Why do a juice feast?
Nathaniel and I have decided to do a juice feast (aka juice fast) in attempt to jump-start our weight loss and fitness efforts. Last summer, we were really inspired by a friend of ours who did this. We saw her in mid-March, and then we almost didn’t recognize her when we saw her June 1st. She looked like a completely different person. She had lost a good bit of weight, but more than that, she just looked so healthy. Her skin was glowing. She had this awesome energetic aura around her. It was amazing – she seemed transformed. We asked what she done, and she told us about her juice fast. She had drunk over 100 ounces a day of freshly juiced vegetables and fruits, and eaten no other food, for about two months. Wow!
At the time, our baby was under a year old and breastfeeding, so despite how inspired we were, I couldn’t do a juice fast right then (you shouldn’t do a detox or severely restrict calories while breastfeeding, because both affect your milk supply). But we did pull Nathaniel’s old juicer out of the basement and start supplementing our usual diet with a fresh vegetable/fruit juice once or twice a week. At least when we had enough green vegetables…And when we had time…And when we felt like cleaning the juicer…
What about the taste?
I had never tasted fresh vegetable juice before that. I didn’t love the taste at first unless there were several apples included with the vegetables, but I quickly got used to the taste of mostly vegetables. Beets and carrots are almost as sweet as apples but are much more nutritious, and they disguise the taste of bitter greens really well. Although you should be cautious not to juice too many fruits because of their high sugar content, we still include one or two pieces of fruit with our vegetables. We are planning to slowly reduce the fruit content and try to drink at least some juices that are all vegetables.
Now our baby is a bit older (19 months), and though still breastfeeding a few times a day, other food is the bulk of her diet. I am more than ready to lose the baby weight and get back in shape, so we have set a goal of running a half marathon this July (five months from now). I have been exercising at least a few times a week for the past few months. I have lost about 5 pounds, and I feel much better. However, the weight is not coming off as quickly as I would like. So we decided it was time to do the juice feast. For more information and inspiration, we watched the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead a few weeks ago. (Watch it free on Hulu here.) It is so inspiring to see these people’s lives transformed!
Is juicing a cure-all?
It seems like juicing is touted as a cure for all kinds of ills. A juice “feast” can resolve a variety of metabolic, weight, hormonal, cardiovascular, and immune problems. Is it too good to be true? Could this really work for such a variety of issues? I think it can, and the reason why is simple. Most metabolic, weight, hormonal, cardiovascular, and immune problems are caused by an unhealthy diet, so replacing ALL unhealthy food with fresh, raw vegetables and fruits and flooding your body with nutrients corrects the problem. And instead of just treating the symptoms, like modern medicine, it fixes the root cause of the problem. It really is that simple.
Why does juicing work?
The important thing to remember is that a juice fast is not just about what you aren’t eating – it’s about what you are eating. Fasting by itself (abstaining from eating all food, or all solid food, or all animal products, etc.) doesn’t do anything but restrict your calories. This may help you lose weight, at least temporarily. But what really will solve health problems is replacing junk foods or less healthy foods with fresh, raw vegetables and fruits. Fresh, raw fruits and vegetables are the best source of almost all the nutrients your body needs to thrive. These nutrients (vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients) are more bioavailable (meaning your body can actually absorb and use them) from raw vegetables and fruits than from any other source, particularly artificial and processed vitamins and foods supplements. There are a few rare exceptions (lightly cooking some vegetables increases the absorption of certain nutrients), but as a general rule, raw is best, and whole foods are better than supplements. To optimize your health, you must give your body what it needs.
My main goal for the juice feast is weight loss. That’s really my only health issue – I am otherwise extremely healthy and I have a great immune system. But in addition to the weight loss goal, I am hoping the juice feast will improve my skin and reduce my preference for salty foods. I don’t eat processed food, which is the main source of excess sodium in the American diet, but I do heavily salt my home-cooked meals. Maybe not eating any salt for a few weeks will change my taste buds. Nathaniel’s goals are weight loss, improved digestion (he’s also taking probiotics for this), and improved immune functioning (he catches colds and viruses at least a few times a year). We are both hoping for extra energy too, to help us juggle work, family, and exercise. Lastly, we are planning to permanently maintain a diet of at least 50% raw vegetables and fruits after we finish the “feast.”
We decided to transition into the juice feast over a two-week period to ease the discomfort of suddenly changing our diets and (hopefully) to protect my milk supply since I am still breastfeeding. The first week, we juiced for breakfast and for our afternoon snack. We ate our normal, healthy, plant-based diet for lunch and dinner. During the second week, we substituted more juice for dinner. We had our “last meal” today after we went skiing – an almond butter sandwich and an apple! Starting tomorrow, we will just drink juice all day long, with the caveat that we can eat some raw fruits and vegetables if we get really hungry or need some fiber. Occasionally we may have a green smoothie with Vega One Nutritional Shake vegan protein powder, especially after a workout. I’ll share my recipes in upcoming posts. So we will not eat any cooked food, animal products, grains, caffeine, or alcohol. We are hoping to do this for 40 days. So wish us luck, and I will update soon with logistics (including cost), recipes, and our progress!