I haven't eaten since Saturday evening, and I feel wonderful. Clean, alert, vibrant, and light on my feet.
I've longed believed in the power of a cleanse, or a fast. Digesting food takes an enormous amount of energy, energy that could be more usefully spent detoxifying, rebuilding, and repairing. I've been doing cleanses for years now, usually lasting from 3 to 10 days. I've tried many kinds of cleanses: apple juice, grape juice, "lemonade" (the lemon juice with a glug of pure maple syrup and a hint of cayenne), and water. I try to do a cleanse at least once a year, but not when I'm pregnant or nursing a baby, which this time gave me a three year hiatus. And I felt it. The nagging to "clean house" has been on my mind for quite some time now. And, with my birthday coming up, I felt it was a significant time to do something just for me. So, I quit eating.
Our Church instructs us to fast for 24 hours once a month, the first Sunday of each month. During that time we do not eat or drink anything, and we also donate the monies we would have spent on food, to the needy. We begin and end each fast with prayer, and hopefully, we have spiritual purpose behind our deprivation, so that we are not simply 'starving'. In the research that I have done, I have learned that even a 24 hour fast can have tremendous health benefits, and is not so hard to do consistently, with practice. I am grateful that the God who created our bodies, also has instituted spiritual laws of health that can, if properly followed, keep those bodies in a state of vibrant wellness, and that those laws are easy enough for even the weakest to follow.
There are accounts of fasting being used all over the world to heal ailments from allergies to cancer. When the body is not belabored with digestion, all of its energies can be directed and focused to healing and detoxifying. Americans do not eat very "clean" diets, even so-called healthy Americans, and the chance to purge and clean house is a gift we can give to our bodies. Fasts are beneficial even for only 24, 36, or 48 hours, but the longer one fasts, the deeper the healing and cleansing processes are allowed to go also. One thing I love is that fasts are cumulative. You're not always 'starting over'. The benefits add up, and it gets easier with practice. An extended fast will last for 10 to 40 days, but there are recorded fasts lasting up to 100 days.
But won't you starve?
Fasting and starving are two different processes. In fact, many people, even very old people, who have been stranded for several days without food have reported better health and strength than they had felt in years! Water must be taken, and for longer fasts, sea salt, or a mineral supplement should be added to the water or juice. Dehydration is very serious, and the body needs water to detoxify.
I began with a prayer. I need spiritual strength to discipline myself to fast, and I want to experience healing and cleansing. I want health, and I know God wants that for me too. The first day is the hardest. The stomach growls, the blood sugar becomes uneven, and headaches are not uncommon. I stay very busy, so that I will be distracted from the physical discomforts of beginning the fast. Later on, muscle aches appear, and headaches may intensify. Sometimes I feel flu-like. These are good signs though! These are signs that my body is detoxifying, stirring things up, and flushing them out. Some people say that they can't fast because of these symptoms, but these symptoms indicate that the fast is working! The more toxic your diet, obviously, the more severe the symptoms will be. Things like sugar and caffeine are stimulants that form real addictions, and without them, the body goes through a withdrawal as it detoxes. But don't fear!
The first night I was pretty hungry. I woke up once because of hunger, but was able to fall back asleep easily. I make sure to drink a lot of water, and yesterday I drank some fresh apple juice. Day 2 was surprisingly easy for me, even though I had some things working against me. I had to do all the couponing, grocery shopping, and meal preparation for the family. Smells, textures, the sight of the food and people eating it. . . I thought it would be too much, but my appetite was almost non-existent. And since then I've just about completely lost my desire for food, which usually happens around day 3, but happened earlier for me this time. Once the desire leaves, you can go on happily fasting without much trouble. (On a side note, once the desire for food returns with a vengeance, then it's time to stop fasting for sure. That's a sign that your body's reserves have been depleted and the starvation process begins. But most people can 21 days at least with no sign of hunger.) I've even had the energy to do all my normal activities, shopping with toddler in tow, running errands, doing crunches and push-ups, and this morning I walked Aiden to school. Lots of physical exertion wouldn't be wise, but a moderate amount of activity keeps the blood and lymph flowing, and helps your cleansing process along.
I am amazed at how good I feel. Strong, confident, clean and light inside, clear-headed, happy. Coming off of a fast or cleanse should be done carefully, and tonight I will have to end my fast at dinnertime because the Young Women are having a dinner for the moms and daughters tonight, otherwise I would have gone a few more days. Fortunately, I know we're just having a light supper of salad and a roll, so I'll eat sparingly, and then continue to eat a very clean diet for the next few days. We're not celebrating my birthday till this weekend, so I'll be okay to have a piece of cake by Saturday.
A great book to read if you're interested in learning more about fasts and other kinds of cleanses is called The Detox Book, by Bruce Fife, N.D.
If you've never tried before, or tried before beyond Fast Sunday, you might think about the benefits it could offer you. I'm a firm believer.