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Diary of a Jiva Healing juice fast in France

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In Short:

Caroline Sylger Jones after her juice fast with Jiva Healing

Caroline Sylger Jones after her juice fast with Jiva Healing.

‘I’m rather weak and cold but my brain feels really awake’

Caroline Sylger Jones shares her diary of a week-long juice fast in France with Jiva Healing

Day one – arrival 

‘I am a little nervous at the thought of spending the next six days living off juice. I’ve just been reading Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries and I feel very into my food. An easy cab ride from Bergerac airport takes me to my home for the next week, a large, white, single-storey stone house with pale green wooden shutters, gorgeous flowers along its walls, giant lilac plants and sweet-smelling herbs. My heart lifts. Inside the Jiva Healing team have set up a home-made shop of South-East Asian goodies. Nothing like a spot of retail therapy to calm the nerves, I think, and mooch about for far too long trying things on. After finally settling on a fetching swirly kaftan, I lie by the pool with a novel and fantasise about living in France. Other people start arriving, looking tired like me. Jiva Healing founder Melissa Kendall takes a photo of each of us – the ‘before’ shot we’ll all get to laugh at in a week’s time. I refuse to share it with you – sorry. Early evening we sit down to our ‘Last Supper’, a couple of tasty salads and some quinoa. We talk a lot about food, a bit about ourselves, and go splendidly early to bed.

Day two – first without food 

Jiva Healing’s lovely and annoyingly healthy-looking nutritionist, Rebecca Andrist, gives us an easy-to-understand talk on the benefits of fasting, and I can feel my body vibrating with toxins. I’ve developed a grey, drawn, worried look over the past few months, and a squelchy feeling around my stomach. We all write down what time we’ll be taking our daily doses of lemon and hot water, psyllium husk, juices, herbal supplements, Spirulina and mineral broth. I find myself thinking of Marmite on buttered toast. Come 9 30 a.m. we’re in the conservatory doing our first daily yoga class with the friendly Heloise Buckland. After a series of effective hip openers I’m flat on my back in Sivasana, feeling strangely tired. Heloise plays ‘Summertime’ to us on her ipod – an uplifting touch. I do a 30 minute circular walk from the house through peaceful countryside, then indulge in a bath of Epsom salts to help the detox process. Supper is hot vegetable broth spruced-up with cayenne pepper, which ends up giving me hiccups throughout most of our first nutrition class. Rebecca is a mine of information– amongst other things we talk about tap water (a big no-no), and someone pipes up that Joan Collins doesn’t drink it because it’s full of recycled urine and hormones. I feel faintly nauseous, and determine to buy Rebecca’s recommended water ioniser once home.

See how healthy they look? Massage therapist Susie Hampshire (left) & nutritionist Rebecca Andrist at the Jiva Healing fast that the Queen of Retreats editor attended in France

See how healthy they look? Massage therapist Susie Hampshire (left) & nutritionist Rebecca Andrist at the Jiva Healing fast that the Queen of Retreats editor attended in France

Day three – enter the enema 

Last night I did my first enema, with camomile, and this morning my second, this time with coffee. I’ve done enemas before, but they always make me nervous. Rebecca has explained very clearly how it’s done, and I breathe deeply through all the contractions, trying to hold the water inside my belly for as long as I can. I feel myself getting impatient, and am glad when it’s over. It’s rainy outside and we’re hoping it stops, because it’s only been a day without food and we’re already a bit whiny. We are diverted by two more nutrition classes, although Rebecca drops a few tantalising recipes into her lucid talks, making it impossible not to fantasise about food. The psyllium husk we’re taking deliberately dampens our appetite, but I can still taste and smell the sweet potato and pumpkin mash with ginger and lime juice she describes, and my tummy rumbles. I try my first dose of powdered spirulina and nearly gag – it’s our main source of protein for the week, and tastes of sour plant stem. From now on I’ll be sticking to the pills, thoughtfully provided by the Jiva Healing team for weaklings like me.

Day four – feeling flat & faint

Got up three times in the night to pee. Feel tired, and a little faint. The sun has come out though, and most of us lounge by the pool swapping life stories. As we’re trying to get through the required four litres a day, we sip constantly from our recycled Perrier bottles. People start talking about what they’re finding from their enemas – I bury my nose in my book. Melissa teaches the yoga – very restorative. I realise I’m feeling rather dizzy again, and later in afternoon, I cry for no reason. I spend the rest of the day generally lazing about, wavering between feelings of serenity and frustration. Rebecca has been talking a lot about avocados – never has my desire for one been so intense. That evening we have a class on how to live more sustainably, finding out which chemicals to avoid in household and beauty products, and how to reduce our environmental impacts – I never knew Farrow & Ball paints were toxin-free. I’m depressed to find out that 20% of the world’s population consume 80% of the world’s resources. I feel like I’ve read this before, but it’s never sunk in.

Jiva Healing juices

Jiva Healing juices

Day five – massage & Masaru Emoto

A day free from nutrition classes, though sadly not the enemas. I bunk off yoga and go for a bike ride with Rebecca through gorgeous countryside, surprised at how much energy I seem to have. Others go horse riding at the stables next door, and a few take a trip into Bergerac. When I hear they are going to try a Citron Pressé without the sugar I’m tempted, but I feel too weak to attempt proper human contact, and stay behind for an excellent deep tissue massage with therapist Susie Hampshire instead. Susie tells me my body type doesn’t suit high-impact exercise like jogging – sweet music to my ears. In the evening we have the intriguing Happiness class, in which Melissa draws on theories of Buddhism, positive psychology and the water experiments of Japanese researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto to explore how to get happy. It feels somehow wrong taking notes, but it’s too fascinating not to. Happiness is 90% attitude, we learn, and if you’re miserable, you’re more likely to be sick even if you eat healthily. I try to see how this could justify my continuing to drink wine at the rate I usually do, but sadly it doesn’t. In the evening I text The King. I discover he’s been surfing with mutual friends and is now having supper with them. I want to join them. Especially the ‘having supper’ bit.

Day six – kitchen class & another kaftan

I get out of bed too quickly and feel faint again. I’m bored with enemas, bored with yoga, and tearful again. I buy another kaftan. Our morning ‘In The Kitchen’ class is fascinating, if slightly cruel, showing us how to make lots of easy, tasty healthy meals once we get home. We learn how to soak beans and make them taste of something you want to eat, how to make healthy alternatives to pasta by doing clever things with courgettes, and how to make ice-cream from frozen bananas. It’s massively inspiring. Later I have my one-to-one nutrition session with Rebecca, where I am treated to more of her tips – a more alkaline diet should help my stiff neck and shoulders, and I should try Tulsi tea, made from Indian basil and good for stress. I have a hot bath again, and drool over a raw food book taken from one of the many lying about the house. I never thought grated raw swede would sound so appetising. I retire to bed after a cosy chat with a fellow faster. She is thinking about Chelsea Buns. I’m still caught up with avocados.

Chilling out and pretending not to be hungry

Chilling out and pretending not to be hungry in France

Day seven – on the up

One day to go. Rather weak and cold but my brain feels really awake, and the enemas are much easier. Another great massage from Susie, and then some of us watch a DVD to pass the time. It leaves me feeling thoughtful, and I take a walk in the large garden, which is divinely flat and quiet. Later we learn how to break the fast, and are disappointed we won’t be able to indulge in a full meal for three days – for every day you fast you need half a day to break it, says Rebecca, as your very clean body will be more susceptible to toxins and too much food. Fasting is a way of clearing out the negative in our minds as well as our bodies, and that afternoon we write down what we want to let go of, and what we want to welcome into our lives. Everyone shares what they’ve written, which makes it feel more real. It seems some people have decided to reshuffle their entire lives in six days, though others cop out and say they’ll just ‘eat more organic’.  Tonight is the Send off Celebration – we feel uplifted, and excited about finally getting to eat tomorrow.

Day eight – I get to eat! 

Send off Celebration last night was moving rather than scarey. I discover the beautiful voice of Snatam Kaur for the first time, for they play her version of ‘Long Time Sun’ from her album Grace (must ask the a capella singers to learn it for my wedding). You can listen to it at number 10 on her site (don’t be put off by the head gear, her music is gorgeous, and just look how clear her skin is!). This morning I have my last enema, then at 11 am we break the fast. As I’ve lost quite a lot of weight during the week, I’ve been advised by the team to choose the grain option, a sort of thin porridge made from brown rice that has been soaked overnight and cooked in water and cinnamon for two hours. Everyone who is having raw carrots looks far more excited than I do as they eat. Packing, I decide to leave out a few things I haven’t used all week and that I don’t even like, including a scarf, a skirt and a couple of self-help books I’ve been carting around for weeks.  Clutching a small bag of carrots, I say goodbye to the others and wait by the pool for my taxi. I check myself – calm, lucid, content – and no squidge! In my “after” photo my skin is clear and pink, no longer grey . I’ve got into healthy eating over the last few years, but this whole experience has inspired me to eat more raw foods, iodise my water, buy more organic and experiment more with my meals. I’d certainly do it again. I have a list of menu ideas for the next few days tucked in my pocket, which we’ve been encouraged to put together. Tomato and basil salad, steamed veggies, spiced soups. I’m even allowed a quarter of an avocado on day three. I shall look forward to that, Rebecca’.

© Queen of Retreats

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