Fasting overview for beginners

When I started this website in 2008 there wasn't much information on fasting on the internet. Despite it being an ancient practice, it was little sought in the modern day. Fast-forward to today and we see a huge interest in all kinds of fasting. In some circles, it's even become a buzz word, as if any and all things can be "cured" by fasting. That may be a bit over the top when they use the word "cure", but I wouldn't say it's totally wrong; fasting can HELP innumerable health conditions. It's great that fasting is getting the attention it deserves!

While there are contraindications for fasting, most people can safely give fasting a try to see if the metabolic rest doesn't assist the body in enacting its own healing toward whatever condition a person is experiencing. Our cultural model that promotes overeating on a mass scale leaves most of us without the experience of what the body can accomplish in the way of healing when it's allowed this respite from the onslaught of the diverse foods and non-foods we ingest.

But what of all the articles that now flood the web that tout the many different methods of fasting? Each one making claim to being "the best"?

I'm here to tell you there is no "best" method of fasting. There is you, as you stand in your uniqueness, and there are tons of ways to fast. Deciding which way to proceed, to begin a journey into self-healing and self-knowledge, is what this website is all about. I want to share with everyone that there are endless ways to incorporate this healing modality into your life. 

For a beginner to get started in fasting, we have to break the process down into its various parts. We have to talk about length of fasts, we have to talk about what to ingest, we have to talk about your experience level with fasting, and we have to talk about the precautions to fasting (as there are a few to be aware of).

Information on fasting as given by most articles I've read, only steer you in one direction; and don't get me wrong, they can have wonderful, very insightful, information. But it's just about one method of fasting.

I want to open the gates a bit further and share the wide variety of fasting methods that can be utilized. Your criteria for knowing which one to follow lies within you. As in all healing, it begins with you. And, as in all healing, it's a journey, not a destination.

The greatest insight I can share about fasting is that it requires you to get to know you. And your body. It requires you listen within, you seek the inner messages that are always there, and you state your intention to open the lines of communication with your body and with your soul.

Fasting for Beginners

Most people coming to this site have never fasted before or haven't fasted in a very long time. This means start small. Like one day. But don't underestimate the power of one day, nor underestimate the preparation you should undergo before that day.

If you're looking at fasting, you likely also don't eat as well as you feel you should. Join the club. It gets harder and harder to eat well on a consistent basis as the food supplies deteriorate in quality and restaurants increase their microwave use.

This means tapering off many foods is in order for at least 3 days prior to your fast. Wean yourself off any caffeine products, eliminate all processed foods, junk foods and restaurant foods. Stick to fresh, natural, home-prepared, made-from-scratch foods for these 3 days. Salads (oil and vinegar dressing only and in small quantity), steamed vegetables, boiled eggs, fresh fruit, raw milk and its derivatives. Yes, potatoes are fine, and they'll help fill you up. Grains are ok if you soak them first (see here for more on how and why to soak grains). Stay away from meat as it stays in the digestive system longer and we want things to move on through.

If you're unclear about whether a food is considered "processed", start reading food labels. Get informed about what is in the foods you buy. Start googling some of the ten-syllable ingredients and inquire into their safety ratings. And check out the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives.

Two days before your fast, begin taking psyllium husks in the evening, organic preferably. One tablespoon in a glass of water and then drink another glass of water on top of it. It won't work if you are at all dehydrated. Psyllium husks require plenty of fluid to do their job.

Fasting Day

There are lots of possibilities for a one-day fast. You can fast on fruit, on water, on juice, or even on rice. There are pages on this site for each kind of fast, listed under the category Popular Fasts. Read the page for your selected fast; there are more detailed directions at the bottom of each page in bulleted pointers.

Plan to have a quiet day on the day of your fast. Avoid work, lunches out, errands, social responsibilities, or any major stressors normal to your life. Plan to stay home and be alone if possible.

This is a self-centered day. It's all about you. It's about resting and treating yourself well, and listening to your inner world. This is a time to journal, to meditate, to paint, to read poetry or anything else that uplifts your spirit, to take a walk in nature (ok this does require leaving the house). Talk to God, the Divine, Source, or whatever your term for the higher power in your life. This is NOT a day to catch up on things left on the back burner. You can read Tips for Water Fasting for more activity ideas.

On the other hand, you may find that you have a headache all day. Many people do. You might need and want to lay quietly for the majority of the day. Be open to how this plays out for you; whether you will feel like doing activities or feel like resting on the couch all day.

Breaking the Fast

The next morning, be mindful of what you eat. Don't overdo it! Start with some fresh fruit or juice or herbal tea for breakfast. You might plan to nibble on fruits throughout the morning.

For lunch, plan on vegetables, either raw (as in a salad) or steamed. And please, let's make them organic vegetables. No use introducing pesticides and herbicides into your gut on your first day after a cleansing fast.

Dinner can be a normal healthy meal, just watch quantity. Keep it light. And no processed foods.

For more detailed information about breaking a fast, see this page.

And don't forget to read about contraindications to fasting before beginning.

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How long should you fast? Discover what length of time is best for you and how much preparation is required.

Cleansing Diets offers guidance on using a cleansing diet as a partial fast or as a means of preparation for other types of fasting.

Fruit Fast Details how to do a 1-3 day fast with apples.

Kitchari for Cleansing Information and recipes for using this healthy traditional Indian dish for a fast or for every day meals.

Understanding What Fasting Is and Is Not will dispel any doubts about fasting being akin to starvation.

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