Today is the first day of my “Welcome to Spring” Juice feast. I’m aiming for ten days.
The benefits of a juice feast
I’m using it as a way to completely reset and reorganize my goals. I’ve had a few rough months, dealing with high levels of anxiety and depression, and that resulted in my addiction to food kicking in hardcore. I gained about 15 pounds. I’m currently back at 200 pounds, which is a bit depressing since it took me forever to reach under 200. But! I never thought I’d see a ONE starting my weight, and I know with a little bit of effort, these winter pounds will shed and I’ll start feeling better. Luckily, we’ve gotten a break with the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been graced with. This is a phenomenal motivator for me, because I love to be outdoors, and I walk everywhere and go on hikes and bike more. I rejoined at Planet Fitness too, which is a 5 mile round trip walk. When it’s nice out, it’s one of my favorite things to do is walk to the gym and lift then walk home. It’s a great workout overall and a good chance to clear my head every day.
So back to the main topic… to embrace the warm weather and help get back on track with my health, I’m doing a 10 day juice feast. Amazingly, my boyfriend is joining in with me. He’s almost actually more excited than I am somehow. He went out and bought a Hurom Slow Juicer and woke up early this morning (he compared it to Christmas morning!) and we’ve successfully completed our first day juicing together. This will be his first time attempting a juice fast, but he is a regular juicer anyway, usually once a day. I have to admit, I’m a bit smitten that he’s into the idea of a juice fast… it’s really great to have someone as interested and passionate about it as I am, and of course, it always helps to have a friend or partner in challenging health or weight loss endeavours such as this. It’s important to remember that a juice fast should not be done strictly as a way to shed extra pounds. Rather, weight loss is a byproduct of regaining control of your body and nourishing it correctly. It’s not a quick fix, and it’s just as important to maintain a healthy diet after the juice feast in order to continue the journey to wellness and prevent the regaining of unwanted, unhealthy fat.
This is my 5th or 6th juice reboot. I’ve also done the Lemonade Diet a few times (Master Cleanse.) The first time I changed from the MC Diet to a juice feast, the difference was beyond obvious. With the MC diet, you feel toxic and weighed down and ill, even if you do maintain a fairly clean lifestyle. Especially my last time through, I didn’t even last two days because of how ill I felt. Then, when my system restored a bit, I went into my first juice feast. I remember I’ve tried to keep journals throughout them but usually end up being too busy. This time, I’ll be keeping notes and photographing the juice (before AND after!) because I really want to show how much food you’re actually eating. People think they will waste away by just drinking juice – but you feel exactly the opposite chugging down these huge liters of vegetable juice. You feel full and invigorated and reenergized. You feel nourished, and that’s the key here. That’s why I decided it was time for something like this. You see, once your body is truly nourished, it really starts to crave the foods that made it that way. I also think Daylight Savings Time has made a big impact on my food cravings as well. With the additional sunlight (well, later in the day at least), and warmer temperatures, I’ve been able to spend a lot of time outside and exercising and walking like I mentioned, which naturally makes me want to eat less and keep my energy up. Last summer, I was probably about 60% raw on average for the hottest months. I really want to be close to 85-90% raw this summer to experience what its like. I am going to do at least one whole month. I’m building up to that slowly with the increase of fresh juice as well.
The cost of doing a juice feast, and why it’s worth it
OKAY – so, let’s talk cost first. The produce we purchased cost about $80 each and it was mostly organic, even a few local things now. I think it will last us at least 4 days, but we’ll see how it turns out. That would end up being about $20 a day. It sounds like a lot to spend. But let’s really think about it: give up your 2 large iced coffees and 2 alcoholic drinks at night and there you go. Most people don’t realize how much those swipes at Dunkin or bar tabs add up to be. I’ve pretty much given up alcohol for the past two months and its allowed me to spend a little extra on healthy, organic, whole foods. It becomes difficult to break the pattern of going out, having a drink or 2, and recovering in the morning with a coffee. Its how our society works.
Caffeine and alcohol are both stressors, triggering the body to raise its cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is released when our bodies are stressed. It’s basically a fight or flight trigger: our blood pressure and heart rate increase, and all other systems kind of shut off except for our stress response. When cortisol levels are raised repeatedly from different stressors, whether from the world around us, our own mind, or the food we eat, the body tends to become fatigued from all the spikes and crashes. And it’s a neverending cycle. Start the day with something like coffee and donuts, and your body is going to release a whole bunch of cortisol to counteract the processed food. The simple carbohydrates (white flour, refined oil, sugar) and caffeine will metabolize quickly and provide a huge burst of energy. But what comes up must come down. Our pancreas responds urgently and releases a rush of insulin. The quick letdown leads us to reach for another fast fix – an afternoon iced coffee, a bag of chips, or a candy bar. This repeated abusive cycle is what often leads to many health problems, which can be as mild as fatigue and joint pain, or possibly as serious as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
So, when you think about what a juice fast can do to benefit your body and health, $20 a day doesn’t seem all that unreasonable. Remember, daily care and investment in your health can save you tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in health care bills later on in life. Plus, I find that eating well and living well allows me to accomplish more day to day since I don’t feel weighed down and ill. Spending more money on organic and natural whole foods has resulted in my living a fuller, happier life. (And I write this to REMEMBER it, because there are often times that I slip into ordering take out and eating junkier, and that always leads to a decrease in exercise and a lessening desire to do my favorite activities. By writing this down and focusing on how good these foods make me feel, it’s a way to stay motivated and stay on track. Try it the next time you notice you’re feeling particularly healthy and focused. Writing things down makes our brain process them an extra time, and then you have the ability to reread and remember it too. Just something that’s worked for me from time to time.)
Juice Feast Day 1: Recipes and photos
Since we didn’t get a start until after noon, the first juice we made was about double the size. I aim for 5-6 twenty oz juices a day (this was kind of determined by what Joe Cross, the inspiring film maker and juicer extraordinaire, consumes in his film “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.”) By the way, I recommend anyone embarking or considering a juice fast, or even just the idea of incorporating more fresh juice into their diet, see this film and really pay attention to his messaging. His website has a ton of great resources as well.
- 2 carrots
- 1 lemon with peel
- 3 small apples
- hunk of ginger according to taste
- 6 radishes
- 1/2 large cucumber
- 1/4 pineapple
This recipe yielded about 5 cups, like I said, about double the amount I’d normally make for one sitting due to a late start. This particular juice was a bit too heavy in the ginger, but I think it was only because the new juicer processed the ginger much more efficiently. I’ve used thumb size pieces before and never gotten such a strong flavor. Almost immediately after I finished drinking the juice, I found myself running to pee about 15 times over the next few hours!! The first time, my pee was very dark and strong smelling, which was unusual for me, as I’m usually extremely well hydrated. I had some water too with the juice, but this seemed like a crazy amount of trips to the bathroom. As soon as I was done, I had to go again. For someone who’s used to peeing quite frequently, I was a little alarmed at the sensation. Later, I did a bit of research that showed that radish juice is specifically used as a kidney cleanser and often used in aiding the passing of kidney stones. Neat!
- 4 stalks of celery
- approx 3 cups of broccoli, including stalk
- 1 apple
- 4 carrots
- handful or parsley
This yielded about 2 and a half cups, so it was just about the right 20 oz serving size. I really love the refreshing taste that celery and parsley give together. By the time this juice was done, I didn’t have the crazy diuretic feeling anymore. I downed another 32 oz of water after to help continue flushing. The juice helps stir the toxins out of your cells and the water helps flush it out. Yay!
- 1/4 pineapple
- 3 carrots
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1/2 cucumber
- 8 asparagus stalks
This one also yielded just under 3 cups, again, a great size for one juice meal. Red pepper and pineapple is one of my absolutely favorite juice combinations. In the summer, I like to juice an entire pineapple with a couple red peppers and a jalapeno. It results in this sweet, crisp, spicy juice that is just not a flavor you can get anywhere else. (And in case you were wondering, yes, asparagus juice does make your pee stinky!) I drank another 32 oz of water after this juice too.
We also had a nice large helping of homemade vegetable broth, repurposing some of the vegetable broth from earlier with potato, onion, garlic, and spices. Boil all together in filtered water, strain well, and enjoy. This is especially a good way to help curb cravings when you feel the need to eat, not because you’re hungry, but because you feel like you SHOULD be eating something. The act of eating the broth with a spoon and the fact that it’s so warm and flavorful, and so strikingly different from the juice you’ve been feasting on all day, is surprisingly satisfying. (Here’s a post I wrote before on the process of making homemade vegetable broth from juice pulp.)
I know a lot of people wonder about other bathroom effects of a juice fast, and so far I have not had any terrifying bathroom experiences. This could be because I’m very regular normally, so I’m not very backed up. But remember that if you are, the juice will definitely swoosh in and help clean out. Maybe more to write on that tomorrow… For now you just get to hear about my pee! 🙂
Since we didn’t get a start until after noon, the first juice we made was about double the size. I aim for 5-6 twenty oz juices a day.