Marie Claire - March 1999

Diary of a Fast:
I lived without food for two weeks.

If the New Year festivities have left you feeling weary, bloated and wrung out, why not make a fresh start with a juice fast? Here Olivia Silverwood-Cope tells how two weeks on fluids at a Portuguese retreat rejuvenated her body and soul.

detox fasting biodanca

It sounded like a stay at Moinhos Velhos would transform and revitalize me long-term, rather than a standard holiday, where the buzz is as short-lived as the tan. I wanted to retrain myself into healthy habits and mentally prepare for the next phase of my life - a move to Madrid. I also hoped to solve my cystitis and painful periods, and to give up smoking. Moinhos Velhos is housed in an old mill and run by Norwegian couple Anne Karine Moss and Frank Jensen. Participants in this unique purification programme eat nothing but fruit and vegetable juices, broth and various mineral and vitamin supplements.


Day One

I arrived in the dark last night, so when Frank comes around ringing a little bell at 7 am, I'm excited to see what the farm looks like by day. The air is pure and we are in a lush green valley. Up by the house, people are shuffling about drinking lemon tea. I feel giggly and first-day-at-schoolish. Anne Karine tells me that we don't talk in the mornings, we just give each other a hug to preserve the serenity until after meditation. I cringe, but later I come to appreciate this mellow start to the day.

The meditation temple is glass-walled, with mats and pillows on the floor. I can't concentrate and wish I'd stayed in bed. Afterwards, we drink a liter of orange juice and take Bentonite powder, which soaks up toxins and bacteria, and Psyllium husks which cleanse the intestinal tract.
Just before our juice lunch, I am given a handful 

of pills - minerals, vitamins and herbal supplements - which give me a rush. Apparently this is normal. Anne Karine then explains the Clysmatic - a type of colonic irrigation - to ten horrified guests. Twice a day we are to sit on a specially designed toilet seat with a rubber nozzle attached, via which six liters of water enter the rectum. The water runs into the colon then flushes back out, carrying with it loosened waste from the large intestine.
At 1 PM we have our second liter of juice drink. I am unbelievably tired and sleep until 4 PM, when we are given another liter. Before each juice, we have to chant Om. This bothers me far more than the colonic and I try being late, but they wait for me. Later that afternoon, I have to leave the group because of the period pain that cripples me every month. Frank follows me out and finds me crying. He offers to treat me, although I am doubtful that anything could help. Frank uses kinesiology - a technique that measures the body's electrical currents - to establish what will help me. He also taps along the meridians in my legs and uses a crystal to draw out the pain, which vanishes completely. I am in awe.

Supper is soup - water in which vegetables have been cooked. The vegetables have been removed and miso (soya bean paste) added. During meditation, after supper, we are mentally guided into a crystal cave which I can imagine vividly. I fall asleep straight afterwards with a bad headache, which means the detox is kicking in.

Day two
biodance and detoxIgnoring Frank's wake-up bell, I stay in bed for another hour or so. My head feels cloudy and heavy. I have to get up eventually because I am on juice duty. I feel strangely proud as everyone shares the juice we have squeezed. We all Om heartily.

I am horrified by the results of the colonic. The thick layer of putrefying toxic matter that has been building up on the inside walls of my colon for the last 26 years is starting to come away. The thought of food repulses me and I am bloated with juice. I am negative, tetchy, and full of anger. After our soup supper, I feel normal again and sleep soundly.

Day three
I'm awake at 07.45 am, in time for yoga. Energy is returning, and after the juice I swim 30 lengths in the salt-water pool. I also have a shiatsu session with Kirstie, the resident specialist. She works on the gall bladder and kidney meridian, where she says fear has blocked my energy flow, contributing to the fat on my thighs and probably to my cystitis. During the Clysmatic, incredibly foul gunk is coming out and it's such a relief to know it's gone. I've lost four kilos already and feel better about my body. I feel that I've never done anything so good for myself as coming here.

Day four and five
fasting on the beachI've gone from feeling lifeless, stiff and heavy to a state of clarity and cleanness that I've never felt before, but my cystitis has flared up. Everyone is buzzing and feeling high. Some personalities are clashing as no one seems to be able to avoid being honest and blunt. It's a diverse assembly, including a Norwegian scientist, an Italian cook, a Knightsbridge banker, an ex-breast cancer sufferer and a 65-year old grandmother with a passion for rain forests.
fasting on the beach

Day six
On the way to the nearby beach, I find myself on an intense high - I'm excited at ease with everyone and feeling brilliant. I think about food all day, but I don't actually want to eat any. We are told that foods that have been cooked, frozen, canned or processed are devitalized and will kill off our energy and speed up the ageing process. Eating raw food is like eating fully charged battery cells.

Days seven and eight
We go to Lagos, the local town. I am conscious of everyone's breath smelling foul (a by-product of the fast) and I want to go home and get on with my life, but I'm only halfway through. I am lethargic but clear-headed, and feel confident about my body.

Day nine
I have a wonderful treatment in which Frank draws out the heavy metals from my system! With a crystal. The metals accumulated through everyday sources such as saucepans, batteries and paint. I sense a drawing out from around my heart and I can actually feel when the process is complete.

Day ten
The meditation sessions are flying by, there are fewer thoughts and less chatter in my mind. All the confusion and stress of the past seems to be gone and I have this incredible sensation of being in the present. My mind is clear and at peace and I want to get on and address my life with this new clarity and strength. I go walking and stop to get a stone out of my shoe. Balancing on one leg, I am unwavering and realize I am in total balance. I am not slinky, but I accept my body.

Day eleven
It's as though my body knows that it's coming to the end of the fast, it's not expelling any more frightening substances and is craving food. At supper, I steal some bits of vegetable out of the soup part and feel full after two slices of carrot. People are relaxed with each other and relating with ease. Frank says this is the effect of the flower essences we have been using, which work on an emotional level.

Day twelve
Today, I am ravenous. I feel fit, rested and ready to go home. I sense a strange atmosphere, as though we're all ready to end the fast and move on. When I sit outside and look at the same trees I looked at when I arrived, I feel my spirit glowing.

Day thirteen
Last night I dreamed I was eating a polenta sandwich with mascarpone, avocado, smoked salmon and rocket. It's a fantasy that recurs throughout the day. I've had enough of this group thing and all the funny tensions that occur when a roomful of diverse people come together. We go to the beach again and a comrade and I sneakily lunch on grilled sea bass with salad, and toast our imminent freedom. We are both weary of the forbidden, besides, I am craving protein. This, apparently is a sign that I am clean. I am transformed from the plant that arrived, starved of water and light. Now I've been nourished and watered, and I feel as though little green shoots are appearing.

Day fourteen
Going home today and I feel rejuvenated, clear-minded, energetic, positive and calm. We are given guidelines on how to continue breaking the fast properly and to eat healthily from now on. However, I buy a Galaxy Caramel bar when I get to the airport. I feel poisoned and within four hours my skin (which was clear and flowing for the first time in fourteen years) has a ripple of tiny pimples and large spots forming at my temples. It's an amazingly fast reaction, but that's how quickly a clean system digests food.
One month later...

Doing the fast marked a watershed in my life. I gave up working in an environment that stressed and depressed me, stopped smoking and have now moved to Madrid to live with my boyfriend and concentrate on my photography. I am now far more aware of what I eat. I feel full and satisfied after eating less, and I don't need to eat between meals. I feel more confident, peaceful and optimistic, and am efficient and motivated. However, I am prone to guilt if I lapse into my old eating and drinking habits. The cystitis has not returned and I have had pain-free periods. I wouldn't say that the fast has transformed my life, but it has taught me how to feel good if I want to.

My mind is clear and at peace... I want to get on and address my life with this new clarity and strength.

We also offer our Detox & Fasting Retreats in India

April - November, December
For booking and reservation for India go to:

Detox Fasting Retreats India


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