Fasting. It’s a scary word for me. Like most people, I find comfort in food and refuge in eating. I don’t like to be hungry. As a matter of fact, I rarely allow myself to feel hunger because I eat like a bird (in other words, constantly). When I think about going without food for a day or two, or, dare I say three, my palms get sweaty and my heart beats a little faster. I feel a little panicky.
Still, I’ve done a few fasts in the past, always for spiritual reasons. It is difficult for me every time, but yet rewarding and even nourishing. I rarely fast longer than a day or two. Once, and only once, my husband and I did a complete fast for five days. It was both one of the most amazing and most excruciating five days of my life. Because it was so challenging, I have never had a desire to repeat that experience!
Recently, however, I’ve become open to the idea of lengthy fasting for health reasons. Fasting stimulates your body’s natural healing abilities and prompts the production of beneficial growth hormones. It draws on your fat reserves, which are a holding tank for toxins and a storage place for any viruses or diseases you have been exposed to over your lifetime. Any prescription drugs or antibiotics you’ve ever taken, or any vaccines you’ve ever been given, also leave a trace in your body.
Fasting cleanses your body of this buildup, stripping down fat cells and releasing toxins. It gives your digestive tract a chance to rest from the daily work of digesting your food so it can focus on healing itself and dealing with the glut of unaddressed issues your body has been ignoring.
It might be helpful to think of your body like an e-mail in-box. Every day, it receives more messages than it can respond to, so every day, the inbox gets more and more backed up. Your body prioritizes by responding to the most important e-mails, but every day, it gets more and more sluggish because it can’t keep up. By stopping the flow of new messages coming in, your body can deal with, and purge, the backlog of SPAM, forwards, and advertisements that clog up and slow down the server.
However, most of us never give our bodies this opportunity for rest. Instead, we treat everything from illnesses to aging by sending more messages into our bodies. We add supplements, exercise, meditation, super foods, lotions and potions in an effort to get our bodies to work (and look) the way we think they should. And while these things may be beneficial, they don’t address the real problem. If you have a back-up in your e-mail, adding more memory to your computer is not going to fix it.
What our bodies need is a break. A rest. A chance to catch up, recoup, and restore. If given the opportunity to do this, our bodies will amaze us with their ability to heal themselves.
But when it comes to fasting, few of us are willing to take the plunge. Self-denial is not something we Westerners value. Giving something up feels a little too much like sacrifice, too much like a hardship. We think it requires more self-control than we have, and we worry that it might hurt.
Even when we know that a temporary denial will bring long-term gain, we resist. We are willing to add things in, but please, let’s not talk about taking them away.
As I began to read and think about fasting, I realized that I was not willing to suffer any kind of real discomfort for the sake of my health. After all, I don’t need to lose weight and I’m not suffering from any dread diseases (that I know of). So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Of course this isn’t true. Periodic resting and cleansing is good for everyone, even those of us who don’t think we “need” it.
With that in mind, I decided to take on a three-day fast. My husband, who is a chaplain in the Army Reserves, will be gone next weekend for duty. This provides the perfect opportunity for me to fast. In fact, he’s gone one weekend a month, so I’m considering making this fast a routine thing. But we’ll see how this one goes first!
I have decided to do a juice fast since I don’t need to lose weight and because I need to keep up my energy for chasing after all these kids! In order to maximize the effectiveness of the fast, I’m preparing my body now. I know I drink more coffee than I should, and I don’t want to suffer withdrawals during the fast, so I’m cutting back now. This is something I should have done a long time ago.
Secondly, I’m eating a raw food diet until the fast, and for a few days afterward. This will help to cleanse my digestive tract and provide my body with lots of nutrients, including necessary enzymes, which my body will need to heal itself during the fast. I will be posting blog updates during the fast so you can see how it goes! Perhaps you will even consider joining me. If you do, please be sure to let me know so we can encourage each other in the journey.