The eating season is upon us! It started with Thanksgiving and won't end for me until after January 7th. With so much food on the menu..literally..I thought I would give fasting a go.
It wasn't the over-eating that got me thinking about fasting ( I actually managed not to stuff myself fuller than the turkey), but watching an incredible journey of one young man and his bid to lose the excess weight he had put on over the years.
If you haven't seen it, it's called "Facing the Fat" on Prime Video. The gentleman decided to do a water-only 40 day fast. Of course, he consulted with medical experts and was monitored during his fast, but it was a fascinating documentary. He displayed a great deal of humour about himself and througout the video there were interesting tidbits of info about what goes on in your body when you fast for such an extended period of time.
Please do NOT attempt such a fast without first consulting with your doctor. Please do NOT start a change in your diet without consulting your doctor. If you are going to do intermittent fasting please consult your doctor before doing so. Fasting isn't trendy, it's not a fashion statement but rather a mindful approach to what you eat and when you eat..MINDFUL. So PLEASE, do your homework, talk to your healthcare provider, make sure you are in good health before beginning any diet lifestyle, or activity change.
Ok, with that out of the way, I wanted to share my own experience of a 24 hour water-only fast. (Ok, coffee and water..because coffee is...do I need to finish that? LOL) I didn't decide to fast right after watching the video, but a few days later, when I woke up feeling very bloated and uncomfortable, with a stomach that wasn't happy at all with what I had been filling it with. So, I decided to try not eating for 24 hours.
Oh food, how I love you! I love food. I love eating and enjoying my food. I love cooking, going out for dinner, and trying new foods from different cultures, and even trying to cook foods from different cultures (sometimes with some amount of delicious success). I just love food. We NEED to eat, of coure. Our bodies require fuel to get through the day, the workout, the kids, life. But I woke up that one morning and food was the last thing I wanted, and decided not to eat that day, or for as long as I could. It was easy at first, probably because my stomach wasn't in the best of moods, but as the day went on, I found myself not hungry. Instead, I found myself thinking about food in a different way. More mindful I guess. Rather than eating to satiate my hunger, I decided to examine my hunger and the foods I was craving. Througout the day I would pass by places that smelled amazing, like pizza places and some of my favourite restaurants, and the aromas were wonderful! But I didn't find myself feeling hungry, or having an argument with myself about doing 24 hours without food, or telling my stomach "you're bored..not hungry". As I became more mindful of how I was feeling, I was finding it easier to not think about hunger, but rather to think about food. What I eat. When I eat. Why I eat. I began to appreciate some of my better food choices, like fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and more wholesome foods that I enjoy on a regular basis. But my thoughts went deeper than that..to an appreciation of the foods I enjoy on a regular basis.
As I sipped my water all day long, I found myself thinking less of food and more of how I was feeling. I felt great! Honestly! Even coffee wasn't tasting as good as the water was, and I could feel my body not just taking the water in, but using it. I began to become more connected to my body..and it felt wonderful. I finally felt hunger pains at about 21 hours, but still didn't want to eat because I was really enjoying the connection I was making with my body. After 24 hours, I finally ate, but it wasn't like I thought "Oh thank the food Gods I FINALLY get to eat!!" but rather "Look at this beautiful piece of melon! It tastes so wonderful! I'm so glad I can enjoy this!" I was suddenly very mindful of what I was feeding my body. Rather than just gobbling my food down because I was hungry, I slowed everything down and really enjoyed my little plate of fresh fruit and a slice of cheese. It made me realize that it's just as important to not eat as it is to eat. To not eat when I'm bored or stressed. To not give in to the "easy" meal of drive thru. To not give in to "take out" because it's easier than preparing a meal. To be mindful of what I eat, when I eat, and why I eat.
I still love a good meal, especially when I can enjoy it with family and friends, and do get hungry..actually hangry..at times, but now I'm finding that I'm asking myself "Do you REALLY need that easy drive thru food? Are you REALLY hungry or just bored..or stressed?" One of the best pieces of advice I heard from a friend was what his doctor told him.."If you think you're hungry have a piece of fruit. If you don't want a piece of fruit....you're not hungry." I think that was great advice to get my friend to pay attention to what he was eating and why.
Will I do the 24 hour fast again? Absolutely! I think I have more to learn about myself and my eating habits, and by removing food from my day for one day..just one day..I might learn even more about myself.
Do you fast? Do you do intermittent fasting? How do you find your experience with either, or both? Why do you fast? Share your thoughts with me! I would love to hear about your experience with either!
Happy healthy eating....or not ;)