In hindsight, it's hard to defend my decision to embark on a five-day juice cleanse. Always a sucker for self-punishment and following a particularly tedious stint at work, I figured I could do with a mental and physical challenge. After a quick Internet search, I convinced myself of juicing's numerous health benefits: resting your gut, liver, and stomach; detoxifying your innards; flooding your body with nutrients; and boosting energy to as-yet-unattained levels. Besides, I was promised a sense of glowing self-fulfillment, inner peace, and purification—a tempting call after my personal week of shameless overindulgence, social chaos, and subsequent self-loathing.
So off I went to Koh Samui, Thailand, with my faithful boyfriend in tow. We stayed five nights and six days at Spa Samui Resorts, a detox complex known for its "Juice It" fasts. Perched on a private beach in a tranquil corner of the island, it's mercifully cut off from the puking hellhole of Samui town itself, which brims with abusive, burnt Brits and Thai hookers. Sadly, this idyllic setting was all rather lost on me.
I assure you there's nothing more dampening to a holiday spirit than leaving your hotel room with the perpetual fear of knocking over some roaming skeleton clasping a colonic irrigation bucket.
Firstly, there was the company. Almost every resort guest was either morbidly obese or dangerously anorexic. I don't make a habit out of shitting on people with weight issues, but I assure you there's nothing more dampening to a holiday spirit than leaving your hotel room with the perpetual fear of knocking over some roaming skeleton clasping a colonic irrigation bucket with a grim look of dismal determination. My size-6 frame felt like some kind of freak show and did nothing for morale.
Then there was the lack of routine. My days are generally broken up by three crucial events: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I'm not one to skip a meal because a conference call ran on. Eating is an intentional, social, gratifying procedure that forms the axis of my days. Without meals, there is no morning, afternoon, or evening.
As a result, I spent 98 percent of my time at the resort thinking about food. I'd read various convincing reports of returning juicers, who vowed that after the first couple of days you forget about your belly and begin appreciating a deeper meditative state that is impossible to reach if you've just stuffed your face with a juicy double Quarter Pounder with fries. I beg to differ. The fifth day was just as excruciating as the first, and any reflective time I had was spent listening to the loud rumbles of my stomach rather than the whisperings of spiritual awareness.
We'd go to bed early, but sex felt like more effort than was worthwhile. We'd roll over on our empty stomachs and count roasted lambs till we fell asleep.
This problem was only compounded by the juices themselves, which did nothing to quell the irrepressible cravings I had for pretty much anything solid or with a hint of flavor. We were presented with three juices a day: one swamp-colored spirulina shake, one coconut water, and one mixed vegetable juice. I tried to down my spirulina sludge early, so I wasn't gagging for the rest of the day. On a good evening, we were given a cup of mild, earthy, clear broth.
Finally, there was the feeling of how incessantly, pathetically drained we were. We had little energy or desire to do anything. We'd go off on motorbikes only to discover it was completely impossible to ride anywhere without passing the haunting smells of Thai street markets bursting with boiling caldrons of shrimp-laden tom yum, sticky pans of tamarind-coated pad thai, and deep-fried bananas dripping in coconut flakes and Nutella. We'd return to basecamp and lock ourselves away from temptation. We'd go to bed early, but sex felt like more effort than was worthwhile. We'd roll over on our empty stomachs and count roasted lambs till we fell asleep.
Maybe this whole miserable episode says more about my own first-world gluttony than about juicing itself; maybe I'm missing the point. But whatever that point is, I'm still pretty hard-pressed to come up with any benefits at all. Instead of that rush of accomplishment or mindful awareness, I felt weak, hungry, and pissed that I was paying good baht to spend a third of my total annual vacation in some bad social experiment. I lost two kilograms that I promptly replaced within two days of escaping.
When day six finally rolled around, I tossed my last cabbage juice to the sea, checked into a plush hotel, and surrounded myself with all the shrimp cakes and red curry I could find, returning to my room to meditate in the comfort of my own food coma.
This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in April 2015.