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Fasting for Peace

Fast Tips and Recipes

By Susan Adelman, CODEPINK LA

empty bowlCongratulations! The fact that you're considering fasting as a way of affirming your commitment to peace is an important first step. There are several different kinds of fasting: the most common are water, clear liquids and juice fasts. Though fasting - even a juice fast - isn't easy, it's not impossible. I guarantee it will be a remarkable journey - you will feel energized and empowered. And you may be surprised how much of an impact your sacrifice has on those around you. You can fast for a day, a few days, a week or longer. Water fasting is not recommended for more than three weeks.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or a purist. I know the most about juice (also called liquids only) fasting. I believe that not eating solid food is a significant sacrifice and it is important to maintain your health while you fast. And be sure to enjoy the juices you drink. You will be happier, which will help you maintain the fast.

Email [email protected] for questions or to send us your suggestions and recipes!

Tips, Rules and Recipes for a Juice (liquid only) Fast

  1. Number One Rule of All Fasting: Find a health practitioner who supports fasting and take her advice. If you start to feel bad, weak, no energy see her or your physician. If she tells you to stop fasting, stop. We need you alive and well to make peace. 
  2. No dairy. The reason for this is that dairy is difficult to digest and can make fasting uncomfortable and hard on your body. Since this is a rule, there are, of course, exceptions. See tips #3 and #15.
  3. At least 20 grams of protein per day. There are many different kinds of protein powder. The most common are soy, rice and whey protein powders. Doesn't whey come from milk? you ask. The answer is yes, but it has no lactose and no milk fat and is therefore easily digested. Also, it tastes good in fruit smoothies. I use Biochem Vanilla Whey Protein Powder from Whole Foods. If you're a vegan, either soy or rice protein will work. Note: Some people have a hard time digesting soy protein.
  4. Take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. You will be getting a lot of nutrients from the juices you make (or buy, but the ones you make taste so-o-o much better - and you know exactly what's in them). But you are radically changing your diet. I''m not suggesting some mega-pill. Any good multi-vitamin/mineral will do.
  5. Limit caffeine and alcohol. Both tend to be dehydrating, so they are not recommended. I had a half-cup of coffee the first two days of my fast to avoid caffeine withdrawal headaches.
  6. Beware of fruit juice, particularly commercially produced fruit juice. Fruit juice has a lot of sugar (fructose and/or glucose) and it will make you really hungry if you drink it straight. This doesn't mean you shouldn't drink fruit juice. Here's the caveat: seriously dilute your fruit juice with water - seriously meaning maximum one part juice per four parts water. But most of your nutrition will come from
  7. Lots of vegetable juice. My favorite combinations follow these tips. As much as you want. Within reason, of course.
  8. A smoothie in the morning. If you're hungry in the afternoon, have another smoothie and don't forget the protein powder. Recipes below.
  9. Fat is your friend. This is an important point, which some fasters forget. You should have at least 3T (a combo of raw Coconut oil and cold pressed oils and essential fatty acids) fat per day. There are several ways to get fat into your juice fast. One of my favorites is a slice of avocado in your morning smoothie - you don't taste it and it makes the smoothie even smoother. A flax oil blend is another option - Udo's is a good brand. Either put it in your smoothie or drink it straight. (I bet you can guess which I prefer). Fat will assure that you absorb the nutrients you're getting and to keep you from feeling hungry. It also helps remind your body you're not starving, so it doesn't start trying to store fat. If you do go into starvation mode, you will stop losing weight and feel horrible.
  10. Drink some juice every couple of hours or sooner if you fell you need to. Do not try to limit yourself to a certain amount of juice per day. You are already getting far fewer calories than you normally do and each person needs a certain amount of food to feel good. I found I generally drank about ¾ of a quart of undiluted vegetable juice per day, in addition to my morning smoothie.
  11. Potassium broth or a potassium supplement. Either 2 capsules morning and night or drink the broth once a day. Recipe below.
  12. Drink plenty of water. Most people recommend at least 2 liters per day. I think that if you're diluting your fruit juice with a lot of water, this counts towards your daily water intake.
  13. Constipation: It is important that you have regular bowel movements while you're fasting. There's a good product called “Detox and Support,” which should relieve constipation. 2 caps with water at dinner.
  14. Greens: Add a good greens supplement to your green juice. I didn't like Barlean's Greens because it has stevia (sweetener) in it, but your local health-food store or homeopathic pharmacy should be able to suggest a brand.
  15. Susan's Trick Number 15: Even if you have a juicer, I believe it's better for your system to juice only the veggies that are hard to blend and release a lot of liquid - carrots, celery, beets, spinach, lettuce - but blend everything you can in a good blender. You get both the fiber and nutrients from the peel. The added fiber helps with, ahem, elimination.
  16. There are a couple of products you may want to consider purchasing before you begin your fast. You do need a powerful blender to make good fruit smoothies. I personally swear by The Magic Bullet (widely available for about $60 - $48 if you've got one of those 20% discount coupons from Bed Bath and Beyond). You may have seen the unbelievably cheesy infomercial for this product on late-night t.v. Of course, it doesn't do everything it claims - it can't chop worth a darn. But it blends like a dream - if you follow the instructions. And the fact that you can make your smoothie in the same glass you use to drink it is convenient and time-saving. The Jack Leanne Juicer is available at Costco for $87. It is plenty powerful for our purposes and you will save money in the first couple of weeks of fasting. Neither is essential, but they help.
  17. If you start to lose too much weight: You're probably not getting as many calories or as much fat as you think you are. Have an avocado a day (or more) for a few days. Another possible addition to your juice is raw cream. Because it's raw it still has all the digestive enzymes in it and doesn't present the digestive problems some dairy products do. If you don't have trouble with dairy, you may add milk and yogurt.
  18. Finally: Relax. These are suggestions. Other things may work for you. If you've got a great tip, be sure to tell us.

A typical day on a month-long juice/liquid fast.

  • A cup of delicious tea (Some people prefer green or herbal. I didn't find black tea to be detrimental - moderation is the key here). You may have honey and lemon.
  • Breakfast when you feel hungry: a fruit smoothie - remember, no dairy.
  • Every two hours or so: vegetable juice or heavily diluted fruit juice. I tended to alternate between a tomato based and a spinach based juice. Recipes follow
  • All day long: plenty of water - take it with you (Smart Water from Glacial has added electrolytes and Emergen C comes in different flavors and adds nutrients to your water)
  • Late afternoon: This was the most difficult time of the day for me. I would make myself a cup of tea and usually, by the time I had finished it, I was back on track.
  • Dinner time: more vegetable juice or a smoothie if you're hungry
  • Evening: An herbal tea. Chamomile will help you fall asleep


General notes: 
1. A flax oil blend, olive oil or coconut oil (preferably raw) can be substituted for avocado in any of these recipes. 
2. Frozen fruit works fine in the smoothies.

Morning Smoothies

Very Merry Berry
½ - ¾ C. berries (any combination - I like blue and straw)
1/3 Banana - you can add more, but remember, they have lots of sugar
2 scoops whey (or other) protein powder - 20 grams
1/3 - ½ juice (I like a combination of orange and Pom - pomegranate)
1/8 sm. avocado
4 - 5 cubes ice
Blend until smooth

Tropical Tango
½ - ¾ C. pineapple and mango
1/3 banana
2 scoops whey powder
1/3 - ½ C. orange juice
1/8 sm.avocado
4 - 5 cubes ice
Blend until smooth

Veggie Juices and Smoothies

Gazpacho Blend
1 medium tomato
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded - use whole Japanese cuke
¼ small white onion
½ - 1 serrano chile (optional - depends on how hot you like it)
1 small or ½ large red or orange bell pepper - cored and seeded
½ - ¾ t. salt
1/8 avocado
Blend together, then strain everything except the avocado
Add avocado and re-blend
Gazpacho can be diluted and is delicious over ice - use small pieces.

Green Cuisine
1 C. spinach juice
1 C. cucumber juice
½ C. bell pepper juice
½ C. celery juice
¾ C. carrot juice
1 t. salt
Avocado - as much or as little as you like
Make your juices, then blend all ingredients together
Makes 1 quart - Dilute if you wish

Potassium Broth

For a 2 day supply, cover with water in a soup pot, approximately 
3 to 4 Carrots, 
3 Stalks Celery
2 turnips or beets with skin, halved 
2 Red potatoes with skins (omit if you're carbo sensitive)
1/2 Head Red Cabbage
1 Onion
Simmer, covered, 30 minutes or so 
Strain and discard solids. 
Optional: Add 2 t. Bragg's Liquid Aminos or 1 t. miso for taste
Store covered in the fridge

Clear liquid (or clear juice) fasting

Clear vegetable and fruit juices only. This type of fast is more rigorous than the liquid fast above and less than a water-only fast. See possible side effects below.

Tips and Preparation for a Water Fast: Maximum water fast - 21 days

Water fasting is not recommended if you must take medication. You may do a juice fast (above), as the juice will protect the stomach.

  1. Preparing for a water fast: 
    Raw fruit and vegetable juices only for three or four days preceding the fast.
  2. While fasting: 
    Drink at least 2 liters of water per day, more if you're in a hot climate. Dehydration is your worst enemy. Add ¼ - ½ t. salt per liter of water. Smart Water by Glaceau has added electrolytes.
  3. Rest: You will feel weaker than normal after several days of fasting

Number One Rule of All Fasting - Find a health practitioner who supports fasting and take her advice. If you start to feel bad, weak, no energy - see her or your physician. If she tells you to stop fasting, stop. We need you alive and well to make peace.

Potential (and usually minor) side effects and how to cope with them

  • Hunger: Most are surprised by the disappearance of hunger after a few days of fasting.
  • Weakness: Water fasting will result in weakness and lack of energy. There can even be dips in stamina during a juice fast if you have a high metabolism. Your expectations should be adjusted when planning a fast. Give yourself lots of downtime; enjoy the holiday away from the hustle and bustle.
  • Backaches: Back pain can increase due to toxins in the lower intestine. Blood vessels that draw nutrients from the colon are very close to the nerves of the spine. Back pain will often decrease after the elimination of the toxins. Back exercises can also relieve some pain. A cold pack also will help.
  • Bad Breath: Brushing the tongue with a toothbrush and using dental floss and rinsing with mouthwash will reduce bad breath. Rinse your mouth with plain water or water mixed with lemon juice to relieve these symptoms.
  • Mouth Cankers: To stop cankers, gargle with sea salt mixed with water several times daily. Dabbing the sore with tea tree oil or vitamin E quickens the healing process.
  • Colds and other viruses: Mucous is the perfect food for viruses. Toxins weaken the immune system. When large quantities of toxins and mucus are in the blood due to a fast, they can cause susceptibility to colds. To fight a cold, continue fasting to eliminate mucus. Increase intake of citrus juices.
  • Dizziness and/or Blackouts: During fasting the body conserves energy. The heart pumps slower and blood pressure lowers. Standing or moving quickly from a resting position will cause the blood to flow to the legs, causing dizziness. To stop blackouts get down on one knee or sit. Lowering your center of gravity will instantly stop a blackout. Blackouts are more frequent during water fasting.
  • Diarrhea: Fruit juices have a laxative effect which is more pronounced after water fasting. Diarrhea early on is normal.
  • Constipation: It is important that you have regular bowel movements while you're fasting. There's a good product called “Detox and Support,” which should relieve constipation. 2 caps with water at dinner.
  • Headaches: Toxins can cause muscle tightness in the neck and shoulders. This can result in tension headaches. Massaging the neck and shoulders will help relieve the tension.
  • Muscle Tightness: A self-massage, hot baths, stretching and exercising will help to release the toxins.
  • Nausea: Drinking water or carrot juice will dilute the bile and toxin mixture, helping to flush bile and toxins from the system.
  • Nervousness: Light exercise will help relieve this.
  • Skin Reactions: People with problem-free skin may have a few days of pimples or boils. As the fast progresses, the skin will be healthy, soft and unblemished.
  • Tiredness: Sleepiness is normal during water or restricted juice fasting. Very few people receive enough rest, so enjoy the extra sleep; it may be as healing and rejuvenating as the fast itself.
  • Feeling Cold: You may be more susceptible to cold, since the body has a harder time keeping warm and trying to conserve energy at the same time.
  • Insomnia: Be sure to nap during the day if your sleep at night is lighter.

Breaking the Fast

  1. Don't hurry - this is the hardest part - your body has adjusted to a liquid-only diet and will need some time to readjust. It's a good idea to start preparing mentally before the day you've chosen to break the fast - it is not a good idea to break the fast with potato chips.
  2. Digestive enzymes - Primary Resource is a good brand. Take two with each meal while your body is readjusting to solid food.
  3. Small quantities at first!
  4. Veggie Soup: You now get to eat all those yummy veggies you've been juicing and/or grinding up. You can use any high-water-content veggies. The same ones in the potassium broth are fine. You can also add broccoli or other veggies you love.
  5. On the third day, introduce salad. Your first salad should be any lettuce other than iceberg, sprouts, grated carrots and grated beets with a light oil and vinegar dressing.
  6. When you're ready to introduce grains: Soak quinoa, millet, amaranth or brown rice for 8 hours, then cook normally. Soaking the grain will sprout it and get rid of phyto-acid - the grain enzyme which inhibits digestion.
  7. Slowly re-introduce non-powder proteins. Start with lower saturated fat proteins first.
  8. When breaking a fast longer than 10 days: The break-in period should be extended one day for every 4 days of fasting.

Remember - Number One Rule of All Fasting - Find a health practitioner who supports fasting and take her advice. If you start to feel bad, weak, no energy - see her or your physician. If she tells you to stop fasting, stop. We need you alive and well to make peace.