In her new French beauty manual The French Beauty Solution, Mathilde Thomas, co-founder of the popular grape-based beauty brand Caudalie, talks at length about the humongous healing power of the humble grape. Ms. Thomas, who grew up on a farm near Grenoble and whose parents now own a vineyard in the Alps, is all about these round, sweet miracle fruits — eat them, drink them, put them on your face: they will fix everything.
The book goes into detail about the purifying and detoxifying properties of grapes, like their high mineral content, organic acids and nutritious grape seed oil. Thomas isn’t the first to note that regularly consuming grapes — particularly in the form of red wine — can have positive effects on your health.
She’s not even the first to suggest the grape “detox” advertised on the cover of her book. As she writes, grape-based cures have a rich history dating back at least to the 18th century. Thomas says she does her own three-day grape cleanse once each year, when grapes are in season.
“I felt great all the way,” she says writing about her first experience with it, “I was totally energized and felt clean and detoxified. My belly became quite flat, but the most interesting thing was the quality of my skin. I’d literally never seen it like that before — with this amazing, soft texture and glow.”
So what does eating only grapes for three days feel like? Here’s how they went down for me:
Day 1: No grapes consumed, 4 sips of coffee.
The cleanse technically starts tomorrow, but Thomas suggests preparing by eating mostly fruits and veggies the day before, so that’s what I’ve done more or less. I’ve got a a lingering headache, probably due to my switch from coffee to green tea. Trying to avoid bread and dairy is also a challenge as it appears those are the first things I reach for when I feel hungry.
I’ve bought my 6 pounds of grapes for tomorrow. Thomas says people eat anywhere from 4-6 pounds of grapes per day on the cleanse. Some are seeded, as per Thomas’s instructions, but there were very few of those in store since Americans seem to vastly prefer their grapes sans pépins. They look beautiful. At 3.99 a pound they set me back $24. It’s still cheaper than a juice cleanse…
Day 1: 4.4 lbs of grapes consumed plus one 8oz glass of pulverized grapes. 3 cups of green tea.
– I’m off coffee. No headache + no dizziness = my switch to green tea is a success. Coffee addicts like me will know what a huge deal this is. I’m hoping to ride this feeling of accomplishment through the next three days.
–There is a trick to eating a seeded grape. Seeded grapes are superior in taste… but they have seeds. Mathilde Thomas says that’s a good thing: grape seeds have important compounds that give us amazing skin. She also says that in France — where everyone prefers to eat seeded grapes because they actually taste like grapes — they swallow the seeds whole with the pulp, while making sure to thoroughly chew the highly beneficial grape skins.
–I’m feeling really hungry for the first time in a long time. I realize I almost never allow myself become hungry during the day. It can happen if I’m out and about and having fun or distracted with work or the kids, but if I’m at home and there is food available, there’s no way I’m not eating.
-After eating green seedless grapes all morning, concord grapes look like steak to me.
Day 2: 3 lbs of grapes plus 8oz of grape juice and 3 cups of green tea
–I’m hungry. “I’m just going to go eat a piece of cheese now,” or, “what I need right now is a sandwich,” are thoughts I have pretty much every day, usually several times between meals. It’s a voice that I’m just realizing is there and I’m trying to silence it with grapes. Also, I realize how often I mindlessly grab bites of food from the leftovers on my children’s plates. In fact, I’d apply the adjective “mindless” to the vast majority of the eating that I do in a day.
–I feel a bit loopy. Mathilde Thomas suggests doing the grape cleanse when you aren’t too terribly busy so that you can relax and settle in to the difference in your food routine. No hiking around for me today, of course, but some things can’t be avoided. Carrying my toddler up to the third floor of our building has me pretty winded.
–My sense of smell is just bonkers! Thomas warned this might happen and she’s not sure why, but it’s true: my sense of smell is intensified, a sensation I remember from when I was pregnant.
–My skin looks and feels slightly better than it did yesterday. I have a complexion that’s oily in places and dry in others, and I see that it’s evened out a bit. I wonder what tomorrow will bring? I mean, besides more grapes.
Day 3: 3 pounds of grapes, 8oz of grape juice, 2 cups of green tea
–I now hate grapes. Not all grapes, but those seeded, thick-skinned little bastards are making me sick at the sight. Pulverizing them in the blender helps. Practically speaking, it breaks down the skins and seeds into manageable bits. Plus, on an emotional level, TAKE THAT YOU MEATY ORBS!
–A word about Concord grapes: my seeded grapes are Concord grapes, which are the kind of grapes we in America use to make jelly, grape juice and even grape candy. They are super tasty but, like I said before, eating them has been kind of an ordeal for me and I think I’ve figured out why. Here is the right way to eat a Concord grape according to the Concord Grape Association:
“You don’t really “chew” Concords – you suck them out of their skin to get the juice and flavor and swallow the grape whole (after you separate the seeds). You eat them somewhat like oysters.”
Voilà! Next time I’ll know better than to set myself the goal of eating 3 pounds of these per day.
Day 4: Conclusions
I ate my last bunch of grapes in juice form today and I have to say I feel great. I don’t truly see a huge difference in my skin. My pores may have shrunk slightly, but honestly it’s hard to tell. I feel cleaner and healthier all around, so perhaps I’m just less judgy about my face than I normally would be.
I’d do some things differently next time: I would wait for a vacation or at least a long weekend so that I could take it easier than usual, and I would absolutely secure myself a better supply of grapes. I chose my seeded grapes by default and they were the wrong ones. Eating them added a layer of unpleasantness one doesn’t need on an already difficult mono-diet. Getting good, tasty, organic seeded grapes seems pretty crucial to the success of this detox.
Would I do it again? Yes! Only grapes for three days shocked me out of a bad and un-mindful food habit. I tend to eat great quality food that I prepare myself that tastes great — but I do it in a compulsive way, which leads to haphazard portioning and skipped meals. I’m much more of a typical American eater than I thought, and that realization alone is worth spending a few days with nothing but a huge pile of grapes.