author Mara Schiavetti
Spring has sprung, and it’s time to start shedding the winter load, physically and metaphorically. A great way to lose those warm and cuddly pounds is by doing a cleanse or a fast. As a result expect revitalizing energy and body and mind holistic healing. The spring sun heals the soul as well as the body, and doing a cleanse or fast is the perfect companion to becoming vibrant and dynamic.
Fasting is not an easy decision to make. Not eating can start off being arduous and dull, but the benefits outweigh the work tenfold. Setting aside time and the right environment is extremely important.
Fasting is an ancient ritual of cleansing and self-renewal. Consciously abstaining from food and other types of nourishment can bring dramatic healing to our bodies, minds, and spirits. Practiced for centuries by seekers and mystics, fasting is a potent method of clearing stuck emotions, limiting beliefs, and old griefs. Traditionally associated with the thaw of spring, fasts can create a space of profound reflection and stillness, inviting transformation.
Fasting is also one of the most effective ways to rid the body of long accumulated toxins, reversing some of modern society’s most insidious diseases. It has been shown to improve skin tone and cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, alleviate autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and increase your life span. Fasting is beneficial for IBS, fibromyalgia, asthma, allergies, MS, schizophrenia, diabetes, insomnia and depression. Extended fasting (over 3 days) can even turn off “serum leptin,” or the gene associated with obesity.
HOW DOES FASTING WORK?
When we fast we give our body a break from its ever-present job of digestion. Instead of using our energy to break down food, our body is free to do the kind of maintenance that normally only occurs during sleep (there is a reason why our first meal of the day is called “break fast.”) During a fast, our body’s focus shifts towards repairing damaged tissue, clearing out extraneous organic material (including bacteria and viruses), and breaking down the adipose (fat) tissue where many of the chemicals absorbed from our food and environment are stored. As the fat tissue is converted into a useable source of energy those toxins are released and excreted, which is why some people experience flu-like symptoms during fasting.
STARTING WITH A CLEANSE
Working up to a fast is important. After a few weeks of detoxing with healthy foods, while cutting out coffee, sugar, all refined foods and meat, choosing to eat very simple foods like rice, steamed vegetables and raw fruit. After a length of time detoxing ( the longer the better will prepare you for the cleanse) you will be feeling some of the side effects of detoxing with may include new zits or body aches. Cleanses are an experience that can be difficult but with profound rewards. Juice cleanses are good for “tune-ups,” “tone-ups,” high in vitamins and quick-energy sugars, juice can allow you to maintain a semi-normal routine before a fast.
Water fasting is the most potent way to detox and highly recommended if you are trying to work with long-term conditions. Traditional water fasts are typically sustained for 4-10 days, as it takes three full days for the body to completely shift into using non-food sources of fuel (a state known as ketosis). With water fasting, it is best to set aside a specific time and place and prepare, mentally, emotionally, and physically, beforehand. Ease in gently and listen to your body.
It’s important to embark upon your fast with gentleness and love; fasting should come out of a deep desire for self-acceptance. More than an experience of physical cleansing, fasting is the practice of finding the home within. Empty yourself of all that no longer serves you, and refill with an even deeper commitment to healing, wholeness and self-love.
Planning a fast.
2 weeks (minimum) detox cleansing with organic, fresh and raw fruits and vegetables. Nuts and fats can be included. Stay away from caffeine, refined foods, meat and sugar.
7 days (minimum) organic fresh and vegetable juices, including herbal teas.
4-10 days water only.
1-3 days organic fresh juices, miso soup, mild, heavily steamed vegetables
4-14 days organic fruit and vegetable cleansing diet
(come out gently—for every day of water fasting there should be at least one day of recovery)
Want to learn more? We highly recommend Stephen Buhner’s beautiful book The Transformational Power of Fasting