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Tuesday
May292012

I Survived a 5-day Juice Detox


I actually enjoyed fasting. Not the first two days, mind you. In the beginning I wanted to chew off my own foot and eat it, but by day three I felt clear, light and alert.

This blog post is about my experience with juice fasting. As I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist and as this is only my second juice fast please don’t take this as expert advice. If you want to do a detox I recommend you have a good look around the interwebz to see what’s out there. If you’re underweight or pregnant stay away from detoxing and if you have any doubts consult your GP before fasting. If you're new to detoxing make sure you ease into it and start off by not having alcohol, meat and sugar for a while.

Most of my friends and colleagues think I’m crazy for not eating for five days. I do appreciate that most of the the medical world frowns on cleanses and view them as a way-too-hippie, naturopathic way of doing something that doesn’t make sense as the body is completely capable of detoxing itself. But the theory behind detoxing is that while you give your digestive system a rest by not feeding it solid food, your body will use all the extra energy to heal itself. Then of course there’s the expelsion toxins, getting new energy and the mental aspect - which for me was one of the most obvious gains.

I am not saying that detoxing would work for everybody. I think grounded Kapha-people like myself will get a nice lift by detoxing, whereas Pitta and Vatta people might not experience the same benefits. (Read more about ayurveda and the doshas here).

The juice diet
It was important to me that my juice diet was composed of carbohydrates, fibre, amino acids and fats so I included fresh fruits and vegetables (carbs), almond milk (protein) and avocados (fats) and my daily intake. I had at least one juice (or smoothie) a day with pulp to make sure I got lots of fibre. My favourite one of these is spinach and ginger blended with apple and pineapple juice and ice - and I have this every morning when I’m not detoxing.

The first time I did a juice detox I followed Jason Vale’s 3 day fast, but this time I made up the juices as I went along using what I had and what I felt like (making sure I included the above mentioned components). I had no limits of how much juice I could consume a day, but I tried to have more vegetable than fruit as fruit rank righter on the Glycemic Index. I drank all the herbal tea I wanted but stayed away from black tea even though the one I usually drink is decaf. I would probably have about 5-6 different juices a day.

Detox journal

Day 1
I was hungry when I woke up and didn’t remember why I decided to live off only liquids…

I’m hungry, but take a walk to shop fruit and veggies (it’s a bank holiday so no work) and tell myself that my body just needs to adjust. My mood is good and spirit is high. A cup of nettle tea helps.

My stomach won’t stop growling. I’m alternating between ‘I’m hungry’’ and ‘Hey, this isn’t so bad’ plus a few 'Just kill me nows’. Hope tomorrow will be better.

Day 2
I’m peeing like nobody's business
I still feel hungry but my tummy’s not growling anymore. It just feels empty.

I’m very cold and can’t seem to get warm. I took a second shower to warm up and wore lots of clothes out even though the sun was out and others had taken off their jackets. A bike ride helped.

I feel a little lightheaded and pretty spaced out and my energy is quite low (but I am writing this just before having a juice, so hopefully that’ll help.)

I hope this is my low point. It’s quite low.

Day 3
I slept very deeply and woke up an hour before my alarm went off. I wasn’t hungry and even had enough energy to do a yoga practice before my morning juice (didn’t do any yoga the last two days as my energy was so low that I didn’t manage to drag my body to the mat). My mood is good.

After my juice I actually feel a little hungry. Think the liquid reminded my tummy that it doesn’t get anything to work with. It’s not at all like yesterday. Thank God.

Roll on day four!

Day 4:
Funny to think that I haven’t eaten anything for three days straight. I slept great and woke up with lots of energy. Did an hour practice before my morning juice and enjoyed the light feeling. My headstand felt light and strong with nothing in my stomach. I feel focused and happy and my girlfriend accused me of being delirious because I’m smiling for no reason.

Again I feel more hungry after my juice than before. But it’s not uncomfortable. It’s just the feeling of my stomach thinking it’s being fed and starting to work – but then realising there’s nothing to work with. That’s what it feels like anyway.

I’m considering doing tomorrow too, but I have to go to work and don’t know if that would work. Maybe I’m just nervous about breaking the fast…

I feel alert and awake and a great sense of accomplishment.

Day 5 - breaking the fast:
Woke up full of energy and not hungry, so I have a juice for breakfast and try to have a few slices of banana to make my stomach work a little bit. It feels OK, but I’m full after a few slices. I bring the rest of the fruit salad I’ve made but can’t eat with me to work

At work I have a juice and try with a little more fruit. I feel absolutely fine.

I decide to try and have dinner consisting of steamed broccoli and a small piece of baked salmon. It feels great to have food in me again and my stomach seems to agree with my choice.

The reflextions
Fasting for more than three days made me experience ‘coming out on the other side’ and enjoying the feeling of being light and cleansed. The experience showed me how much ritual we create around meals and what happens when we take them away. If I allowed myself I would very much be an emotional eater and it was quite a relief not to have to consider whether or not to eat, what to have and how much to have. I had already chosen what to have and by day three and four emotional cravings were gone. I think it’s been healthy for me to give up things that I need for a few days to find the edge of my strength and challenge my attachments to diet. Fasting is a good way to practice detachment or Aparigraha as it is called in yoga. Maybe that’s why it exists in almost all the big religions.

I want to stress that I did everything safely and that the real challenge was only psychological. I didn’t starve myself and made sure I got all the vitamins and minerals I needed from fresh fruits and vegetables. In the end the emptiness became a companion and strangely enough I felt nervous about breaking the fast. But boy did I enjoy my first meal of steamed broccoli.

The juices
Here’s a few of my favourites

Green Morning Smoothie
1 apple
A piece of peeled ginger
A piece of pineapple
A handful of fresh spinach

You can either peel everything and stuff it in a blender or you can juice the apple, pineapple and ginger and blend it with the spinach. You get lots of fibre from this one as well as you alkalise the body and stock up on chlorophyll. Chlorophyll contains a powerful blood builder that’s said to increase red blood cells, improve circulation, ease inflammation, oxygenate the body, and counteract harmful free radicals.

Red Smoothie
Carrot
Beetroot
Ginger
Apple
Avocado

Juice all but avocado and blend with avocado and ice.

Carrot juice
Carrots
Apple
Ginger

Throw everything in the juicer and blend with ice if you can be bothered - it’s just fine straight out of the juicer.

Fruit smoothie
Raspberries or strawberries
Banana
Almond milk

Blend everything with ice. You can add a little water if you want it runnier. The almond milk is good for protein and the smoothie of just fruits is just what you need to keep you sane on a detox. Another option is throwing in some dates instead of the berries.

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