In recent years, there’s been an increase in media coverage of periodic fasts – how they can increase your life span, help you lose weight, give you more energy, and offer other health benefits. When done right, fasting is a clarifying, interesting journey – but the process can seem intimidating, overwhelming, and downright torturous if you don’t do it correctly and safely. In the next couple of posts, I’m going to explain and explore different types of fasts and their benefits.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to go on an all-water fast. Many people opt instead to ease into the fasting process with juice fasts that last three days or so. Juice fasts are detoxifying, but the nice thing about them is that you can drink all the juice you want. Juice fasts do not restrict calories, but instead offer everything in liquid form, giving the digestive system a nice break from having to work hard while giving it healthful, pure juice combinations. Most often, juice fasters juice their own fruits and vegetables – this process retains many of the micro-nutrients that are lost in store-bought juice.
Preparing for Juice Fasting
You should eat raw foods for a couple of days before to prepare your system for the fast. A basic rule is that the last thing you eat will be the next thing you crave; if you give your body healthy foods, it will continue to want them.
Juices best suited for juice fasting include the following: beet, kale, cabbage, lemon, carrot, and celery are the best, but for a little sweetness, you can add apple, grape, and watermelon. These can be combined very successfully, and adding a pinch or so of fresh ginger adds a nice flavor to any combination. Add garlic cloves for their powerful detoxifying effect. You should not drink citrus juices (other than lemon) or tomato juice on your fast as it is too acidic for comfortable fasting with successful results. Also, do not drink caffeine.
The Master Cleanse Combination
You may consider, however, supplementing your juice fast with the Master Cleanse combination of lemon juice, water, pure maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. The maple in this juice adds a little sugar energy. I will discuss the potential of the Master Cleanse more in another post. You may also want to add greens like spirulina to your juices; many health food stores offer powdered greens that go very well in juices.
Avoid Tricking Your Body
Some words of caution: first, do not chew anything on your fast, as this starts a digestive enzyme called amylase in your mouth. It’s like tricking your body into thinking you’re going to give it solid food, and it can be detrimental to your fast. If you must eat something, opt for watermelon, which is mostly liquid; a comforting vegetable broth (made from boiled onions, carrots, and the like – no seasonings and NOT bouillon) can also ease the system.
Add Some Fiber
And finally, all-juice fasts that go on for extended periods of time – as is the case with other fasts – cut out crucial fiber, so additional fiber can be introduced. Psyllium husks are a good source of fiber; they are inexpensive and can be added to a juice beverage or even to water. Most of all, you should remember that when you fast, you’re doing something for YOURSELF. A juice fast is not a punishment; it’s a healthful, quick way to awaken and clarify your system. Treat it as such and you’re bound to experience a wonderful fast.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.