It’s an interesting thing really: this idea of fasting. I first started asking the question “what does fasting do?” at the beginning of this year when the church I go to stared their yearly corporate Daniel Fast.
Sure the pastor explained all of the biblical reasons for fasting, but I wanted to know more. So I went to my favorite place on the internet (Google) and did some digging.
Turns out that people have been fasting for thousands of years for various reasons. Some spiritual, some physical, some health related and some for shear discipline.
I, however, was more interested in the spiritual reasons for fasting. So since I wasn’t getting the information I wanted online, I decided to take the plunge and fast for myself.
I had hoped to achieve a few things:
1. From a spiritual standpoint I hoped to draw closer to God.
So many things I read, (and heard from my church pastor) taught that fasting was a way to connect with God.
I really had no clue how or if this would even happen, but it was worth a try. After all there is no better teacher than experience itself.
2. From a physical stand point, I hoped to gain some insight into my eating behaviors.
I am a foodie at heart and LOVE to eat.
Did I say LOVE to eat?
And sometimes, I eat, just because. No need to be hungry, if that Cold Stone Ice Cream looks so delicious – Right?
3. From a health stand point, I hoped to “clean out” my body.
If only for a little while I was looking to give my body enough of a break to start to eliminate some toxins.
One of the things that I learned about fasting (from my reading) is that your body on any given day, spends most of its energy digesting the food we eat. Clearly the heavier the food the more energy your body has to spend digesting.
Well when you don’t eat (or you fast) your body’s energy gets freed up to do the elimination, healing and detoxification work that it had put on hold while it was busy digesting your food.
So perhaps I would gain a little vitality and maybe even clearer skin.
My plan has been to commit to a regular fast once per week. Essentially a 36 hour fast, where I have dinner on Saturday evening, and then don’t eat all day Sunday. I resume my normal eating habits on Monday morning.
I’ve been doing this for 9 weeks now and the benefits have exceeded my expectations.
So what does fasting do for me? Here is what I’ve found.
1. I have found that during a fast I am forced to draw on God instead of on my own strength.
Did I mention I was a foodie?
So NOT eating, for me, is a very difficult thing. Add to that the fact that eating is the strongest of the human instincts and fasting turns into a very hard thing to do for most of us.
I realized in the first few times that I fasted that when I got hungry, I could call on God’s grace to hold me through that pain.
2. Fasting has also made me better able and more willing to listen for God’s voice.
I’m not sure that I ever really paid attention to my hunger cues before I started fasting. But when you have committed to not eating for a day, you are much more aware of how hungry you are.
You are also more aware of when you are NOT hungry and you feel content.
Listening to my body, and being aware of what it needs, has helped me become better at listening to divine guidance as well.
1. I’ve realized that I’m actually NOT hungry all day long! Go figure.
Even though I’m not eating for a day, the hunger pangs come and go. They don’t just stay with you as a constant pain all day long.
This makes fasting completely bearable when you understand that the pain of hunger is only temporary.
2. I have more discipline when I’m not fasting
Because I notice my hunger on fasting days, and I have learned to realize what TRUE hunger feels like, I’m better able to feed myself the foods my body wants to eat when it’s hungry every other day of the week.
I now feel uncomfortable to eat when I’m not hungry or to keep eating once I’ve become satisfied.
I am also better able to listen to my body in deciding WHAT to eat, instead of just intellectually choosing something because it’s available or simply because the food meets my definition of healthy.
While I have not used any instruments to check my levels of toxins lately, I have noticed a few health benefits.
1. I have lots of energy
Most people think they will be a sluggish mess if they ever went an entire day without food. But I have found the opposite to be true.
I always have a pretty good amount of energy. But I usually have more energy when I’m fasting. I’m not quite sure how that works.
2. My skin is clearer.
I read somewhere that fasting dries out your skin (even if you do drink about a gallon of water when you’re fasting like I do).
Since I have oily and acne prone skin, perhaps the skin drying effect of fasting is doing my oily skin some good.
I’m sure there are many more things for me to learn about fasting, but for now I’m pretty satisfied understanding what does fasting do for me.
Do you or have you ever fasted? What does fasting do for you?