Monday, February 3, 2014

Juice Crazy! The Latest Step in My Journey to Physical and Mental Wellbeing

People who know me will know that I am always exploring ways to improve my physical and mental quality of life.  In fact, people who know me will know that I am always looking for easy ways of doing these things! Most people who know me will know of my struggles with mood, weight and high cholesterol over the years, and the various different things I have tried.

Over the years, I have had temporary success with various slimming clubs but I'm sad to say that I usually lose interest and abandon them. While some of what I've learned there stays with me and  I continue to eat a lot more healthily than I have in years, I found those plans weren't quite right for me. I could never get control of my sweet tooth and just one biscuit allowed on a plan could spiral me into a full scale sugar fest. Now I've found something I can incorporate into my daily diet, which makes me feel like eating less but also fulfils my need for something sweet.  Read on and I'll share my latest step to physical and mental wellbeing. I hope that I won't lose interest and abandon this new step because it's creative and it's fun too. Also, it feels easy to incorporate into my daily life, which means a lot.

The combination of yoga and healthy eating without watching every morsel felt more my thing and has sustained me for the past while.  However, I am still bigger than I should be, my cholesterol levels are sky high and my energy levels could be better.  While some of this is hereditary, the doctor could apparently tell by my triglycerides level, that I need to make some more dietary changes.  I made a decision at the start of 2014 to focus more on my health and what nutrients I am putting into my body, rather than what weight I am.

In 2013 I cut down on animal proteins and sugar and I started to include more fruit in the form of smoothies.I also included porridge, seeded bread and plant sterol supplements. I started to do research on what else I could do to increase my energy levels, up my mood, decrease my cholesterol and maybe lose a few pounds into the bargain.  This is when I came upon the idea of juicing for health and wellbeing. It seemed to me to be a natural progression from blending smoothies and making fresh soups. I had heard that juicing can help with reducing cholesterol levels and risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It can also elevate mood and inspire feelings of mental wellbeing. I wanted to find out if this could be true. I had already been doing some food and juicing recipes from the brilliant Dale Pinnock. He is known as 'The Medicinal Chef' for good reason and I like his whole way of looking at food. I like the idea of using juices and food as medicine for the body and as a way of assisting the body in getting rid o  the toxins taken in from chemicals and processed food.

I sometimes struggle with lack of energy and motivation and a low mood, though these have improved since I have made some changes in my life. However, there is still lots of room for improvement in all of these areas.  I am almost 48, the mother of a six year old and will soon go back to working outside the home. For these reasons, I feel I need to up my game and find a way of eating that I can sustain for a lifetime.

I was toying with the juicing idea, when I came across a book by Bernadette Bohan called 'Eat yourself Well' on my Kindle.  Shortly afterwards, I happened to see her being interviewed on television.  When I heard her mention how she turned her health around and what a big fan she is of juicing, I knew I had to read the book. And boy, am I glad I did.  I learned so much from it and because it was so easy to read, I was able to start putting some of the ideas into practice.  The book has acted as a springboard for me to find out more. I learned a lot about juicing but I also learned some other things and I have not been able to look at Dairy milk since! I now use almond milk in smoothies and have converted to soy based yoghurt and cheeses.

I knew from Bernadette's book that there were different types of juicers and so I put out a message on Facebook asking for suggestions.  A few friends came back with ideas and one suggested I watch the documentary by Joe Cross called 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead'.  I noticed I had it on netflix so I watched it that night. I think it can also be found on you tube now and watched for free. I found it very very inspiring and while I don't feel ready to exist on only juices for a period of time, I have incorporated them into my daily life.  Juicing is a terrific way of getting much needed fruit and veg nutrients into a person. From someone, who only ate one type of veg at dinner a few times a week and virtually no fruit, I now have both daily.

I then watched a few more documentaries for inspiration.  Look at 'The Joy of Juicing' with Gary Null, 'Food Matters' and 'Fork over knives' and you'll see what I mean.

Other inspirational suggestions from my facebook friends were to look at Dan the Regenerator (check out his Lemon Ginger Blast, when you're not checking out him!) and Jason Vale.

Green smoothie green juice organic Stock PhotosI feel it's a matter of finding something that resonates with a person before the change can be made. For me, I need something that combines mind, body and soul and for exercise, I find yoga does that. It's the first exercise I have ever stuck at and I have now been practicing since 2010. I'm on day 12 of incorporating juices into my diet and I find that the creativity involved in making them and the learning how to combine things is keeping me interested.  I find it fun!

I bought myself an Andrew James Power Juicer. It's a basic centrifrugal type of juicer but it's adequate for a beginner juicer like myself.  I toyed with buying a Philips 1861 or 1871 but they were quite a bit more expensive and when I looked at the juicers in the shop, the Andrew James juicer looked quite similar.  After washing your fruit and vegetables, you can put them through the juicer whole without any need for chopping and cutting.  Ideally, I would like a twin gear masticating juicer but this type is way over my budget at the moment.  I spent 69 euro on my juicer and so, if I don't stick with it, I won't feel too bad at how much I have spent.

I am learning more day by day but the things I have learned so far in my juicing journey are:

1. Juicers have come a long way and despite what I thought, are actually reasonably easy to clean! Place a plastic bag over the pulping funnel before you start juicing so it gives you one less thing on your juicer to clean

2. Don't do as I did and be overzealous on adding the Wheat grass powder to your smoothies and juices. I made the mistake of adding far too much to a pint of green juice and suffered with tummy pains and nausea afterwards. It wore off after a couple of hours but it wasn't pleasant. Read the instructions before you add any power greens or supplements to your juices!

3. Cucumber, Apple, Kale and lemon is my favourite morning green drink and in fact, I could drink it at any time of day. I also love Carrot, orange, sweet potato and red bell pepper. It's terrific fun experimenting with all the combinations.

4. If you think it's difficult to find time to do all that juicing, make a big batch of green juice in the morning and store it in glass bottles or airtight steel containers in your fridge. I am saving large glass coffee and gravy jars to store mine. I also use insulated travel mugs to take in the car with me. Take some of your juice to work in a flask and have at coffee time and lunch time instead of your usual toxic coffee and pastry. Some say the quicker you drink the juice after making it the better, as nutrients deteriorate the longer the juice has been made. However, after a lot of research, and through my own experience, I have discovered the juice can last up three days. Even if some nutrients are lost, I figure, I am still getting far far more benefit than if I didn't drink it at all. At the current time, I have time to do my juicing freshly but if I don't, I make it in advance in the morning or evening time.

5. Someone said to me that the fruit juice sugars are damaging to teeth but as Jason Vale says many people are doing this to themselves anyway consuming soft drinks, sweets, chocolate and most processed foods which all have huge amounts of added sugar. At least with fruit juice you are also getting nutrients and not just empty calories with no nutrients whatsoever. If people are over worried about this issue, they should dilute the fruit juices with water, use a straw and wait one hour and then brush teeth. Alternatively, mix one fruit with lots of veg. I usually mix a couple of apples with my green veg for my morning juice and mix oranges with carrots and other vegetables. There is always a way!

6. There is a wider range of fruit and vegetables out there than any of us even know! I am converted to things like fennel, kale, Alfalfa sprouts and Shitake Mushrooms! I'd never even heard of them before I started juicing! I have discovered it's best to buy organic but if you can't, just buy what you can. You will still be getting huge quantities of nutrients that you were not getting before. Wash well with an apple cider vinegar solution before juicing.

7. Oranges cannot be juiced with the skin on, whereas apples, lemons and many other fruits can. Opinions differ on whether kiwis are better juiced with the skin on or off.

8. Juicing makes using the toilet a more frequent occurrence! I noticed this on day Four!!! This is a good thing as it's evidence that the body is eliminating toxins. Juicing helps the body's natural detoxification processes to become more efficient. The body is detoxing all the time through skin, kidneys, liver but sometimes we get clogged up for usually dietary reasons and juicing helps with this.

In the past I have been at optimum health and I have been slim so even though I am older, there is no reason why I cannot be that way again.  I have been slim and healthy sometimes in my life and I will be slim and healthy sometime again. And that sometime  will be sometime soon!


  1. You'd like my friend and blogger Helen, who goes on Juice feasts when that is all she has! I do a bit of juicing, mainly if I haven't time to sit down and eat :) But I certainly eat a lot more healthily than I did when I was younger. There's no way I could sit down to a dinner of Smash and tinned Irish Stew now....

  2. I like to juice it up, too---very healthy. Believe it or not, I just ate kale for the first time two weeks ago and LOVED it. Now I see I need to add to this to the juicer as well!

    1. You'll probably need to add a whole bag of kale to get a decent amount of juice and then maybe rejuice the pulp if your juicer is like mine! Go for it!

  3. Hiya, I'm Irish, but live in London and I love juicing too. I'm part of Jacqui's Blow your Blog horn team too so look forward to following your progress.

  4. Congratulations on your new lifestyle, Claire! I can tell from the tone of your words here that you are enjoying yourself and feeling these changes in a positive way. That enjoyment is going to communicate itself to your body on a cellular level and trigger even better changes!

    I have a favorite Go To drink that I make in a blender, rather than a juicing machine. I have a juicer, but I prefer to get all the fiber and the broken cell wall delivery of the vegetables and fruits. I put half a head of lettuce (whatever type I have on hand), one green apple, fresh lemon juice, a couple tablespoons of MCT oil (for the fatty acids) and a cup of water into a blender and pulverize it. This gives me the rough equivalent of two 16 - 20 ounce bottles of fresh drink to enjoy throughout the day, and it's very filling! I add whatever fruits/veggies to this basic recipe that I have on hand - celery, spinach, kale, avocado, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, etc. I've never been a fan of sweet, sugary drinks/foods, so occasionally I add a couple dashes of Tabasco sauce and a sprinkle of sea salt to it. I find when I incorporate this drink, I am rarely hungry or tempted to snack on junk food. :)

    Good luck with your new journey!

    - Dawn

  5. Wow! This post is so thorough! I see that you've done your research. You've supplied a good amount of info for someone who wants to do the same as you're doing.
    I'm not a juicer, but interested in incorporating more veggies in my diet.
    Keep us informed with your progress.


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