America does love a good fad, especially when it is embraced by celebrities. It seems the only thing that can trump a celebrity craze is one that also involves weight loss. Diet-related fads rarely cause long-term damage to consumers because by their very definition, a fad comes and goes quite rapidly. A particular craze is here today, gone tomorrow, usually replaced by a whole new craze.
Juicing started as a bit of a fad a couple of years ago – some celebrities touted the benefits, a few late-night infomercials boasted of its many health and weight-loss attributes. In time, juicing moved from a fad to a trend to an absolute rage throughout the country. On the other end of the scale, as juicing continues to grow in widespread popularity, the behavioral health community has now elevated juicing to the status of an eating disorder. Because the American media does adore a good catch word, it is occasionally referred to as “Juicerexia.”
Of course, juicing, which also falls under the umbrella of detoxing or cleansing, may not inherently be wrong or harmful. When juicing fruits or vegetables is done at the maximum of a three-day cleanse and a couple times a year at most, or as a daily supplement to augment a healthy diet, one might experience the benefits of refreshing the body. A problem enters the equation when this concept of health is corrupted into something that is not just unhealthy, but life-threatening.
Juicing has provided those with anorexia a whole new strategy to lose vast amounts of weight, while legitimizing their anti-food behavior. Who would argue with the “raw food” or juicing approach to nutrition? After all, it sounds so healthy, so organic. Such statements as “I am doing a cleanse,” or “I can’t join you for lunch today because I am juicing,” are slowly sneaking into current conversations.
And of course, like most things that anorexics rely on, juicing works — weight loss occurs. But so does addiction. After weeks, or even months, of ingesting nothing but juice, the thought of eating something “real” is akin to a normal eater contemplating the consumption of a handful of worms. Real food becomes anathema. As the addiction takes hold, the body slowly deteriorates through loss of muscle mass; harm is caused to key organs simply because they are not getting the critical nutrients they require for health. The body can experience memory loss, interrupting its natural hunger and fullness cues; this makes it more difficult for the person to understand the difference between mental thoughts and physical feelings.
So, if you love to juice and indulge in the occasional detox or cleanse, please continue to do so but always be mindful of moderation. And, if you or someone you know has moved into the phase of all juice, no solid food, it is time to get help. Whether it is something as benign as vegetable greens, or as horrendous as meth, addiction is addiction, and all addiction has negative consequences, even when the substance comes from a blender.