October 18, 2010

Get your Juices Flowing.

I’ve taken to seasonal juice fasts.

They seem to fall in step with paying quarterly taxes and checking in with my sex life. I can now cross “Fall ’10 cleanse,” “Third quarter ‘10 tax payment,” and gratefully, “October good lovin’,” off my fictional list. Yes, I am disciplined with my life in many aspects; what I eat, what I drink, the people I spend time with, my yoga practice, my meditation practice, working with clients, working out, leisure time, pleasure time and paying attention to my desires.

Juice fasting has been a part of my health regime for 12 years. My first attempt at consuming only juice for what I hoped to be a five day fast lasted only three days and was a nightmare. I didn’t follow a program about prepping or breaking a fast. Basically, I borrowed my friend Josh’s juicer, bought a whole bunch of organic veggies and fruits and started juicing calling it “Day one” of my juice fast. What I learned the most about my virgin juicing experience is…do not go to the movies and eat popcorn when you have not eaten food for three days.

The overwhelming smell of buttered popcorn got the best of me and I rationalized with my friend, Rich, who suggested going to the movies, that popcorn was a vegetable and if I chewed it well until it would liquidize in my mouth and essentially be corn juice. And of course, butter was already liquid, so that wouldn’t be an issue. I plowed through my small bag of popcorn watching Scream without incident. The movie was great, as we all know, but basically I Roto-Routered my stomach leaving me with my own horror movie to contend with later that night.

I had read to take it easy during a juice fast; light yoga, go for walks, read books, no TV (so you don’t see food commercials which at the time I had two running nationally and always like to see my paycheck when it aired). Going to a movie didn’t seem like a bad idea, it’s not a restaurant with tempting food. I’d forgotten about the popcorn. Popcorn is not food in my book, but the aroma of fresh popped corn goes hand in hand with a movie. Being my first juice fast, and proud that I had lasted three days, I said enough is enough and broke my fast.

If shooting pains in my stomach, fever and sweating profusely are any indication that I had screwed up, then duly noted. I poisoned myself with popcorn. This was a huge lesson to me and I warn those who are doing a juice fast for the first time or are seasoned fasters, ease your way in and out of the fast. There is so much accessible information out there now on juicing and fasting and how to do it properly, I suggest reading as much as you can before taking your first juicing journey. I suggest a couple of days before juicing, eat vegan or raw, and don’t eat a huge meal the night before as a “last meal.” Ease your way back into food when you are ready to eat solid foods again. Start with vegetable soup like a vegan butternut squash soup or a vegetable soup. Eating fruit on its own is good too. I love to have a chia seed pudding to break a fast with. Yum! Raw foods are great, but chew, chew, chew your food well and small amounts at a time. Go easy on spices. In fact, I avoid spices for a couple of days other than pinches of sea salt. Take your time and you will be fine. When breaking a fast over 10 days, a good rule of thumb is that the break-in period should be extended one day for every four days of fasting. If you do intend to do a juice fast or any fast for that matter, please seek advice and guidance so that you don’t do more damage than good.

Thankfully, I have come a long way from that first botched juice fast. I just completed a five day cleanse—three days of juice fasting followed by two days of juicing until dinner— dinner being raw salads from one of my favorite NYC raw food spots, One Lucky Duck. I personally like to include almond milk during my juice fasts for the fats and I also have lots of coconut water or coconut meat smoothies. Because I am a seasoned juice faster, I choose my own combinations of bottled greens, fruits, and nut milks. I don’t fast for weight management. I fast for cleansing, detoxing, boosting my immune system, and it just feels great! My self-prescribed selection of liquid goodness from One Lucky Duck includes the bottled Norwalk pressed juices and fresh raw almond milk  (to die for!). To save money (juice fasts are expensive), I buy Tai young coconuts and blend my concoctions at home by adding in different combinations of the following: cacoa, cacoa nibs, ginger, vanilla powder, mint leaf, blueberries, flax seed, chia seed, etc. basically whatever I am in the mood for. I drink lots of water, too.

Carving out the time for a juice fast can be tricky. I wouldn’t plan any social lunches or dinners. Permit yourself to take it easy. Your body will be living off fewer calories so do less. Try some restorative yoga or go for a walk instead of a run. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling light and sexy. Healthy is sexy after all.

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