Two weeks ago I blogged about the join the reboot website. At the end of the post, I asked that if anyone was REALLY going to do the juice fast, to document and share with our readers. My friend, Elizabeth Silleck, went through with a juice fast recommended to her by the folks at Join The Reboot. Below is her short essay on how it all went down:
So, after watching the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” I was inspired to try, for the first time, a fast. I shouldn’t really call it a “fast”, because in reality, I was eating and drinking all day. The difference lay in what I was eating and drinking. For five days, my diet consisted solely of fruits, vegetables, and the freshly made juice of fruits and vegetables (with very few exceptions like raw honey and raw agave nectar for flavoring, herbal tea, spices, olive oil, soy sauce). No meat, no animal products, no fish, no poultry, no grains, no beans or legumes, no alcohol, no caffeine, no over the counter medication. NOTHING processed. The premise behind it, without going into too much scientific detail, is that the average American diet lacks the essential micronutrients to keep a body functioning in a way that is healthy, as it is dominated by starch, fat, sugar, and oil coming from animal products and highly processed foods.
So basically, for five days I ate nothing but the edible parts of plants, and their juice. The principle behind the juice is interesting, as well: it takes a whole mess of vegetables or fruits to make one large glass of juice—more vegetables or fruits than you could eat in one sitting. Juicing essentially extracts the vital nutrients from the vegetables and fruits that are desirable, and concentrates it into liquid, which is more easily absorbed and doesn’t take up so much room in your tummy. It’s like a “shot” of goodness, to get you “drunk” on health.
Now, the documentary-maker actually consumed NOTHING but fresh fruit and vegetable juice for two months straight, as he was working to overcome obesity and a chronic auto-immune disease which was not responding to any medical treatment (by the way, it worked…he dropped about 100lbs, went off all steroids and essentially cured his condition, with JUICE). I am a relatively healthy individual who already avoids processed foods, works out consistently, and regularly eats vegetables, though I now realize not enough, and not a wide enough variety. In any event, my fast was limited to one juice per day, and four additional meals of just fruits or vegetables.
For example, for breakfast I might have a sliced mango, a sliced peach, and blueberries in a bowl. For lunch I might have a salad of kale, red onion, celery, tomato, strawberries, zucchini with a mustard balsamic vinaigrette. For dinner I might have roasted fennel, sweet potato, onion, with a side of carrot-ginger soup. Believe me, I have discovered how delicious vegetables can be, especially when they are fresh and organic, and you put a little thought into preparation. The great thing is, the website (www.jointhereboot.com
), includes very simple, yummy recipes to keep you on track.
So, why did I do this? Well, firstly, I am kind of in the midst of some very significant spiritual and psychological work, so the idea of a cleanse really appealed to me. Secondly, watching the documentary made me realize that although I have a healthier-than-typical diet, I basically go to the grocery store and buy the same old tired veggies: broccoli, onions, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes; and the same old tired fruits: bananas, oranges, strawberries, blueberries. I don’t give any thought to what’s fresh, what’s in season, what the nutrient content of different foods are and what I might need. Variety is the spice of life! So I thought this would be a good way to introduce myself to some diversity and get what are perhaps much-needed vitamins and minerals. Also, I am a drinker of coffee and rum, and I knew this would force me to forgo both for at least five days, which is never a bad thing. Lastly, I guess I just wanted somewhat of a health challenge, to create a goal and reach it, and to break the monotony of my current fitness regimen.
How did it go? Well, I won’t lie, the first day SUCKED, but I knew it would. It was the caffeine withdrawal that got me—severe headache, slight nausea, complete fatigue. I had planned for this, though, so I made sure I had no reason to need to do any work or go outside. I did a stretch video first thing in the morning before the headache got too bad, and the rest of the day I sat around with an ice pack on my head, drank my juice, ate my fruits and veggies, and watched more documentaries on Netflix. By the end of the day, the headache was less severe, and I went to bed. Day 2 was MUCH better, no headache, though I found myself constipated. I realized I’ve been relying on coffee to act as my morning laxative, and without it I was backed up. Not cool. Though my energy level was great, I was enjoying my food and juice, I felt satiated, I was mildly constipated until day 5. The morning of day 5 I let it all out, forgive any imagery this may arouse. I kicked caffeine, I cleansed my body of all animal products, I went 5 days without ingesting anything processed, any animal fat, any artificial chemicals.
What did I find? Surprises! I was not at all any more hungry than usual—in fact, I think I may have been less hungry than when I’m eating chicken sandwiches and the like. To be fair, I usually do heavy weight training and cardio exercise six days a week, so I need protein and more calories than I did during this week. I did do light cardio on Days 2, 3, 4 and 5 (jogging outside, elliptical), but no weightlifting. I definitely could not maintain this (nor should one) for the long-term. What I’m very excited about, though, is the fact that I incorporated vegetables and fruits into my life in ways I hadn’t thought of, and feel more confident about trying new things. For instance, I went to a farmer’s market and they had some beautiful okra. I’d never cooked okra. I had no idea how to cook okra. I’d eaten it before, but it intimidated me. But then I thought, what the hell, I will find a recipe online. I have olive oil, I have garlic, I have onions, I have spices…I can figure out SOMETHING. And I did! I chopped it up and sautéed it with olive oil and onions, added some cayenne pepper and salt, and it was delicious! The secret is NOT to overcook anything! Of course, eating raw is the best, but some things just are not palatable (ie. eggplant, which IS delicious in a grill pan). So now I feel as if, as I incorporate lean meat and poultry, eggs, Greek yogurt, beans, grains, seafood (yes, I’m salivating) back into my diet, I have this wealth of vegetables available to me to BE the central focus of my meal. I’m really very excited about it—don’t laugh. Also, with respect to fruits, I discovered how much I LOVE natural fruit juice, and I intend to replace my gym-made post-workout smoothies with my own fresh juice, blended with whey/soy/egg protein and banana. This way, I will be getting my muscle builders along with my micronutrients. Very excited about this too! Oh, and one random thing that I have to add: fresh ginger is a MIRACLE. Next time you have indigestion or heartburn, forget the TUMS—chew on a little piece of raw ginger. You will thank me.
I think, at the end of the day, for someone like me without any health issues, the biggest value in doing something like this is the impact on consciousness. Every so often we can slip into bad habits, opting for “convenience” foods, indulging in what’s around us at work events, BBQ’s, family dinners without really making CHOICES about what we are going to fuel our bodies with. This fast has really impacted my way of thinking about what I’m putting into my body. It has made me consider my priorities. Is it really unreasonable to pay $2 more for organically-grown produce, or even $10 more for chicken that was raised without antibiotics or hormones or fed pesticide-ridden cornmeal? No, it’s not unreasonable, and in fact, it is now a commitment for me. I’ve spent more on less important things (just consider how much one might spend for a drink in a NYC bar, or a pair of shoes, or cab ride instead of the train in the rain). We make choices every day, but the one thing we can’t choose is NOT to eat. Something has to go into our bodies to provide energy for basic bodily functions, but it’s up to us to decide that we deserve something that will nourish us, rather than poison us.
Ok, enough preaching. I just want to end by saying that I feel mentally clear, physically balanced and emotionally serene in a way that is undeniable. I admit, I did go out and purchase a can of organic, fair trade DECAF coffee, because I miss that flavor, but I’m going to avoid full-caf from here on out. And the next time I partake in Captain Morgan, it will be mixed with fresh fruit juice ;-).
- Time for a Reboot! (epicureanvegan.com)
- prepping for a juice fast... (sarahallspaw.wordpress.com)