Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The End of the Fast...
Wow, I really fell behind in posting this week. I’ve had so much stuff to share with you all but I’ve just been so busy lately that finding the time to sit down and write it all out has been somewhat difficult. Before moving onto other topics and other recipes I wanted to do a Juice Fast Conclusion post. I had meant to post it last week, but one thing led to another and, well you know how that goes right? So without any further adieu...
Originally I set out to do a juice fast because I was inspired. It sounded like exactly the kind of thing I needed in my life at that particular moment. I wanted to feel re-energized, and I wanted to break food dependence and bad food habits as well as clear up some persistent and annoying problems that had been plaguing me of late. I wanted to feel good in my body, while doing something good for it. Though these are the things I set out to achieve it never occurred to me that I would also learn so much about myself, and human eating habits through fasting. I am really amazed by the experience and am really happy I decided to take on the challenge. Despite the ups and downs I found this to be an overall good experience, and something I would definitely do again in the future, because I feel that I derived great benefit from doing it. Whether or not a juice fast will benefit everyone else however I have no idea. Nor can I claim that it’ll fix all that ails you, but what I can say is that it helped me. Of course if you suffer from any kind of health problems, or are on medication you should not try juice fasting without consulting your doctor and getting his or her okay first. Especially if you plan on doing a prolonged juice fast.
What I Achieved By Doing A Juice fast
- The excessively itchy skin and itchy ears that had been bothering me for weeks cleared up around the second day. That’s not to say that I never get an itch now, but I’m not sitting around constantly scratching until my skin is raw, and marked and close to bleeding.
- The issues surrounding my navel have improved greatly. There’s no itching or redness, no infection. Although I think there are greater forces at work here then simply my diet. I have very sensitive skin, and I think the contact between my clothing and my navel has been one of the main causes of the irritation, which is something I’ll have to pay greater attention to.
- The sore gums and canker sores also went away I would say sometime around the first or second day, and they have not returned. I’m inclined to think these problems were due to sugar and chocolate indulgence.
- I’ve always been particularly gassy, and after a large meal it’s common for me to feel bloated too. After the first day I wasn’t either of these things. No bloat for the entire five days, and I wasn’t gassy. In the time since my fast has ended I have remained pretty free of bloat, and gas as well and for the most part my gas has been completely odorless. I am thinking that in addition to large meals being responsible for the bloating that gluten-containing products and sugar are also contributing factors.
- I’ve never had bad skin, and I’ve never suffered from acne. When I get pimples it’s usually one, or on a bad day two or three, but sometimes I get smaller blemishes beneath the surface of the skin. They never form into an actual pimple but it’s something that’s noticeable to me, and I find it irritating. At the time I started the juice fast this was happening under my left eye, and I had two pimples. Over the course of the fast my skin completely cleared up, and returned to normal. Not to mention my skin took on a healthier more robust and youthful glow. Since coming off the fast my skin has perhaps lost a little of that ‘glow’ but otherwise it remains the same, clear and blemish free.
- After about the second or third day on the fast I realized I had no mucous in the morning, and there was no need for me to clear my throat upon waking. This seemed like nothing sort of a miracle to me and I was pretty happy about it. I also didn’t sneeze once in the entire five days I was fasting. Since coming off the fast that hasn’t been the case. The first week off the fast I remained mucous free in the morning but I was following a primarily raw food diet that week. Now as I transition back to eating more cooked foods I find the mucous has returned, and though I am now sneezing less then I used to, I am sneezing again.
- I lost a total of 10 pounds. Not a pound of which has come back on since ending the fast. So that was a nice little bonus.
What I Learned By Doing A Juice Fast
- People really do not need to eat as much food as they think they do. You would be amazed at how full you can get on a 32oz juice and how it can keep you full for hours. We never think about liquids as food, or meals but really that’s exactly what they are, especially if we’re talking about some of the high calorie beverages that some people are accustomed to drinking.
- When and how we eat really is connected to our moods, and emotions as well as other psychological factors, even when we don’t think it is. I had never really considered that mood effects what and how we eat, but it does. If I’m in a good mood and feel happy I’m more inclined to eat something healthy. If I’m in a bad mood or feeling upset I’ll probably eat anything and usually I’ll eat something less then healthful. I know this is true of a lot of people but it never occurred to me that this might also be true to me. I’d never made the connection. It also became painfully clear to m on the fast that for whatever reason, everyday between 3 and 5 no matter when I’d eat lunch I felt ak ind of ‘crash’ and the desire to eat, even if I wasn’t particularly hungry. Before the fast I probably almost always indulged this ‘need’ without even thinking about it. Now that the fast is over I haven’t really felt that ‘crash’ not as severe anyway, and now I know that I can satisfy that need with water, herbal tea, kombucha or by reminding myself that it’s not really food that I’m interested int.
- People definitely do snack and eat when they’re not hungry. They snack and graze constantly between meals and I suppose I wasn’t much different. I may have been snacking on healthier foods but I was still snacking. Snacking is definitely a bad habit to get sucked into. Typically I would snack between the time of 3pm-8pm, and I was particularly bad about snacking at work, even if I wasn’t hungry. Since the fast ended however I’ve been really great about not falling into that trap again. Honestly most days I feel no need to snack anyway. Being at work makes the snack impulse a little harder to deny but I’ve come up with a great solution for when I’m there. Smoothies! Seriously it works. I make a big fruit smoothie, divide it into two travel mugs and when I’m on breaks at work and want a snack I drink one. That way I’m filling myself with something nutritious that satiates me, and prevents me from snacking elsewhere. Also I’m notorious for eating chocolate at work, I almost can’t help myself but I’ve found another perfect solution to this. Dates or coconut date rolls! By them in the bulk section of your local health food store and bring along 3-4 of them to eat after I finish my lunch and bam! I don’t need chocolate when I have dates or coconut dates because my sweet tooth is satisfied and I don’t feel that crash that you do when the chocolate buzz wears off!
- It’s also true that the hungrier a person feels the more food they tend to eat. I know this is true in my case and so since I’ve been off the fast I’ve been trying to adopt the practice of Buddhist monks which is to eat my food slowly and with relish. When you eat slowly you allow time for your stomach to send signals to your brain to tell it that it’s full. I also try and pause for five to ten minutes after eating my food before deciding on whether or not to get a second helping. Or if I do get a second helping I make sure the second helping is very small. You would be amazed to realize that just because you feel really, really hungry doesn’t mean that you actually need to eat huge heaping plates of food.
- One of the most important things I learned on the fast was to listen to my body, and to actually understand what it’s telling me.
- Another thing I was hoping to accomplish was to retrain my tastebuds so that I could enjoy food after the cleanse without using so much oil, or sugar. I thought this would be hard, but it’s been surprisingly easy. First we’ll start with oil, I am using oil now that I’m off the cleanse, but I’m not using it everyday as I cone did, and I’m using less when I do use it. I don’t miss it. I have no interest in giving up oil for good and switching to an ‘oil-free’ diet but using less of it less often in favor of getting some of my fats from whole plant food such as nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut etc... appeals to me. As for sugar I haven’t touched the stuff since coming off the fast. I haven’t used white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, raw sugar etc... I have only used a minimal amount of agave, or maple syrup to sweeten dishes when a sweetener was called for, and I’ve tried to use agave very, very sparingly anyway. I did bake a loaf and a batch of brownies last week and for both instead of using cane sugar as the recipe required I used date sugar. It’s less sweet then sugar and I find I actually like it more. I also use whole pitted dates to sweeten things, otherwise I simply rely on the natural sweetness of the food. I thought I would really miss sugar and crave getting it back into my life but instead when I look at sweet recipes I’m actually thinking about ways to decrease the sugar asked for or trying to decide how to switch it out. I consider this a big success.
- Also since the end of my fast I have been mostly gluten, and soy free. The first week after the fast I was entirely gluten free, and soy free except for using Tamari. The second week, and this week I’ve tried to remain both gluten and soy free because I like the feeling but I’m not strict about it. I’m not going to run out and buy certified gluten-free oats or worry about gluten-free condiments. I’m more interested in keeping away from bigger gluten items such as bread’s, breadcrumbs, pasta’s, pastries, and seitan. This has actually been pretty easy and I like experimenting with gluten-free flours in baking. I’ve come to really enjoy teff flour and I made the most delicious gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free vegan brownies ever! Now, I don’t have a gluten intolerance and so I have no interest in being 100% gluten-free for the rest of my life, but I do feel better, cleaner and leaner when I’m not loading up on gluten, and so I like the idea of keeping gluten foods as ‘sometimes’ foods. As for soy, I have no soy allergy either but processed soy can really make you feel bogged down and so I want to stay away from that. I’ll still eat tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk but perhaps - at least when it comes to tofu - with less frequency then before.
- Lastly, my first week after the fast I ate a mostly raw diet. The second week was more balanced with me eating mostly raw food throughout the day and cooked food for dinner. I like this set-up, and while I don’t have any desire to go 100% raw I think raw food is something that was perhaps lacking a little in my pre-fast life. Sure I ate salads, and fruits and raw veggies sometimes but it wasn’t everyday and it wasn’t in abundance. So I’m going to strive to include more raw foods into my diet on a regular basis. Again it’s something that makes me feel cleaner, leaner, lighter and healthier.
So I guess that about does it for lessons I learned on the Juice Fast. I hope you enjoyed my little juice fast adventure and I hope you learned something too!