For the last few weekends, while the large proportion of the population has been indulging in holiday treats,  I’ve been fasting on watermelons! On reflection I realized that this has kind of become my own holiday tradition by default.

My husband and I don’t celebrate calender events, being very much non-traditionalists when it comes to this. So since there are no customary dinners or other social eating occasions, and no emphasis being given to these celebrations, we are free to be spontaneous at this time of year.

Watermelon fasting is a gentle way to detox and a method of cleansing the body that I have very much come to appreciate. I first undertook a watermelon cleanse about ten years ago. But since living in the tropics watermelon fasts have become  a fairly regular occurrence for me because of the availability and low cost of watermelon, as well as the warm weather, which is really conducive to eating fruit. And watermelon, being the most cooling of fruits, is simply perfect in a tropical climate, such as here in Costa Rica.

If you are new to eating raw or detox diets, a one day watermelon fast is a wonderful introduction to the healing and cleansing power of raw food. If you like you can extend it up to three days but it is generally not recommended to go any longer than this, unless under supervision.

Personally I find a weekend cleanse to be perfect! Firstly, the weekend is a great time to cleanse because for most of us there are no work obligations, so it is possible to rest and recuperate. I also like to take the weekend watermelon fast as an opportunity to have a break from preparing meals, which can sometimes take quite a lot of energy, as I am sure many of you will understand.

There are several ways to do a watermelon fast.

1) Eat watermelon

This is my absolute favorite way to do a cleanse on watermelon. Simply slice or cube your watermelon and consume it whenever you are hungry. Watermelon is so easy to eat and simply refreshing!

For me personally I find that one fairly large watermelon is enough for one day of watermelon fasting. I’m not sure exactly what size our watermelons are but I estimate they are usually around ten pounds.

I eat about a quarter of a watermelon for a meal and have about three or four meals of watermelon each day, depending on my appetite. Since watermelon is so low in calories and about 92 percent water, you can eat as much as you like, as long as you are not feeling over-full. My husband is about twice my size so he has twice as much watermelon as I do, so adjust your intake according to your needs.

I prefer not to place the watermelon in the fridge because it is much easier on the stomach when at room temperature. So I prepare the amount I will use at each meal and plan to consume the whole melon before the end of the day. If there is any leftover I will refrigerate it and use it for smoothies during the week.

2) Watermelon juice

You can also put your watermelon through a juicer to create a refreshing juice. One advantage of this method is that you can include the rind, so long as you can find a source of organic watermelon.

Watermelon rind contains a higher concentration of minerals and helps to balance the sweetness from the watermelon flesh. The rind also has more of the amino acid citrulline, which scientists believe is the main ingredient responsible for watermelon’s Viagra-like effects.

3) Watermelon smoothies

You can also blend chopped watermelon to create a blended juice. Because watermelon is so high in liquid there is no need to strain your juice. Simply fill up your blender with watermelon, blend until smooth and enjoy!

In this method you can also include the seeds, which have an added bonus of helping to cleanse the colon, due to their high fiber content. Watermelon seeds are also a very rich source of zinc.

4) Gourmet watermelon cleanse

If you find the idea of simply eating watermelon and drinking the juice a bit too boring, you can experiment with different watermelon recipes. This may reduce the intensity of the cleanse slightly due to the addition of extra ingredients, but you will still get good results.

Why not try blending watermelon with fresh mint and a squeeze of lime to make a watermelon mojito? Or start with a base of watermelon, adding a mixture of diced tropical fruits and/or vegetables, such as mango, cucumber, tomato, cilantro and chili to make watermelon gazpacho.

You might even consider a watermelon salad with other ingredients such as arugula and avocado. But for the best cleansing results you will want to stick with just fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs.

Health Benefits of Watermelon

One of the primary health benefits of watermelon is that it improves the function of the kidneys and it has a history of use for the treatment of kidney stones and urinary tract infections. This is not only due to its very high percentage of water but also because watermelon is a mild diuretic (promotes urine flow). Another good reason to do a watermelon fast on the weekend is because you will need very frequent trips to the bathroom!

Another advantage of eating watermelon or doing a watermelon fast that will be of particular interest to male readers is that it contains citrulline, which stimulates nitric oxide, relaxing and expanding blood vessels in a similar way to the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.  It may also have a libido-enhancing effect. In addition, citrulline improves cardiovascular function, helping to maintain blood flow within the heart.

Watermelon also has the highest concentration of lycopene – an important antioxidant – than any other fruit or vegetable, including tomatoes. Two cups of watermelon contains 18mg of lycopene, whereas a medium tomato contains only 4mg. A high intake of lycopene is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, as well as protection from breast and prostate cancer.

Is Watermelon Fasting For You?

Most healthy adults can safely undertake a one or two day watermelon fast, however there are a few situations where watermelon fasting is not advisable.

Check with your primary health care provider before undertaking a cleanse on watermelon if you have a history of kidney disease, liver disease and cardiovascular conditions. It is also not recommended to do a watermelon fast if you are diabetic, hypoglycemic or have glaucoma, optic nerve disorders, detached retina, or other serious eye problems.

Detox symptoms such as headaches and fatigue are common when undertaking a watermelon fast, especially for those who are new to cleansing and detox diets. Discontinue the fast at any time if these symptoms become too uncomfortable.

A watermelon fast can be a great way to get started with a healthy eating plan because it resets your appetite, eliminating cravings for unhealthy foods. But it is also possible to have too much of a good thing.

I like to do watermelon fasts occasionally, maybe once a month, or sometimes for several weeks in a row, but it is important to be aware that too much watermelon, in those who are sensitive, might place an excessive strain on the kidneys and digestive system.

You don’t need to do a watermelon fast every weekend but they can be very beneficial to increase your motivation at the beginning of a new healthy eating plan, or to promote a feeling of lightness and support detoxification after a period of indulgence.

If you are looking for a way to get back on track after the holidays a watermelon fast may be the ideal way to go. Just remember to introduce other foods gradually, starting with other fruits and then smoothies and simple salads, keeping in mind that your goal is to create a diet that you can happily follow as a lifestyle approach to healthy eating.

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