I recently read an article about fasting. It brought up some interesting research in regards to promoting health and longevity through fasting. It started me thinking about tradition and religious culture that promote periodic fasting. Maybe these traditions of periodic fasting were handed down for their health benefits.
I never thought I would be able to go a whole day without eating, I am usually hungry every couple of hours. On Thursday night, after dinner, I told my husband I was starting a 24 hr fast, I set my resolve and away I went. The next morning my husband was making breakfast so I stayed in bed so I wouldn’t be tempted by his food. When I did get out of bed, I started getting busy for the day. I did great all day, did my normal work out, kept busy with work, my energy was good. And then 6 o’clock came around and I literally thought I was going to DIE! I wanted to eat something so bad, I was pulling my hair out. I kept walking around the house trying to distract myself by staying busy. I thought to myself two more hours and then I will have a small bit of yogurt and granola and then I will be fine until I have to go to bed. Those were the hardest two hours I have lived through in a very long time. My stomach was screaming for food, I felt irritable, like my skin was crawling, and was hating life.
Is this a sign of health? I was fasting to bring on feelings of vigor and alertness, not to feel like I wanted to jump out of a 5 story window. When 8 o’clock finally came around. I gratefully readied my meal of yogurt and granola and blueberries and scarfed it down in 3 minutes flat. This bit of food triggered my inner tiger and it was as if I no longer had control over my body. I needed to fill this hunger void ASAP! I ended up eating toast with peanut butter, potato chips dipped in sour cream and 3 peppermint chocolates before I finally felt like I had regained control. Whew! What a complete waste!
I felt like I had completely failed. The experiment in healthy fasting was a complete disaster. Any health benefits I may have accrued over the last 24 hours were destoyed in seconds.
Today I woke up and reflected on my fast. It was not a complete waste. It was a learning experience. In some religious traditions, the fast is from sun up to sun down. I decided that in the future this may be the better fasting experience for me.
Experimenting with different traditions and diets helps us to figure out what works best for us as individuals. Planning is important as we experiment. If I had planned a healthy dinner for 8 o’clock instead of thinking a bit of yogurt would be enough, then I probably wouldn’t have lost control of my food choices.
So after this experiment, I do want to continue to do periodic fasts, but I will plan better, not do a full 24 hours, but 22 hours, and have a healthy dinner ready when the time comes to eat again.
Fasting can be a healthy part of your lifestyle with a little planning and awareness.