Intersections: Squeezing the most out of a juice fast

Four days ago, I woke up and imagined I was having the most glorious of breakfasts — eggs, beautifully crafted pancakes and waffles, fresh whipped cream, hash browns and all the butter and toast I could eat without getting sick. Except I wasn't.

Instead, I washed and chopped celery, kale, spinach, two Granny Smith apples, half a lemon along with ginger and shoved them all down a juicer that most likely hadn't seen the light of day since 1999.

The noise of the juicer, a vibrating racket that sounded like a raccoon stuck inside a heavy-duty lawn mower, echoed throughout the house and into the neighbor's yard.

I poured the bright green liquid over ice and drank it in a few gulps, still dreaming about my glorious breakfast that never was.

For lunch, I would repeat the process, replacing my ingredients with carrots, beets and peaches, producing a liquid so red, it looked like I was drinking a bottle of "True Blood."

By late afternoon, my eyes were so heavy that if you had knocked me over, I would have stayed wherever I had fallen to catch up on sleep.

On it went like this for three days, where I juiced any vegetables and fruit I could get my hands on — mostly procured from the Montrose Farmers' Market, where the intoxicating smell of pupusas, the Salvadoran delicacy I have become obsessed with, wafting through the air didn't help.

In one of my first attempts, I made the mistake of putting in so much ginger that my mouth was burning for a few hours after I had downed my drink.

On the fourth day, my energy levels shot up and the general feeling of not wanting to do anything but sleep went away. I'm to continue like this for six more days, until I've completed a 10-day juice fast that I hope will recharge my system, reintroduce my taste buds to the flavors I should be eating and appreciating more and — as a bonus — perhaps take off a bit of weight.

So why exactly am I doing this? Because like thousands, and maybe hundreds of thousands of people, I watched (and rewatched) "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead," a documentary that follows Joe Cross, an overweight, out-of-shape Australian entrepreneur who suffers from an autoimmune disorder, and Phil Staples, an all-American truck driver with the same health problems as Cross as they embark on a 60-day juice fast, lose extraordinary amounts of weight and get rid of their dependency on powerful prescription medication.

I know what you're thinking. It sounds like a fad — one that has been around for decades, just another health gimmick.

At one point, cynicism temporarily crept in and I wondered if the filmmakers, in a clever marketing ploy, had made some kind of deal with Breville, the juice maker used in the film for an increase in sales. Looking back at the film, its honesty and genuine characters, I knew that wasn't true.

I'm still dreaming of that indulgent breakfast, but I think anything that gets you to be OK with the taste of beets, shop at your local farmers' market and actually feel better is worth a try — at least for 10 days, anyway.

I'd love to hear from you if you've had any experience — bad or good — with juice fasts, or any overall attempt to change eating habits and shop in the area's local farmers' markets. One of the biggest motivators I've found to getting healthy — in life and in the documentary — was something that went beyond nutrition: support.


LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a Los Angeles-based journalist whose work has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Eurasianet and The Atlantic. She may be reached at

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World