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Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Shape-Up: Day Five

As Healthy Eating Specialist for Whole Foods Market, in North Wales, PA, I am hosting a Seven-Day Summer Shape-Up, a gentle and easy-to-follow "cleansing" program. Today is the fifth day of the program.

Day 5: Friday, June 27: Eat only fresh, raw fruits and vegetables and/or lightly steamed vegetables or baked sweet potatoes or potatoes. Drink only clean, purified water and/or gently cleansing tea. (Limit fruit to 2-3 servings per day).

Today we continue the challenge of eating only fruits and vegetables for one more day. As we look ahead to a more expansive diet, we'd all do well to heed Paul Pritchford's wisdom from Healing With Whole Foods:

"When breaking...all fasts, the most important rule is to not overeat. The success of a fast depends on how well it is broken, for the desire to binge can be overwhelming. If one immediately puts all the excesses back in that came out during the fast, any benefit is doubtful."

This is the reason we've developed a seven-day fast that includes two days of gentle eating at the beginning and end of the fast. I know from my own experience that breaking a fast in the wrong way can not only negate the benefits, but also cause serious problems.

I broke my first fast, a five day raw fruit and vegetable fast, with a mixing bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and cold whole milk. I'm not joking. I ate the cereal with a wooden mixing spoon in a state of manic glee. My wife (girlfriend at the time), Karen, stood above me, begging me to stop:

"You're ruining everything."

I felt sick for days after: sick in my gut and head, so angry at myself for my idiotic indiscretion.

To honor (and subvert) my former idiocy, I now eat my salads out of mixing bowls.

My friend Steve Pyle offers a more reasonable, yet no less insatiable, portrait of breaking a fast with a pomegranate in his essay, "On Cleansing and Fasting":

"I must have looked like a monster.

I was sitting in the front seat of my car, parked at a fire hydrant alongside a busy Bronx sidewalk. I had a crazed look in the eye, my face seemingly smeared with blood, dripping from the chin. Teeth gnashing, I rolled down the window to spit out a mouthful of carnage, trailing a line of saliva from my bottom lip to the curb. People on the sidewalk took a wide berth of my car—afraid to look too closely, afraid they might see the scattered, half-eaten limbs of children strewn across the back seat.

Afraid I might eat them too.

I was only eating a pomegranate, barehanded, with no napkin or utensils. I forgot to get them from the guy at the fruit stand.

It was the fifth day of a week-long cleansing fast. I was sucking out the juice, spitting whole mouthfuls of seeds into the street. At the time, I was too delirious with hunger, too high from fasting to care what I looked like. I was only concentrating on the taste of the juice in my mouth: a supernova of sweet, a cataclysmic explosion on my starved palate.

I had never tasted a pomegranate like this before."


***

Fasting sharpens your senses, especially your sense of taste. In my own essay about type-1 diabetes, I detailed my first taste of honey after an extreme fast:

"I tasted pure honey for the first time one summer at the age of twenty at Miller's food store in Lancaster. By "pure" I mean that I ate the honey without any accompaniment whatsoever. It was merely a drop, an accident really: I had spilled the tiniest amount while opening the jar and, without thinking, I licked it up. At the time, I had not eaten for three days—I was in the midst of a three-day water and lemon fast—and this isolated taste of honey was the most unexpected and pleasurable food experience I could have imagined."

If you've followed the outline of this Summer Shape-Up, you might be experiencing this pleasure now; or perhaps you will experience it tomorrow, when you eat your first non-fruit or vegetable food.

Just remember: Take it slow. Be gentle. Chew your food thoroughly.Try not to eat too much food at once. And stick to tomorrow's outline:

Day 6: Saturday, June 28: Avoid all wheat, dairy, processed sugar, and grains. Drink plenty of clean, purified water.

If you have any questions about tomorrow, please email me: sethpollins@gmail.com.

And if you get a chance, please come see me at the Ambler Farmers' Market. I'll be there all day teaching kids' cooking classes.

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