My friends always joke that I’m probably the unhealthiest yoga teacher of all time, especially when they see what I eat.
I have to admit, when it comes to food I can have a lack of awareness from time to time. I recently decided to work on that and challenged myself, and my friends, to a five-day juice cleanse.
Only liquids for five days.
The whole cleanse was supervised by an experienced raw food chef, so there was no danger of starving at any point. Knowing this helped a lot when my mind tried to trick me into giving up.
During the five-day cleanse, we drank five bottles of juice per day and vegetable broth in the evening. Each drink was a mix of so-called superfoods, like wild berries, acai powder, handpicked herbs and seeds, plus almost all had turmeric in them.
With knowledge about the cleanse and the support of our chef, I felt safe doing this, but would recommend not trying this alone for the first time. Always make sure to have someone on your side who knows what your body needs.
As healthy as a cleanse can be if done right, not eating food for five days is still an intense experience—as I quickly found out.
The first two days I did not feel well at all. I was sweating, had headaches and my mind was not at ease. If I hadn’t been doing this with friends, I probably would’ve given up.
All of a sudden on day three, I started feeling different. I was sleeping better during the night and felt more awake in the morning. I also have a tendency to eat a lot before bed, and not doing that for a few days made me feel better.
I even went surfing on day three and four. And on the fifth day I even went for a solid run. The headaches stopped and my mind quit trying to sabotage me. The food cravings lessened and I was even thinking of extending the cleanse for a few more days.
At the same time, I found myself thinking about certain foods or restaurants all day long. I noticed those thoughts usually came up when I felt bored or frustrated about something in my daily life.
Apparently I was using food to make me feel better. It wasn’t about nutritional value or being hungry, I was just eating whenever my mind told me to.
We all know that feeling of wanting to eat a carton of ice cream. It‘s not that our body needs this, it‘s just our mind demanding a treat. Our brain works fairly simple in that respect.
At the same time, those treats we are giving our mind challenge our digestive system and we end up feeling tired or sick. I am someone that over-eats a lot, and now I can understand better what that causes for my body and my mind in the long run.
Not eating for five days showed me that most of the time I feel hungry I am actually just thirsty. Drinking water helps us avoid over-eating. I also learned that by not having to digest heavy food overnight, I sleep better.
It’s not that I never heard these ideas before or that I questioned them. My mind was just too good at tricking me into treating it, into eating too much unhealthy food.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the lesson we need to learn. Sometimes we need an extreme experience to help us understand what’s best for us.
Five days without food is tough, so always make sure to check in with your doctor first. But once you feel ready, go for it!
I spent a lot of time hesitating, thinking I wasn’t strong enough to handle it. Now I know I can.
When will you start challenging yourself?
Author: Robert Busch
Editor: Nicole Cameron