This post is both a practical approach AND my personal experience.
In December 2008 I was bored with food. I was never hungry, but always hungry. You know that feeling? Intuitively, I knew/realized I wasn’t eating properly. Specifically, I knew I needed to eat more fruits and veggies. I just didn’t know how to work them into my diet, without too much fuss. And, I don’t have the brain to study something new just so I can learn to eat right. If I had to figure out how much protien, starch, etc. I was eating I’d be doomed.
Coincidentally, the week I started exploring and talking to friends I went to dinner with my friend Keith (the award-winning film-maker), and he announced “I just bought a juicer and it’s awesome.”
I went home, did some research on my own, and the next night was creating my own juice. I’ll tell you what I bought, why, and how I got started… but first, the punchline.
Aside from being “bored with food”, I also had a weak immune system. I’d always get sick, and when I did it went straight to my chest. It would often take weeks to shake something once I got it, and that was after spending days in bed. I was totally overdoing the antibiotics (a separate but related problem). In the winter of ’07/08 instead of my chest it became throat infections, which meant more antibiotics, and once steroids to keep my throat open, and more down time.
I’m athletic, and very active. Always have been. But as a result of business travel and a fantastic metabolism my diet was horrible. And, my cholesterol was starting to show the results. It was only in the 2-teens (meaning about 215 or so), so technically not high, but not at 126 anymore like when I was in my 20’s! (Update December 2010: Without any other diet changes and still eating out a lot more than most, my cholesterol has dropped to 171 in the most recent test.)
I started juicing by replacing one meal a day (breakfast) with juice. I focused mostly on vegetable juicing. After about six months or so I had the following incredible results:
- I hadn’t gotten sick the rest of that winter.
- My cholesterol dropped over 10%.
- I had enough energy to kick a very bad red-bull dependency.
- I felt trim. Like my body liked it.
In fact, my doctor (Dr. Daryl Isaacs of “Super Size Me” fame) said something along the lines of “your cholesterol is great… I don’t know what you’re doing, just keep doing it.” (He’s like that.) I hadn’t changed anything in my diet other than replacing breakfast with juice.
Just recently (about 14 months later) I caught a cold. The type that would have taken me out for weeks. 6 days later I’m totally over it… and in those 6 days I did a round trip to California (from NY).
There’s a dramatic difference in my health.
So, how did I go about getting started?
Again, punchline first.
Just do it. Sounds obvious, but don’t worry. Just put stuff in the juicer, and drink what comes out.
Seriously, variety rocks. Mix it up. Your body will love the variety, and you won’t get bored with the same tastes over and over.
The juicer I have is the Breville JE95XL. (Update 12/2010: The JE95XL is not made anymore, but the JE98XL is, and it looks great!) I got mine from J&R in NYC which had a good price and I could get on the spot. Keith had gotten the BJE200XL and really liked it. Both are top ranked by consumer reports. I went with the 95XL because I always break things, and wanted something that was sturdier. I haven’t been disappointed. After about a year of daily use I had to get a replacement cutting disk piece / mesh screen but that was an easy order off the Breville web site.
It’s very easy to clean — I mention that because it’s the most common objection to juicing. It also seems to make a lot of juice out of what I put in. About $5 – 6 of (NYC priced) veggies makes about 40 – 50 oz of juice very quickly. Though, it’s the only juicer I’ve ever used, so none of these statements are comparative. You can find more about Breville on Twitter and Facebook.
Another alternative is the Vitamixer. A different friend has it, and she loves it. The vitamixer is a different type of machine, in that it just takes whatever you put in, and liquifies it. That’s “better” if you want to add things like mint or parsley, etc. that don’t juice as well. You can find Vitamixer on Facebook too.
I can also recommend some books. The two that I’d highly recommend are:
Both have great lists of recipes, with the former focusing more on why/how to juice fast and the latter discussing why juicing is so nutritious and the nutritional value of various ingredients.
With regard to vegetable vs fruit… A good book to read on this topic is Alkalize or Die. It’s best to eat fruit on an empty stomach because of the way we process those sugars. Otherwise… I would recommend more vegetables than fruits based on my personal experience (less sugar, less calories, and more variety of vitamins and other good stuff). However, fruits are good and tasty, and the sugar is a good energy. I often juice fruits as well. In particular, one that comes to mind is 2 oranges, 3 kiwis, and a 10oz bag of spinach. (That juice gives me good energy as a pick-me-up in the afternoon.)
I started by juicing a lot of beets because I felt that they really cleaned me out well. OK, maybe too much information! I’m just trying to be helpful.
All that said, I’m not a nutritionist and this all seems like one of those things where everyone disagrees. My advice… do what feels right. Try a few different things, it’s not like any of it’ll kill you.
Slight tangent and interesting comment made by Mark Bittman on his TED video. I don’t necessarily agree with the conspiracy theory angle, but early on he says (something like) “your body doesn’t like the beta carotene, it likes the carrot.” I feel in my cells that he’s spot on with that comment.
There you have it. Simple. Go for it.
Seriously, if you have any questions… the comments below are a good place for some discussion. I’ll try to answer, and better yet, I’ve got some friends that I’ll get to answer with respect to nutritional information too. A few people have emailed me, and that’s awesome too if you want some privacy. (By the way, I’ll be away first two weeks of March and won’t be able to answer questions until I return.)
A few take-aways if you will:
- If you’ve stumbled across this post as an intro to juicing/juice-fasting, please check out our event, Cleanse for Your Cause and consider participating.
- If you’re intrigued, even if you have no interest in juicing, keep track of Where’s Your Heart? by becoming a fan on Facebook.
- Cleanse for Your Cause participants can also do a master cleanse. I’ve never done one myself, but I’ll share some information on that in the future.
- Please re-post (link to it) this introduction to juicing on twitter, facebook, or where-ever if you found it helpful (on Facebook, click share just below; to retweet just click “retweet” up at the top of the article).
Next post will be a little light humor on the challenges of having punctuation in the company name as my last post before a two week adventure in the Amazon. Stay tuned.
PS Any affiliate dollars earned through the links on this post will be donated to Where’s Your Heart? Foundation, a registered US 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to improve people’s lives through altruistic living.