Toms' Fasting Diary

Attēls: Saldumi

I just completed a seven-day fast and I feel slim, full of energy, and satisfied about my accomplishment. I try to fast twice a year in order to slow down the pace of daily life and regain inner balance. I'll explain a bit more about my decision:

Why Do I Fast?

The most noticeable reason to fast is to lose weight. Aside from certain extreme procedures, I know of no other method by which to lose 0.5 to 1 kilogram a day.

Fasting is a way to break (at least temporarily) a number of pesky habits and common addictions that have accumulated over time, such as alcohol, coffee, chocolate, nicotine, crisps, sweet rolls, meat, etc.

I am able to continue a relatively active lifestyle while I fast, and fasting does not interfere with my responsibilities at work. In fact, I feel more at peace with these tasks. I do, however, tend to withdraw into my own shell more, and even my speech becomes slower and quieter. I feel moments of weakness and tiredness during the day, but I use these to stop (or lie down), put work aside for a while, and nap or meditate.

Researchers have varying opinions as to what extent fasting improves health. But I have no doubt that a fast cleanses and detoxifies the organs in my body. I have also noticed that I suffer from the flu and other viruses less often since I have begun fasting regularly.

I relish the nights during a fast, because I feel my digestive tract is truly in a state of dormancy. I breathe better and my sleep becomes more intense.

The eighth day, when I take the first bite of an apple for breakfast, is a pure delight. My taste buds have been set to “restart” and my mind regards food with new respect, appreciation, and joy.

Lastly, fasting is a good way to develop and strengthen willpower.

The Process

Preparation

The most essential step in preparing for a fast is to accumulate enough motivation to overcome the moments of weakness that invariably come up during a fast. I actually enjoy arriving at this point. It helps if I'm dissatisfied with my current situation, for example, if my “spare tire” has grown too big, if I feel anxious all the time, or if I no longer taste but only consume food. It is, of course, wise to plan a fast during a calmer period in order to better enjoy the fast and have the time to listen to the body and take its needs into account. You should take into account your family, too, especially during the first couple of days while the body adjusts to what is going on, battles its addictions, and bad moods are almost unavoidable. Finally, it's best to delay your fast until after your best friend's birthday party.

The difficult beginning

The first two days of a fast are the most difficult. On the third day the stomach begins relying on the body's internal reserves and no longer expects food; as a result you lose your appetite. The rest is in your head. Only when you fast do you realise how much time you spend thinking about food. It helps me to continue a few of my daily routines, for example, sitting at the table with my family for dinner and enjoying a cup of tea, water, or other drink with them while they eat.

It is important to drink plenty of fluids during a fast – at least two to three litres a day. You should try to avoid physical overexertion during the first days of a fast, but taking a walk or other light exercise is recommended. You should listen to your body carefully to assess whether the physical load is not too great. It is normal to feel light-headed from time to time during a fast, but you should end the fast and reschedule it for a later time if you feel faint.

The easy continuation

Beginning on the fourth day you should start noticing pleasant changes, including deeper sleep, easier breathing, and a general feeling of lightness, because your body no longer feels the need for food. In my experience, once I've reached the fourth day, it doesn't matter much whether I fast for a total of five, seven, or even ten days – the effort is about the same. The first few times you reach this stage you may find you've become a bit haughty and look down with superiority on all those other people who are still paying so much attention to food and eating. But if you nevertheless need extra motivation, just step on the scale to see the positive changes.

I will not keep silent about one unpleasant side effect of fasting: the organs continue working during a fast to cleanse and detoxify the body, resulting in bad breath and a general unpleasant smell emitted by the body. You should also not be surprised if defecation continues during the fast, because the body continues to process and rid itself of waste material.

The slow conclusion

The post-fasting stage is very important, because the body must be allowed to slowly get accustomed to food once again. In addition, you should refrain from returning to your bad habits soon after the fast. I try to make every post-fasting meal a very conscious event by concentrating only on eating (that is, not reading the newspaper or surfing the Internet while I eat) and carefully chewing every bite. In order to promote functioning of the stomach, liquids should not be consumed while eating. Here is my menu for the first days following a fast:

Day 8:

  • Breakfast: one apple
  • Lunch: natural yoghurt with flaxseed
  • Dinner: soup with potato, carrot, and herbs (no salt)

Day 9:

  • Breakfast: crisp bread with cottage cheese (or “Philadelphia” cream cheese) and honey
  • Lunch: carrot, tomato, and cucumber salad (no dressing)
  • Dinner: crisp bread with cottage cheese (or “Philadelphia” cream cheese) and honey

Day 10:

  • Breakfast: muesli with fruit (yoghurt optional)
  • Lunch: two slices of rye bread with cottage cheese
  • Dinner: vegetable salad

Day 11:

  • No more restrictions.

Further reading

For comprehensive information and countless valuable tips for planning a fast visit www.heilfastengesundheit.de (in German).

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