Of all the hard habits to break, making healthy changes to your diet ranks amongst the hardest to maintain. It feels like finding a crack in a home’s foundation; although it’s critical, fixing it seems daunting, expensive, and like a whole lot of work that you don’t want to do. If your home’s structural integrity was in question, wouldn’t you take action to repair it? So why, when the cellular health of your body is ailing, do you often proceed to eat what you want without changing diet? It’s complicated because it involves a lifestyle change, mindset, and relationship with food.
Food is so much more than fuel for many of us – there are cultural, emotional, and pleasurable aspects attached to it. Because of how our brain is wired, a substantial connection between food and our feelings exists. Our brains produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and anandamide (provokes bliss) when we eat fatty and high carbohydrate foods, which boost our mood and excite our pleasure and reward centers. The problem worsens because today’s cheap and tasty packaged foods are designed to make us crave and overconsume them. We’re eating more calories with less nutrition. According to health.gov, in the US, “about three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils.”
Maintaining healthy body weight has been a struggle for both my husband and me for much of our lives. My body began changing in the 5th grade, and so did some kids’ treatment towards me. A group of schoolboys started teasing me for being fat. Back then, the advice for bullying was “ignore them,” but that didn’t stop their taunts. And they weren’t the only ones–a lot of focus is put on a girl/woman’s weight in particular; and for whatever reason, a fair share of people have felt at liberty to comment on mine throughout my life, whether it was up or down. Both of my parents were overweight, and my Mom was a fantastic cook who loved us through food well. I was schooled in the ways of emotional eating, so I didn’t see a healthy relationship with diet and exercise modeled in my home. It’s taken time, therapy, research, and a lot of effort to learn the right approaches to diet and exercise. But knowing it and doing it are two different things.
Getting Educated About Juicing
My husband, Mike, began to dig into the research on juicing towards the end of 2019. He knew the general benefits of juicing from “The Godfather of Fitness,” Jack Lalanne, who piqued his interest in the ’80s with his juicing infomercials. After turning fifty and feeling his body chemistry change, the time seemed right for Mike to take the next steps. With our bodies reacting to things differently and getting older is the only option, it made sense to try and live a cleaner life.
Mike does very technical work, so he loves researching. He did a deep dive weeks before sharing anything with me to become well-informed on juicing. While researching on YouTube, he discovered John Kohler of Growing Your Greens and Discount Juicers. John has had a YouTube channel for over a decade, with thousands of videos and subscribers (over 700K), and is a knowledgeable but non-pretentious organic gardener who turned to juicing for health reasons in 1995. In his twenties, Kohler became gravely ill with spinal meningitis.
“The doctors told me… ‘You might not make it out of the hospital alive. We have no treatment for you.’ I really wanted to find out why this happened, so it would not occur to me again. Luckily this happened to me at a young age… so I could make the positive changes.” After this, John radically changed his diet to a raw diet, which also radically improved his health.
Another juice-it-all that we consulted was Joe Cross, or Joe the Juicer of rebootwithjoe.com. If you haven’t heard of him, perhaps you have heard of his award-winning documentary, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead? It showed the journey of a man 300+ lbs.—from suffering with a debilitating autoimmune disease to restored health through a 60-day juice fast or reboot. His documentaries are quite compelling because it shows the impact of juicing.
The more Mike learned, the more he was on board, and the more he shared his knowledge and desire with me. I watched a few of his videos, listened, and began to absorb it. But I’ll admit that I first thought it was another “puppy wish,” with enthusiastic promises to start juicing like a kid promising to care for a puppy. But who is left walking the puppy–or in my case pushing carrots through it–at 10:00 PM at night?! As we continued to discuss it, though, the benefits became clearer, and I jumped on board.
Our bodies can absorb a lot of micronutrients from fruits and vegetables in juice form. And while some argue about fiber, there are actually two kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water, and it adds water to your stool. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and has numerous health benefits, including for the digestive system and blood sugar control. Insoluble fiber is mostly removed-but still present in smaller amounts-while soluble fiber remains through juicing.
“When you remove the insoluble fiber and are left with the fluid part of the fruits and vegetables, it allows easier assimilation and absorption of the vitamins, minerals and other important phytonutrients across the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber slows down the absorption of many micronutrients, so basically juicing is fast tracking our nutrients.”From rebootwithjoe.com
Determined to make this part of our lifestyle together, we decided to invest in this cold-pressed juicer from John. Lower speeds, like in our juicer, mean less oxidation and healthier enzymes and longer lasting juices.
The Importance of Changing a Habit with Support
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”Jim Rohn, Motivational Speaker
The people we are around the most influence us – our behavior, attitudes, habits, and activity. According to Harvard social psychologist Dr. David McClelland, those people you associate with the most “determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.” WOW.
It follows that if only one person in the household decides to get healthy, it will be challenging to succeed alone. Especially when it comes to food since it is most often prepared by one person and consumed together.
A few years back, during Lent, I decided to eat healthily, but Mike did something else. I’m the cook in our household, so meal prep was a challenge. Then, we were traveling one Friday and stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner. I ordered a salad, which was nothing fancy, and Mike got a fish platter. It came with French Fries, those incredibly flaky biscuits, sides, and the entrée. Sitting across from me, he felt bad. It took all my self-control to not shove something from his plate into my belly as the fries and flaky goodness taunted me while I munched on lackluster iceberg greens.
Researchers of the Framingham Heart Study found some impressive results in an ongoing study analyzing eating patterns and the role that spouses, friends, brothers, and sisters played over ten years. “The hypothesis is that your eating behavior is going to be affected by those around you,” said Paul F. Jacques, D.Sc.
It turns out that we don’t just share our lives; we share our eating habits. Patterns concerning “alcohol and snacks” are the most influential. Across all social relationship types, including friends, this is the most likely shared eating pattern. “Conversely, the light eating pattern — which consisted of lower average food consumption throughout the week, even of healthier foods like vegetables, fruits, and grains — was the least likely to be shared across the various social relationships.” (HuffPost).
Juicing together has helped us with changing diet, supporting one another in reducing unhealthy choices and behaviors. Our juicer arrived on February 10th, and while I was interviewing Mike for this post almost five months later, we were prepping to juice. We’ve gone in some phases, starting with juice for breakfast; then doing a 10-day reboot lite (only juice, fruit + veg) to start Lent; and sometimes missing a week or two since. But we’ve continued to come back to it, and having 16-oz of juice for breakfast—when we can absorb the nutrients the most on an empty stomach—is how we often begin our days during the workweek.
Making a specific goal has helped us. Instead of “we need to eat better,” we began juicing. Then we broke that target down further by setting out to drink our healthy breakfasts Mondays through Fridays. According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, “Studies have also shown that goals are easier to reach if they’re specific (“I’ll walk 20 minutes a day,” rather than “I’ll get more exercise”) and not too numerous (having too many goals limits the amount of attention and willpower you can devote to reaching any single goal).”
A Few of the Benefits of Juicing
Our bodies can tell the difference when we began the day with juice versus not. A few of the benefits that we’ve felt are
- More hydrated
- More regular with bowel movements
- Increased mental clarity
- Decreased body aches, muscle tightness
- Reduced toxins and inflammation
We use a wide range of produce, a lot of which are supposed to help reduce inflammation. A few of our favorites are blueberries, turmeric, kale, ginger, garlic, kumato tomatoes, purple carrots, celery, bell peppers, and jicama.
Despite the concerns cited in some online sources about possible digestive issues from the removal of some of the fiber, we’ve never had a problem. In fact, we’ve found that our “output” is better while juicing, even better than when we started to do Whole30, or when eating Paleo.
The other “negative” that critics often bring up about juicing is that it can produce high sugar juices that increase your blood sugar. I’ve had Migraine headaches for decades and am highly sensitive to sugar—I can’t even drink orange juice or eat raw bananas in the morning. Because we are selective in terms of what produce we juice, I’ve hardly had a blood sugar spike when I drink my juice. Mike tries to implement the 70/30 rule, which is 70% vegetables and 30% fruit. And we drink hot, lemon, ginger water with local raw honey first, then our juice, and don’t usually eat lunch for a couple of hours (or a minimum of 30-minutes).
Whether juicing will help us prevent the health issues that run in our families, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and kidney disease, remains to be seen. It’s worth it to us to make the change now and wait and see.
Feeling better is not only a benefit, but it’s also a big part of the “why” we continue juicing. Doing it together, changing diet with support, and working towards fixing the foundations of our health—not just for today, but hopefully for years to come, has been a big step for us. But we took a lot of little steps to get here, and that’s what the experts say helps.
Have questions about juicing? Hit me up in the comment box. If you want to know more specifics, like our tools, routines, must-haves, or some of our favorite juices or recipes, leave a message, and I can do a follow-up post. Cheers to your health!