I am a PhD who spent all of 2009 examining children who are malnourished and yet I was so stressed I was getting fatter. During the year of my doctoral research on the health of 665 indigenous Mexican children, I gained weight. So I fasted a total of 23 days under the care of a Chinese Medicine Doctor. I am 63 years of age, eat well, exercise, don’t smoke and have shrunk to 5’8″ tall over the last 20 years. I went from 171 January 25,, 2010 to 147 February 17, 2010 when before I began eating again. As I moved into eating, exercising, and taking vitamins I re-read Dr. Diana Schwarzbein’s books. I also read Susan Somers, Julian Michaels, Jon Gabriel and Caroline Sutherlund’s books. Each of them addressed balancing food, exercise and rest for life-long overall healing and lasting health.
The absolutely vital part is to be mentally prepared to begin a fast, you must know that you are in control of your body and the outcome is for health; spiritual effects may also occur. Ending the fast is the most important part of fasting. You cannot water fast if you are ingesting any chemicals: Rx, toothpaste even topical additives such as skin creme or natural hormones. You can go on a juice fast (fruit or veggie) IF your doctor or other medical practitioner is monitoring you. Rx is based on weight and “normal” activities. Fasting is NOT a “normal” activity.
It’s odd, but after the first three days there is almost no hunger from the stomach area. Your “mind” is hungry, food smells good, but no hunger “pains” are occurring, no gurgling, nothing like that. Our bodies are simply amazing as they take the time to detoxify from years of abuse with chemicals (preservatives, pesticides, etc.). During a fast the person can mix plain organic greens, like chard or kale, beat to death in lots and lots water if weakness occurs and sip on that, but the absence of all food is the best practice. That allows the body to get to back into balance all on it’s own. With pure water no chemicals of any kind are interfering with the internal cleanse that is taking place. Just 3 days is the best practice, but medical science says 30-75 days is still safe for most people. What is exciting to me is that as we age fasting has been shown to improve the memory (Mattson, M. P. (2000a). Neuroprotective signaling and the aging brain: take away my food and let me run. (Mattson, M. P. (2000b).
I think the “high” might come partly from feeling in control of your body during a fast instead of feeling a victim of food cravings (and the resulting wide hips). I feel great, unless I physically move really fast, then I get slightly dizzy. I still do all my normal housework, ride my horse, do academic writing, care for 6 dogs and work in my garden. I find growing my own food also very empowering, and during this fast, somehow comforting too.Today I am eating a LOT of food, more protein than I have eaten in many years and staying at 146 pounds, a size 7. I am the same size I was at age 15 and yet I am 63. The feeling of being healthy while also being slender and not hungry is amazing. The authors I mentioned encourage eating often, eating a lot of protein, making sure your hormones are making your metabolism function correctly and staying in overall balance. Dr. Diana Schwarzbein is my favorite.
I was a vegetarian for 35 years. After the last fast I began eating fish, turkey and chicken. My doctor suggests that I eat a lot of fish, easy to find where I live in Mexico. She explained to me that I was “starving” for fish oil (my fish oil caplets were not enough) and proteins even though I was nearly eating my weight in tofu (it felt like). Tofu is a bean, but it’s really hard to get enough protein from beans; even garbanzo, my personal favorites. She has me add sunflower seed, sesame seed, chia seed and flaxseed as a topping to things I am eating; keeping them right on the table in glass jars to add anytime. Seeds have a lot of cheap and easy to store protein and minerals too. Also, low fat cottage cheese is an outstanding source of protein without lots of calories. My doctor is also a woman over 50 and she explained to me that eating enough of the right foods to stay healthy is very hard and a life-long challenge that is worth the effort. I agree with her.
I submitted this article July 19, 2010. Since February 17, 2010 I have not been watching my weight other than to eat a high protein and low carbohydrate diet. Since February I have been under excessive stress. This morning I weighed in at 147. For me, fasting is an option as a way to manage my weight, “re-boot” my health and feel like I have control over how I look and feel.
Mattson, M. P. (2000a). Emerging neuroprotective strategies for Alzheimer’s disease: dietary restriction, telomerase activation, and stem cell therapy. Experimental Gerontology, 35(4), 489-502.
Mattson, M. P. (2000b). Neuroprotective signaling and the aging brain: take away my food and let me run, Brain Research Volume 886, Issues 1-2, Pages 47-53/