Weekly Roundup: A Lesson in Juicing

This weekly roundup is going to be a little different. This is my very first juice cleanse and I’m no professional so I’d like to arm you with the resources I found to be the most helpful. If and when you’re ready, I hope this heartfelt little article will help you reach your own version of clarity.

I’m on a juice fast.  Like the guy up there in the video.

Let me explain.  For the past few weeks, a few of the people here at the Life and Health office have been tiptoeing around the idea of fasting together.  Why?  Lots of reasons, detox and weight loss obviously being two of them. 

To be honest, though, I was actually motivated most by curiosity.  What would happen to all that time I usually spend either eating, thinking about, or planning for my next meal?  What thoughts would I have that might not otherwise have been?  What more would I be able to achieve?  How would denying myself of food—something so accessible and immediately gratifying—change me in the long term?  How would it affect my relationship with God?

Clarity of mind—that’s the expectation I had as we began the fast last Thursday, February 28.  Today is day 9.

Don’t get me wrong, the weight loss doesn’t hurt (6 pounds and counting), but it’s turned out to be much more than just that.  Because eating is such an important part of our lives, the nihilism of our typical manner of eating is kind of like an affirmation of self.  Think about it:

  1. So much of our daily lives is dedicated to food. Grocery shopping. Cooking. Driving to restaurants. Eating. 
  2. So much of our body’s energy is spent on digesting the food we eat. 
  3. And, for a lot of us, so much mental effort is spent obsessing about our body image, which is often a reflection of the food we eat.

When you remove these things, your choices in life are laid bare: how you spend your time, where you tend to place your thoughts, who you keep company with, what you do.  When you figure out the direct link between the foods you eat and your body, so much else in life becomes crystal clear. 

So, after the first three days of persistent hunger pangs, feelings of “I give up,” and almond cravings that turned into cravings for almonds covered in chocolate, I think my search for clarity has been met.  All that time I normally spent looking forward to my next meal transmuted into new pockets of opportunity.  Despite the fact that my stomach feels a little emptier than usual, I’ve found myself living life differently, all in such a positive way.  A few examples:

  • Mornings are refreshing.  It’s the craziest thing to wake up without feeling weighted down and desperate to sleep for “just five more minutes.” I never knew how incredible deep and restful sleep could be.  These mornings, I’m awake before sunrise, I have plenty of time for my morning devotion and other getting-ready activities.  When’s the last time you had a weekday morning that was stress free?
  • Fruits and vegetables taste so-much-better.  I’m so looking forward to sitting down to my first post-cleanse meal of steamed spinach, bok choy, kale…crunching into a Honeycrisp apple…digging into a bowl of lentils and rice… There’s a wonderful paradigm shift in what used to be appetizing (pastas, chips, pizzas) and what’s now in the forefront of my mind.
  • I finally dug down to what really matters.  It’s that clarity I keep talking about.  My spiritual walk is one that has constantly been disrupted by things that seem more appealing, like food.  When this cleanse began, I told myself that God is where I wanted to replace my food thoughts with.  Every time I felt a pang of hunger, I would say a prayer or open the Bible.  It seems a little strange but in reality, it’s just a manner of developing a relationship with someone by maintaining consistent communication with them. 

All of this is not at all to say that you should juice for the rest of your life.  That would be…crazy and daunting.  But I just wanted to point out that we have a tendency to put FOOD on a pretty high pedestal.  It’s refreshing to knock it down for a week or two and replace it with something else you want to place your focus on. 

This weekly roundup is going to be a little different.  This is my very first juice cleanse and I’m no professional so I’d like to arm you with a roundup of the resources I found to be the most helpful in the past several days.  If and when you’re ready, I hope this heartfelt little article will help you reach your own version of clarity.

The juicer we used:

Jack LaLanne Power Juicer
Other juicers, ranging from $35 to…sky high

Or, if you’d rather not purchase a juicer but do have a blender on hand, Raw People has a great article on how to juice properly with a blender.

Preparing for a juice cleanse: Depending on your current diet, you might need to modify the foods you eat 2-3 days before you start your juice cleanse.  According to Well + Good NYC, “you’ll likely feel awful if you don’t. Seriously, you’ll experience flu-like symptoms, headaches, and digestive problems because you’ve basically just hit the brakes on your digestive system.”  Eat vegetarian or vegan, avoiding caffeinated drinks, sugar, sodas, and processed foods in general.

What you should drink: Typically the guidelines for making green juice is 60% dark green leafy vegetables and 40% other vegetables and fruits.  It’s normal to drink between 17-27 ounces per meal.  In between meals, continue to dink juices alternating with pure drinking water.

Juicing For Health has an extensive list of what you should plan on consuming during your cleanse. 

Also, scroll down for our favorite juice recipes.

A note on ingredients by Chef Marcus Samuelsson 

  • Ginger: Ginger is beneficial for digestion because it rids the stomach and intestines of gas.  It also aids in the digestion of fatty foods, alleviates high blood pressure, and lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Beets: Beets are said to really cleanse the blood and kidneys. Adding a quarter cup of beets to your daily diet can reduce your kidney cancer risk.  Beet juice also promotes weight loss.
  • Celery: Adding celery to juices is beneficial because it contains vitamin C and helps lower cholesterol. It is also useful for people with gout and urinary infections. Celery juice also helps calm the nerves and promotes restfulness and sleep.
  • Apple: Apples are a delicious fruit base for juices and are rich in beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, vitamins, and phosphorus. Being high in fiber, it helps lower cholesterol, is an ideal anti-oxidant, is an immune system booster, and also aids in cleaning the digestive system.
  • Mango: Mango juice and mango pulp contain no cholesterol or saturated fat, low sodium and contain only about 0.6 grams of total fat.  This fruit is a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.  An average-sized mango can contain up to 40% of your daily fiber requirement.
  • Dandelion Greens: Dandelion greens are loaded with magnesium, a mineral our bodies seek for energy and stamina production.  Dandelion greens should gain recognition for containing nearly as much iron as spinach and four times the amount of vitamin A found in lettuce.

Store bought juice: Not recommended, because juices found at stores are usually either extremely expensive or full of sugar and made from concentrate. There are exceptions to the rule, but you have to read the labels very carefully.  The grapefruit juice and carrot juice made by Odwalla have labels that very simply say, “pure pressed carrots” or “grapefruit juice.”  These store bought juices are okay to buy and are sold at reasonable prices.

Breaking the juice cleanse: When you’re cleansing and food supplies are stopped, it is thought that the digestive system virtually ceases to exercise its usual functions.  When the fast is broken, the body is being subjected to another stressful situation and must be handled properly.  Adjust gradually to eating normal food, like some of the following well-known fasters:

  • Dr. Allan Cott of Fasting As a Way of Life advocates mixing a pint of boiling water with a pint of fruit juice, finishing the quart by bedtime.  The second day, he drinks a quart of undiluted juice.  The third day, he eats whole fruit, and the fourth day, he eats salad and some cooked food.
  • Dr. Otto H.F. Buchinger breaks his fast with apples and, on the second day, salads and cooked food.
  • Paul Bragg, a pioneer of the health movement in America, breaks his fast with cooked tomatoes and, on the second day, salad and cooked food.
  • I feel a little sheepish sharing my plan after all those big names, but here goes: I plan on breaking my fast with a 2-3 days of raw, whole fruits and vegetables, then gradually moving to nuts, and finally to legumes and whole grains.

Favorite juice combinations:
See our Pinterest board for juice recipes and tips

“Mean Green Juice” from Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead:
6 stalks kale
1 cucumber
4 stalks celery
½ lemon
1 piece of ginger

“Not For The Faint of Heart Juice” by Oh She Glows:
½ lime
1” ginger
½ beet
3 stalks celery
3 carrots

“Garden Juice” by Golubka:
summer tomatoes
bell pepper
fresh herbs, such as dill, parsley, cilantro, mint, oregano
spices of choice

“Carrot, Golden Beet, and Orange Juice” by The Chalkboard Mag
4 carrots
2 golden beets
3 navel oranges
½” fresh ginger

“Spinach Blueberry Apple Lemon Juice” by Design Sponge
small handful of spinach
1 pint (10 ounces) blueberries
1 Granny Smith apple, cored
1 lemon, peeled

“The Pink Lady” inspired by Café Blossom
1 pear
1 beet
1-2” ginger
1 ½ cups pineapple chunks

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Sarah Yoo

Sarah Yoo is the associate director of Life & Health but wears a few dozen hats as other this-and-thats, as is the norm in non-profit work. Her favorite part about working at Life & Health is meeting the people that Life & Health content has helped. Ultimately, Sarah dreams of doing humanitarian work in a developing country with her family.

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