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Are juice cleanses for kids completely nuts?

When clean-eating means kids cut out solid food altogether, has it gone too far? Bern Morely says yes. 

The other morning at a café, I overheard a disturbing conversation between two women. One was discussing (loudly) with her friend how she and her 8-year-old daughter had the most amazing “deconstructed burger with chickpeas and dukkah kale” for dinner the night before. Right before she went on to casually slip in that they were now both about to embark on a three-day ‘juice cleanse’ together. You know “some mother/daughter time”.

What, in the what?

I mean, I’ve had a deconstructed hamburger before but it wasn’t on purpose. And WHAT is dukkah kale? And WHO the hell puts their eight-year-old on a juice cleanse?

I understand clean eating, I really do and I  admire people who make this lifestyle choice. When they are ADULTS. Kids involved in juice cleanses though, well, really, that’s just, ermm, what’s the word I’m searching for here? Stupid. That’s right, it’s STUPID.

Sandra Davella, a 44-year-old banker has come under fire for not only allowing her six-year-old daughter, Sofia, to partake in juice cleanses but also using them to supplement and at times, replace actual meals.

Junior juicers like Sofia are taking a cue from their health-conscious parents, and getting in on the act themselves — starting with juices and raw foods and graduating to modified cleanses, all in the name of cleaner living, if not weight management.

In Sofia’s case, she supplements her juice-drinking with favourite foods such as dumplings, sauteed kale and edamame — not to mention the occasional slice of pizza.

"She still needs the food — she’s six years old,” says Sandra.

"But you can’t argue with the digestive benefits, adds Mum. “If I’m doing a three-day cleanse and I order for her, she goes [to the bathroom] every day.”

Hey lady, my kid “goes to the toilet” multiple times a day and there isn’t a piece of kale or edamame in sight. Wait, what the hell is edamame?

Plus, let’s just all take a minute to reflect on this particular sentence “She still needs the food — she’s six years old."

OH, REALLY.

One crazy step further and you’ll find the Californian based company Dherbs.com, selling a cleanse specifically targeted at children due to the 'Toxicity of many mother’s wombs’. For the bargain price of just $99, you can purchase a liquid extract that paired with a raw diet, promises to nourish and cleanse everything from the lungs and liver, to the colon and the adrenal glands. This product is specifically aimed at children aged 2 – 12. That $99 buys you two weeks' worth.

I’m not saying kids shouldn’t be drinking juice. I’m saying it shouldn’t be replacing meals. And it should NOT be being used a weight loss kick-starter. This view however, is not shared by Stephanie Walczak, founder of Rawpothecary, a health food company based in New York City.

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"For adults and kids alike who are trying to lose weight, these raw and organic drinks are a great kick-starter,”

Yum. Cleanse time.

No doctor worth his qualifications would support this method. They would however, encourage healthy eating but do you know what healthy eating also includes? Moderation. You CANNOT feed your children only organic, only wholefood, every day of the week. Because you would for one, go broke, and two, be spending your entire day preparing food for the next day.

Joanne Heyman, a 51-year-old writes how her two daughters have hounded her to partake in her regular cleanses. So she has finally given in.

They were always intrigued by the colour,” says Heyman, a non-profit consultant from Hastings-on-Hudson. “They expressed interest and curiosity, even back when they were 11.”

Heyman and her 17 year old daughter Emmy embarked on a five day cleanse together while Dad was away on a business trip. Oh, but not before gorging themselves on pizza the night before. Oh yeah, that sounds like completely normal behaviour.

"It’s kind of crazy: Most people do three days, but we’re doing five on the hardest cleanse called ‘Excavation’ — the one with all the green juices,” says Emmy, who dubbed herself “kale queen” at age 4

Mmmmm, the word ‘Excavation’ conjures up some pleasant images doesn’t it?

Another example, Victoria Rodriguez, a high school senior, lost 7 kgs after completing a 10-day juicing cleanse with her health-conscious mum, Helen Ortiz.

7 kilograms in 10 days! How can this be healthy?

"Prom is coming up and it’s the best time to try it. I wanted to fit into a smaller dress, and see if I was able to see a difference in my body,” says the 18-year-old.

How is this not setting her up for a lifetime of food related and eating problems?

And I’m sorry, as much as I try to make sure my children eat (mostly) good food, I simply don’t have the time, money or inclination to get rigid about these things. When kids are denied certain foods, they will binge on them when the eventually get the chance (and believe me, they will get the chance) to try them unsupervised.

Anything that is a fad is dangerous. Full stop. Healthy eating, for the majority and exercise are the only ways anyone can become totally healthy. There is nothing wrong with juices but they need to be consumed in conjunction with, you know, actual food. Consistency is what your body needs. It’s already working hard enough just trying to get you through the day, stop messing with it.

What about you, do you do juice cleanses? And would you let your child do one?

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