Fasting: Why/How to Go Without Food
Fasting simply means to cease eating and drinking for a certain period of time. It has a huge number of benefits. I’ve added just a few of them to these two categories:
- Fasting allows the mind to experience and overcome hunger without relying on food.
- Will is strengthed through abstinence and remains stronger for weeks after the fast has ended.
- Hunger is disassociated from eating. When hunger is starved, it becomes weaker in the future.
- Meditation and prayer are enhanced.
- Fasting allows the body to perform maintenance on the digestive system.
- Alternative energy resources such as fat cells and liver glycogen are metabolized.
- Exogenous chemicals and toxins are metabolized and eliminated from the body.
- Deeper resting states can be achieved.
In recent years, intermittent fasting and water fasting have gained popularity in diet and exercise routines.
Intermittent fasting refers to scheduled daily or weekly fasting, for a period of anywhere from 8-20 hours (daily) to 24-36 hours (weekly).
Consuming water during a fast (water fasting) greatly reduces the difficulty of a fast and is not recommended for serious fasting. For a moderate fast, consuming water is acceptable, but will only result in about half of the benefits of the full fast.
It is recommended that beginning fasters subsist for a full 24 hours without food or water. For periods longer than 24 hours, water should be consumed. This article does not recommend fasting for periods longer than 48 hours unless you are experienced (fasted for 24 hours at least 10 times)
How to Fast
- Schedule the day off. Make sure that you have no errands to run, no overdue work, and nothing that needs attention and may distract you from your fast. Try cleaning your house, watering your plants, and doing laundry ahead of time.
- Do not tell anyone that you are fasting, unless you are fasting with them, or they ask you. Fasting is a personal, spiritual enterprise, and should be enacted without stroking the ego or needing the support of others.
- Once you are fasting, allow yourself to do whatever you feel like doing. Feel free to read, exercise, meditate, sleep, watch movies, play video games, clean, walk, socialize, or make art.
- Go about your life as you normally would, but understand that you will have less energy than normal. Your body will feel slow like you’re moving through water.
- Understand that you will get very hungry and you will be tempted to eat. Your mind will try to justify having a sip of water or a snack. But there is nothing to worry about. You don’t need to eat.
- Commit to the fast. If you have fully committed to the fast, then hunger becomes easier to cope with. There is no true temptation against a true commitment.
- Use your new clarity of mind to think through difficult or stressful matters that may be bothering you.
- Take the opportunity to get in touch with your body. Give yourself massages and stretch out areas with a lot of tension.
- Try not to resent your position. It is possible to get very grumpy while fasting. This is okay: tomorrow you will feel better than you can ever remember.
How to Come Out of a Fast
- When you have fasted for your full 24 hours, do not feel compelled to drink or eat right away. If you feel comfortable, feel free to fast a little longer. You shouldn’t carry too much anticipation while nearing the finish line, or you will make the final stretch more difficult.
- When you are ready to break your fast, start with a tall glass of water. This will prepare the stomach for food and boot up the rest of the digestive organs.
- About fifteen minutes after your glass of water, consume one piece of fruit and some steamed or raw vegetables. Your body will quickly metabolize these foods, giving you a surge of energy. But be careful: your body is very sensitive now, and eating more than just a little can cause nausea and headaches.
- Once you are gaining energy from the fruit and vegetables, you can start cooking breakfast. Stick to foods high in protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates: eggs fried in butter with beans doused in olive oil is a winning combination.
- Go about your day as you usually would. You are going to feel a lot better than normal, so feel free to use this energy in whatever constructive way you see fit.
I wish you all the best on your fasting journey!