Last fall, I decided to embark on a juice fast. For those of you who don’t now what it is, you basically go for a period of time on nothing but pure vegetable and fruit juice. I was inspired by two documentaries — Hungry For Change and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Being the impulsive person that I am, I was immediately motivated to go on one myself. Like many 19-year-olds, my health was far from on point. I would go days without eating a single vegetable and my definition of exercise was walking from my bedroom to the kitchen. Due to my complete inability to be moderate, I knew I had to take drastic steps to reboot my health. I decided to go on a month-long juice fast.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MvAM97VDE8]
But wait. Let’s backtrack to April of that year. I tried to go on a juice fast. I made my juice using all the vegetables I could find in the fridge. It tasted like death. I quit by midnight. My fatal mistake was that I hadn’t done any research or prepared myself for the arduous task. I took the next couple of months to do some sporadic research here and there about nutrition, proper juicing methods, health warnings, and how to succeed in a long juice fast. When I felt I was ready, I bought my juicer and planned the next week of my juicing.
Days 1-3: I was a walking corpse. I had a throbbing headache even though I’m the kind of person that never gets headaches, alhamdulillah. I was nauseated, fatigued, and was already done. I wasn’t necessarily hungry. Just irritated, lethargic, and sad. I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
1 week: I had somewhat adjusted to the flow of things. I wasn’t craving food anymore. I had developed my own recipes and was sort of enjoying it. Time didn’t feel like it was crawling anymore.
2 weeks: I had more energy than ever. My mind was clear. I wasn’t fazed at all by the fact that I hadn’t tasted solid food in over a week. I can’t say that I ever enjoyed the taste of juice but I didn’t hate it either. It just became part of my daily routine. Things were starting to look up.
3 weeks: The cravings started to kick in again. The food that I never took a second look at made me salivate. One day, my mom made Ethiopian food. I couldn’t resist it. I ate a small bowl. I felt guilty but I decided to proceed with my fast. I finished the week and felt that it was enough.
I didn’t finish my goal of a month but I still did 3 weeks. Twenty-one days! I went 21 days resisting my urges, disciplining myself, caring for myself for the sole purpose of being healthy. Weight loss wasn’t even a goal but I ended up losing 17 pounds (8kg). I was extremely proud of my accomplishment. I couldn’t shut my mouth about how great I felt during and afterwards. I was amazed by all the discoveries I made about how big of a role nutrition plays in our lives. We know the food pyramid, we know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, and we know that exercise is essential, but we rarely think of it as something applicable to our lives. We view it as an arduous process of transformation. We don’t see it as something that could be fun.
Hopefully this inspired some of you to go on a fast of your own. You don’t have to do three weeks. Hell, you don’t even have to do a week. One to five days is enough to reboot your system. You can even replace one meal a day with juice and find different ways to integrate juicing in your life.
- Fast way to get your daily nutrition. You consume way more vegetables and fruits this way than you would trying to down a bowl of bitter, tasteless salad.
- It’s easier for your body to absorb nutrients from liquid.
- When you go on an extended fast, your digestive system gets a break. Your body is longer using most of its energy trying to digest heavy and unhealthy food, so it has more time to tend to rejuvenating itself and tending to old injuries and system errors.
- Do. Your. Research. There’s no more of a surefire way to fail this than going in with an ignorant mind.
- Transition. In and out. Don’t eat a cow the night before starting your fast and don’t eat a box of pizza as soon as you break it. Start with raw vegetables and fruits.
- Try to go for organic options. If they’re not accessible, peel as many of the produce as possible to reduce pest
- Use apples to conceal bitter taste.
- Use watermelons, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other ingredients with high water content to get great payoff. Leave the bananas for smoothies.
- Squeeze a lemon in your finished juice for bloating and indigestion. Also adds a great flavor.
- If you want some fiber, use chia seeds. Dissolve it in water and drink up. The mucous-y consistency attaches to bile waste in your intestine and flushes them out. Gross, I know. But your stomach will thank you.
- Don’t make a huge batch then refrigerate. As soon as the juice hits oxygen, it starts to lose it’s nutrients. Drink immediately.
- Don’t be fooled by masticating juicers. Sure, they might be better quality in a sense but they are also much, much pricier and inconvenient. The argument they use is that high speed juicers heat up the juice and kill off enzymes and nutrients. This theory has been debunked several times. Don’t break your bank for a juicer.
- Plan your juice. Then you have something to look forward to.
- Replace your morning coffee with juice — it’s a much better way to start your day.
- Smoothies are okay too, if you’re not going for a fast.
- If you’re pregnant, diabetic, have heart disease, an eating disorder, or any other medical conditions, don’t go on a full fast. Just add juice to your meals. Generally, it’s better to consult a doctor before starting.
Images from Flickr [1,2] Amazon, Reboot With Joe, Coach.me, Andreas Kambanis