Food for Thought or Thoughtful Food

minima


 Today is day four of my seasonal juice fast. Many of my friends and relatives consider this to be a bit radical, this ritual of denying myself any solid food for 5 days. I suppose it does sound a bit over-the-top in contrast to this society of fast paced, conveniently packaged living. I mean, my diet is fairly healthy in comparison, so why detox? I eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. I limit my sugar intake and cook from scratch. No packages here. And I enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. So is this really necessary?

According to many holistic practitioners, yes, it is extremely important to give our bodies a break. We are like a system of filters that need changing now and then. Ayurvedic science considers that many toxins build up in the bodies of even the healthiest of people. There are three types of said toxins: environmental, metabolic and un-digested food. Environmental toxins are the obvious pollutants that are, sadly, just a fact of our modern world. Metabolic toxins are the residue of the digestive process, much like fire leaves behind soot. And last but certainly not least is un-digested food left in the digestive tract. In our society of over-abundance, we all have food in our digestive tract as the digestive system cannot keep up. We generally eat our next meal or snack long before the previous one has been fully digested. This un-digested food creates a substance called “ama”, a sticky, white, toxic substance that is considered the root of all disease in the holistic sciences. Medieval western herbalist used to say that “death is in the bowels”. If left too long, ama begins to seep out of the intestines in search of a weaker area of the body where it can settle and manifest as disease.

This seems reason enough for a regular cleansing ritual, but I like to consider the spiritual aspect as well. This past weekend I had the honor of leading a three day detox at Moyo. I began cleansing regularly many years ago and have encouraged my husband and children to join me. So I know from experience that when these toxins begin to release from the cells and dump into the system, and the cleanser begins feeling irritable and lousy, they turn their frustration toward me as the one who suggested this in the first place. So, as you can imagine, I was a bit apprehensive to lead ten people through this process. However, it proved to be a great experience and really boosted my enthusiasm for my own cleanse as I enjoyed the support of a community of like-minded people. We came together for two hours each day to practice yoga, journal, meditate and discuss our revelations as the weekend went on. The most profound revelation, I think, was a unanimous realization of how we use food for so much more than just nourishing our bodies.

Denying ourselves for a short period of time allows for introspection and self-study. It helps uncover emotions that we tend to suppress, often with food. It is a time to disconnect entirely, a retreat of sorts. And although juicing is very labor intensive, and maybe because it is so, it gives us a profound appreciation for the food that the earth produces and that we lovingly prepare. When our food is prepared for us, either packaged, prepared food or restaurant food, we lose the connection to that food.

Once bitten with the juicing bug, a trip to the farmers market is a source of great delight. And this time of year the markets are a riot of vibrant, colorful deliciousness. I love the vision of the enormous basket of fruits and vegetables sitting on my table awaiting their turn in the juicer, producing potent concoctions of concentrated nutrients that, bypassing the digestive tract, shoot straight into the system delivering mind clearing, energizing goodness.

So all in all, a juice fast is something to consider. Even if you’re not fasting, incorporating juicing into your lifestyle, whether once a day, or now and then, can give your body an energetic boost. So get out and support your local farmers markets this season and try experimenting with combinations of fruits and vegetables you may not have considered. My favorite is apples, ginger, carrots and kale. A new one I discovered on this recent cleanse is green apple, grape, lemon and spinach. The possibilities are endless, as is the selection of produce in spring and summer.

Enjoy the bounty of this beautiful season and I’ll see you in the fall for our next cleanse.

 

Lisa Scarborough

Ayurvedic Nutritional Consultant

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