The term “juice fasting” can bring to mind a lot of different associations from people. Some might think of an insane, extremist fad or a regimented diet for quick weight loss. Others might think of fasting as a wonderful and abundant healing tool, while others might already be fasting regularly or working up to one, or including it as a part of their spiritual practice.
Here’s the thing: juice fasting can be all of these things. It just depends on what context it’s used in, the intention and reasons behind it, and the way it is done and the attitude that accompanies it.
I have zero interest in or support for faddy diets and programs that will only serve to leave the individual undertaking it with little or no education on the process (usually because it is not at all good for the body!), that encourage short term regimes that may get you surface level results in the short term but certainly not lasting results, that don’t give you strategies and support for how to maintain results you feel great about long term, and that disregard the emotional aspect of healing, growth and self improvement. Not to mention that they are very often just downright awful for your health!
Juice fasting, however, if undertaken in the right context and for the right reasons, can be an incredible tool to get you the health results (and spiritual connection) you are after. Here I am going to share with you some base information about juice fasting and how you can incorporate it into your life if it feels right for you.
What is juice fasting?
It is a certain period of time when all you consume other than liquids such as water and herbal teas is fresh fruit and vegetable juice. Some people also have strained vegetable broth when juice fasting. Just as important is what you are NOT consuming when fasting, and that’s any solid foods at all, or any liquids which will tax the body such as coffee, caffeinated teas, milk, soda, pasteurised juice, blended smoothies, protein powder mixes, diet drinks and so on.
Why juice and what types of juice?
By juicing your fruits and vegetables you are extracting the fibre from them and just drinking the liquid with all its organic hydration, nutrients, vitamins and enzymes. Although we do need fibre in our diets, going for a certain period of time without fibre and without putting in offensive foods and liquids, you give your body a chance to spend less energy on digestion. A massive amount of energy is spent on the digestion of what we consume every day and rarely are people giving their bodies a break from digestion to spend energy on other things, such as going deeper into cleansing the body and drawing up old acidic waste that is likely causing a whole host of symptoms from being there. Do you suffer from headaches, constipation, diarrhea, skin troubles, fatigue, irritability, excess weight, bloating or any other number of symptoms, then your body needs some help to cleanse and the intelligent application of fasting is a brilliant way of doing so.
Often these symptoms also indicate there is an overgrowth of yeast in the body, which feed off sugar and the acidic waste matter that is sitting in the body. If the yeast get fed, they proliferate quickly and symptoms will continue to get worse over time and new ones will often pop up also as the body becomes more and more defenceless against the opportunistic yeast. Even though fruits are a wonderful food for the body and provide massive amounts of nutrition, alkalinity, hydration, enzymes and energy, they are still natural sugars, which means they will also feed yeast. For this reason, you should always be careful when fasting to not over consume fruit juices. You will also find if you overdo the fruit juices that your energy may dip and soar a bit all over the place! Not so fun when you are trying to give your body rest and calm so it can do its healing magic!
Focus instead on vegetable juices, particularly green vegetable juices, with a touch of fruit to sweeten the juice and ensure it is still delicious. You can also use sweeter vegetable such as carrot, beetroot and capsicum to add the sweet factor. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that at least half of your juices when fasting are green vegetable based juices, and then use other juices for fun and variety. You could also focus on using low sugar fruits to make your other juices or sweeten your veggie ones. Fresh grapefruit juice alone is divine, green apples add sweetness to any juice, and berries add a whole new indulgent flavour. Use lemons and limes in everything if you like! They are brilliant alkalisers and extremely low in sugar.
How much juice should I be drinking?
How much juice you drink when fasting is a very personal decision as it should be directed by your own hunger signals and how you feel. However, it is ideal to include at least one litre of green vegetable juice every day, if not more. Then you could enjoy another one to three litres of juice dependent on how much you feel you need. For both myself and a lot of clients that I guide on fasts, two to three litres of juice over the day feels good, although some days might be a little less or more. Get your one to two litres of mostly green vegetable juice in as your non negotiable and then have more juice according to your body’s needs. There is no competition here – just what feels right to you.
Do I need to alter my lifestyle and routine while fasting?
This very much depends on your experience with fasting, your health history, your work and family commitments, the cleanliness of your diet before starting, the responsibilities and demands on your time and energy that you may or may not be able to drop and the support you will have.
If you are drinking a lot of juice, say four litres, you may find that you can continue on functioning with your normal schedule just fine while fasting. However, by doing so you are not giving your body the maximum chance to embrace and work with the healing and cleansing process. While you may be able to get up and go to work, do your chores, look after your family and make your juice to boot, you won’t be giving yourself the best experience and results possible.
Especially if you are drinking three litres of juice or less, then it is really important to cut yourself a bit of a break while doing your juice fast. You don’t have to stop your life altogether, but cut out stressful excess workloads, say no to social events which might make your fasting more difficult to stick to and take up more of your time and energy, leave the hard workouts out of your regime and communicate to any one you need to that you won’t be taking on anything extra.
Carve out some time as often as you can for more relaxation, rest, gentle movement like stretching and walking, reading, watching films, meditation and for working on creative projects that inspire and delight you, rather than those that drain you.
Ensuring your fast is a success
Saying a fast is a “success” might seem odd, but it’s vital to know that you can fast and have a successful experience or not. Obviously you want the former! When you fast, your body is using all that time normally spent on digestion to clean out house and draw up old toxic matter (we covered this but it bears repeating!). When this toxic matter is drawn up, it is still inside the body but it has been drawn up for removal. To make the fast successful, you have to ensure that toxic matter is removed from the body, so that your body is left in a cleaner state free of that toxicity.
How do you know if this matter is removed from your body? Because you see it coming out of you in you via your bowels! You might also see it in your skin and through your sweat, in excess mucus build up in your mouth and nose, and you will release it via all your elimination channels, but your bowel is going to play the biggest role in dumping (literally!) that old toxic waste out.
However, the vast majority of people I work with find that they do not have natural bowel eliminations when juice fasting. This is why colon cleansing is truly a must when fasting! If you fast but your bowels back up, where do you think that toxicity is going? That’s right – NOWHERE! It’s going to stay inside you and your body will not be left in any better state than it was in before. That’s an UNsuccessful cleanse!
How you can incorporate juice fasting into your life
So by now you understand what juice fasting is and why it is a fabulous cleansing and healing tool. It may however still seem very intimidating and scary for you to think about going without solid food for a few days or more! That is very normal but don’t despair, you can still use the concept of juice fasting to get you great results without having to go for long period surviving on only liquid meals.
To give you an idea, here are a few ways you can include fasting in your life to get results: one day fasts, part day fasts, mini fasts, long fasts, juices and blended food “fasts”, juices and raw food “fasts”, and even just including juicing into your daily routine along with the other meals you eat will start to get you on the path to cleaner cells. Whatever approach works best for you is great! Any help you give your body by lightening up your diet and adding in juicing is going to start shifting your body to a more alkaline and balanced state which will only give you better health and a body you love over time.
The only way to really approach cleansing, whether it is juice fasting, raw foods, whole foods or any other kind of approach, is to consider your individual needs, goals, health history, emotional and social considerations, and support (or lack thereof).
Here’s to your clean, dancing, singing with health cells!