This past week, Sea and I tried something a wacky – the juice fast. It’s what it sounds like, you just drink juice and no solid food.
Our friend (and neighbor!) Lulu is into them. She owns a juicer, and was going on about how they give you more energy, more focus, and they give you wings (or am I confusing things? No, that must have been Lulu). So on a lark, we decided to do it for a week, to see how it goes.
The idea behind it is that your body normally spends a lot of energy digesting food–hence that dominating food coma you had on Thanksgiving. When you stop spending that energy digesting food, it’s like you’re just shooting those nutrients right into your bloodstream. Gives your digestive system a break, and lets your body reset itself. Some people actually call it a “juice cleanse” – I prefer “juice fast” because it doesn’t so much bring to mind a cranberry enema.
We borrowed Lulu’s juicer and a couple Nalgenes to take to work, and loaded up on apples, pears, broccoli (yeah, you can juice that), carrots, kale, pineapple, beets, and sweet potatoes. We started last Friday, and are just weaning off it by tomorrow (Thursday). And, proud to say, we did it! No food for almost a week! Although oddly, a mouse ate one Ritz cracker and one chocolate chip from our kitchen this week, even though we’ve never had mice.
We drank a 16 oz juice in the morning, two at lunch, and another one at night. We also drank tons of water (unlimited water)! The first thing that I discovered about the juice fast is that it’s really hard to get as many calories as I was used to. And there is something deeply unsatisfying about not being to chew your food. During the weekend, for all but a couple hours after the last “meal,” there was a bit of crankiness. We’d get off at our subway stop and wander through the grocery like bleary, angry zombies. The trick is to pick out enough fruit to sweeten up the green vegetables you’ve got to drink for your real vitamins/iron/etc.
The physical side effects? Pretty much what you’d expect: mild headaches, food cravings, a lot of #1 in the bathroom, almost no #2. Correction: Sea informs me that girls never poop, so that’s not really a side effect.
The mental side effects? These are a little more interesting. The first three days, I don’t remember thinking about anything other food. But starting Monday, I felt really focused at work. No distractions, no bullshit, just getting things done. Robo-worker. This might be a result of depriving oneself of what is arguably human’s most basic urges. When my mind wandered, the first place it went was to food. What, can’t have food? Damn, back to work I guess. This week’s not going to be any fun, so I might as well get as much done in it as possible. By the time we’re ending it, I’ve actually stopped craving food so much: life’s just not fair.
It also made me feel a bit more Spock-like: able to look at life rationally, and not get bent out of shape about little things. When you force yourself to abstain from something that is so automatic, it makes you more self-aware. There may be something to the asceticism you see in lots of religions.
All in all, I might actually try this again. I didn’t feel like I had enough energy to work out at all this week, which probably defeats the physical benefits. But the mental benefits, after the first few days, were pretty nice. As body and mind are connected and all that hippy shit, it was a good experiment to play around with both.