Exclusive interview between Juicing-for-Health.com
and Emily Henson who completed a 31-day juice fast.
I am always inspired by success stories of people who had completed extended fasts (beyond 21 days). I came to know Emily Henson through this website and she has so inspired and motivated me with her commitment to fasting.
Like me, Emily loves food and finds that juice fasting helps her to “reset” her body from eating “junk and unhealthy foods” when she is not fasting. Over time, as her body gets healthier and healthier through these fastings, cravings for junk food gradually reduced.
For Emily, fasting is also something spiritual. It gives her the opportunity to remove food as the center of her life and let God fill that spot as He should be.
Thank you Emily, for sharing your juice fasting experience. Having a best friend who shares the same desires just makes life so much more meaningful. I believe your sharing here will inspire and motivate many others, the way it has inspired and motivated me. God bless!
(Note: 31-day fast completed in January 2011)
Q: Please introduce yourself, what do you do for a living?
I’m a paralegal and mom to two lovely daughters, ages 7 and 9.
Q: Have you done similar fasts before this?
I have done a weekly one-day fast nearly every week for about a year prior to this long fast. During the weeks when I didn’t do a one-day fast, I did a monthly 2-5 day fast. I did one seven-day fast in September, 2010. This was my first long fast.
Q: What inspired you to start the 31-day juice fast?
My best friend. She’s done a 31-day fast twice a year for several years now. I started fasting because of her, and I felt so good on the shorter fasts that I really wanted to try a longer one. (Editor’s Note: Fasting is contagious!)
Q: Were you personally facing some health issues that you were hoping this fast would help address?
Only that I am overweight. The fasting has definitely helped with that. I did lose some weight while fasting, of course, but mostly it helps reset my body when I start overeating on junk food. It helps me remember to feed my body good food, which has really helped me lose weight and feel better. Interestingly, my environmental seasonal allergies are better when I’m fasting, too!
Q: What motivated you to continue and complete the 31-day fast?
At the beginning, it was a personal challenge and a spiritual journey. As it went on, I felt so good that I wanted to continue it. By the end of 31 days, I was actually sad to start eating again.
Q: What were some of the challenges you faced during the 31 days?
Hunger was a problem in the first few days, as well as cravings for various foods. I sometimes had cravings for particular foods even if I wasn’t hungry. The hunger goes away after a few days, but the cravings take a few more days to go away. After that, I can look at foods and know that they look good, but not want them.
Another challenge was how to keep my fast to myself. I didn’t skip any social engagements, I just made excuses, such as, “I’m not feeling well” or “I had a big (breakfast/lunch/dinner) before I came.” It was a bit hard to keep it from my colleagues at work, since when I’m not fasting I frequently eat breakfast and lunch at my desk. We also often have birthday celebrations or people will bring in food to share. No one seemed to notice or think it was odd that I skipped all of those things.
I was cold all the time while fasting, as I am even during a one-day fast. This was not a big challenge; I just wore more layers.
Cooking is hard while fasting, but not for the reason you might think. I love cooking, and that didn’t change while I was fasting. During my long fast I loved to cook elaborate meals, to find new recipes to try. The hard thing is that so much of cooking is by taste. “Season to taste” is a common instruction in recipes, but I can’t do that if I’m fasting. I just have to hope for the best.
Leftovers can be a problem, too, with one less person eating each meal. However, since my best friend and I fasted together, we shared leftovers a lot and helped feed each other’s families. That way we each got a few nights off from cooking, too!
Q: Were there days that you felt like ending the fast? If so, can you share with us what happened?
There were days at the beginning when I wondered what made me think I could do such a long fast. Days when I was hungry or just craving certain foods. I reminded myself that I could do it, or talked it over with my best friend, who was fasting with me. She encouraged me to keep going, reminded me what good I was doing for my body, and reminded me that I’d feel better in a little while. These periods only ever lasted a few minutes, so I would distract myself with work or my kids. It helped, too, that I was doing a liver and kidney cleanse that kept me pretty full during the first 10 days.
Q: Did you experience any healing reactions? If so, can you please tell us about it?
I had headaches in the first few days, and got a bit of a rash on the back of my neck near the end. I had some random muscle soreness, but only once or twice.
Q: What are some of the physical changes you experienced at the end of the fast?
I lost about 25lbs. I’m not sure of other physical changes, but about two weeks into the fast I had lunch with a friend who didn’t know I was fasting (I told him later); and he said my eyes were brighter than the last time I saw him.
I definitely had more energy while I was fasting, and my vision was better. As I mentioned above, my allergies were almost non-existent. I have really bad allergies in January and usually end up with a sinus infection every year. So, it’s a really big deal that my allergies were gone!
Q: What were your family members’ reactions when they heard you were going on the extended fast? Were they supportive of you during your 31-day journey?
I didn’t tell too many people. My mom and dad knew about it and were OK with it. My husband knew, of course, and only asked that I stop if I thought my health was ever in danger. My children knew about it, and weren’t bothered by it.
Q: Did you have to turn down lunch/dinner/party invites during this time?
I didn’t turn down any invites, though I did reschedule one for after my fast. I only told one friend about my fasting, and none of my other friends seemed to mind the excuses I made for not eating at parties or meals. The one friend I told was very interested in my fasting and didn’t mind at all that he was the only one eating on our lunch date.
Q: What was your feeling at the end of the 31-day fast?
That’s a complicated question. Physically, I felt great. No allergies, no lethargy, none of the usual blah feeling I get when I eat the wrong foods. I felt great! I also felt sad that my fast was over. I really wasn’t the least bit interested in starting to eat again, and it took several days before I got my appetite back.
Q: What are your plans beyond 31 days?
I think next year I’d like to fast all the way through Lent (about 46 days, I think). I am also intrigued by Nadine’s 92 day juice feast and would love to try that some day!
Q: What juicer do you use and why?
I have a Champion juicer. I first bought a small Omega, and it just did not do the job. That was long before I attempted the 31-day fast. My best friend, who is my inspiration, has a Champion and has had it for years, and loves it. I got mine for Christmas and I love it, too!
Q: Can you please describe the program that you follow?
I didn’t follow a particular plan except that I didn’t eat anything for 31 days. I juiced when I felt I needed it¾usually at least once per day, sometimes twice. I drank lots of water, and there were a few days when I consumed only water. I did drink hot herbal tea when I was particularly cold.
Q: Please share with us briefly what a typical day would be on a “busy” juice-fasting day?
All of my typical days are busy. My best friend makes me juice every morning, and she gives it to me when I pick up her daughter for the carpool to school. While at work, I drink lots of water and usually at least one cup of herbal tea with raw, local honey. In the evenings I make my own juice to drink while my family eats dinner.
Q: Please share how you broke this extended 31-day juice fast?
I haven’t done any research of my own on how to break a fast, I simply rely on my best friend’s research and experience. We take as long to break our fast as we were on the fast, adding foods back in gradually over that time. So, it takes 31 days to break a 31 day fast. A two-week fast takes two weeks to break. This routine is spread out evenly over whatever number of days I’m taking to break the fast.
I start with fruit–one type per day. I usually eat about half an apple over the course of the first day. It takes several days for my hunger to come back, so I don’t eat much at all in the first few days. Each day I add another fruit. After that I add raw vegetables. Again, one per day. After that, I add salads with dressing, then cooked vegetables. Of course, as I add one new food per day, I can continue to eat all the foods I’ve already added. After cooked vegetables I add beans and legumes, again one at a time, then nuts. Then I add meat, dairy, and finally grains at the very end.
I pay close attention to my body each day, after each meal, to make sure that it’s doing OK. Adding things like dairy or grains too early, before my body is ready to cope with them, can really give me a stomachache! I also use, in the first few days, something to help get my digestive tract moving again–like psyllium husk or other fiber supplements.
Q: In your opinion, do you think anyone could do the program? Why or why not?
I think most people are capable of it, but it’s certainly not for everyone. You have to really want to¾those first couple of days are not easy; at least not the first time.
Q: What is your best advice for anyone intending to do an extended juice fast/feast like this?
I’ll say, go for it! Have someone you can talk to about your experience as you go through it, who can answer your questions and encourage you.