Juicing 101: Part 1 of 2
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
About a year ago, I did my first juice fast and lost a little over 10 lbs in about 4 days. I kicked my caffeine habit, felt energized and decreased my sugar cravings gone. The inspiration to try juicing came from watching a documentary called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” It follows a middle aged man, named Joe who suffers from a chronic illness and bad health.
100 pounds overweight…Joe Cross is at the end of his rope and the end of his hope. In the mirror he saw a 310lb man whose gut was bigger than a beach ball and a path laid out before him that wouldn’t end well… FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD is an inspiring film that chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health. With doctors and conventional medicines unable to help long- term, Joe turns to the only option left, the body’s ability to heal itself. He trades in the junk food and hits the road with juicer and generator in tow, vowing only to drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for the next 60 days. Across 3,000 miles Joe has one goal in mind: To get off his pills and achieve a balanced lifestyle.
While I wasn’t significantly overweight or have any pressing health issues, I could certainly benefit. Like many Americans, my eating habits were certainly less than perfect and had a crazy addiction to caffeine. Plus, I had always had a hard time falling asleep at night and felt very tired in the mornings.
My First Juicing Experience
After reading some juicer reviews online, ran to my local Wal-Mart and bought the best juicer I could afford. I bought the ingredients for the staple recipe in the film, “Mean Green.” I washed the kale, celery, cucumbers, and apples then peeled the lemons. Bit by bit, I fed the fruits and veggies through the juicer and was a little taken back by the fluorescent green concoction that was flowing from the juice spout. I’m not going to lie, it smelled a little like grass and I was nervous.
When I was done juicing, I was surprised at how many vegetables it had taken to make the ½ pitcher of juice sitting in front of me. However, as the film explains, it would be hard to EAT all those vegetables whole, so instead you’re taking all the nutrients out of them and discarding them leftovers. I gave it a try… and it tasted a little like grass clippings. I wasn’t blown away. I wasn’t in love with it.
I stuck with it, I experimented with different fruits and vegetables and eventually tweaked the recipe enough for my palate to enjoy. Nowadays, I sometimes supplement my (and my son’s) diet with fresh juice and, once in awhile, detox after holiday binging.
Juicing 101: Where to Begin
Benefits of Juicing
strengthen immune system
help with aging
improve digestive system
help regulate blood sugar levels
help fight cancers & chronic diseases
improve cognitive functioning
What’s So Special About a Juicer? …Can I Use My Blender?
Juicing is much different than a blender or food processor. Blenders are great for making smoothies or shakes, whereas juicers separate the juice from the fibers compared to a blender, and produce a light and easy to drink fluid.
By using a juicer instead of a blender, the juice becomes easier for the body to absorb the nutrients as there’s no chunky bits to break down, and is generally more soft on the digestion process.
Buying a Juicer
If you’re ready to start juicing, you’re going to have to invest in a good juicer. Juicers can be expensive, ranging from $50 to $400. Some more expensive juicers will break down a lot of the fruit by grinding the core, rind, and seeds.
I started with a $60, two speed juicer by Juiceman. It was middle of the road, was something I could afford and worked well for what I wanted. Eventually, I passed it on to my brother who was interested in juicing.
Today, I use the Breville juicer that was featured on Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It runs a little quieter, extracts more juice and assembles/disassembles easier.
It is suggested that you buy all organic produce. You’re trying to rid your body of toxins and chemicals, so the pesticides on fruits and vegetables are less than desirable. Honestly, I couldn’t afford all organic. I did the next best thing; I made sure to wash all my fruits and vegetables thoroughly and peeled off the outer layer when possible.
Trying New Recipes
While apples and carrots are good things to start with, eventually you can try all kinds of fun new things. Some fruits and vegetables produce more juice than others. You won’t know what you like (or don’t like) until you try it! There are tons of helpful books out there with information and recipes. I really enjoy the Juicing Bible. It’s also helpful for suggesting juices for curing or helping with certain ailments.
So, you’ve tried including juice to supplement your everyday diet, and now you’re ready to step it out. Maybe you’re looking to try a juice fast? Here are some things I learned through my own experience with juice fasting.
Before you start
If you drink a lot of caffeine, you may want to stop consuming it 2-3 days before you begin your juice fast. Headaches from withdrawal can be brutal. Plan to begin a juice fast on the weekend. The first couple days you may experience headaches and lethargy. Make sure you don’t have anything too crazy going on.
Pick a Program Right For You
There are different types of juice fasting that last for different periods of time.For your first juice fast, you may want to try a few days with drinking juice during the day and adding a sensible dinner at night. Eventually, try working up to a 3 day all juice fast.
Involve the Family
If you’re the only one juicing, it might be hard. I had the support of my amazing boyfriend, who was juicing with me. It was great to have someone to talk to, keep you in check or talk you down from biting into a hamburger. Give your family a heads up that you will be juicing. Tell them what it is, why you’re doing it and how you’re feeling. There’s a chance you might have to sit down at the dinner table with your juice while your family eats… that’s ok!
Tips & Tricks
Juice lasts for about 36 hours in the fridge after you make it.
Store the juice you’ve made in glass mason jars
If you’re going to make juice with pineapple in it, drink immediately. Pineapple has natural digestive enzymes that break down the nutrients in the other juices.
When you begin juicing, you may want to strain the juice to take the remaining pulp out of it (makes it more palatable for children or beginners). Also, try serving it over ice.
There will be A LOT of leftover pulp. You can either toss it, or try some of these suggestions:
Adding chia seeds will increase fiber and help cleanse the digestive system.
- When you’re juicing, keep the digestive system going by taking probiotics (acidophilus).
Be Patient and Start Slow
If you’ve never juiced before, opt for fruit based juices first and sweet vegetables like carrots. Adapt your palate and then start adding leafy greens and experiment with other vegetables. There are tons of resources online that help with recipes, tips and information about juicing.
Your children may not want to try it at first, but that’s ok. Let them go at their own pace. They will probably get more interested once they see you try it! Read more on Juicing with Kids (and our favorite juice recipes).