Are you considering detoxing for health, happiness, wellness, cleansing, mindfulness, superpowers....all of the above? Can juicing your fruits and vegetables really accomplish these things? As an new 'health' convert I decided to find out for myself if this juicing fad was all it's followers claimed to be. I started by watching the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, a full length documentary about the world of juicing and it's many health benefits. The film follows it's creator, Joe Cross, as he goes from "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" to a healthy weight and body as he does a vegetable and fruit juice only diet for 60 days followed by several months of a whole foods plant based diet. Over the course of the 60 days Joe manages to lose about 100 lbs and is well enough to be taken off all his medication for his chronic condition. The movie also follows the juice fast of Iowa truck driver Phil Staples as he too juices for 60 days and loses over 100 lbs. The documentary is very motivational and both my husband and I had a powerful 'we could do that!' reaction to the juice fast diet.
After watching the documentary (and it's sequel Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2) on Netflix I did some googling on the health benefits of juicing. I went first to the popular blog The Blender Girl and found her touting the major health benefits of a seasonal 3 day juice cleanse. She offers guides on how to cleanse for each season.
In the end I have found that there are just too many conflicting opinions on the subject to say definitively if Juice Fasting is everything that it claims to be. We decided to give it a try and see for ourselves.
On February 6th, 2017 my husband and I embarked on what we hoped would be a 10 day juice only fast. I started by purchasing a $5 juicer from our local Goodwill (second hand is best for the environment!). With juicer in hand we began our journey. I also checked out the book Reboot with Joe: Juice Diet for recipes and motivation.
- Day 1 - We opted to start the fast with the drink made famous in Joe Cross's movie - The Mean Green. The juice consists of apples, cucumbers, celery, apples, kale, lemons and ginger. More veggies than I've ever had for breakfast! Review - Not Too Shabby. While you can discern each individual flavor in the drink they somehow all work well together. The apples lend a sweet quality while you get a kick of spice from the ginger root. This drink remains to be my favorite of all the juices we tried. Day 1 was difficult for me emotionally. I didn't have any temptations, I wasn't around any other food, even opting to skip my coffee shop routine in favor of staying in bed to work and read in peace, sans croissant and doughnut temptation. But even without distractions my body craved food. I wouldn't have called it hunger, but more of a deep desire to eat something solid.
- Day 2 - Woke feeling refreshed, had a relatively good nights sleep. Ready for my breakfast of another juice. This time it was a delicious concoction including pineapples! Breakfast was the highlight of my day, after that I quickly plummeted into a dark mood that wouldn't lift. That night I barely slept at all, maybe getting a sparse few hours sleep leaving me with no energy the following morning.
- Day 3 - No energy. Horrible mood. Yearning to eat something, anything. Late in the afternoon I started to experience sharp jabs of pain in my lower abdomen. I googled pain and juice fasting without any search results. With the support of my husband and my online community I decided to power through and continue with the fast.
- Day 4 - This is the day all the resources said I would feel a turn in mood. Enlightenment and joy would fill me up. Perhaps my expectations were too high. I felt nothing like enlightenment and joy. I felt hunger, anger, resentment, and I was exhausted. By 11am I had hit my limit. I immediately called my mother and arranged to have lunch. I showed up at her house at 11:30, devoured a delicious green apple then proceeded to feast on vegan thai curry. And it might have been the best curry I've ever eaten. Ever.
So I made it 3.5 days on my juice fast and my husband decided to end his fast that same night. We toasted our good effort with homemade gluten free/vegan flatbread pizza and it was divine. What did I learn from this experience? I learned the following things:
- The human body is truly an amazing entity. It has the power to heal itself and the power to express what it needs to function.
- That I can do anything with the help of my support system. If I had only listened to my husband and online support group I would have continued on with the fast for at least a while longer, I instead chose to follow what my body was telling me, but I am grateful that I had the support of so many strong independent men and women cheering me on!
- Fasting is not for me at this point in my health journey.
- I will make having a homemade juice a part of my everyday routine in order to boost my fruit/veggie intake, while still eating a balanced plant based whole foods diet.
- If you are planing a juice fast my rookie advise is to get a support system in place first. I wouldn't have made it past Day 1 without mine!
Have a healthy day guys!
Allison Bost, MSW
This Tiny House Wife