Today is the first 24-hour fast. Possibly 36, if I feel like going on till tomorrow breakfast, but certainly 24. I was going to start *after* breakfast, but I got up this morning and thought, “why the hell would I waste the 13 hours of fasting I’ve already accrued?” So my fast started at 4:30 yesterday, and I’ll break it at 4:30 today. I am having coffee, because piling caffeine withdrawal on top of fasting seems like asking for trouble; also I’ve taken my thyroid med and my vitamin D3. Otherwise, it’s water.
It’s oddly luxurious to not have to think about food prep and planning. Spacious. I have two white pint bowls that I use for my morning broccoli. In the evening I prep the broccoli and put it in the fridge, ready to steam in the morning, and last of all I start the dishwasher. In the morning I eat the broccoli, as I unload the dishwasher and make the rest of my breakfast; and before I sit down to eat my oatmeal and eggs I put the newly-empty bowl into the newly-empty dishwasher. So the one bowl spends the day on the shelf and the night in the fridge, while the other spends the whole day and night in the dishwasher, and in the morning they switch places: but the two never meet. But this morning they are on the shelf together, eyeing each other with suspicion and surprise.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?”
“I live here. I’ve always lived here.”
“Nonsense. *I* have always lived here.”
I’m sure they’ll sort it out. I wonder if I have twin in the world, occupying my negative spaces? I imagine I do.
So now I have done 24 hours! Not much of a struggle, actually. Of acute interest will be: what do my hormones do now? I just ate my usual dinner, though an hour late. Will I be unusually hungry tonight, or tomorrow? Stay tuned.
This is all so interesting. No wonder that so many spiritual traditions address the place food has in our lives. What to eat. What not to eat. When to fast. When to break a fast. Gratitude for food. Food as part of ritual.
When I was in my early 30s, I underwent a 10-day fast, with the goal of losing what I thought at the time was excess weight. I weighed just a little less than I weigh now. My goal weight since I had been a teenager was always the lowest weight on the charts showing "normal" weight for someone my height. It didn't matter to me that my weight was already "normal." I FELT fat.
During the 10 days I only drank water. It was August and the weather was as sunny and warm as it gets here in Western Washington and yet as the days went by I felt cold and began heating my water to warm myself. Having experienced craving for food throughout my childhood and adult life up until them, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was "fine" without food. I have come to know that this was because I had always eaten foods that triggered craving. When I didn't eat at all, I found that the terrible craving that ruled my life was absent. Craving is not the same thing as a healthy appetite. I had never in my life experienced what it meant to have a healthy appetite.
Although I was not eating any food, I didn't feel as if I were starving to death because I wasn't "starving to death." All that was happening was that my body called on its reserves until I ate again. I felt peaceful. It was a joy to be free of craving. I had plenty of energy. Much to my surprise, I didn't lose as much weight as I had thought I would lose. However, several of my friends began to express concern about how thin I was. I scoffed (-:
What I remember most vividly from that 10-day fast was how acute my sense of smell became. Of course! At that point, my body was beginning to need food. If I actually were to be starving to death, I know now that my body would become fine-tuned to the smell of food in an attempt to save my life.
The book I used as a guide to fasting said that I would at some point know that it was time to eat again and that I should begin eating slowly, in small amounts, starting with juice. At 10 days, something told me I was ready to eat again. After drinking some juice, I began eating small amounts of food and, sure enough, I experienced craving again! I was unable to control my intake of food once that craving was triggered. Within a few days, I gained back all the weight I had lost and went back to my lifelong pattern of "dieting."
You know my story. I stopped dieting at age 37 and began eliminating those foods that triggered craving and have had peace with food and my weight since then, except for the times that I have experimented with consuming my trigger foods.
Currently, at age 71, I'm astonishingly comfortable with 18-6 fasting -- something I had not known had a name and a precedent. I had been doing that intuitively. A 6-hour window of three meals and 18 craving-free hours that end with me having a healthy appetite.
I'm curious to hear more of your food and fasting story as it unfolds.
It's so wonderful that you figured out how to get free of craving! I wish we'd had better information when we were young. I spent so much time conscientiously doing exactly the wrong thing.
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