Well, it’s that time of year. The relatives have cleared out, the last of the turkey scraps have been fed to the dogs, and all the good sweets are gone. I’m feeling sluggish, my blood feels like molasses, my skin’s a wreck, and I’ve been waking up feeling cranky and achy every morning with my caffeine addiction in full bloom. Plus I’ve taken to drinking every night. So, I ‘ve finally embarked on that fast I’ve been meaning to do for the last couple months.
My fast of choice is the classic Master Cleanser, sometimes known as the “lemonade diet”, made popular by Stanley Burroughs in the 1950’s. My main reason for choosing this fast is that it’s pretty simple. You just subsist on a mixture of lemon or lime juice, grade B maple syrup, and a dash of cayenne pepper in water (I prefer the water to be hot) for at least 10 days. The lemon juice helps break up mucus, the maple syrup provides essential nutrients like iron and B vitamins (grade B has more of these than grade A), and the cayenne pepper further helps to break up toxins. It also helps warm the body which is pretty important in a wintertime fast. The only other thing you consume (and this is the hard part!) is a quart of warm salt water (about a teaspoon per cup) every morning, or at least every other morning. This is to thoroughly cleanse the digestive tract, and while it’s not exactly pleasant, it is – ahem – very rewarding. To omit this part is to miss out on some of the prime benefits of the cleanse. Just make sure you are near a toilet for at least an hour after drinking it – wouldn’t want to be caught on the subway, that’s for sure!
Why fast? Well, in the body a huge amount of energy is devoted to consumption and digestion of food. The idea behind fasting is that once the digestive system is cleansed and at rest, that energy can then be devoted to whatever other repairs the body is in need of. A great deal of healing can take place at the cellular level in all of the bodies systems.
Not only is a lot of the body’s energy spent on food, so much of our mental energy is tied up with the whens and wheres and what are we going to eat. Clearly food is not just nourishment for us, it is a major provider of comfort and distraction. When we give it up for a time it becomes apparent how much of the desire for food is mental rather than physical. And if we go long enough on a fast to finally stop obsessing about wanting to eat, a certain quality of clarity and sensitivity arises in both body and mind. Fasting does for the digestive system what meditation does for the mind. It facilitates the shift from “doing” to “being” for a spell. It’s a really great way to change negative patterns, get out of ruts (mental and physical), and determine food allergies.
The recommended time for the fast is at least 10 days, and my experience has been that if I can just make it past day 4, the rest is much easier. The really hard part is not going nuts and overeating when ending the fast. Stanley Burroughs recommends 2 days of orange juice followed by easing into vegetable soup. I prefer grapefruit instead of orange, and rarely can make it 2 days of just the juice. Instead, I start letting myself have miso soup on the 2nd day off the master cleanser solution.
I am on day 2 of the fast now. I will be blogging more about fasting in the coming days….just in case anyone wants to join me and wants some moral support…….or to lend me some!
Happy New Year!