Fasting is defined as the removal or abstinence, either completely or partially, of a substance or many substances for some period of time. This definition is vague enough to leave it all up to the imagination but let’s take a closer look into history.
You will find rituals of fasting sprinkled throughout religious and cultural practices dating back to ancient Greece and perhaps even earlier than that. Fasting can be seen as a right of passage, a physical and spiritual renewal, preparation for war, or even in a political protest.
In medicine, there are themes of fasting as well and like anything regarding food, there’s a balance. When taken to the extreme like Linda Burfield Hazzard, she was accused of killing 40 of her patients through very strict fasting and even died herself from a strict 40 day fast. There were also the Victorian “fasting girls” who claimed to survive indefinitely without food. One of these girls was allowed to starve to death under hospital supervision, just to prove a point.
The lighter and more constructive side of medical fasting came with the “Natural Hygiene Movement” by Dr. Herbert Shelton who practiced in San Antonio, Texas using water fasts. In the UK, Dr. Henry Lindliar came up with “Nature Cure” which incorporated fasting and taught the importance of exercise, sunshine, fresh air, and positive thinking.”
All over Europe today and even in some medical facilities today, you will see varying degrees of fasting from Juice fasts to water fasts under medical supervision.
Why fast? It’s a great way to let your body rest from the digestion processes. It’s also an opportunity to take a break form pro-inflammatory foods. I like to think of it as pressing the “reset” button after the holidays.
Top Tips in Fasting:
Decide which fast is right for you, your body, and lifestyle. Not everyone’s body and lifestyle is the same. Some people will not do well on a 100% juice or water fast while others do great. Maybe you do a modified fast, like those do during Lent, where you abstain from certain foods for a period of time. Make sure that the fast you choose is safe for your body and health. Example: A diabetic may need to watch their blood sugar as to prevent dropping too low for safety.
Pick the right time. If you are doing a Juice or Water fast, it is incredibly important to REST.. This is not the time to be training for a marathon. Also, if you are a nurse or have an occupation that demands long strenuous hours, I would suggest doing a 2 day fast over the weekends only.
What is your goal? Weight loss, detox, spring or fall cleanse, or for religious purposes Whatever your goal, fasting is a healthy practice to sprinkle in throughout the year.
Ideas on fasting:
For a safe and easy way to introduce yourself to fasting is the 5:2 diet where you basically eat normal for 5 days and then restrict calories 2 days a week. Check out this website for more details: https://thefastdiet.co.uk
1-3 day Juice Fast. Juice Cleanse offers quick and easy programs that you can check out.
Modified Fast: Orthodox Jews and Catholics will go through various fasts throughout the year. Perhaps you already do this or would like to do something similar but modified to your own needs.
Remember- the food you eat provides building blocks and fuel for your body to function. Fasting is NOT long term but can certainly help your body to rest and eliminate inflammatory toxins out of the system.
Breaking your fast is equally as important as putting yourself on a fast to begin with. In short, start slow with foods that are easy to digest. You just cleansed so this might be an opportunity to watch how food makes you feel because you may learn and thing or two about your eating habits and overall inflammation.