A New Year brings resolutions, to pray more, to read more, to lose weight, to eat healthier, to exercise more, ... you name it, I've probably had it on my list at one time or another.
After Christmas, I felt sluggish and like a nasty blob. Truthfully, I hadn't been eating "right" in quite a while, I can't just blame the holidays. I was tired, exhausted, felt like I couldn't get enough sleep, was craving sugar, drank too much coffee and not enough water, and ate too many carbs. I needed a hard reset. A couple of ladies at work started talking about a juice fast, and I myself had done the Standard Process Detox Program about a year and a half ago and began contemplating options. I didn't want to spend another $220 for the shakes and supplements, and the juice cleanse appeared to consist of basically fresh squeezed grapefruit, orange, and lemon juice- I figured I could do that myself. Then I remembered....
Years ago, well, ok, over a decade ago, I purchased a very thorough book on fasting. It covers areas such as benefits of fasting, weight loss in fasting, limitations to fasting, fasting and meditation, fasting and resting/sleep, and adjunct therapy to fasting. So I revisited that book! I'd share it here, but unfortunately it's in German, so I will try to recap some of the highlights.
5 Day Fast
Yes, you have to prepare yourself for fasting. You shouldn't just quit eating one day and call it day one of your fast. Here are a couple of reasons:
1) A prep day gets you mentally prepared
2) The prep day gets your body prepared by eating less
What to eat on prep day: either 3 lbs of fresh fruit, divided over 3 meals, or a rice day (3x50g of cooked brown rice, divided over 3 meals, or a veggie day (including a spring salad, but only lemon juice and spices for dressing)
Here's what I did: I had a fruit shake for breakfast, an apple mid morning, a salad for lunch (this salad DID NOT have chicken, eggs, or any other protein, just veggies), and a veggie soup for dinner.
Whatever you do- stay close to home and allow yourself a LOT OF REST. Day 1 and 2 are the most difficult and I was tired, a lot!
This day starts with some unpleasant business- bowel prep! That is, get your gut empty. This is important because it will help you not feel as hungry, and old waste won't get stuck in there for 5 days (remember, you won't be eating, so no movement in the bowels...)
Bowel Prep:Juice of 1/2 lemon and 2 TBS of Epsom Salt, dissolved in hot water, fill up with warm or cooler water to at least 16 oz (if you want to down it faster and use a smaller amt of water, make sure you drink at least a total of 16 oz with or after this. Epsom Salt is a saline laxative and will pull water into your bowel and leave you dehydrated if you don't replenish).
Drink plenty of water or herbal tea all day. For lunch you get 12 oz of veggie broth or 12 oz of a high quality, organic, 100% juice veggie juice.
Dinner is 12 oz of 100% juice, high quality, organic fruit juice. I actually squeezed a grapefruit, an orange, and half a lemon every night and filled the rest of the 12 oz glass up with a fruit juice of choice.
Morning: herbal or green tea
Lunch: 12 oz veggie juice or veggie broth
Dinner: 12 oz fruit juice
Plenty of water throughout.
Day Six and Seven-
Phasing food back in! Go shopping on day 5. It will make you excited about eating again the next day!
In the morning, have your usual herbal tea. Throughout the morning, have a nicely, ripe apple, or some organic, unsweetened applesauce.
lunch: veggie soup with carrot
dinner: tomato or asparagus soup, a plain yogurt with fresh fruit, or a few rice cakes. Basically, keep it small, whole grains, sugar free, and make it small portions. after 5 days of fasting, your eyes might be much bigger than your stomach!
Day Seven you can start with some plain oatmeal and some dried fruit, or fresh fruit, for lunch a salad and a plain yogurt for lunch, maybe a potato (steamed- no butter or cheese or all that stuff yet) and for dinner fresh veggies, veggie soup, or a protein shake made with almond milk.
1) you need A LOT OF REST, especially on day 1 & 2.
2) brush your teeth often, suck on a slice of lemon, etc. All your skin, including your oral mucosa will begin shedding toxins and bringing them to the surface. This can leave your tongue grey and nasty.
3) don't start a new exercise program while on the fast and don't plan to do anything too strenuous. You may feel more energized by days 3, 4, or 5, but if you don't, then just go for long walks, or do some yoga at home, soak in a tub of epsom salt, take a nap...
4) drink lots and lots of water.
5) caffeine detox: If you are a coffee-holic like myself, this may be the most difficult part of the fast (I know it was for me). green tea is allowed, but may not be enough. I made myself a cup of mild black tea every morning. It helped, but it was still pretty hard. The headaches that are associated with caffeine withdrawal are no joke! If you have the time, or are planning on a detox week down the road, do yourself the favor and wean down from caffeine before you start. It will make your fast week better.
6) Allow yourself to relax from life's stresses. Obviously, I have 3 boys at home and I did not go away to some lonely mountain cabin, although that sounds fabulous! We had a quiet day at home on day 1, where only one of them was here. We tried to have fun, playing games, all without stressing mom out with the schedule, etc. (A side note: I couldn't have done this if I hadn't had 6 days off from work and if I hadn't been on a school break- the mental fog was pretty cloudy for me.)
7) It may not feel good- it really didn't for me. I'd say only Day 3 was great. Overall, I would judge that my toxic load was probably pretty hefty and I'm glad I did it. But it was rough. (I actually quit after Day 4 because of a terrible, terrible migraine- unrelated, but my lovely better half begged and urged me to eat and it did make it a little better.)
8) would I do it again? probably. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it's over- although I truly am enjoying that the sugar cravings are gone, and my body has had the healthy reset I was hoping for. I have, however, learned a few things I'd do differently- the biggest being the coffee-deal! But: I've reset my body, I've shed a few pounds, I've fought cravings, and most of all I've learned that I can say No to food, particularly at a party. Realizing how hard this was makes me think twice before I put certain foods in my mouth now. I just really want to have to detox like that again!
Here is to a healthier, happy New Year!