CAN you survive a week on nothing but juice? Madeleine McCarty and her boyfriend Mat put themselves to the test to see just how healthy a juice fast really is.
Juice fasts have been making their way around the health circuit for a while now. In the health and wellbeing community, it’s thought that a temporary all-juice diet gives the digestive system a break, allowing the body to cleanse itself and the mind to become clearer.
My boyfriend and I were compelled to try a juice fast after watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, a documentary about Australian man Joe Cross. Joe weighed 140kg and had a debilitating autoimmune disease when he decided to turn his diet and life around. After hearing that nutrients are absorbed quicker into the body in liquid form, he gets healthy again by drinking nothing but juice for 60 days.
While Mat and I are not fat, sick or dying, we decided a week long juice fast would be an interesting way to cleanse our body and mind. I knew it would be tough, but I’m always up for a challenge.
Our week started with a trip to the Queen Victoria Market for supplies. We didn’t have a plan of juices we would make or even how many we would need a day, but decided to play it by ear, create our own combinations and see how we felt.
Wandering through the stalls we picked up pineapple, beetroot and lots of greens like kale, which is a super food high in beta-carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and calcium. Armed with our arsenal of vegetables, we began the challenge.
Our juice diary
Day One began with a juice of beetroot, kale, and Tuscan lettuce for our “lunch” juice and a capsicum-based juice for dinner. For dessert we made a smoothie with strawberries, blueberries, coconut flesh and soy milk. Technically, it wasn’t a juice, but we needed to use up the coconut and milk.
As Day Two dawned we were eager for our juice fix, so we slurped down the rest of last night’s smoothie. We were off to visit my parents, so we packed up a large cooler box full of greens, oranges, beetroot and some apples and strawberries that we found on the drive. Nearing the end of our car trip, emotions were high. Maybe it was the detox coming into effect or maybe we were just hungry, I wasn’t sure, but luckily we had some juice in the cooler.
On Day Three there were some hunger pangs, but we learnt some valuable lessons. We learnt that too much beetroot is not a good thing, and that you need at least four juices, sometimes more, to see you through the day.
Day Four saw energy levels dropping and I was seriously considering consuming some actual food, even if it was just some nuts, which, by the way, is allowed if you feel you really need something while you’re detoxing. I ended up staying on the juice path though, thanks to the support of my mother and Mat.
Days Five, Six and Seven were spent back in Ballarat, and we coasted along without a hitch, although we were keen for some actual food. Mat ended up taking bottles of juice to university to see him through the day.
On the last day, I eagerly prepared delicious raw snacks and decided what recipes to make for the next day.
I was surprised by the side effects Mat and I had on this fast. One of the most interesting ones was lucid dreaming. I think this was caused by past emotions bubbling to the surface to be processed.
Naturally we felt hunger pains, but we learnt to deal with these by increasing our juice intake. I felt I was okay most of the time because I had the mindset that I was getting all the nutrients my body needed.
Cravings were also present, but I found them to be useful indicators. Desiring foods that aren’t good for me helped me think about what I’m craving and why, as well as what I can put into my body instead to be kinder to it.
I was lacking in energy at times, but I took this as a sign that my body was detoxing and getting used to the new diet. I think the best time to try a fast like this is while you’re on holidays or for a couple of days over the weekend so that you can rest and let your body adjust.
We experienced a bit of nausea and faintness straight after drinking each juice which was interesting, but we seemed to be fine between juices.
There were also slight mood swings at times, but that is to be expected from such a big lifestyle change. The feeling of elation for not only succeeding in our first fast, but feeling renewed in our bodies was definitely worth it.
Handy hints and my verdict
A few little tips we learnt were that bottles were good way to store excess juice, while freezing juice into icy poles gives you a slight change from all that liquid. M0re importantly though, we learnt that it’s important to be easy on yourself and have someone for support if you’re attempting a detox like this.
I feel the juice fast was very much worth it. I loved that clean, clear-headed feeling I experienced. I have also wanted to become a rawtarian for a while and found the fast was a very easy way for me to transition to a raw food diet.
That said, never attempt a juice fast or any sort of extreme detox without speaking to a healthcare professional or doctor first. Also make sure you research any detox well before you start and never push yourself too hard. If you feel sick, you should eat something regardless of whether your detox is done or not.