Fastus Interruptus

Yes, I know it’s not a real term, but I kinda like the Wile E. Coyote & The Road¬†Runner faux Latin feel. ūüôā

So, I made it about a week on the smoothies and lemon water and felt great, but when I looked at the calendar and saw the number of things that were coming up, I realized it was not going to be the right time to water fast. I ended my smoothie fast on Friday, November 6th at dinnertime (with a light meal).

So after the experience, what do I think about it? It’s something I’d definitely like to do again, and plan a bit better what’s coming up on the calendar to be able to do a bit of water fast. I wasn’t really very hungry at all on the smoothies – they were very satisfying.

In the meantime, I’m learning more and more about nutrition and seeing that the smoothies are a great way to boost my daily intake of so many vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, so even when I’m not fasting, I try to have at least a couple 8 or 16 oz servings in a day. I’ve been reading Eat to Live¬†by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and he expresses the idea very simply:¬†Health = Nutrients/Calories.¬†This, in a nutshell, means that the foods that you eat can be scored on a scale based on the calories that you get from them in relation to their nutritional value. This scale is called the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI). Dark leafy greens are the superheroes of the nutritional world, so they get a 1000 and everything else is graded on that curve.

From the ANDI food scores page:

The ANDI ranks the nutrient value of many common foods on the basis of how many nutrients they deliver to your body for each calorie consumed. Unlike food labels which list only a few nutrients, ANDI scores are based on thirty-four important nutritional parameters. Foods are ranked on a scale of 1-1000 with the most nutrient-dense cruciferous leafy green vegetables scoring 1000. Because phytochemicals are largely unnamed and unmeasured, these ANDI rankings may underestimate the healthful properties of colorful, natural, plant foods, so the nutrient density of natural whole foods may be even higher than ANDI scores indicate.

So, when you consider some the ingredients in my usual smoothies and their ANDI scores: Kale (1000), Spinach (707), Carrots (458), Strawberries (182), Blueberries (132), Peaches (64), Apple (53), Almonds (28), Avocado (28) Рyou see that they are pretty nutrient dense. Obviously as you get to things like Almonds and Avocado, they are calorie dense as well, so their score is lower, but still have lots of redeeming qualities. Lots to consider here.

Interesting journey I’m on – can’t wait to see what’s next! I’ll try to keep this updated!

Led to Fasting

This post and the ones that follow it will be a bit of a departure from what I’ve posted previously, but I not only feel led to this fast¬†but also to share it.

Without going into the whole story, let me briefly explain the last roughly year and a half. I’ve always had issues with various allergies, digestive issues, and food sensitivities that have changed somewhat over time, but in the summer of 2014, I began¬†to have bouts of extreme thirst and headaches. I sought medical advice from multiple sources, was referred to specialists, and chased down several possibilities with a few wild goose chases over the better part of a year.

I made a connection to sodium thanks to a nutritionist friend around the time of the Superbowl in 2015 when I ate several salty meals (sub sandwich with lots of lunchmeat and cheese and taco layer dip with chips) in a string and suffered the worst headache/thirst I’d ever had. I had no idea how many foods were so high in sodium until I had to start reading labels. Since then I have cut out nearly all sodium in my diet (I’ll lightly sprinkle things that really need it with some Real¬†Salt) and eat nearly all¬†whole foods, as processed foods are all much too high in sodium. Eating out is complicated at best and nearly impossible for the most part. (*Edit 3/2016 – it appears that after a period of time eliminating sodium and increasing nutrition, I am able to occasionally break the diet with a meal out, etc. without suffering like I did at first. I just have to be careful how often I “cheat” as it tends to be a slippery downhill slope that ends with pain.)

What I’ve come to realize now, with the clarity of hindsight, is that I was/am suffering from migraines, and sodium is among my triggers. The thirst was part of my particular set of prodrome symptoms. *For a wonderful primer on the physiology and management of migraines, I’d recommend reading “The Migraine Miracle” by Josh Turknett, MD.

During the summer of 2015, I went for allergy testing, as I suspected that food intolerance was a culprit as well. When the test results came back, to say that I was overwhelmed and frustrated would be an understatement. My top 10 most reactive items were the bulk of what I ate. *Honestly, in hindsight, it’s no wonder my body was sick of them – for example, I was a huge fan of bread – wheat, gluten, yeast, and dairy are in my top 10. And a stretch of time cutting them out confirmed that I did in fact, feel better when I eliminated these items. *note – there’s a bit of debate over whether IgG¬†testing is valid/valuable and I came into it knowing this¬†but was¬†mainly looking¬†for a starting point for¬†eliminating food triggers.

However, even with all my diet changes, I still have digestive issues and headaches – sometimes I can look back and see where I fell off the wagon, but other times, it’s not so easy to see the connection. I do have to say,¬†some things just taste so good. You know it’s going to cause you pain, but you eat it anyway. I struggle with¬†self-control when making choices of what to eat. In fact, there was a period of time when I was just done with food in general and started to look into if there was a realistic meal replacement for folks who have allergies, etc. The closest thing I found was Soylent, and it was tempting to just not have to think about nutrition, but something that is synthesized chemically from things just doesn’t feel right to me.

So I started making smoothies as a supplement to meals when I needed something but didn’t have the time/care to make something. I think I’ve discovered some of why they help – the leafy greens are high in magnesium and riboflavin, which are recommended supplements for migraine sufferers. I feel the need to disclaimer here: as you get used to drinking smoothies, what tastes good to you will change *read – your tolerance level for the fruit/greens/veggie ratio. It’s better to have less fruit and more greens/veggies, but can be tough taste-wise. For an entry-level smoothie, I’d recommend this one:¬†Going Green Smoothie¬†– I’m not a fan of bananas, so I used some fresh peaches that were in season at the time instead. Below is my “higher difficulty” creation for today…

Lots of (mostly) organic goodness: apples, wheatgrass, red kale, cranberries, baby spinach, avocado, almonds and chia seeds, blended in the Vitamix with a bit of water and ice cubes. Yum.

Today’s Smoothie: Lots of (mostly) organic goodness: apples, wheatgrass, red kale, dandelion greens, cranberries, baby spinach, avocado, almonds and chia seeds, blended in the Vitamix with some¬†water and ice cubes. Yum.

Anyway, what I’ve concluded, based on various sources which I’ll explain in later posts, is that I need to give my body a chance to detox, rest, heal, to reboot if you will. So my plan, which I started on Saturday (*with the exception of a mulligan¬†or two on¬†Saturday and Sunday), is to eat (*drink) nothing but smoothies until my supply of ingredients runs out, and then fast, drinking only water with a bit of organic lemon juice. The juice¬†keeps your body in an alkaline state – I know it seems counterintuitive, drink acidic liquid to alkalize, but it’s the way your body metabolizes things that make for an acidifying or alkalizing effect. The length of my fast is a bit up in the air as I have no idea how I’ll do, so I’m aiming for 7 days, but will listen to my body and see how I feel.

I plan to journal through my experience and will go into some of the sources that I’ve used to come to my plan in other posts. I am hopeful and looking forward to this experience and pray that it not only heals my body¬†but also draws me closer to God as I devote extra time to prayer and study.