Fasting has numerous benefits. From detoxing your body to calming your mind – fasting manifests on the physical as well as on the mental level. It has already helped me greatly in the past and recently re-established a long-lost relationship with my health and body.
But – what does fasting even mean?
By definition, it means to abstain from particular foods, drinks or other luxuries fully or partly for a certain period of time. What I usually engage in whenever I fast is a water fast. This means I am not eating at all and just drinking water and tea for a certain amount of time. Usually 6 days are perfect as my body needs some time to cleanse itself and I feel like less than 6 days might not have such a profound effect. However, if that feels way too overwhelming at first, this period can of course be adapted to slowly get started.
What should I consider before fasting?
Whenever preparing for a fasting period, you should prepare yourself mentally. Ask yourself how many days you want to try it and be clear about the reason behind your fasting. Do you want to detox? Do you want to develop a greater understanding about your body? Or do you just want to lose weight? It is always important to know the reason behind what you are doing. If you ever feel a lack of motivation during your fasting period you can always go back to this reasoning and see if it still makes sense and if you want to keep going.
I have fasted a few times over the past years already and my whys always vary. This time, however, the why was clear. I wanted to establish a better relationship towards my body again, to detox and to get rid of all the toxins within. I had not been eating healthily for quite a while up until that point. It was about time to remind myself of how the foods I put into my body affect me and my mind. In our modern world we are surrounded by temptations all day long. Tasty, sugary, fatty foods lurking around every corner. It is easy to get by on cheap, nutritionless crap. But during my fasting period when my body was in a state of withdrawal I suddenly realized how important my health actually was. When suddenly not giving into every little guilty pleasure of tasty food I started feeling better right away – which motivated me to keep on taking better care of myself also after this period ended.
So, how do I fast?
Start with setting the time frame of your fasting period. Try to choose a time which is not too stressful and where you are not moving from one place to another all the time. On the physical level, you will definitely feel weaker during the first few days, so this is something important you need to keep in mind. To facilitate your transition from eating to fasting, ty to eat as healthy as possible at least two days before starting your fast. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and try to avoid coffee. Withdrawal of caffeine can potentially lead to headaches during the first days – I’ve experiened it and it’s not fun.
Start your first day with drinking a lot of water. You can also drink tea, but it should be herbal tea which is easier on your digestive system. Make sure to drink enough – at least 2 litres or more per day. I would always just drink whenever I felt even remotely hungry. If you do that, you won’t feel hungry at all, the water and tea will make you feel full. Consuming this amount of liquid is important as your body is now starting to get rid of toxins. Therefore, you will also pee a lot in order for them to leave your body. Start your day off with some nice and warm tea and take a big bottle of water you can fill up and drink throughout the day. If the taste of tea and water gets boring eventually, there are also some special fasting soups you can eat during this time. You can easily find them in every organic store, however, make sure that they don’t contain salt. Consuming salt during your fasting period would not be good as we are already consuming way too much salt in our everyday life. This short period now is a time to break free from this overconsumption of salt for a bit.
What do I have to be cautious of?
There are several things you need to take into consideration. Something very important is not to push your body to exercise. As you are not eating you will feel weaker than usual, especially within the first few days. This is totally normal and nothing you have to worry about. However, you will not be able to do heavy exercises, like working out or going for a run. These sports are going to be paused for a bit. You should still move, ideally out in nature. Just walking around in a calm and peaceful environment is one of the most beautiful things you can do in this time. Gentle Yoga is also an option to keep your body moving. What is important here is to listen. What is your body telling you? Are you pushing it too hard? If you listen closely, you will feel which exercises you need on your own.
Another very important aspect to consider is cleaning your digestive tract. Which basically means making sure to poop while fasting. This can be a little tricky as you’re not eating and you might not be able to go to the bathroom properly. However, in the beginning of your fasting period your gut is still not empty and not emptying it could lead to constipation. To avoid this, I like to use Chinese fasting prunes (you can order them online) which work like a laxative. They will help you greatly and make your life a little easier.
Something else you might notice is that you sweat more as your body is getting rid of toxins and this is a natural way to release them. Due to the same reason you might experience bad breath as well. This is also nothing to worry about and will get better the longer you fast – or at the latest when you start eating again.
When starting to eat again, it is also important to start slowly. Start with fruits and vegetables,
make sure to chew your food very well and ideally follow a vegan/plant-based diet for at least 3 days after breaking your fast. When starting to eat again I like to drink a lot of green smoothies which are packed with all the vitamines your body needs now. Soups and salads are also great to slowly start getting back to eating normally again. What’s important here is to slowly introduce spices back into your menu. Don’t add too many in the beginning as your body might not be used to them anymore. Also, salt should only be added a few days after you’ve ended your fasting period.
Can you be productive during this time?
For me, the answer is yes, but that might be very individual. From my personal experience I have noticed that when my body is a little weakened due to fasting, my mind suddenly sharpens. During my last fasting period I was writing two exams within two days and had about five days to study for both of them while fasting. This study period could not have passed any smoother. Whenever I sat down in front of my laptop my mind was sharp and focused and I wouldn’t give into distractions. I’ve experienced this sharpened focus every time I have fasted so far, so for me, fasting during a stressful period helps me to be even more productive. It also saves a lot of time not having to prepare your meals. However, this might not be the case for everybody, so I’d recommend trying it out for the first time in a less stressful time of your life to not get overwhelmed at first.
Fasting and self-care
Every fasting period is different. I personally like to do it whenever I feel like I put my body through a lot – like not eating healthily or consciously enough. Afterwards, when all toxins are washed out of my body I feel amazing. I also grow more conscious of my body in general, about what it needs and how it feels.
I always manage to dive deeper into myself while fasting. It is a time that you can use for just yourself. Treat yourself well, do things you always wanted to do but then never did. Now could be the time. Without eating you will have much more time for yourself to solely focus on you. Prepare some good teas to drink, do some gentle exercises, go for a walk. This is also the time for self-love and self-care. Take a break from your usual daily routine if you can. Fasting is a beautiful experience for both: body and soul.