:38 PM · Report this
Loved, loved, loved you article girl!! Write more!
Posted by nicedavid on February 21, 2013 at 11:25 AM · Report this
Bemusedchicken 4
actually....strawberry moon looks STUNNING.
Posted by Bemusedchicken on February 21, 2013 at 3:05 AM · Report this
Bemusedchicken 3
honey made some rookie mistakes. First spent too much damn money. You don't need to go to a bullshit juicing restaurant...if you can put even 10 bucks aside you can make literally pitchers worth of juice that you'll actually WANT to drink. Costco is your friend. Then, instead of fasting just add it onto your normal diet routine. Your cravings will VANISH. It's just that magical. Oh and'll improve your experiences with other green substances....HEHE!!!! Trust me...don't torture yourself!!!!! P.S. make sure your using a solid juicer and not a jack lalame. MWAH.
Posted by Bemusedchicken on February 21, 2013 at 2:58 AM · Report this
Fenrox 2
Whaaaaaa? Who is this wonderful writer? You guys gotta tease this shit out in slog. Great article!
Posted by Fenrox on February 20, 2013 at 2:43 PM · Report this
It is too bad that you had such a negative experience on the juice fast. I went on it for 60 days, lost 65 pounds and felt 100% better in all aspects. I am also 50 so there may be a bit more positive effect on older persons.
Posted by woofy on February 20, 2013 at 9:05 AM · Report this

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