How To Eat After A Juice Fast? Why I'm Trying The 2-3-2 Meal Plan By Jason Vale

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Thursday 20 October 2016

How To Eat After A Juice Fast? Why I'm Trying The 2-3-2 Meal Plan By Jason Vale

Right, after now spending a healthful total of 10 days eating only tasty and nutrition bursting juices and smoothies I have to say I feel awesome. Lighter, yes, but more importantly vibrant, clear headed and full of energy. I wrote before about why we chose to do a juice fast this month, and although Esther is choosing to juice on a while longer, I have now reached my own personal juicy goal so my thoughts naturally have turned to the question....what do I eat now? Or perhaps that should be 'how do I eat now'?

You see, although my pre-juice fast diet and lifestyle was fairly healthy in terms of food choices (plant based, vegan, mostly raw), the whole reason I wanted to get involved in a juice fast to start with was to have a bit of a reset and reassessment. I knew that after a physically and emotionally demanding summer of hiking and exploring my tendency to only finish a meal when I was physically unable to carry on and/or turn to stodgy choices like porridge, rice and bread in excess had been increasingly appearing.  As I wrote about before, this was an old coping mechanism from years ago, and even though the foods I was over eating on had changed from pizza, cake and chocolates the effects were very similar. I just felt lethargic, heavy and my head felt clouded.

That's why I am so over the moon with how I feel right now and why I want to carry on feeling this way. The question is 'how'? I know from experience that if I just clap my hands together and say 'right, bring on the food', then the chances are my old coping mechanisms will eventually take me back to how I was feeling pre-juice fast. It might take a few months or even up to a year but, as always in the past, my portions will probably get slowly bigger, my food choices gradually less healthful and sooner or later I'll be feeling grotty again but find it hard to change.

I don't mean to sound defeatist here. I just want to be realistic. I'm a human, sometimes I get stressed, sometimes I get tired and sometimes that makes me want to turn to comfort food. My comfort food choices may have gotten much 'better' in recent years (porridge instead of pizza, black bean brownies instead of buttery ones) but that doesn't guarantee good health. In reality I've actually found my primarily plant-based, vegan, raw-food diet helps me delude myself for longer than I otherwise might as my habits slide which is a topic I'd like to return to in the future, because you can overeat on pretty much anything with detrimental effects ("What's the big deal, it's just a huge bowl of porridge or two every evening after my main meal").

What I really need then is a framework that I can stick to as a lifestyle long term but accommodates the reality that sometimes I'll want a bit of comfort along the way without 'ruining my plan'. The last thing I want is some sort of restrictive diet plan that rules out the occasional treat forever and ever and ever.

Certainly my experience of that sort of diet mentality (which I have tried) of trying to be perfect all the time while ignoring feelings of deprivation every time I feel like a little something extra (especially around other people), will eventually lead me to a dramatic splurge of indulgence that I find hard to stop. An analogy I like is that an attitude like this based on willpower is like holding a volleyball underwater. You might hold it for days, weeks or even months, but one day your arm gets tired and 'boom', up jumps the ball.

That's why I love the idea of Jason Vale's 2-3-2 plan as a variation on the popular, well known 5-2 Fast diet. You know, the one where you're supposed to restrict yourself to less than 500 or 600 calories for women and men respectively for 2 days a week and then eat 'normally' for the other 5 days. From what I've read it works really well for a lot of people and other research I've read validates that intermittent fasting and/or overall calorie restriction can be very beneficial in aspects of health and increased longevity. The only problem I foresee myself having with a structure like this though is that my own experience tells me I'm more than capable of abusing the 5 days of relative freedom by convincing myself the other 2 days make up for it, especially when my personal choice of comfort foods seem so innocuous in the moment.

What Jason Vale suggests is to keep the 2 days of fasting with freshly extracted vegetable and fruit juices, but then break down the 5 days to include 3 days of excellent nutrition (which for me means raw and plant-based) and 2 days to have food freedom (which for me means foods like vegan chilli, bowls of porridge, vegan black bean brownies, banana-fig 'ice cream' etc.) Not that those 2 days are to go completely mad on, but simply as a release for any built up desires, cravings or tension accumulating the rest of the time and also to fit in with social  and occasions without being 'the difficult one' or the 'odd one out'.

This way, instead of the weeks passing by trying for perfection and feeling increasingly deprived as occasional cravings rise up and get suppressed until I give in, now I know that I can have a little of what I fancy if I still want it later in the week. Plus, my body can easily handle it and stay light, vibrant and energetic thanks tothe 2 days on juice and at least 3 days of excellent nutrition.

It really sounds like a very sensible, healthful and also realistically human plan and that is why I am so excited to try it out now after my 10 day juice fast. Jason Vale has challenged people who have recently completed the BigJuiceChallenge to try the 2-3-2 principle (whatever that means to them) for a month and see how it works for them, i.e. feeling great, staying vibrant, maintaining a healthy weight and not feeling restricted.

I'm definitely giving it a go. Bring on the veggies!

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