THE GREAT JUICE FEAST

I am taking a bit of a break this week…a break from food! I am juice feasting.

“Is that like juice fasting?”, you ask. Well, yes, they are essentially the same thing – a liquid diet of fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices, except that with a juice feast, the idea is to consume a little more than you would on a juice fast to obtain a greater amount calories. It can also be referred to as a juice cleanse. Plus, fasting has such a sacrificial, deprived ring to it, and if I am not eating anything, I better be feasting on something!

This is a good time of year to go on a juice diet because the weather is warming up so our bodies can take more raw foods, fruits and veggies are coming into season, and as the seasons make their transition outside, it feels so right to make one inside.

There has been so much said about juice fasting/feasting/cleansing, so I don’t think that I will go into too much detail about it. For one, there are lots of amazing resources online that explain this process far better than I ever could. Secondly, everyone is different and your body’s reaction to a juice feast will certainly be different from mine. If I tell you what to expect, than inevitably, you will be disappointed if you don’t experience the same results.

Here a just a few resources to get you started:
Juicing Book
Juice Feasting
Living Foods
Vegetable Juice Recipes
The Best of Raw Food
The first link is wonderful because it is literally an entire juice book online (just please look past the rather, ahem, outdated graphics). The site offers oodles of information about the types of fruits and vegetables you can juice and what they are good for, in terms of nutrition, healing properties, and so many recipes, all for free! Me likey.

To give you an idea of what I am actually consuming, here some delicious combinations I really love. I usually go for 6-7 juices in total everyday, so I pick and choose from the following “menu” depending on the time of day.

Morning:
-2 grapefruits, 5 carrots, 1 piece fresh ginger
-2 pears, 4 kiwis, ½ lemon
-3 oranges, 2 apples, ½ lemon
-1 cup berries (any kind), pineapple, ½ lemon
-1 cup grapes, 3 pears, 4 kiwis
-1 whole watermelon (with rind if organic)

Afternoon:
-1 beetroot, 5 carrots, 1 apple, 1 handful fresh mint
-1 sweet potato, 4 stalks celery, 5 carrots, 1 apple, ½ lemon
-½ head Broccoli, 1 cucumber, 4 stalks celery
-2 leaves kale, 1 bunch mustard greens, 4 carrots

Evening:
-¼ head purple cabbage, 1 beetroot, 5 carrots, 2 tomatoes
-1 cup spinach, 4 carrots, 1 parsnip
-½ to 1 cup mung bean sprouts, 2 kale leaves, 1 parsnip, 3 carrots, 1 apple
-A handful of parsley, ¼ cucumber, 1 or 2 asparagus stalks, 4 carrots

Just in case you are curious (and I know you are!) here are the answers to the questions I am frequently asked about juice feasting.

1 – Are you insane?
No.

2- What’s the point?
A juice feast is basically a massive detoxification protocol. By consuming fresh juices that are loaded with nutrients, especially alkalizing minerals — and no fiber to slow digestion — you’re giving your body a chance to divert lots of energy from digestion to cleansing.

3- Aren’t you hungry?
Duh. Obviously. But it comes and goes, and I find it manageable. Plus, before I do commit to a juice feast, I work my way in rather slowly by decreasing my caloric intake day by day so my system gets used to eating less. For me, being hungry is the biggest challenge for sure, but knowing the good I am doing for my body overpowers my rumbly tummy. I think it is a very positive thing to experience real hunger once in a while. I know that I don’t often feel it, especially for extended periods of time, and when I do finally get back to a regular, solid-food diet, it is probably the most euphoric feeling I can get without breaking the law.

4 – How long does it last for?
I usually aim for 4-6 days, depending on how I am feeling. However, there is still a period before and after that are very important, where I eat mostly raw, avoid all processed foods, and obviously abstain from drinking alcohol. This is a challenge for a lot of people too: the idea of not drinking for 3 weeks, but all the more reason to give it a go.
I would suggest doing just one day to start. Some people go 150 days or more.

5 – Do you still go to work?
Yeah, I do, which was a little torturous today in fact (I am a cook). If you have a job where you are sedentary for most of the day, you would probably be fine. If your job requires a lot of hard, physical labour, I would try to do the juice feast over a long weekend, and maybe take a day off. The most important thing is to be near your juicer. If you can’t bring it to work, make sure you juice enough before you leave the house to last you through the day so that you are not tempted by the coffee and donuts in the conference room. Yikes! And going to work is also good, as it gets your mind off of being hungry – distractions are key.

6 – Do you lose weight?
Again, duh. But this is mostly water weight. Once you go back to your regular eating habits, the pounds will return slowly (unless you are inspired to make a change!).

7 – How do you know when to start?
I am pretty in tune with my body at this point, and I just feel when a re-charge is in order. If I am feeling sluggish, bloated, foggy-headed, I know it’s time to juice for a few days to clean up the system. And even though I eat a whole foods diet, I am still exposed to environmental toxins, occasional stress, and if I can’t eat organic, I am sure I get a couple pesticides thrown into my salad from time to time!

VERY IMPORTANT:
Juice feasting/fasting/cleansing is a pretty major undertaking, and you should consult with a qualified health practitioner before throwing yourself into one. Do not use this post as your sole reference! Taking care of your body means doing it in a responsible way, being educated about the choices you are making, and taking small steps towards something greater.

Answers to readers’ questions:
1. Do you have to make these juices using a juicer? would it be possible to use just a regular ol’ blender?
GREAT question!
The answer to this was very briefly explained in the 2nd answer above, but I will elaborate. The whole idea behind using a real juicer for cleansing purposes is because it separates a fruit or vegetable’s fiber and liquid. The separation of juice from fiber means that the body does not have to divert large amounts of energy to the process of digesting the juice, as there are no fibres to breakdown, meaning that it can focus on other tasks such as detoxification. It also means that the body can easily absorb the nutrients present in the juice extracted by the juicer as they have all been released from the fibers and are freely available.
You could try blending up your desired fruits and veggies in a blender and straining them, but you will not get the same results in the end. Plus, many hard vegetables like sweet potato, carrots, and parsnips would be very hard on your blender’s motor!

2. Curious what juicer you use – as it seems it gets a workout!
I actually borrowed a juicer from a friend this time, as the one I own is still back in Canada (sniff). There are many types of juicers out there in a wide range of prices. Here’s a link that explains the differences between juicer types, so you can find the one that suits your needs and budget.

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