We’ve long been baffled by the seemingly effortless beauty and lifestyle habits of French women. The perfectly tousled hair, a bare face with a flawless red lip, healthy, slender frames yet no suggestion of “dieting” or even grueling exercise: the French beauty ideal could also be described as our dream life. They’ve got secrets aplenty, which they’re often willing to share, but no matter how hard we try, we just don’t make it quite there—there’s still that je ne sais quoi that leaves us falling short.
Regardless, when a Frenchwoman speaks up on the topic of her personal “secrets,” we listen… especially when that woman is Mathilde Thomas, the cofounder of Caudalie, one of our very favorite skin care lines of all time. Nearly every product that Caudalie offers is inspired by the power of grapes, which Mathilde’s family grows in their Bordeaux vineyard.
It goes without saying that the girl loves her grapes—and, coincidentally, she also credits them with helping her to maintain both her ageless skin and internal health. We learned a lot from Mathilde’s brand new book, “The French Beauty Solution: Time-Tested Secrets to Look and Feel Beautiful Inside and Out,” but the one we’re most excited about putting into practice is what the author calls the Grape Cleanse.
The Grape Cleanse is exactly what it sounds like: One eats grapes, and only grapes, for a set period of time. (Mathilde prefers a simple three-day plan.) It may sound frivolous, or like something a grape proprietor made up, but “grape cures” have actually been recommended by medical professionals since the eighteenth century. “After much feedback from practitioners including myself, it has been proven that grapes are the best detoxifiers for the spleen,” a French professor of medicine named Desbois de Rochefort wrote in 1789.
Granted, it was 1789—but again, in 1927, a French spa began to offer all-grape detox plans and a spa-like atmosphere in a small clubhouse called an uvarium. The treatments were targeted toward the overweight and obese population, as well as those who suffered from gout, constipation, skin disorders, and liver or kidney diseases. In fact, a French federation for the grape cure-oriented form of medicine came soon thereafter, but interest in modern medicine after World War II hindered the federation’s expansion.
Grape “cures,” as they were once known, are not used a medical treatment in 2015, and there is no evidence that they can cure serious illnesses and conditions, though it is proven that some properties of the grape can help to fight the aging process. However, in 1990, a French organization devoted to agriculture and farming in rural areas conducted a controlled scientific study on about 500 people and thereby demonstrated that the grape cure is, in fact, an effective way to “revitalize” the body.
This is thanks in part to the mono-diet, which is a diet that involves eating just one food. For at least two centuries, these diets have been recognized to be one of the best “natural therapies” for the body, as consuming the same food gives the body a “break,” so to speak, from stresses both external (think air, water, and pollution) and internal (like preservatives, alcohol, and foods that form acid, throwing off the body’s pH balance).
Mathilde testifies that just three days of a grape cleanse will turn up unbelievable results. You’ll see skin improvements, thanks to a better-functioning digestive system and relief from the toxins your body builds up over time. You’ll find yourself less fatigued and stressed out during the day, as you’re giving your nervous system a break, too. Your natural stress levels will decline, so sleeping will be easier, and fiber-rich grapes make the body’s waste elimination process easier. Perhaps the best benefit, Mathilde says, is how aware the cleanse makes you of your eating habits. You won’t lose tons of weight, but the focused routine will help you to take a closer look at your regular day to day.
Ready to give the grape cleanse a try? This is Mathilde’s three-day plan for glowing skin, a flatter-feeling tummy, and a totally rejuvenated body and mind. First, some rules: you should do the cleanse on a weekend or holiday when you won’t have tons of new obligations or plans. You’ll need a ton of organic, seeded red grapes (red grapes have the most nutrients)—you’ll be eating anywhere from two to more than five pounds each day, so stock up. Swallow the grape seeds without chewing, as they can irritate the mouth and gums when macerated. Lastly, remember to eat a clean, balanced diet for a week prior to beginning the cleanse so that your body isn’t shocked by the sudden change. Then it’s time to get started!
It works best to eat small quantities of grapes at intervals throughout the day rather than as “meals.” Mathilde recommends drinking two large glasses of water when you wake up, then your grapes within the next half hour, and repeating that at three-hour intervals throughout the day. You can drink water, herbal tea, green tea, and rooibos tea, but definitely no soda or caffeine. If you’re still hungry, just eat more grapes. At some point, drink 8 ounces of freshly squeezed unsweetened grape juice on an empty stomach—Mathilde simply uses a blender to make hers.
As with most food-restricting cleanses, you may find yourself feeling a little grumpy, tired, or headache-y as your body rids itself of toxins. This is totally normal, so don’t freak out or give up. Follow the same eating and drinking routine as you did the day prior, and try to work a bit of gentle exercise into your day if possible. If your stomach is acting up, you can switch to green grapes, as they’re a little easier to digest than the deep red variety.
Continue as you did on the first two days.
You may not ever want to see a grape again after you’ve finished the cleanse, and that’s totally fair—but it’s important to ease yourself back into regular eating by reintroducing light, nutrient-rich foods into your diet first. Mathilde also recommends that you drink fresh grape juice on an empty stomach before breakfast to reinforce the benefits of your grape cleanse. Once you see the results, we can guarantee you’ll want to keep them around.