With half a dozen delivery-service brands on the market and an endless number of DIY routines on the Internet, soup cleansing is officially becoming a “thing.” Packed with fiber and other nutrients and relatively low in sugar, a soup cleanse promises similar health benefits to a juice one—more energy, healthier skin, weight loss, increased immune support—as well as a more satisfying, dynamic flavor experience. Could it be true? Is souping sort of like a juice cleanse for foodies? As a semi-annual juice cleanser with a penchant for eating out in fancy restaurants, I wanted to give it a whirl.
Day Before The Cleanse: Silently Judging
I pick up 24 glass-bottled concoctions (a serious arm workout) from Soupure in Brentwood on Monday morning, spying a popular cold-pressed juice joint in the same shopping center. I’m totally throwing shade as I hobble to my car.
The guy at the pick-up counter told me not to completely ditch caffeine or alcohol if I’m not used to going without them. I immediately fall in love with him and the company. I decide to give up wine but still allow myself to start the day with a cup of coffee.
While a refrigerator filled with juices typically makes me want to run out and eat a hamburger, the soups look more appetizing and filling. It also looks like way too much soup for one person, which is comforting.
Day 1: Surprisingly Satisfied
I drink everything. Who am I kidding? I am not one of those women who complains about how she “can’t get through” all of the juices in her cleanse. (Yes, non-LA readers, they exist.)
I have to say, the soups were delicious and surprisingly nuanced in flavor. In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, the cleanse involves a mixture of waters, broths, soups and juices (not just soups).
The high point of the day was every time I got up to grab a new jar because I imagine the time, energy and money I am saving on not having to figure out what to eat for my next meal (see: raising an 8-month-old).
The low of my day was while on a conference call with our team in New York, I imagine tearing open a bag of Trader Joe’s sesame-honey almonds with my teeth like an animal. (Actually, I just thought that would be a hilarious thing to do.) In fact—and I know this sounds annoying—I am completely sated all day.
Day 2: Professional Healthy Person
By day two I am already acting like a health nut, chugging my alkaline water while lecturing my husband on his questionable breakfast choices. I’m actually looking forward to the strawberry-cashew milk I get to drink toward the end of the day, as if it were a slice of birthday cake.
Later in the day, when faced with actual birthday donuts at a company-wide celebration, my health nut balloon deflates a little. I’m feeling antisocial, which I’ve felt on other cleanses. There’s something a bit alienating about the whole process. The upside? I was laser focused on my work all day and went to bed early, as there was no food to cook or dishes to clean for the first time in a long time.
Day 3: Rebel Without A Cause
Things are getting a bit more extreme on day three: my skin is weirdly tingly, and I’m feeling emotional in an illogical, hormonal way. On the upside, I’m wearing my skinny jeans with my skinny shirt and feeling like the whole post-baby bikini experience this summer might just be possible. (I’m generally not a weight-obsessed person, but show me a girl who doesn’t stress about wearing next-to-nothing around everyone she knows, and I’ll point you in the direction of a unicorn.)
It was a productive, fun and yet tiresome day at the office with back-to-back meetings. Additionally I had friends fly in from New York that day who were begging me to leave work early and meet them for Mexican food. (Insert emojis.)
I show up an hour or so late to the restaurant, starving, emotionally and intellectually drained and 100% ready to break some rules. I ditch the cleanse early and indulge in margaritas, vegan nachos and more chips with guacamole. That night I feel guilty but happy and too tired to overthink it.
Day 4: Ready For Another Soup Cleanse
Here’s the thing: Mexican food is no way to end a cleanse. I wake up groggy and hungry and feeling unhealthy, and I’m a little mad at myself for not seeing the thing through. That said, one of Soupure’s prerogatives is to take some of the pressure off the cleansing process by giving customers a variety of options—some with actual texture—and not forcing them to feel like they have to be rigid about the rules. So maybe I did okay?
Later that day, instead of going for a grilled cheese and iced coffee (my favorite Friday treat), I drink the soup and juice I skipped last night and amp up my water intake. It clears the post-fiesta fog in no time, and I’m reminded that maybe cheese, bread and caffeine aren’t really the best brain fuel after all.
Conclusion: Souping Is Still A Cleanse…But A Much Easier One
Souping might not be a foodie’s cleanse (raw food cleanses probably better fill that bill), but it’s definitely a nice bridge between juice and actual food. I’m convinced that part of the reason I caved a bit early was because I didn’t have that militant, martyr-like mind-set juice cleanses can bring on. I ate Mexican food because it seemed like a normal thing to do after a long, tiresome day. I was never “starving,” even though I had some physical ups and downs, and at the end of the process I felt a renewed commitment to making healthy choices. That’s a pretty good result when all is said and done, right? I think so.