From troubled intestines to a peaceful gut


From troubled intestines to a peaceful gut

The stress of guests and the evils of rich food cause your good habits to go down the drain in two weeks at the end of every year. MADELEINE BARNARD swears by a green juice fast to provide release for her troubled digestive tract.


BY mid-December, the chaos had already begun. Friends of family loudly descend on us for two days, with the grand announcement that they are now vegetarians.

I'm staggering. The meals must be planned from scratch. I swallow an extra glass of wine in the kitchen and eat a piece of chocolate sideways like a stress sandwich.

At dinner I wonder anxiously what I'm going to do with all the knots in my intestines and involuntarily think back to an evening, 20 years ago, when we were in lovely Paris, in an apartment overlooking the Seine. That's where I violated a strict taboo to, as a friend of mine says, “break through the fart border". That's when you break wind in the presence of your unsuspecting loved one for the first time.

We had a guest for the evening. And a lot of snacks. I enjoyed all the food but started to feel unwell. My digestive tract gurgled ominously. I tried to cover the noise with a coughing fit, something all NG church members learned to do on Sundays as children. At 1am I shifted from one buttock to the other as I tried not to fart. Our guest just kept on sitting.

When he said goodbye at 2.30 and returned to his own apartment, I said to my boyfriend, “now you have to forgive me…" And over the still waters of the peaceful Seine a belly fart roared that made Notre Dame's bells sway slightly and caused the gargoyles to make even uglier faces.

My lover was stunned. I baffled myself. But he forgave me: it's many years and farts later, and we're still together.

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Time for a detox

Almost two decades later, at the end of 2023, I am bloated once again while entertaining my cheerful guests and trying desperately not to fart. By Christmas, my gouty big toe is throbbing. By New Year, my crop is permanently sour and my backside is swaying behind me. And I realise that it will soon be time for another detox juice fast.

About two years ago, a friend told me about a documentary on YouTube, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (2010), made by an Australian, Joe Cross. He was severely overweight and had to take a lot of medication for his health problems. He flew to the US in 2010 and followed a green juice fast for 60 days while he travelled around the country.

He got rid of several of his problems and, as a bonus, a hefty portion of his junk food belly. And he inspired several Americans to live more healthily with his juice fasting programme. His lifestyle changed so much that he is still fit and healthy today.

First try

I watched Cross's video at the end of 2022. I was so excited that I immediately ran to Spar and returned with an entire orchard full of fruit and vegetables. The dusty juicer was extracted from the cupboard and I started on January 1.

The first few days were rough. My head hurt, my body ached. I was hungry and longed for a glass of wine and a slab of chocolate. But I soon got used to the juice. It slipped down my throat easily and didn't cause a spectrum of nasty symptoms like knotted bowels and a burning crop.

The green juice I was drinking consisted of spinach or kale (or both), celery, cucumber, lemon, ginger, and apple. You can drink as much of it as you want — the main purpose of the juicing process is to extract the maximum nutritional value from the vegetables and fruits.

If the mixture is a little sour, add more apples. Or if you don't want to cooperate so strictly with the green aspect of the fast, add carrot. Beet. Pineapple. Other fruits. You can also add herbs such as parsley, basil and mint.

I lasted almost three weeks last year and fell off the wagon with my birthday on January 20. But I returned to healthy and balanced eating for a good six months. I was full of energy, got rid of the bloating and my middle-aged waist was smaller.

Green juice with a splash of gin

Then I fell off the wagon again in the winter. In the spring I tried to drink juice for a few days. But in the late afternoon on day three, I started adding gin.

Then things got more and more out of control as Christmas approached. Especially due to the loud vegetarian visitors and all my stress-eating in the kitchen.

And here I am again at the beginning of a year. It's day three of the juice fast. I feel a little hollow inside. But my gouty toe is already throbbing less. My heartburn is gone. And my old pipe no longer gurgles at all. How long I'm going to keep it up doesn't matter. Even a few days provide your digestive tract with a well-deserved rest.

The secret is to keep on with the healthy eating after the fast. Your body will thank you.

A few notes

- It is advisable to consult your doctor first.

- You will mainly lose toxins and water. Weight loss is a welcome bonus.

- No gin with your green juice! And coffee is forbidden.

- You will experience withdrawal symptoms, especially from caffeine, in the form of headaches and body aches. They disappear after a few days.

- Drink plenty of filtered water – it helps to remove the toxins.

- Cheers!


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