Ready...Set...Cleanse: Fasting 101

For the past few weeks, I've embarked on a journey of renewal.  It started with Project Minimalism. One of the goals is to re-examine my relationship with food, and to start with a clean slate by re-visiting veganism and fasting.  Truth be told, re-visiting veganism these past few weeks has not been a challenge at all, since I have been mostly vegan/vegetarian ever since last summer. (*Note: being vegan or vegetarian is not necessarily synonymous with being perfectly healthy! It still takes extra effort to make the right choices.)  For some reason, I expected to feel as rejuvenated by doing this as I did, when I did the Master Cleanse last June. Looking back, I'm not sure why I felt that way because that doesn't make all.

In order to truly cleanse the body, you actually need to challenge it, and doing the same thing you've been doing for the past year...naturally would not do the trick.  Frustrated by this recent revelation, I decided to do another cleanse. I just haven't been feeling FRESH, which is a feeling I love and constantly chase. Since embarking on Project Minimalism, I've started to feel such amazing changes and developments in my spirituality and in my surroundings (people and space), but not necessarily in my body and my self-image, which are as important, if not more.  So, I wanted to "get it together" and move forward so I can feel the way I want to feel.  Though the Master Cleanse I did last year was incredible in many ways, I don't think it's right for me right now.  I did some research and came across "juice fasting" as a way to cleanse the body and that's what I've been doing for the past 36 hours!
There are many types of fasting out there, ranging from water only, to water and nutrients (like the master cleanse), to juicing with different types of fruits and vegetables.  Each have their pros and cons!  But all fasting and cleansing practices have one common biological goal and that is to HEAL the body.  When you do a water cleanse, it is arguably more effective because your body is literally forced to work on repairing itself since you're not actually putting anything in it besides water.  With a water cleanse, your digestive passageways and organs are at complete and total rest. Fasting allows the body to have a long period of time (your body considers even 3 days a long time) to restore itself.  Fasting is known to be particularly useful for those who suffer from high blood pressure, asthma, allergies, headaches, bowel abnormalities, diabetes, acne, etc. Still, some might say that juice cleanses with fruits and vegetables are more effective even though you are "consuming", because fruits and vegetables are of nature, and have bountiful amounts of minerals, vitamins, etc.  This is why I chose to do a juice cleanse instead.  I wanted to re-connect with the power of fruits and UN-COOKED vegetables, and get all the nutrients I need, while facilitating healing as well. Yet, your body must use energy to digest the nutrients, which leaves less energy for detoxification and healing, or causes it to take more time. But I'm totally okay with that. I'm in no rush.

It's important to be prepared before doing anything that may seem extreme so below are my personal pros and cons, which are based off of my complete experience with the master cleanse (10 days) and my experience mid-way with this juicing cleanse. I would also suggest doing research to see which fast might be best for you and how long you should fast for! Check out this article for some more information. Lord knows I'm not a chef or having any cooking skills, so I've checked out different sites for recipes.  Click here and here for some great ones.
Some Pros:
  • more energy (mostly after the second day)
  • more focus
  • healthier skin
  • improved and increased bowel movement (specifically for the juicing cleanse since it is nearly impossible to have bowel movement when you only consume water, unless you take laxatives)
  • better quality sleep, decreased anxiety/stress
  • stabilization of blood pressure, better digestion
  • elimination of toxins
  • learn how to control urges, resist temptation, and ignore cravings
  • connect with the goodness of nature and the body's natural healing process
  • weight loss?
  • ability to connect to and focus on other things (for me personally, this has important spiritual implications)
  • upon completion, a sense of pride that you were able to achieve a goal!
  • the general experience of feeling empty, rejuvenated, and healed. it makes you more cautious and even appreciative of what you choose to put inside of you
Some Cons:
  • It's hard!!!
  • intense hunger
  • crankiness (due to low blood sugar levels during the first few days of a water cleanse. this isn't as dramatic when you do a juice cleanse since fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars)
  • initial headaches and dizziness due to hunger (your body is of course in starvation mode at first and this sends it into a natural and temporary panic)
  • initial weakness
  • increased urination! (when you consume 8-10 glasses of water a day or 4-6 glasses of juice and 2-3 glasses of water a day ONLY, you are destined to visit the toilet ALLOT)
  • weight loss?
  • fasting is time consuming (in terms of preparation) and difficult to incorporate if you exercise, work, socialize, or move around allot
Some Tips:
  • ***Be prepared*** physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually- do your research, consult your healer/physician/lover/friend/parent for advice, meditate and pray on it, get informed.
  • Ease into it properly-I suggest cutting down on meals 2-3 days before you begin the fast so you can used to consuming less.  This will confuse your body less and not make your hunger pangs as severe.
  • Drink allot of clean water!
  • Take a break from intense exercise, or you might pass out.
  • Think about how fasting will effect your social life; you may not be able to go out as much or for a long period of time unless you bring your juice/water with you.
  • Phase out of the fast and transition back into "normal" eating slowly and patiently, and be conscious of what you put in your body. *I personally will be eating raw whole foods for a few days after and completely vegan for at least 2 weeks after.  Because of personal preferences, I will almost certainly return to consuming seafood a week or two after that.
Check out "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead", a documentary which explores the natural healing effects of fasting by juicing. It's so inspirational.

I would like to note that in my opinionthe most important part of a fast is how you transition out of it and return to eating again. I would advise you to not run to your closest McDonalds and/or eat 3 massive meals the day after. I would even suggest avoiding red meat, dairy, fried foods, and big meals for a few the very least. But hopefully, that won't be your first impulse, because believe me, you will feel cleansed, fresh, strong,and ready for a new healthy start!


Have you ever done a fast or cleanse? Please share any tips!

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*Medical Disclaimer: Though Naïka of Naïka in Balance is in pursuit of a medical degree, she is NOT a licensed health practitioner. 
Naïka believes individuals have the power to make informed health decisions on their own. If you feel that it is necessary to consult your healthcare provider before using any of the remedies mentioned, please do so. Knowledge is power and your health is your wealth.