Unlike the last time I didn’t make the mistake of eating Burger King (breakfast), pizza (lunch) and waffles (dinner?) the day before starting my fast, mostly because it’s cold out and all the fast food places require me to leave the house, but mostly mostly because the waffle place is closed now. Also, because I’ve learned from experience what a terrible idea that is.
That wasn’t the only change I made this time around.
For one thing, I didn’t weigh myself…at all. I wanted to make this about feeling good and being healthy and not about how many pounds of water weight I could drop in a few days time. I think it was the right choice. And even if my scale wasn’t broken (like all of the other appliances in my house), I’d like to think that I’d make the same decision in future.
In addition, I did a much better job of planning for this fast. I spent a day or two eating small, healthy-ish meals and drinking plenty of water before I started so that the absence of food wouldn’t be such a shock to my system.
Shopping ahead of time also proved to be a helpful tactic. I made a very specific shopping list and went in knowing the exact quantities of everything I needed to buy. I saved a lot of money by going in with a game plan. I knew from experience which juices I actually liked and which were the healthiest (i.e. least sugary) and so I decided to focus on two basic juices:
6 kale leaves
4 celery stalks
2 green apples
1 small piece of ginger
1 red apple
1 small piece of ginger
as many carrots as you want
(I sometimes add spinach to this one too.)
I usually had two mean greens a day for breakfast and dinner and one carrot ginger for lunch. That’s another thing I did differently – rather than five or six smaller servings of juice, I went for three larger portions. This cut down on a lot of prep time, which quickly became the bane of my existence last time.
Every night I’d chop all the fruits and veggies that I was going to need for the next day (except for the apples) and stored them in plastic containers full of water in the fridge so they didn’t dry out and get gross. I also bought pre-washed, pre-chopped, bagged kale which made things tons easier.
Another thing that made a big difference was the timing of this fast. Not only did I plan for a much shorter fast (three days as opposed to ten – though I only made it six days last time), but I chose a week where I had a lot of free time so I could prepare all my ‘meals’ at home and I wouldn’t have to worry about carrying bottles of juice with me everywhere I went.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this fast was the absence of gastric distress I’d experienced last time. While it was unpleasant (not to mention colorful), it did make me feel like I was really ridding my body of toxins. This time around everything was so..normal. I don’t know if that means that my overall health is better now (which it could be because even though I indulged like crazy over the holidays, I never went back to the steady diet of pasta, rice and fast food I was eating before starting my experiments with juice fasting and paleo), or if it’s just because I decided not to juice any beets this time. No matter how much I washed and scrubbed those things, or how many additional fruits and veggies I added to my concoctions, all of my beet-based juices tasted like mushy, red dirt. Suffice it to say, juicing beets never ended well for me.
[Side note about planning: This one is for the ladies. Consider your menstrual cycle when starting a fast of any kind. (God, I can’t believe I’m actually writing about menstrual cycles – I am so sorry.) If, like me, you are prone to iron deficiencies, choosing to start a juice fast at the same time as your period is the worst idea ever. Trust me. I didn’t even think about that last time, but I’m guessing I could have avoided a lot of headaches (literally) if I had.]
Basically, I can’t say enough good things about planning. It really did make all the difference in the world, if also making for a less-than-amusing blog post.
I wasn’t totally without error though. Knowing that it’s always a good idea to slowly ween oneself back onto solid food after a fast, I wanted to have some homemade chicken soup ready and waiting for me in the freezer. Choosing to make that stock on day one – my worst craving day – was maybe not the best decision. The whole house smelled like soup. It was wonderful and awful all at the same time.
[Side note about chicken stock: I have become a master of homemade soups and stocks. That may come as a surprise to those of you who have read about my plethora of culinary disasters, but after a period of trial and error, I am proud to say that I make a damn fine chicken soup. That may not be much to brag about but coming from a girl who, as of a year ago, didn’t know how to cook chicken at all, this is a pretty big accomplishment. I chalk it up mostly to genetics though. Something about throwing a bunch of meat and veggies in a pot and letting them sit there for hours on end without actually having to do anything speaks to some deeply ingrained part of me which, I believe, can only be attributed to my Irish heritage.]
Time to talk cravings.
Despite my best planning efforts, there really isn’t anything you can do to combat cravings – and I had plenty of them. I typically crave carbs – sweet and salty snacks alike – but I found myself craving meat this time around, which makes me doubly glad to have a freezer full of chicken stock and soup fixin’s. Every time I left the house, it was like walking through a mine field of delicious things that I wanted to eat…
[I must have looked longingly at this lonely pretzel on the subway floor for about twenty minutes. People were starting to stare.]
Cravings aside, this juice fast was a piece of cake. So much so, that when I woke up this morning I actually forgot that my juice fast was supposed to be over. My planning and prep were so superior to fasts past that I still had plenty of chopped, peeled veggies in the fridge ready to juice, so I made another green juice for breakfast. It was delicious. I will probably have some of the chicken broth for lunch and go from there.
Benefits of juice fasting:
* Boundless energy and improved mood. Seriously, I’m so peppy right now I can hardly stand myself.
* I slept better during this juice fast than I have in months. I would fall asleep almost the minute my head hit the pillow. It was good, solid, restful sleep, too.
* My skin gets really glowy 🙂
* Any belly bloating is gone! Flat stomach = favorite part about juice fast.
In short, I highly recommend juice fasting to anyone wanting to reset their digestive tract and kick start a healthier diet.*
Peace out, interwebbers!
*Disclaimer: If you’re stupid enough to take my wildly unqualified advice about anything, you deserve what you get.