Depending on the length of your planned fast it can be helpful to prepare yourself for the change and the challenges you are about to face.
Here are a few things you may want to consider:
If you have never fasted before begin by doing things on a smaller scale first. Fast for a few hours or for just part of a day. If you start in the evening and go to sleep without eating, you can spend part or all of your morning fasting. You could also try to have a day where the only food you eat is taken during a single meal. The small scale preparation approach could also include trying to be more selective in what you eat. Try to abstain from something you like or normally eat. Perhaps try to cut out one of the following out of your diet for a few days: alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, red meat, or poultry. If you’re a little bolder try to eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for a set amount of time. Whatever kind of test you can set up for yourself will give you an idea of what you will face once you jump fully into a more complete fast.
Fasting detoxifies your body. By eating less or nothing at all your body has an opportunity to clean itself in a way it normally cannot. If your diet consists of a lot of meat, processed foods, and you drink coffee and smoke it may be quite a shock to cut any or all of these things out of your diet. Not drinking coffee, for example, can induce headaches if you are used to having caffeine every day. Cutting back or altering your diet days before you fast can help your body’s detoxification process be less of a shock once you get into your fast.
Keeping on Track – Maintaining your Fast
If you have never fasted, you are in for a treat. Many of us like to think we control ourselves and our thoughts pretty well. Be prepared to be humbled. There have been times when I have been fasting when I could think of nothing but eating. At other times I have been going about my day, have a completely empty stomach, and completely forgot I was trying to fast. I got to a place where it was the time and situation where I normally eat and I simply proceeded to so without thinking about fasting. As you fast more and more you will begin to have your own interesting experiences. Fasting provides many benefits and learning about ourselves is just one of the many rewards it can offer.
Here are some tips for dealing with some of the challenges you may experience:
Try to remove or eliminate temptations.
Hide the food you normally have out in your kitchen. Don’t go out to eat with a group of people or visit someone that will have a spread of food out at some event. Or maybe you don’t need to worry about any of this. Some people have a hard time being around food when they are fasting while others are not bothered at all. You could also try to have fun with things (maybe you could tape the refrigerator shut if you live alone!), if you can, and take any steps you can that will help you succeed. Your food environment can make a big difference in how you feel about not eating.
Limit your physical exertion.
You do need to consider that you are likely to be limiting or entirely stopping your intake of calories and nutrients. Think about how the proper mix of fasting and (potentially limited) physical activity will make the most sense for your situation.
Be prepared for mental, physical, and spiritual challenges.
Feeling hungry and not eating does a lot to you mind, body, and spirit. It may be physically uncomfortable. Headaches, dizziness, and other ailments may arise as a result of detoxification. Hunger pangs can also manifest themselves in a physical way (if you develop any strong physical symptoms or problems you may need to break your fast and possibly go see a doctor). You will also discover a lot about how you feel about food and eating through denying yourself food. You can use this as an opportunity to think about how and why you eat. This knowledge can teach you to how to eat better during times that you are not fasting. From a spiritual perspective many people use fasting to focus on their beliefs, to enter into periods of prayer, and grow their faith. As with the mental side of things, fasting can serve as a wonderful way to help you to explore, learn and expand your spiritual life.
For more information on Fasting visit our Therapeutic Intermittent Fasting page.