Recently I have become increasingly interested in how food and gut health can impact how you feel, both mentally and physically. My brain and body seem to be particularly linked. At the smallest hint of stress or excitement, my body goes into some sort of chaos. The more I read though is teaching me that it is not just the brain that is impacting the body; your gut has a massive part to play in the story. It’s a popular topic at the moment – and admittedly there is much debate over what is truth and what is just the new fad that the diet industry is trying to get us to believe.
Personally, I feel I need to make a conscious effort to improve the way I eat. The knowledge of my will power and extreme love of food and drink based activities (I have cutlery, a cupcake and cocktail glass tattoos – I am committed) means I can never be a true health fanatic. If I am going out, I am ordering the most indulgent option and savouring every bite. I can change the way I approach day-to-day food though, and try to keep increasing my understanding of what makes me feel the best!
And this is how I ended up on juice rather than wine on my birthday…..
Friends thought I had lost the plot when I said I was going on a wellness retreat with the mother goose over my birthday weekend. The plan is the complete opposite of last year, which fully revolved around a hog roast and LOTS of Prosecco. Just juices and broths for me this time. We had booked a three night stay in Amchara in Somerset. With a motto: ‘Change for Good’ I liked their ethos of providing a supportive environment for everyone seeking to make positive changes to their health through improved lifestyle choices.
I have been intrigued about trying a juice fast and detox, despite the mixed reviews on the benefits. I was sceptical about how my body would react to no real food for 3 days. From a baby I screamed when I was hungry, and little has changed so many years later. If I was going to fully understand it though, I needed to commit. No sneaky snacks or anything remotely solid for me; I went for full juice fast for the three days.
I prepped, a little… Reading the preparation notes too late, I had three days to get my body ready for what I was about to put it through. This meant no meat, dairy, processed foods, alcohol or CAFFIENE!! Turns out the caffeine was the worst. I actually found it quite scary how badly my body reacted to not having its morning coffee fix. A headache that made me feel like something heavy was constantly pushing down on my forehead. A complete foggy feeling. Frustrations at everything! Admittedly I was coming out the other side of a particularly boozy and food based weekend (with an insane number of cups of tea at Cox and Baloney breakfast on Sunday) but surely my body should be able to cope a little better without its morning fix? Apparently not. I was glad I did this though, as it meant I avoided many of the side effects of the fast as your body adjusts in the first few days. My mum however, went through about 80% of them in one day, much to my amusement (I probably should not have been mocking her in her sick state).
We were in beautiful surroundings, which helped immensely. The only agenda here is relaxing and healing. Spring weather came to play as we arrived, which meant we could sit out in the fresh air with our juice, listening to the birds. Easy daily yoga (morning and evening) made me realise how much I have been neglecting my yoga practice recently due to life events and how much I miss and actually need it in my life. Walks around the beautiful local woods and farms, despite being odd without a Gadget excitingly running around my legs, provided a lovely distraction from the hunger (admittedly I was hungry about 90% of the time…) Daily talks on health helped back up the reasons we were there. A talk on the reason to cleanse your body was particularly interesting. We also tried meditation, something I have experimented with before using apps, but failed due to brain just not wanting to stop talking to me. Having someone talk us through it and sit outside in the lovely spring fresh air really helped!
People seemed to be there for many different reasons. Whether to just get away from the daily life stress, get a kick start to sort out their health or weight loss. There was a mix of dipping their toe into the experience like us for a few days to trying it out for THREE WEEKS. I am impressed at the commitment. Having watched “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” (they played inspirational films every eve) where two guys went a veg juice fast for 60 days (!!!!!!)) I have seen the benefits.
The main things I learned while away?
- I can survive without constant food. I snack a lot and never thought I could cope for three days with just juice and broth. Apart from a bit of an energy slump, I was pretty fine over the whole weekend.
- Don’t do it on your birthday. It doesn’t feel like a birthday. I made up for it with a boozy roast after to bring the world back into equilibrium (sorry Anchara!)
- Yes our body is always detoxing, but giving your digestion system a break means your gut can go into repair mode 🙂
- I need to give my body and mind the time to chill out and hide away from the world now and again. I read a whole book. I sat outside and just looked at nature while I drank my juices, rather than constantly scrolling through social media on my phone. I relaxed.
Importantly, I was glad I tried a juice fast at Amchara. You get supported through the whole process, emotional support if needed and the space to relax and let your body do whatever it needs to do. I wouldn’t just try this at home – unless you have absolutely nothing to do!