To fast or not to fast, that is the question…One day as I sat at my computer I had a thought. The thought was that I needed to make a change in my eating habits. I am typically a healthy eater my staples include salads, fruits, vegetables, and fish. With that said I would be remiss not to mention the darker side of my diet. The indulgence in red wine; which is proven to have cardiovascular health benefits if drunk in moderation, the peach/apple cobblers with ice cream, delectable chocolate pleasures, pastries, etc., are also part of my diet. When I think back to my days as an emotional eater, I realize that the food was there to comfort me as I felt let down either by society or my own personal endeavours. The taste, the rush I got from the foods, was always the same feeling I got each and every time the sweetness of the aforementioned tickled my taste buds. Food would never let me down but would cause me to pick up a few extra pounds and even as I indulged I would physically feel sick.
This thought that I had at my computer was that I needed to reset my body and reset my metabolic rate. I was also going through some special changes in my life and needed to fuel that change spiritually and mentally. With that thought I decided to start my fast. There are many different types of fasts and they are completed for many different reasons varying from vanity (dropping a few pounds) to a deepening of spirituality. In addition, there are various kinds of fasting from not eating or drinking certain things for a predetermined amount of time; like drinking only water for seven days to the restriction of dairy products. The fast I decided to do originally did not have a predetermined start or finish date but I knew I wanted to cleanse my system.
Out of the fast I had hoped to find mental/spiritual clarity and to lose a few pounds – my belly area was a bit bulky! The transition for me was rather easy, though I had been indulging in the foods that cause inflammation, high glucose levels, among other health problems. I allowed myself to start when my body felt ready. When I felt strong and determined I was ready to start my fast, it actually fell on Ramadan; the ninth month of the Muslim year when strict fasting occurs from sunrise to sunset. So I decided to do a Ramadan-like fast. During this month of fasting Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. When the sun sets they are able to eat appropriate foods with family, such as: fresh fruits, vegetables, halal meats, bread and cheeses.
My fast pursued as followed: during the fasting period (sunrise to sunset) I only drank water and after sunset I initially only ate fruits and vegetables, towards the end I added fish to my menu. During this period (June 15th to July 15th) I felt fresh and energized, sometimes hungry and depleted during the day. Some days were easier than others yet I still accomplished my goal of fasting…I sought weight loss and mental/spiritual clarity. I was able to accomplish those things although the weight I hoped to drop did not come to pass even though there was some loss…
Here’s a little breakdown on the importance of fasting and also its link to mental clarity and spirituality. It is rather simple and obvious why it works that way. When you fast you allow your organ systems a break. When you eat food your body works very hard to break down the matter which calls for your digestive, circulatory, and immune systems to kick in to make sure you get the best nutrition from the food you consume. Put simply, as you eat there is increased blood flow to your gut in order to get the nutrients from your food dispersed to your body where you need it most. However, when you fast your blood is allowed to circulate throughout your body, not only in concentrated areas, thus allowing more blood to your brain – supplying higher rates of oxygen to your brain, clarity in your daily activities, hence the mental clarity and heightened spiritual connection you feel during the fasting period.
Here are a few links for a more in depth explanation of the process:
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