|Pardon the secondhand iphone quality of this picture!|
Do you have New Year's resolutions every year? Do you keep them? In 2010 I resolved not to shop anymore, not to buy anything (think clothes, shoes) that wasn't a non-essential. Can you believe that I kept that resolution until September 2011? Thank goodness for older sisters who clean out their closets and give hammedowns! Especially because after I cut out processed foods I lost weight so a lot of my clothes were too big, so my (skinnier) older sister cleaning out her closet enabled me to keep my resolution! My point? I'm hoping that my success with my 2010 resolution is evidence that I can keep resolutions now that I'm a mature, responsible adult. My 2012 resolution was to get my house, and my life, really organized. I have a hard time saying no and I spread myself too thin, so often what falls by the wayside is my own house and life. No more...the hubs is putting his foot down! So as part of my resolution, I hope I can find time to focus on snacks and desserts more. Cross your fingers with me!
Per the recommendation from a friend, I recently watched a documentary, "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" -- it instantly streams on Netflix and I think every one of you reading this should watch it! -- and it got me interested in juicing. So as part of organizing my house, and my life, I decided to start the year off with a cleanse. If I'm going to clean my house and my life, I thought I should cleanse my body, too. Oh, plus I got a Vitamix for Christmas. A Vitamix is an uh.maz.ing machine. You can blend with it. You can make hot soup with it. You can make ice cream with it. It has a dry blade with which you can grind grains. Expensive, yes. Worth every red cent. Absolutely. So with my cleansing resolution in mind, and my Vitamix on my counter, the hubs and I did a juice fast this past week. Some of you have asked about what exactly a juice fast is, why you should do it, and if I have any tips. In short, here is my plug: do it! To elaborate, here are my thoughts and tips on a juice fast.
What is a juice fast and why should you do it?
Juice fasting involves consuming only fresh raw vegetable and fruit juices for an extended period of time. The point of a juice fast is that you can consume many more fruits and raw vegetables in liquid form than you can just eating them. So when you do a juice fast, you're consuming nothing but fruits and raw vegetables for however long you do it (3 days, 5, 7, 10, as many or as few days as you want). A juice fast enables you to cleanse your body of old toxins. On a juice fast you get all the calories you would normally get in a day (i.e. 1500 for an average woman) from at least 1 gallon of fresh juice daily while giving your digestive system a break. This, in turn, makes it easier for our body to rid itself of old matter and do things like detox the liver and kidneys.
Do you need a juicer?
I don't have a juicer, so I used my vitamix. The vitamix actually pulverizes the fiber of the fruits and vegetables rather than discarding it like most juicers do, so it's more like a soupy puree than just a juice. Most juice fasts are strictly the juice from fruits and vegetables, and there are different schools of thought. I think consuming fruits and vegetables (not just the juice) is just as beneficial and at least as nutritional. So if you have a juicer, go for it. If you have a Vitamix (if you don't, save your pennies and go get one!) or a blender, you can use that, too. If you don't have a juicer, check out these instructions for making juice with a blender.
What can you expect on your juice fast?
I planned on a seven day juice fast. Day 1 wasn't bad, I just wanted to eat out of habit. Day 2 was TERRIBLE. Imagine the worst possible headache, coupled with nausea, only you can't take any medicine because you're only supposed to consume juice all week. It was truly awful and at this point I decided I would shoot for a 3 day fast. Interestingly, the hubs didn't feel as bad as I, although he felt a little off, and all we can figure is that he drank more water than I did on day 1. Lesson learned: water is key. Drink lots of it, even if you're not thirsty. Day 3 was much better than day 2, so I knew I could keep going, but by the end of the day I was kinda bored with it. So I decided to shoot for a 5 day fast. Day 4 was even better than day 3 and I felt great by the end of the day. I had no doubt I could complete the full seven days and even keep going! The hubs, however, was not interested in that, and since I was impressed and thankful he even did it with me at all, I agreed that we could stop after seven days. But I will still drink a big fruit/vegetable juice at least once a day from here on out. At the end of the week, my thoughts are these: I'm so glad I did it, I'll definitely do it again (once every six months, maybe? once a year?), but I was really glad to eat again!
What are my tips for you?
To some extent, it's trial and error and you have to figure out what kind of juice you like. I found that I like fruit juice (not surprising) more than vegetable juice. I did one that was kale, broccoli, celery and lime and I almost gagged! But even if I did a fruit juice, I always add lots of greens to the mixture. Spinach, celery, and cucumber are the milder greens so they're great to add to any concoction and won't change the flavor. Kale is a bit stronger but it's still fine and definitely doable. I added spinach and celery or kale and celery to every one I made, regardless of other ingredients. Carrots and beets are good for adding some sweetness to a vegetable mixture. I've heard that lemon and lime juice as well as ginger can counter the bitter vegetables like kale and mustard greens, but I didn't use a ton of those ingredients.
Variety is key. When I started, I would make two big juices and take them to work and drink them throughout the day (about 8 - 10 ounces every couple of hours). I think that's why I got bored. By day 5 I made four or five smaller juices and the variety made it much easier. Also, I would recommend adding ice to each one. Even if the fruit and vegetables are cold, I found that ice made it colder and colder was better for me.
I was usually fine during the day, but by dinner time I was ready to eat something substantive. Each night this happened I told myself I had to finish the day and if I woke up the next morning and still wanted to eat something substantive, I could. Each morning I woke up feeling re-energized for the day to come. So if you feel weaker (mentally, not physically!) make yourself get through the day you're on and see how you feel the next day.
On day 1 I took a hot yoga class and it was fine. On day 3 I taught a hot yoga class, which isn't as intense as taking, and it was fine. On day 4 I took a hot yoga class and I got pretty light headed and my heart rate was much higher than it usually is. On day 5 I taught again and was fine. On day 6, I took again and this time my heart rate was even higher than it had been on day 4, so I decided to rest on day 7. I think it's probably okay to exercise at the beginning of the fast, but a few days in you should probably stick to something less rigorous like walking.
What were some of my favorite juice recipes?
1/2 peeled lime
1 large (or 2 small) apple(s)
a lot of spinach (at least 2 cups)
1 cup grapes
1 orange peeled
1/2 cup pineapple or mango
a lot of spinach (at least 2 cups spinach)
2 stalks celery
a lot of spinach (at least 2 cups)
homemade v8 juice (good for the in between times and without all that salt)
6 medium carrots
1 small beet (wash well)
3 large tomatoes
2 cups spinach (more if desired)
1/4 head cabbage
1 habanero pepper (I omitted this because I don't like things spicy)
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
3 stalks celery
1/4 sweet onion
1/2 garlic clove
3 kale leaves
I didn't try this one, but it looks delish:
1 peeled grapefruit
3 peeled oranges
1 peeled lemon
1 inch knob of ginger
Like I said, it's really trial and error so if you have a particular fruit (or green) you like, have fun and make up your own! (And then share it with me).
Do I have any encouragement for you?
YOU CAN DO IT! As you might know, my mother is fighting cancer. She is undergoing conventional treatment, but we're also trying to fight it with an all-natural, holistic diet as well. She and my father watched the documentary I recommended and, like I, became convinced of the vast health benefits of juicing. Daddy agreed to do a juice for 7 days with my mother and let me just say, hell must have frozen over (sorry, Daddy!). If he can do it anyone can!
Let me know if you have any specific questions. And happy juicing!