The Everyday Girl Guide to: Diet (Juice Fasts)

June 13, 2012

I just read an article on InfoBarrel about juice fasts that has me fuming.  First of all, please don’t take anything you read on InfoBarrel as necessarily being true; you can write on IB without credentials, experience, or even writing talent.  Second, if you do read InfoBarrel articles and you’re looking into doing a juice fast, do not do use this article to get you started.

A juice fast is a set period of days when you cut out solid foods in favor of juices (preferably freshly squeezed) and water.  There is no set right or wrong time period, but it is supposed to be a short-term “diet”.

Juice : vegetable juice

My first issue with the InfoBarrel article is that it doesn’t say who shouldn’t do a juice fast.  Pregnant or nursing women shouldn’t do a juice fast.  People with a host of chronic ailments (including my own ulcerative colitis) shouldn’t do a juice fast except under strict medical supervision.  Anyone doing a juice fast for the first time should contact a medical professional before trying it; it’s not just a matter of hooking up a juicer and locking the refrigerator and cupboard for a few days.

My second issue with the article is that it suggests immediately jumping into a seven-day juice fast.  If you do this, I guarantee that you will not be feeling very well for seven days (and longer, as I’ll get to later).  Most juice fasts run from a single meal to three days; after three days,  you’re generally not cleansing anything, but you are upping your blood sugar levels with very little moderation in the form of proteins and fats.  Spike, drop.  Spike, drop.  No, that really isn’t healthy.

Alright, so you’re going to be sane about this.  You’ve talked to your doctor who has, reservedly, given the go-ahead for a one-day juice fast.  You have the juicer and the fresh produce.  You’re ready.  Right?

Wrong.  Juice fasts actually take a few days of preparation.  You should start cutting down on meats, fats, breads, alcohol, smoking, caffeine and sugars for several days before the fast.  By the day before, you should be eating raw veggies and salads and drinking lots of water.  If you jump from regular eating into juice fasting, you’re going to feel a bit like you’ve gone cold turkey after ten years of binge drinking.  There are steps.  You need to take each one of them.

Okay, so you did the prep work, too, and you did a one-day fast for your first juice fast.  You feel a little woozy at the end of the day, but you are also running high on self-congratulations.  Time to go get yourself a big, juicy hamburger and beer (if that’s how you run) to celebrate.

If you’ve ever watched the reality show Survivor, you will have seen the group of contestants eat less and less as time goes by… basically going on an enforced fast.  Then, one day, they get to have a feast.  Without fail, they eat way too much because they’ve been starving and the food tastes so good… and without fail, they all end up purging all the food they just ate before the night is over.

Your juice fast isn’t going to do you any good if you go from juice fast to burger.  The longer the fast, the more slowly you need to ease back into regular foods.  The first day after, you’re back to the fresh greens and salads.  If it’s only a one day fast, then you can probably start eating regular food (in smaller portions) by the second day.  If it’s longer, then you need to ease into it.

Juice fasts lead to the thinking that a fast can fix all— and then you can go back to eating junk.  If you fast for three days, then go back to eating whatever you want, your body will have slowed its metabolism for three days to conserve fuel… then received a huge intake of more fuel.  Weight gain, anyone?

Finally, juice fasts have some side effects.  You do do some detoxifying, so you may have increased bowel movements, bad breath, bad skin (teenage acne, here we come!), headaches and increased body odor.  Not the best time to go on a first date… or any date.  Longer juice fasts may result in dizziness, dehydration, and more.

As with most diet fads, there are good and bad things about juice fasts.  Done correctly, they can be helpful in clearing out theickfrom your system.  They’re also great for prayer and meditation periods.  But if you do them incorrectly, you can do serious, long-term damage to your body.  If you decide to do one, do the research, get checked out medically, and do it right.  Otherwise, go enjoy your cheeseburger.

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