In yoga teacher training, we recently discussed sauca, or purification. One of the possible methods we discussed was fasting. This week, since I knew I had a pretty intense dosage of chemicals being introduced to my body on Monday, and I’ve been wanting to do something to calm my digestive system anyway, it seemed like an ideal time to work a fast. Since we had also just discussed tapas (or turning up the heat), and I’ve water fasted in the past for 1 day periods, my plan was to extend this a little longer. I think I first envisioned 3 days. So, I decided to juice fast. I read about it quite a bit on Sunday and then embarked on my plan Sunday evening.
First the details and then my assessment:
Monday was my first full day of juice fasting. Many people drink Sena tea or “Smooth Move” or perform enemas as part of the juice fasting process, but I opted out of this part. And, since I don’t own a juicer, I had to purchase my juices. I also allowed myself decaffeinated tea, 2 cups of warmed vegetable broth, and water each day. Monday was primarily fruit juice, including orange, grapefruit, and mango. Since I had the medical treatment that day, I wasn’t particularly hungry and didn’t even utilize the vegetable broth option, and only 1 cup of decaf tea. I had somewhat of a headache by mid day, but I am not sure if that was more the medications or the absence of coffee.
Tuesday morning I woke up and noticed that I didn’t feel particularly hungry, which in the recent past I have been almost every day upon awakening. Over the course of the day Tuesday, I had several glasses of fruit juice (diluted with water) and some vegetable broth. I didn’t feel hungry and experienced no growling of the stomach. By mid day, I again had a headache that persisted most of the day, but was not severe.
Wednesday was similar to Tuesday, though I noticed that I was thinking even less about food. On Wednesday evening, I took pretty much every vegetable in the fridge and, using the blender and a strainer, made a mixed vegetable juice with carrots, tomato, celery, romaine, peppers, ginger, and a bit of cumin. It wasn’t exactly delicious, but it wasn’t bad. I don’t know if it was the high concentration of peppers or possibly the ginger or cumin, but I did have an incredibly growly stomach that evening (that could be heard across a yoga studio). The headache arrived later that day, but it was back. I also noticed that my bladder was working overtime on Wednesday, which was interesting, because – even with all the liquids – it had not on Monday or Tuesday.
By Thursday, I felt like I was pretty much completely over the medication effects, so I could tell better what the fast was doing. I had no reduction in energy, no nausea, and no sense of falling glucose levels – which is a fairly common experience for me. I also had no heartburn, and this is pretty crazy for someone who almost owns shares in Nexium and Tums. Interesting. I consumed more water on Thursday and less juices. The frequent bathroom trips continued through that day. Thursday evening, I met friends for a drink (one gin and grapefruit) and chat. While I don’t think more alcohol would have been a good idea, I didn’t notice any particularly strong effects from the one drink that I had.
This morning, I did wake up thinking about breakfast. I wasn’t hungry, but I wanted to chew some food. I kept up with the juice plan throughout the day, consuming fruit and vegetable juices along with 2 cups of broth. I considered extending the fast to Sunday, knowing that I had a work event that day that would require me to eat or be rude. But, my spouse made the point that it had been long enough and I decided to follow his suggestion. This evening, a full five days after I began, I broke the juice fast with a mashed banana and part of an orange.
So, what are my thoughts on this process? Having water fasted before, I honestly expected it to be more unpleasant than it was. I knew that I could do it, given my history, but I thought I would feel very weak and probably frequently nauseated. It was interesting to me how the regular intake of juice seemed to prevent that. It’s hard to tell whether it really helped my body process the medications through the system faster, but it feels like it did, and that’s great. I don’t know yet what the digestive effects have really been, but I suppose that will become clearer as I slowly work back into my “regular” diet (though the plan is to return to the 85/15 raw way of eating that I had been maintaining until a few months ago). It was also somewhat freeing to not have to think about what to eat; I just knew. I felt like I had more time to devote to other things – being with my family, thinking about my yoga practice, working on my teaching information, reading yoga philosophy – whatever. So, I do feel like it did “turn up the heat” on both my physical processes of digestion and detoxification, and also my mental and social processes.
If I were to try this again, I think I would buy or borrow a juicer, because buying fresh juice gets pricey and blending and straining vegetable juices takes approximately just short of infinity. I didn’t do this week to lose any weight, but I think I did drop a few pounds – I suspect, however, that this will come right back and not be any sort of real loss.
Would I recommend it? Sure, though I think each person needs to consider what their own personal goal is with the fast and use that to help them make decisions about whether anything besides juice (i.e. tea, seasoning) will be included and whether juices can be heated or not. More attention to the composition of juices would probably be a good idea, because had I don’t this over very long, I think that there would have been some ramifications of all of that citrus (possibly on teeth enamel) and relative lack of things like iron, calcium, etc. since I was short on dark leafy greens and so on.
And there you have it. My experience with juice fasting, for whatever it is(n’t) worth!