‘The philosophy of fasting calls upon us to know ourselves, to master ourselves, and to discipline ourselves the better to free ourselves. To fast is to identify our dependencies, and free ourselves from them.’Tariq Ramadan
The miracle of fasting
Being born in a rather religious family that holds precious Orthodox customs, fasting was something that was done mainly for religious ideals, in the sense that you would know that on Wednesdays and Fridays you wouldn’t eat anything that is animal originated – and, during holidays, the longer fasting period that would be heroic to do – to say the least. The fact is that I don’t really recollect associating fasting with something that I do for my body, but rather for ‘the book’.
It all started…
The first time that I got in touch with someone that was fasting for health purposes was in Czech Republic when I was Couchsurfing at this amazing family that I remember to this day. The cozy house, full of plants, the smell of earth and tea, the wonderful lush garden in front, and the jolly atmosphere with lots of dogs and cats around. Even the child, a 14-year-old who was so self-conscious that refused to eat the birthday cake that we – me and my friends-bought for him. Imagine the face we made when he smiled and said ‘I will not eat it though as I try to stay away from sugar’. ‘But is your birthday’ we continued – ‘you can make an exception, right?’ Well, not really as he was not interested in making one. He was that used with his eating habits that he could not care less for our disappointed faces.
Our host was fasting – it was his 7th day out of the 21. Yes – that’s right – he was not eating at all for the entire period, only drinking water and a vegetable juice per day. More than active, he was cooking our meal and telling his story – how he and his family were vegan, and the fact that fasting is the miracle in his life – with such a huge impact on his health, that it is a practice he’s been doing for some time – and I can honestly say I believed him – he was in his mid-forties yet he was looking like he was a 30-year old! I became more and more interested in this lifestyle and I was intrigued by the idea to go vegan.
The key is to simplify
From the times of Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, fasting was believed to be the greatest healer – enabling the body to regenerate itself. Fasting also holds a central place in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest healing system. It was mentioned in every religion in the world – as a way to reach mental and spiritual clarity.
Some reasons why you should fast?
I cannot say I have been fasting for long, however, I know that I considered fasting when I felt I needed to detox – especially during spring and autumn, and also when I was put in front of a problem and I did not want to take medication. ( I am not a big fan I shall say)
Every now and then I feel heavy and lazy and to give a boost in my energy – I fast. So, out of my experience, I could just tell you one thing – when you feel you don’t know what else to do – what lead to take – just fast one day a week and see how that will help you. That’s my own personal intake of it. (Fasting once a week here means that you just drink lemon water and herbal teas for the entire day)
Don’t think its easy, it really asks for commitment and discipline – however, the results are fantastic; check out on the following benefits:
- improves blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance
- improves blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol level
- promotes better health by reducing inflammation
- boosts brain function
- helps with weight loss by boosting metabolism and- attention – helps preserve muscle tissue
- could delay aging and extend longevity
The types of fasting
If you are still interested in fasting yet going for a full day fast is too much for you, you could start with partial fasting – eating certain foods – animal products, processed foods, caffeine from your diet. The next step is intermittent fasting -the 16/8 method – where you restrict your daily eating period to 8 hours then fast for 16. Many people find the 16/8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable, and easiest to stick to. It’s also the most popular. Eventually, you can go for juice fasting – drinking only vegetable or fruit juice for a certain period, and lastly – water fasting – that is the most challenging.
Side note – while you reduce your calorie intake by adopting these methods, you ought to pay attention to the quantity of food you will eat afterward as to avoid overeating.
So – what are you waiting for? You should give it a try and see it yourself. I can only say that it is a precious and at hand instrument. Oh, and if you want to know more I would totally recommend reding ‘The Miracle of Fasting’ by Paul and Patricia Bragg. Find it here