I’d like to use this outlet (SpiritualFoodie.org) to speak not as an expert, but to share some information I’ve gathered from my experiences as someone who frequently Juice Feasts and offer some insight into why I or anyone for that matter might want to participate in a fast. I’ll also share some of the things I struggle with when aiming to live a healthy lifestyle and what I do to overcome those hurdles. I’m doing this with the realization that there are so many people who are actively trying to live a healthy lifestyle but who, like myself, tend to fall off course and return to a path less desired, you are not alone. There are also those of you who have heard of juice fasting, but wouldn’t actually know what to expect from one or where to begin and I am also speaking to you. When referring to the practice of juice fasting I use the word Feast intentionally because I find it’s not a fast, a word that has the intonations of being rather depriving but instead I feel as though it is a feast indeed, feasting on compacted nutrition rather than for gluttonous satisfaction.
How my Journey Began:
Several years ago my mother discovered juice fasting as a way to possibly help me alleviate pain I experience on occasion from Crohn’s disease, which includes acute arthritis and serious digestive issues. She tried it out first for herself and then sent me on my way. My life took a turn for the best and has never been the same since.
That being said, the Journey for health is a continuous Journey, one in which offers endless opportunities to make decisions that will affect us either positively or negatively. i.e. to eat the piece of cake or to choose a healthy alternative. (but more on that at towards the end)
What to expect:
I highly recommend attending a retreat and immersing yourself in a relaxing and supportive environment especially if you are preparing to fast for the first time. And although there are an abundance of places that offer such an experience the only one I will recommend is Gentle Earth Retreats because it is Heaven on Earth and the best place worth visiting.
My mom and I each attended our first retreat here at Gentle Earth Retreats in the Finger Lakes region of New York and have returned yearly either to the beautiful upstate NY location or to the blissful grounds in Cabuya, Costa Rica (a personal favorite of mine). I cannot recommend it highly enough, because the experience is so much more enjoyable then trying to prepare all juices, soups etc for myself while also trying to do my daily activities. Best to get away for awhile!
We return year after year in order to relax, rejuvenate and restart our digestive systems so to speak while in the most supportive of environments. The juices are prepared fresh daily for us with some of the tastiest recipes available with only the freshest ingredients and the highest quality of produce.
Here is a sample meal schedule (day):
9:00 Melon Juice
11:00 Vegetable Broth
noon: Gentle Yoga
1:15 Fruit Blend
3:15 Red Drink
5:45 Dinner as a group, Soup with Rejeuvelac and shot of Wheat Grass
9:00 Green Drink
(With plenty of water and tea throughout the day!)
*Retreat organizers are happy to pack cold lunch bags with juices in order to accommodate any excursions either alone or with the group.
The retreat itself and the evening gatherings are led by Katherine Croll, who is both a biologist and a nutritionist. She and her husband provide invaluable information regarding health and nutrition and do so in a casual and comfortable evening space which creates room to chat openly and to ask any questions that may and will inevitably arise. Katherine is a dear friend, a wonderful inspiration and truly an encyclopedia of information. She has opened my eyes to a world of information I didn’t have access to previously and she continues to inspire me daily by living life as a positive example and a wonderful role model.
Following retreats, I always return home energized and encouraged to continue making healthy lifestyle choices. I do feast on my own periodically throughout the year, although usually only for 2-5 day periods as opposed to 10-14 days while on a retreat.
My saving grace is being able to return year after year to Gentle Earth Retreats, to the loving arms of Katherine, her wonderful husband Jeff and their mighty dog Pedro. The community of health conscious individuals that attend these workshops and retreats also draw support from one another in their efforts to regain and maintain health themselves. Close friendships have been formed and huge strides towards health have been made!
Some of the benefits of juicing for long periods of time are:
- encourages deeper detox
- increases energy levels
- reduces painful symptoms
- regulates digestive system
- changes tastebuds to appreciate healthy food.
- more positive outlook on life
- sheds excess pounds of unnecessary weight
- deeply nourishes with nutrients and minerals
- deepens appreciation for food, healthy food in particular
- inspires creative ideas and interest in cooking/raw food prep
- deeper, more sound sleep
- vivid dreams
- brighter skin, stronger nails & hair
- detox, detox, detox
Last summer I had the pleasure of traveling with my mom to NY for our first retreat together.
My mom is a natural explorer, so here are just a few places we visited together:
- Corning Glass Museum (about an hour drive away)
- Cornell University
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Sanctuary (they have beautiful trails to walk/photograph and a great gift shop)
- Ithaca College
- Moosewood Restaurant (for our last meal before the start of our retreat)
- Cinemapolis, Movie Theatre down town Ithaca
- An abundance of local hikes, and access to the Finger Lakes.
The struggle is real:
Now with all these wonderfully positive things I’ve had to say, here’s where I’d also like to be forward and forthright in sharing my experience of what it’s like trying to stay on a healthy path. To begin, there is no such thing as ‘Perfect Health’. Someone recently explained health to me in a way that really resonated: Health can be viewed on a spectrum, and since there is no such thing as perfect health you are either dead or somewhere in between. I know I sound frank and possibly morbid, but death is inevitable so we may as well live as best we can while we are here. With this new information my goals have dramatically shifted and rather than aiming for a state of perfect health I can now aim my efforts to place me swinging on the spectrum of good health and leave the state of perfection out of the equation. With the realization that perfect health is no longer my goal, but rather a pain free and enjoyable active lifestyle is, the reins that held me in a negative and judgmental state towards myself anytime I slipped off course have been released. The expectation of perfection is too heavy a burden. It’s a tremendous amount of pressure to place on one’s self that we ‘must’ be raw, vegan, gluten-free, whatever the case me be ALL the time. I’ve given all these things a try, and they all hold a very important role on my quality of life. That being said I would much rather identify with ‘mostly vegan’ rather than to rigidly attempt to box myself into a mere category that feels limiting.
I feel called to share this aspect of my journey ‘the struggle’ because I know I am not alone in feeling that a healthy lifestyle can resemble at times a box, or one of lack. Wether it’s a sense of limited options being available or that taste must be lacking in order to be healthy, these are misconceptions. A healthy diet can feel both limitless and can be delightful to the tastebuds! I do fall victim to food cravings and sugar addiction but rather than beat myself up over any poor choices I may have made, I remind myself that every moment of every day we are always faced with more decisions and the opportunity to make positive choices is always available. There are infinite resources available and it’s really a matter of finding out what’s most important to you and what your goals are in order to find the information and answers that best suit your needs. I have turned to juicing pure fruits and vegetables in order to overcome some pretty trying health complications, as many people have. However the benefits are endless and extend to those in good health as well as in poor. The benefits or juicing and a healthy lifestyle are extraordinary and worth checking out for yourself. Do you have any experiences with juicing you’d be willing to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!
If you’ve gotten this far, THANK YOU for taking the time to read this blog post. I began my blogging journey by sharing a number of dishes that I’ve created and enjoyed and now I’ve really had to step into the space of sharing some deeper content, writing from my heart and sharing more in depth about myself and my Journey.
I hope you are feeling inspired to try juice feasting for yourself or at least to prepare something healthy to eat today. Let’s take our health into our own hands and see the world and it’s inhabitants as our allies, here to support us and be supported by each other.
Much LOVE & Cheers to Good Health!
-Spiritual Foodie :0)