I have had to revoke my self-applied title of “keen blogger” and demote myself to “lazy arse twat”. Not until I post on a weekly basis for more than a month will I be allowed to rise to the ranks of a normal human being again. The funny thing is, I almost fear apologising for not having written, lest people think I am deluded enough to think that not writing has actually had an impact on the lives of others. Obviously, the world has not stopped spinning while my fingers took a respite from the keyboard, but a hacker found the time to entertain any visitors in the meantime and the only reason I am back up and running is because a friend of a friend, Mr. Tom Stripling, came to the rescue. Thank you!
So, now onto the week-long experiment that drained the crap out of my system – my body, that is.
Right after our trip to Japan, B and I realised we could not avoid or hide the physical evidence of our indulgences whilst back home. Although we had kept up the running and were even disciplined enough to include uphill and interval running, our waistlines were not what they had been a mere three weeks prior to holiday.
Is it any wonder when food like this keeps making itself available to you for a fraction of the price you’d pay in Zurich?
I had always been interested in doing a juice fast because the trusty internet had once whispered enticing factoids into my overly keen ears. I had managed to manipulate my Google searches to point me in the direction of “evidence” that a juice fast would put my glandular fever symptoms back where they belong: in life long dormancy.
So, with the added bonus of potential weight loss, I had no reason not to pump myself full of nothing but green liquids for a week. B, having been brainwashed by his obsessive girlfriend, agreed that he would give it a go too.
So, other than the fact that I had convinced myself this fast would result in a slimmer glandular problem free version of myself, I was interested in seeing what a real detox would feel like.
I also thought that this would be a good way to reset my taste buds and cravings. As you all know, I have a terrible relationship with sugar. I have given it up numerous times, but have lapsed just as many times. In Japan I found it so hard to say no to my favourite green tea flavoured sweets and switched my “I can only eat it now” mode on and indulged away…
My expectations were pretty vague so I wasn’t afraid to do it. I expected to have a furry tongue and headaches for the first few days, while my body expunged itself of the nasty substances I had trickled into it over the last 25 years. I thought I’d be hungry and cranky the whole time. The tongue thing happened, while the latter fears never materialised.
There are various philosophies encompassing the practicalities of buying a juicer just to do a juice fast, but since I firmly believe in pumping myself full of nutrients anyway, I decided to bite the bullet…and ask for a juicer for my birthday. The most expensive, top-of-the-range one, of course…It’s called a slow juicer and produces a much more homogenous juice than a regular centrifugal juicer does. It tastes better and feels healthier, so that’s good enough for me.
I have been using the juicer to make almond milk too, so it’s yet to be the most seldom used pieced of kit in my kitchen, surprisingly. That prize goes to the coffee machine, but luckily it gets plenty of love from B.
If, like me, you live in a city flat, as opposed to a house with an expanse of land rolling out from beyond your back door, you probably aren’t very interested in composting. So what do you do with the left over veggie dregs (or shall we call it pure fibre?) you get from juicing? Use it as you would breadcrumbs when making burgers, meatballs, anything you need to give texture to before frying. Now you never have to go near processed breadcrumbs again. You’re welcome.
I definitely recommend taking one or even two days to ease into the fast. For two days, B and I subsisted on raw veg, fruit and an egg or two. Behold my golden breakfast eggs.
It’s important to cut out sugar, meat, dairy, alcohol and grains to let your body prepare for the abstemiousness you’re about to impose upon it. It’s better to tackle the initial symptoms of withdrawal from your usual vices (like caffeine) while you are still allowed to munch on solids. Giving up the comfort of having something to chew on and putting a halt to the caffeine consumption will only turn your stormy first two to three days into typhoon territory in terms of suffering. The look in B’s eyes after 1.5 days with no coffee was pretty damn evocative, I felt for the poor guy.
Research and prep
I recommend doing a Google search or two for some recipes. The first day I just bundled together what we had in the fridge and the outcome was far from palatable. The only reason we drank it is because we had no choice…
I won’t recommend any recipes because I found that it’s a really individual thing. I tried a juice recipe someone had raved about and it was, quite frankly, vile, in my opinion.
Something you do want to bear in mind though, is that your juices should be veg heavy and easy on the fruit. I was indulgent at breakfast and included pomegranate, banana and mango, but our other two “meals” only contained enough fruit to ensure my wincing wasn’t too unsightly, you know, just in case the wind changed while I was downing my meals.
Our shopping list, for two people, for one week (which meant we had about 1.5 – 2 litres of juice each per day), looked something like this.
- 36 cucumbers (almost three per person per day)
- 40 apples
- 5kg of spinach, possibly more
- 5kg of carrots, again, possibly more
- 10 heads of romaine lettuce
- 10 oranges
- 7 pomegranates
- 7 mangoes
- 7 bananas
- Some celery (would have been more had Benni not vetoed it after the first juice
- 5 kohlrabi
- 3 beetroots
- 1 purple cabbage (this was the offender in the juice that made me gag)
- 2 melons
- 2 bunches of grapes
Total cost was about 250 CHF (excluding the juicer, of course)
Total amount of fridge space dominated…:
…and kitchen counter space invaded…:
…oh, and the amount of abuse he fruit bowl took:
One thing I can’t recommend enough is cutting up fruit and veg in large batches in advance. On the weekends I was juicing 3 times a day and twice a day on weekends. While the Hurom juicer is deliciously easy to clean, it’s still a pain in the arse to have to load it full of veggies for half an hour each time. To minimize this pain, I used my two stainless steel containers, which I bought precisely for keeping produce fresh, and chopped up about 10 carrots and 6 cucumbers at a time. I can’t say I know how fresh the stuff will stay without a stainless steel container, but I have read that plenty of people tackle the juicing this way, so it should be no problem.
how it panned out for us and what you could expect
Another thing you mustn’t forget is to make sure you time your meals so as to allow as little time between juicing and consuming as possible. Since B and I both work full time, our lunch time juice was a bit of a compromise, but we made sure we kept it in the fridge at work, to avoid the nutrients dying on us. I also made sure the bottles were full to the brim – I topped the bottles up with some water where necessary.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and or herbal/fruity teas between juices. Your body is, theoretically, dumping lots of toxins from within your guts and muscles into your blood stream, so you want to flush them all out via the medium of pee, essentially. I don’t want to go into the scientific explanation, because I’m not a scientist and because, more importantly, much of this is still debated within the medical and scientific community. Do it, if anything, for the hydration value and to quell any hunger pangs you may have.
Prepare to be surprised by how little hunger you will feel. You may experience headaches, nausea and general malaise in the first three days, but I bet your hunger levels will be lower than you had anticipated. B even suffered from muscle ache, especially in his thighs. This might all sound unpleasant, but it goes away by day four, at which point you are filled with a mysterious eagerness to conquer the world with all the abundant energy that’s suddenly started coursing through your veins.
You will sleep really deeply. Despite the energy levels being higher than you feel is physically possible when your body is being fed green sludge, you will feel sleepy earlier in the day and will crave lots of sleep. The best thing about this is that your sleep will be so intensely deep that you’ll feel properly refreshed every morning. B even got rid of his stubborn under eye bags. This was by far my favourite side effect of the ordeal.
You might lose weight, but don’t count on it. I find that if you expect weight loss to be the most rewarding outcome of a fast, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. We don’t own a set of scales, so I don’t know how much either of us lost, but our clothes certainly started to hang off of us by day five. Most of it was likely to be water weight though, so I refrained from rejoicing until a week after the fast. By then I felt confident that anything that had come off was likely to stay off, unless I went and stuffed my face. I would guess that my weight loss after six days of fasting was 2-3kg, tops.
By far the hardest thing, as I said, is not having to face the hunger, but having to isolate yourself in order to avoid temptation. Fasting is antisocial. You can’t be around people who eat lest you punch them in the teeth just so can impair their ability to eat. You will miss the ritual of preparing and eating a meal. You will have so much extra time you won’t know what to do with yourself (especially if you’re a sports enthusiast, because that sort of energy expenditure has to be put on hold). In short, you will end up feeling very sorry for yourself. Just pat yourself on the back and call it an early night.
You said six days, I thought you did it for a week?
Well, despite the weight loss, in my case there was no fairy kale ending (har har). I found out the hard way, that fasting does not alleviate, let alone eliminate, glandular fever symptoms. Instead, it brings them out with a vengeance. So I had no choice but to cut my fast short on day six. My glandular fever guru actually ended up reprimanding me for doing something so extreme. It made me feel a bit like a cripple, but in a way, that is exactly what I am. I may look healthy, but on the inside I am still healing.
On the bright side though, B looked like a new born baby by the time he started eating again. We both started by eating fresh fruit and veg and didn’t even approach meat until a few days later. This is definitely advisable as your taste buds and your digestive system won’t be anticipating such an extreme change. I’ve read about the adverse effects of eating too much too soon. Don’t do it, unless inadvertently soiling yourself in public is on your bucket list.
have you gained all the weight back?
Surprisingly, no. I wouldn’t attribute this all to the magical effects of the juice fast though. I have been upping my game in terms of running and bouldering (something the bout of swollen glands didn’t stop me from, luckily), so I would say that’s what has kept it off. I can’t say whether I’d have lost the weight anyway, without doing a fast, but if I had, it would definitely have taken longer.
anything else I should know before I go and follow in your crazy footsteps?
Just one thing, for ladies only. My lady days made their appearance a good week early, right after I ended my fast. I have read on the world wide web that this is quite common. I can’t really comment further on it as a)nobody wants me to discuss that kind of thing here and, b) I really don’t know why this happened. Just wanted to let you know it could happen.
So, now that you know that B and I, two supremely gluttonous gourmands, have survived the ordeal, it’s time for you to go and take advantage of all the fresh produce and the wonderfully warm and appetite quashing weather. You do want to be rewire your taste buds to avoid adding to that belly that’s currently flinching at the idea of being paraded in a bathing suit, don’t you?
I thought so, now off you go!