Put Down The Juice: Whole-Food Cleanses That Won't Make You A Maniac

There are three things you should never bring up at a party: religion, politics, and juice cleansing. There is no more divisive topic on this earth — besides, maybe, Obamacare.
And, while we have plenty of juice fiends at R29 HQ, that doesn't mean we ignore the facts. Juice cleansing may have some merits (above all, it resets your food cravings), but most of the claims are questionable at best. Medical professionals point out that, though there's clearly nothing wrong with getting more fruit and vegetable nutrients into your diet, the process of juice cleansing robs you of some really important elements. Number one on that list? Fiber. If you're looking to "clean out," fiber is mandatory. Additionally, juicing eliminates a large percentage of the phytonutrients you're hoping to fill up on with that bottle of green. So, what does that leave you with? A drastically reduced nutritional value, plus a lot more sugar and water than you bargained for. Bummer, right?
Still, we could probably all benefit from a little system reset. Most of us have those post-weekend, post-holiday, post-Mexican-getaway-with-bottomless-margaritas days, where your insides feel like a stale sponge. But, before you shell out zillions for pretty bottles of not-so-detoxifying juices, consider the whole-food cleanse. The New York area is filled with services that provide food-based (or part-food, part-juice) cleanses that can help you get back on track. Best of all: You can chew them! Food cleanses are a rapidly growing part of the health-food industry, and aside from being a healthier option, they're a much easier transition for those who've never done one before. No more psychotic day-three breakdowns; no more weeping at the site of a tomato — no more crash-diet nonsense. You're a grown-up. You have teeth. Use 'em.
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Image: Via Sakara Life.
Sakara Life
One of the most dynamic and enticing plans out there, Sakara Life is not your typical cleanse. Founders Whitney Tingle and Danielle DuBoise have a firm philosophy that eating fresh, seasonal food is the way to real health and vitality. "We don't count calories....or carbs or points or pounds, for that matter."

The Sakara Life cleanses (choose from one to five days or months of meal plans) fill you up with a dynamic variety of superfoods to meet all your nutritional needs — and keep you energized all day. Plus, it's all delicious. The week we tried this regimen, our desk mates seethed with lunch-envy as we dug into toasted kale and veggie bowls, coconut-pistachio snacks, sauteed mushrooms, and organic bean and squash salads with lemony vinaigrette. It was a yummy week, and we felt like rock stars by the end.

Bonus! The ladies at Sakara Life, upon hearing our raves, graciously offered a $25 discount to R29 readers. If you'd like to try it out, just enter REFINERYLOVE when you order.
Sakara Life, from $99, available at Sakara Life.
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Image: Via Joulebody.
For those who love the feel of a juice cleanse but enjoy their solids, too, the Joulebody plans are a great option. Whether you're a super-active person, a cleansing newb, or just someone who needs a week of healthy eating, Joulebody has a plan to meet your needs. The combo of juices, whole foods, and convenient snack packs is great for someone who needs three meals a day — but doesn't want to give up their mid-morning snacks. The cleanses come delivered in a big box, with your whole schedule planned out for you.

We love the creamy hummus and crunchy lettuce wraps — not to mention the flax chips that seriously satisfied our potato-chip craving. If you're panicked about getting hungry on a cleanse, this is the one for you. The schedule of juices and foods keeps your blood sugar stable throughout the day, meaning no afternoon crashes. And, if you are feeling a little extra munchy, there's a backup nosh waiting for you, too.
Joulebody, from $139, available at Joulebody.
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Image: Via The Splendid Spoon.
The Splendid Spoon
Whether you're looking for a cleanse or just enjoy a really good bowl of soup, this Brooklyn-based delivery service is a MUST-try. Cofounder and chef Nicole Chaszar sources all of her ingredients locally, within 200 miles of New York City. The results? They're delicious, hearty, and really, really ridiculously good for you. We were already fans of the soup-cleanse model, but The Splendid Spoon hits it out of the park.

Order a two-to-four-day package (one of which comes with a nutritionist consultation!), and a box of frozen wonder will arrive at your door. When it's time to eat, choose from a variety of flavors such as tomato herb, ratatouille, mushroom, sweet corn, and gingered carrots and greens, and simply defrost on the stove or in the microwave. We thought we'd get bored with straight-up soup for three days — but this stuff ain't Campbells. Each flavor is seasoned perfectly and has its own unique texture. Rather than bored, we found ourselves eagerly waiting by the microwave to find out if our dinner soup could possibly top lunch.
The Splendid Spoon, from $55, available at The Splendid Spoon.
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Image: Via One Lucky Duck.
One Lucky Duck Not-Just-Juice Cleanse
Any foodie New Yorker will tell you that Pure Food and Wine is one of the best meals in town. So, when cofounder (and pioneer of the raw-food movement) Sarma Melngailis started a cleanse program, we were over the moon. Never one to disappoint, Melngailis has curated a system for gourmet palates and health nuts alike.

One Lucky Duck offers two options for cleansing, based on whether you're looking to lose weight or simply tidy up your diet. Both the Shine and Glow programs, however, offer truly delectable meals (and juices!). Sushi rolls, falafel salads, and zucchini lasagna? Yeah, that's a cleanse we can get onboard with. And, can we do that, like, now?

One Lucky Duck Not-Just-Juice Cleanse, from $225, available at One Lucky Duck.