Ted’s essays

Rx: approaching a fast


On January 1st I began a water (only) fast. I posted about it here: fasting instead of pharmacy Over the last few days I have begun noticing some of the health improvements I was seeking. I also, as I wrestle with fond memories of food and eating, have been thinking about why I am able to do this.

My wife read much of the same information I did, decided to do a fast herself, then resumed eating after a bit over 24 hours off the stuff. What’s the difference?

Among other things, this is not my first one. I have done 9-11 day fasts before and know I can do it again. More to the point I want to share here today are the other reasons I am succeeding so far and how my setup for fasting might be applied to your case, should you want to undertake a fast yourself.

I recommend starting gently with Intermittent Fasting. This is the concept of shrunken “eating windows” allowing your body time to get into some of the beneficial modes it can achieve with 12 or more hours off the stuff.

Start by skipping lunch. This is a traditional meal in the USofA, but not so much world-wide, or historically for human beings. One thing you will learn in about a week without lunches is that meal has been dictated by your habits. Your circadian rhythm can tell time very well. It says, “HEY! We normally eat now. FOOD! I NEED FOOD!” As it turns out, you do not actually need that mid-day food. It is just a habit.

Break that habit. Successfully reprogram your circadian rhythm. It is a wonderful time saver every day. You can take that lunch break time and jog, read, meditate, paint, run errands, or get stuff done in numerous other ways. After a month or more without lunches you will be surprised that those downtown fast food joints and restaurants pass by almost without notice at “lunch time”… other than “Wow, that used to be important to me” or something like that.

This post from 2017 covers a lot of the no lunch version of Intermittent Fasting as well as the benefits of doing that particular lifestyle change.

Okay. Now you know you can do that without much effort or any negative physical costs. Next up is breakfast. This is a bit tougher, but still not too bad. This requires conquering a physical feeling of hunger along with the body clock message. If you are still eating dinners, and even desserts, there is no physical requirement for food, just a feeling you have to overcome.

Review the chart above. Notice what happens to your body when you conquer this phase. Lots of good things, particularly in the 16 to 18 hour range. There is your motivator. This is a great choice for maintaining your good health. Spend a month or more in this mode. Get comfortable with it. An occasional break won’t kill the progress. I had probably 4 or 5 “social breakfasts” in December. I didn’t notice a thing … well, other than I did get the full feeling with a little less on my plate.

One very important thing the chart does not focus on is Ketosis. “Ketosis is an elevation of ketone levels in the body. Ketone production is increased in several situations, including when you follow a very low carb diet. Normally, your body prefers to use blood sugar, also called glucose, for energy. However, during ketosis, your body gets more of its energy from ketones, which are produced from fat”.

Warning: Your energy levels may be lower than when running the machine on high-octane glucose… but it is better. Just allow for reduced demands as a possibility.

I am not a major proponent of “keto diets” or any other of what I consider to be fad diets pushed for weight loss properties. However, wanting my body’s transition to running of fat reserves to be as undramatic as possible, I have tended towards higher fat and protein with lower carbohydrates in my regular diet. I think it helps in the first few days of a full fast, as well as being a bit healthier overall.

Now your mind and body are primed for a full water fast. Just like quitting smoking or alcohol, plan the quit date. Make sure your calendar is clear. Read and re-read on the subject. Learn from the experiences of others and the ample documentation of benefits. Psych yourself up. Enlist help if you can.

My first three were all in conjunction with my wife’s family-visiting vacations. She was not here cooking and eating. All I had to do is avoid the kitchen and thinking about food… easier said than done, but a heckuva lot easier than smelling and seeing prepared food without partaking.

I have found from reading and experience that black coffee and plain herbal tea have little or no negative effects on a water fast, but do help reduce the “feed me” urges. If you currently drink those with additives, spend a month getting used to doing without – either the additives or the drink altogether. I have coffee in the morning and tea in the evening. It helps me.

Most importantly, schedule enjoyable and/or engrossing distractions for those traditional mealtimes where your body clock will be plaguing you.

Here I am 88 hours into this fast – I have not eaten yet THIS YEAR 😉

I have fond memories of food and eating that are hard to ignore. Yet I am noticing small health improvements. Chest and sinus congestion are reducing as are my very large swollen lymph nodes and associated sore throat.

Not the normal AMA-approved cures, but we have studied fasting and know it is superior to Big Pharma.

I need to stay the course until those goals are achieved.

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Thank you, Ted Dunlap