Fast Forward to Good Health
Heading into this year I knew I had to deal with the “F” word. Going on a “Fast” is not something we always look forward to. It has become like a bad word these days instead of something that can be helpful. Many people frown upon fasting because they know of the dangers and pitfalls. Rail thin models have become the face of fasting instead of everyday moms and men who are interested in achieving better health. The physical and spiritual benefits of a planned and limited fast can be tremendous. A fast of certain foods for a limited time helps cleanse toxins and impurities from our bodies. A positive side effect for some is losing weight at the same time.
Many well known lifestyle diets such as the Atkins and South Beach diets require a fast in the beginning stages. Phase 1 of the South Beach diet lasts for the first two weeks of the plan. It requires a fast of all sugars, processed carbohydrates, fruits, and some higher-glycemic vegetables as well. Its purpose is to eliminate the hunger cycle and is expected to result in significant weight loss. The Induction phase of the Atkins diet restricts many carbohydrates and eliminates alcoholic beverages. It allows liberal amounts of meats, poultry and fish.
As a spiritual practice, every year millions of Jews fast on their holiest day, Yom Kippur. Many Muslims abstain from food during daylight hours during the holy month of Ramadan. There are traditionally 40 days in Lent where Catholics mark the time with fasting. Thousands of Christians will begin the New Year with prayer and fasting. Many like myself, will join their church family in corporate fasting and others will enter the fast as part of their personal spiritual devotion.
Advocates of fasting believe that it periodically gives the body a break from digestion and allows it to eliminate the toxins that cause disease, while promoting healing. Some studies indicate that fasting helps health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, and skin diseases.
There are many types of fasts. They can range from 1 to 40 days. Proponents believe that it creates a clearer mental state and increased energy. In addition, it can help rid the body of toxins, purify the blood, alleviate allergies, shed pounds and helps to rebuild the immune system.
After completing a 10 day fast of meats and sweets as part of the Ray of Hope corporate Christian fast I feel lighter literally and figuratively. I have more energy, feel more focused and I look better after shedding a few pounds.
Fasting should be planned and purposeful and should not be done frequently. Weight loss should be a secondary goal in your fasting plan. It should be used to for physical, mental and spiritual renewal.
Before going on a fasting program, check with your doctor to make sure you are in good health and that it is safe for you to carry out the program you are planning. This is especially important if you are on prescription medications, as the lack of food will cause those drugs to be absorbed differently by your body.
- Plan: Determine what type of fast you will do and have clear objectives in mind. There are many resources and fasts so do some research to determine what might be best for you.
- Prepare: The best way to succeed with a fast is to advance plan the meals you will have. This way you will not be hungy and you will have plenty of foods on hand that you can eat during the fast.
- Proceed: Start off slowly. If this is your first fast, begin with something small such as a 3 day fast of meats and sweets. Consider joining with others such as a church group on a fast so that you have support.
- Pray: You are going to need divine guidance to get through it!