In case you want to do a fast at home, you will need to do some preparation. The first and foremost is preparing your mind for the practice. Fasting requires discipline but also involves getting to know about yourself. One of the reasons it is part of numerous religious traditions is that fasting is a great way to discover things about yourself and your beliefs.
A normal human body can go for weeks without food. Nevertheless we are all unique. Two people can be subjected to the same conditions and their reactions can be quite different. If you have a serious illness or contraindications such as any kind of deficiency diseases you should not take up long term fasts.
Select a length of time to do your fast. While many regular fasters can do a fast from 3 to 30 days, beginners should experiment by trying several shorter fasts first to see how their bodies react.
Plan your fast for a period during which you will not be under a lot of stress or during which fasting might interfere with your daily routine.
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 and altering your diet several days before you fast can help your body’s detoxification process be less of a shock once you get into your fast.
You will need to begin to learn how you respond mentally to not eating. Sometimes the mind can throw up lots of pent up emotions from the past which are stored in the subconscious mind. The important thing is to understand that being emotional and more sensitive are normal reactions. Keep the mind as peaceful as possible. Maintain a witness attitude during this time. Practice slow deep breathing to make the mind steady and peaceful.
There will also be external challenges. As you move through your day you will inevitably come across food. This is true whether you stay at home, go to work or are on vacation. Anyway, you will find yourself in different social situations. These may be interactions with your family, co-workers, and people that are part of the social communities that you have in your life. Interactions that you have with others can be a challenge because many social interactions involve food. It is good to have some idea of what you might want to say if you get into a situation where others are eating while you, conspicuously, are not. Besides a few people you trust and find supportive, you should consider limiting who you tell. People will ask or tell you all kinds of things about food, nutrition and religion when you mention you are fasting. Realize that there is nothing wrong with saying you do not feel like eating, rather than feeling like you need to tell everyone you are fasting.
Energy level and exercise
Get plenty of rest during your fast. You may experience a drop in stamina and energy during this time. Don’t overexert yourself. Maintain healthy sleep patterns. Fasting is all about rest – physical, emotional, sensory and physiological.
Avoid intense exercise during this time. Instead, try Yoga or Tai Chi. It must be a quieting restorative exercise. A calming way of stretching the body’s muscles is what a fasting body needs. You may also do light walking to keep your muscles strong and to aid in the detoxification process. And you can do resistance training. Working your muscles against a resisting force, helps flush out toxins and waste through the lymphatic system. Lymphatic fluid is only moved by muscle contractions.
The body has a natural mechanism to throw out toxins from the body during the healing process. These toxins are mostly thrown out through digestive system into the intestines. At this time, one gets a thick white coating on the tongue. The coating may remain even after scrapping the tongue. This is a sign that the toxins are being eliminated.
Within a short period our body turns from burning the usual fuel of food and drink to metabolizing matter already present in our body. This process is called autolysis where a huge amount of morbid matter, fat cell debris, so-called ketone bodies, dead cells and diseased tissues are burned up; and the toxic waste which has accumulated in the tissues for years, causing disease and premature aging, are loosened and expelled from the system. The digestion and elimination systems are the main pathway by which these toxins are thrown out of the body.
As during fasting, the natural bowel movements cease to take place, the toxic wastes would have no way of leaving the system, except with the help of enemas… All this can cause headaches, weakness, dizziness, bad mood. Enemas during fasting will assist the body in its cleansing and detoxifying effort by washing out all the toxic wastes from the bowels.
The toxins may also get removed through the lungs. At that time one may get foul breath which may last for a day or two.
Breaking the fast
Breaking the fast is equally important as the fast itself. When the body goes without food for several days, it sort of gets used to it. The digestive fire goes down meaning the stomach lining is more sensitive and your body is not producing as many digestive enzymes. At that time, one cannot eat or digest large quantities of food. It will be like a shock to the system, if you consume solid food. So one has to gradually increase the digestive fire and bring it back to normal. Start with fresh juices and smoothies and then add soft raw fruits and veggies for the first few days. Begin with frequent small meals, every 2 hours or so. Then progress slowly toward larger meals with more time in between until you reach a ‘normal’ eating routine such as 3 meals a day. Wait at least 1-2 weeks before you consume any form of dairy, red meat, grains, beans or baked goods, coffee and black tea.
Enjoy your fasting at home! Or if you feel it’s too hard to detox at home by yourself, you are more than welcome to join one type of detox program in Santosa Detox & Wellness Center.