Magnús here. I’m fasting right now.
It’s Wednesday night and I haven’t eaten anything since Sunday night. I drank a lot of water, and I did drink herbal tea on two occasions. It’s pretty hard. I’m a bit dizzy when I stand up and in general I feel quite weak and tired. I’m not very hungy at the moment, but yesterday I fantasized about food all day! Any food I pictured in my mind seemed so incredibly tasty and delicioius. Mmmmm…. plain rice. Nom.
Why am I doing this?
For several reasons. There are supposed health benefits, from fighting inflammation, preventing cancer and other big diseases, and increasing insulin and leptin sensitivity to name a few. Not everyone agrees that it’s healthy though and there are supposed health risks as well.
So… why am I doing this again?
I’m experimenting. I have heard many people around me talk about how much they gained from fasting, whether it’s intermittent fasting (where you do regular short fasts), water fasting (where you only drink water), or juice fasts or similar where you only consume a specific type of food.
It got me curious and I believe the only way to know is to try! So this year I have done a couple of one day fasts, and one two day fast. I also did periods of 20 hour fasting, where for a week or more at a time I only ate between two and six in the daytime.
This is my first three day fast and it is quite intense. But it makes sense to me to do this from several perspecitves. Throughout history (and you don’t even have to go very far back) humans didn’t get food every day. Life has most likely been pretty tough throughout our entire evolution. Sometimes you would have abundant food, sometimes you would get just enough, and occasionally times were tough and you got nothing to eat for some time. I believe we adapted to this kind of rythm and our body acutually prefers it.
If we are always comfortable we get weaker. A challenge keeps us on our toes. Exactly like cold exposure helps us to keep healthy by triggering the response systems in our bodies, fasting might just force us into more properly utilising the energy we get in our food.– Magnús, this very blog post.
I also believe there must be a reason for why pretty much all religions and societies around the world have fasting as a part of their culture. Like other kinds of extremes that are practised, for example afflicting yourself with physical pain or enduring intense cold or heat, it can bring you closer to spirit.
Pushing the limit of the human experience seems to give a valuable perspective.
What have I learned?
I feel this is healing my relationship with food. I don’t have a terrible eating habits, but I recognise certain tendencies I find unhealthy.
- Emotional eating.
- A tendency to over eat.
- Eating too much sugar.
- Eating too much junk food.
Even if I’m conscious of these things as they happen, they still happen. I feel I’m trying to fill some sort of void, that simply cannot be filled by eating.
By denying myself food for some periods of time I feel I am learning so many things! For example.
- Noticing how much time and energy is spent thinking about, preparing and cleaning up after food.
- Regaining the respect for the food and the act of eating, how amazing and beautiful it is to get nourishment and satisfaction from the abundance of mother earths plants.
- Realizing the joy and luxury of being able to eat anything I want at any time.
- Realizing the burden and challenge of being able to eat anything I want at any time.
- Seeing how fast and unconsciously I often eat, making me want to eat slower and with more awareness.
- Becoming more sensitive how different food gives me different kind of energy and what my body likes and dislikes.
This is why I find these fasting experiments worthwhile. They put a lot of things into perspective and re-sensitize me in the super important act of eating, that I perform multiple times on a normal day.
It also gives me a sense of accomplishment for having stuck to it with strong will power and determination. I feel strong and empowered. That being said, it does resonate with me what I read here from an experiened faster, that you shouldn’t foce it too much. If you start and it doesn’t feel good or natural, then you should not continue. The body knows what is best.
Short descriptions of the fasts I tried
- 20 hour fast, every day for 10 days: Felt good. I liked not spending any time on food in the morning, but instead ate a late lunch and an early dinner. I often ate too much for lunch though, and wasn’t so hungry around 18 but ate anyway. So two small meals is better, or one big meal and some snacking. I was very happy for not eating too late in the night. My body likes an early dinner a lot more than a late one!
- 1 day water fast: Not too challenging. The hunger kicks in but is managable. Still have energy to do most things, but it’s nice to take it easy.
- 2 day water fast: Day two is harder! Low energy, constantly thinking about food. Still not too hard if you have already set your mind to it and avoid having food around you.
- 3 day water fast: Day three is quite different. Still not too much energy, but the huger is not as intense. My mouth tastes strange (and my pee smells weird too!) so I feel like the body is definitely getting rid of some toxic stuff. Feel a bit dizzy when I stand up. I have also been biking a bit around the city (slowly) but I think it’s better if you don’t move too much in the longer fasting periods.
The dizzyness is probably due to dehydration, strangely enough since I’m drinking a bunch of cold and hot water. But the body is used to getting part of it’s water from foods, which is now cut off.
I’m not recommending fasting for you! I’m not sure it’s good for everyone, and infact, people with certain conditions should not attempt it. Do more research before trying it out.
But if you are curious, it’s a good experiment if you ask me. The only way to know is to try. It might help you be healthy or lose some weight, although exercise and good eating habits are better for losing weight if you ask me. It would most likely change your attitude towards food and eating for the better though, and that is something very beneficial in my book.
Read more here on healthline.com: