August 1st I began a juice cleanse, and at the same time I began getting a million and one questions from people about it. Everything from, "Is it safe?", to "Suggestions?" Please know that I'm not an expert, I'm just a person that is giving something a try, but I'm going to try and answer some of the questions that I've gotten since beginning, and update you on my progress.
The Serious Questions:
"Is it safe?"
Well the simple answer is yes, the more complex answer is maybe. Juicing is a safe route for me, I have no major health conditions. People with health conditions such as diabetes though juicing may not be a safe option for. Juicing basically allows the nutrients from fruits and vegetables to be absorbed into your body at a faster rate, without your body needing to go through all the work of breaking down the produce first. For some this rapid absorption actually may be a bad thing, diabetics for instance, since sugars are placed into the bloodstream much faster. This is why I let you know at the end of my last post that after speaking with a medical professional they thought juicing was safe for me. EVERYONE should speak with their doctor about any changes they plan to make to their diet or lifestyle before beginning them, yes even healthy people!!!! They are the experts on knowing what is best for you and your health, so talk to them if you plan on trying a juice cleanse.
"Aren't you hungry?"
Kinda, but not really. This is actually a really difficult question to answer although it may not seem to be. Yes, I am in essence just drinking my breakfast and lunch, but this isn't like drinking just water all day I'm drinking fruits and vegetables. My stomach feels full, but my brain still has a hard time believing that the juice is enough to satisfy hunger. So I do have a constant battle with my stomach and brain about hunger, but physically I'm not hungry. I admit that the first few days were rough. I was hungry that first day, I also didn't prepare in any way for doing this like I should have. Ideally you should prepare for a juice cleanse by cutting out fatty foods in the week before you begin, and controlling your portions better. Learn from my mistake, and honestly it shouldn't be too bad.
"Why juice, why not just eat all the fruits and vegetables in the first place?"
Have you ever sat down and eaten a whole cucumber, two apples, half a lemon, 4 celery stalks, 8 kale leaves, and a tablespoon of ginger in one sitting? Well I had all that for breakfast! Juicing allows me to up my fruit and vegetable intake and absorb the health benefits of all those foods in a fast, convenient way. So why not just drink juice I can buy in the store? Well those juices have been so processed, and had so many additives added to them that most of the good we get from the fruits and vegetables are gone by the time I drink it. Think of it this way. When I began cooking for myself one of the benefits was that I knew exactly what was going into my food, same here with my juice. I am able to control what goes into my juice. Juicing also hopefully will condition my body to crave more of those fruits and vegetables that I know I never get enough of so that when I do stop my cleanse I'll be craving more of those things than brownies.
"Why not just do smoothies?"
True, why not? I chose to just juice though because smoothies usually have other things added to them to help thicken them up and be more "meaty". Dairy such as yogurt,milk, or ice cream are often what is used. I wanted the benefits of the juice though, dairy takes longer for the body to break down, and also adds more calories and fat. There's nothing wrong with smoothies, but for what I was looking for straight juice seemed more logical.
Juicing Specific Questions:
"What kind of juicer do you use?"
First of all I do use a juicer, not a blender. You can use either but since I knew I was going to be making a lot of juice, I decided to invest in a specific kitchen gadget for the task. I use a Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juicer which I like for right now, but there are many different kinds of juicers out there. Rather than go into detail about them I'm just going to say this Juicer Buying Guide is a good starting point if you are looking at getting one yourself.
"What does a juicer do?"
A juicer basically separates the pulp part of food, from the liquid part. When I make a juice recipe I get around 20 oz of juice, and about 1.5 cups of pulp. This of course varies based on the water content of the produce you're juicing. Citrus produces more juice than greens do for instance. Yes there is some "waste" with using a juicer, but think about the fact that, that is what your body has to break down in order to get all those rich vitamins and nutrients that you just made into your juice. You're giving your body a jump start on digestion.
"How do you prepare your fruits and vegetables to be juiced?"
First of all let me say that this is a point where the quality of your produce matters!!!! Remember you are eating this stuff raw so you want it to be of high quality. I use organic fruits and vegetables for a few reasons. One, I've begun to only buy organic produce so it's what I have. But two, think about what organic means, it means that no chemicals were used in the growing process. When I eat an apple I want to just eat an apple, not a pesticide filled apple. Can't you just wash it off? True you can wash off the residual residue, but what's seeped into the food can't be washed away. As far as preparing it for my juicer, well that depends on what type of juicer you have. Different juicers require a different preparation. For mine I don't have to do much, which I like. Basically I just cut things to fit, peel citrus since the "zest" can be a bit bitter, and sometimes peel particularly thick skins of certain foods such as sweet potatoes.
"What fruits and vegetables can be juiced, and what can't?"
Check out this A-Z Produce Prep guide. Just about anything can be juiced, the question is more do you want to juice it?
"Aren't you tired all the time now?"
Nope, quite the opposite actually. Day one was rough, and I admit I slept a big part of that day. As time has gone on though I've noticed my energy level has increased. I've begun running again just because I felt like I needed to burn off some of the excess energy! I'm waking up easier too. Many of you know that I have struggled with insomnia my whole life. Mornings are not my favorite time of day because of this. Waking up usually means hitting the snooze button a few times, or even turning the alarm off and rolling over to go back to sleep. This morning on the other hand I woke up feeling well rested, and ready to go before the alarm even went off the first time. This was even after having a difficult time falling asleep last night.
"Why are you doing this to yourself?"
I couldn't decide if this question should go in the Serious Question section, or here. The fact is that I want to be healthy, period! I know I'm not, but I also know that I'm never going to be if I don't make changes in my lifestyle. I know that this seems like a drastic move to a lot of people, and I know a lot of people are worried because they don't feel like this is healthy. Let me say this though, there are millions of people who live in this world, and lead healthy lives who are vegetarians, vegans, and even raw. That's in essence what I'm doing, consuming only foods those individuals would eat for two meals a day...I just liquify them. I would never do something for myself that I felt was unhealthy and then turn around and tell you all that I thought it was great. I'm honest here, so I'm telling you honestly how I feel as I'm doing it. If something bad happens I'll tell you that as well, but for now it's been good.
"Have you seen any results?"
Other than increased energy, I weighed myself this morning and discovered I've lost 3 pounds! I also noticed that my grocery bill is lower believe it or not. Since I'm not buying a lot of other stuff, and basically just buying produce I don't have a lot of impulse buys keeping my bill lower.
"What's your favorite juice recipe/combination?"
I discovered a Peach Pie Juice recipe the other day that I LOVE!!!! Just remember that it's two servings, not one. Today though I made a Watermelon (2 Cups), Carrot (2 Carrots), and Peach (1 Peach) juice that was really good and refreshing after my run. That's what I'm loving about this, trying out all kinds of combinations and discovering if I like them or not.
I hope that this answers some questions that people had about this. Please know that I do want to know what people think, and I am curious about anymore questions people may have so please don't stop asking. I'll continue to keep everyone updated! =)