Anyone who knows me, will tell you that I’m a foodie. I love food and food loves me. But even more than food, I love coffee. Coffee starts my day, coffee ends my day – and coffee is my better half all throughout the day itself.
So you can imagine my reaction to my own strange mind, when I got the idea some weeks ago to try a juice fast. “Nah, girl – really? Who ARE you, stranger?!”
But after weeks of contemplation there was just no more denying the fact that my day-to-day diet was getting out of hand and something needed to be done, to jerk me (not least mentally) out of that “no-gym-only-ice-cream”-mode I’d been sitting in for the whole summer.
So I decided to go for it. But being a medical student, I’ve never been a fan of any extremes when it comes to my diet and fitness – meaning a week-long (or longer) fast was out of the question for me.
Choosing the juice packet
However, I’d been hearing good things about a juice packet made and sold by a local company called Gló. You order your packet online the day before you plan on consuming it, and the morning of, you pick it up. You can have chia pudding or fruit for breakfast if you wish, and a cup of tea if you feel like it, but the rest of the day is taken care of by the juice packet, which includes 6 juices. 2 spinach/green ones, 1 beetroot juice, 1 turmeric and orange juice, 1 spinach smoothie and 1 berry smoothie.
Now this, I liked. Not only did a day of fasting sound both doable and relatively safe, but having some kind of a “real” food for breakfast also felt like a sensible approach to juice fasting, especially for someone who’d never done it before and loves her food.
So last Monday evening I hopped online and ordered my juice packet. I even convinced my also food-loving mom to join me, so we ordered two packets – they say misery loves company, right?
Breakfast and morning
Come Tuesday morning, my mom picked the packets up. Unfortunately, there was a slight hiccup with our order and at first we only got one packet – but the company did sort it out later that day, so no hard feelings here. (Although I will say that when you’re starting a fast for the first time, your patience for people who mess up the little nutrition you’re still getting – is painfully low.)
Since we didn’t have any chia, we decided to cook oatmeal for breakfast. I usually eat my oatmeal with milk or cream, as well as raisins and a little sugar – but this time it was just oatmeal with nothing. A little flat and boring, yes, but still quite filling and a solid start to the day.
…and then the crash came!
We both drank a lot of water during the morning and for an hour or so, we felt like our normal selves. Until we didn’t. Mid-morning, we crashed. And when I say crash – I mean crash. As in “falling down on our sofa and not having the energy to stand up”-crash. We sat on the sofa for an hour or so, neither of us said much. My mom even fell asleep, even though we’d just woken up. Eventually, I found the energy to get up and go answer some e-mails. But the time passed and we were feeling crankier and more tired by the minute. Once the headache kicked in, I knew what was going on with us.
Coffee! We were in withdrawal from caffeine – literally! Now, I knew I was a coffee lover, but I have to admit I didn’t realize how strong that love (uhm… addiction might be more accurate here) really is.
So after making this realization and having felt like sh!t the whole morning, mom and I decided that if tea was allowed in this fast (neither of us are avid tea drinkers), then so was coffee. And ten minutes later, I was drinking the most delicious cup of coffee I’ve ever had. No really – you can’t imagine how good a cup of coffee tastes, once it’s been off limits for half a day and you’re not even eating. It is literally pure bliss in a cup.
Easy peasy, peeps!
The rest of the day was, to be honest, quite unremarkable. After having two cups of pitch-black coffee, I kid you not when I say that a day of juice fasting was actually easy. We started and ended our day with one of the green juices. For lunch and dinner we drank the smoothies, which were a lot thicker and more filling than the juices. Only once during the day did we feel hungry, but after going for a stroll around our neighborhood for an hour or so, the hunger passed away again.
However, in the evening – that’s when the magic happened. After a day of no food, only juice and two cups of coffee – I found myself sitting down at my computer and before I knew it, I’d ordered myself a second juice packet for the next day. If starting this juice fast was a surprise to myself, you can imagine my reaction when I realized that I was voluntarily prolonging it. And why? Because of how amazing I felt. Not in my body – but my soul. I felt lighter and happier, but in a new way. Things which had been bothering the crap out of me for days or even weeks, suddenly seemed completely trivial and unimportant – and I could let them go from my mind, leaving me peaceful and happy in a very quiet, calm way. This feeling is not something you’re willing to let go off after just one day.
The second day went very well, too, if not better. I didn’t get hungry the whole day and one of cup of coffee after my morning oatmeal kept my energy levels up and my head headache-free.
The days after fasting
And the long-term effects? Well, it’s not even been a week since I finished the fast, but I can definitely say that my appetite has changed. Yes, I still love ice cream, cake, chocolate, beer, red wine and whisky. But – and here it comes – I very rarely reach for a second portion these past days. Not because I’m restricting myself, but because I simply don’t want or need another portion. One serving seems to satisfy me (not least craving-wise), which it didn’t do before. And for the soulside of it – no, that didn’t last in its full effect after I started eating again. But it did change my perspective and it’s for that peaceful happy feeling that I would be willing to do this fast again sometime.
Unfortunately, Gló is a uniquely Icelandic company (I believe), meaning that this particular juice fast is not an option for those living outside of our tiny Northern island. The experience, however, is not. Companies which make high-end, organic foods and juices are becoming more and more popular, and more likely than not, you have one near you. (Google is your friend here.) If not, buying a juice machine is of course an option as well, albeit a more expensive and labor-intensive one. Although I should tell you – after living off of juices for 2 days, I am definitely considering getting myself a juice machine for Christmas!
Tips before going on a juice fast
- This should go without saying, but please be safe! Respect your body and its limits. Go slow and don’t be afraid to back out of your fast if you’re not feeling well. And if you’re in the slightest doubt of whether or not a juice fast is right for you – always contact your doctor first!
- Pick a day when you’re not working and can stay close to your home. You might experience fluctuating energy levels and mood swings.
- If you can, try finding a buddy to do the fast with you. Mom and I held each other accountable and supported each other through the two days of fasting. We also reminded each other to constantly drink water and at a time when we were both feeling very frustrated, we took a walk together for distraction. It made such a difference!
- Your body – your rules. Adapt the plan to your own needs. Even though you’re following a pre-planned juice fast/cleanse, you still decide what you do or don’t put into your body. If you want to include a piece of fruit, a cup of coffee or a slice of bread (or anything else) in your fast, you definitely can, even though it isn’t included in the plan. For me, eating oatmeal in the morning and having coffee really saved the day!
- Drink lots and lots of water – much more than you regularly would. Begin and end your day with at least 2 glasses and keep sipping the whole day. (For reference, I tried to drink one glass of water with every glass of juice I had, as well as one or two in between juices.)
- Stay out of extreme weather and don’t do any rigorous exercise during your fast – your body needs a lot of energy for that and you might even end up fainting, since you will be consuming an unusually low amount of calories.
- Once your juice fast is over, go slow with the “real foods”. Try sticking to simple, healthy foods and definitely try not to overeat. I made the mistake of ordering a beer and fried avocado the first evening after the fast and lay awake until 7 in the morning because of it – I’ve never felt so full in my life!
Have you ever tried fasting? Did you like it or was it a “never-again!” for you? Do you make juices at home or have a favorite brand of juices? Please share your stories and opinions with us in the comments!
-xoxo, Lady Reykjavík.