Today, I finished a 6-day water-only fast. During such a fast, we drink only water. No food, no juice, no tea, nothing except plain water.
The fast was unplanned. On Monday morning, I had an early morning appointment with my dentist. I had skipped breakfast. An hour after that appointment, I had to meet a massage therapist at Leelawadee with Bill. He's excellent! These days, they are offering discounted prices. The massage finished at noon. After the massage, I felt great! I was walking straighter and my mind was calmer.
After the massage, I wanted to drive back home but my car wouldn't start! This had happened once before. That time around, my car started after a couple of hours. So I decided to take a stroll to a nearby park and relax. After dozing off for almost an hour, I walked back to my car. It still wouldn't start. So I called my insurance company. Luckily, I had signed up for Emergency Services. The wait time was about 40 minutes. So I spent some time in a grocery shop nearby. When the towing truck came, my car actually started! :) Well, that was both awesome and annoying at the same time.
I then drove to a mechanic whom I have known for 10+ years. Luckily, the car failed to start in their garage. However, as the mechanic was trying to identify the problem, the car started again! I was asked to go back home because they could diagnose the problem if the car was non-functional. So I drove back home.
By this time, it was almost 4pm and I hadn't had any food that day. I thought, "Why don't I just fast?" That thought resulted in a 6-day water fast.
In February 2012, I had seen the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (freely available online). It had inspired me to do a 10-day juice fast, which was a life changing event for me. I jotted down my experience in an article: Juice Fasting for Calmness and Clarity. In the middle my juice fast, I had learnt that juice fasting is a modern concept. Traditionally, fasting has been considered curative and therapeutic by many cultures worldwide. The article Benefits of Fasting (1977) by Paul Martin traces the history of fasting.
In 2012, I had also watched Fasting - Safe and Effective Use of an Ancient Powerful Healing Therapy (55 minutes) by Dr Michael Klaper. This is an awesome video by a medical doctor who supervises fasting. It answers many questions like: how many days should we fast? what symptoms should we expect? when should we break a fast? who should fast? who should fast only under medical supervision? If you have a medical condition, then you must definitely watch this DVD before you do any sort of fast. From this DVD, I had learnt that anybody in good physical condition who is not on any medication can do a three day water-only fast without supervision. That gave me confidence.
In 2013, I had done a 3-day water fast. Since then, I had done three more juice fasts: 15 days in 2015, 20 days in 2016 and 10 days in 2017. In 2016, I had hiked to Half Dome on Day 20 of my fast.
From 2012 to 2015, my food habits were pretty good — I adhered to low-fat plant based diets with zero processed food, zero refined sugars and very little restaurant food. From 2015 to 2016, restaurant food entered my life; such food tends to be oily, salty and spicy. I was still vegan. In 2016-2017 timeframe, the swings in my food habits became higher in amplitude. For example, there were multi-week periods when I was eating chocolates and vegan ice-creams. And there were multi-week periods when I cooked plain food for myself at home. Every deviations away from good habits was concomitant with stress in personal life. On the whole, it has been a struggle to sustain awesome food habits and be joyful and calm.
Several online articles describe personal experiences with multi-day fasts ranging from 3 to 40 days. They talk about a series of symptoms that they experience, week by week. In my case, I was able to function just fine for the first 4-5 days. On days 5 and 6, I felt quite weak and low energy. On day 6, I also felt my stomach was producing bile that was finding its way up the esophagus. These symtoms were rather mild; I was able to manage them by drinking water.
Both tiredness and bile production are mentioned in online articles that describe water fasting. So I wasn't surprised. Apparently, these symptoms clear up and we start feeling bright and clear headed as the fast progresses. In my case, I was feeling so fatigued that I just lay in bed most of day six! I wanted to be able to function normally and go to work. So I decided to break the fast today.
In the evening, over a three hour period, I consumed three bananas, one apple, two oranges, some papaya and some melon. And I'm feeling just fine!
What did I get from this fast?
I feel much calmer. I gained appreciation for people who don't have much to eat. I felt grateful that I live near my workplace and that I have a place to stay and sleep. In the past, fasts like these have helped me readjust my taste buds so that I can follow healthy food habits: low-fat, salt-free and plant-based foods. I hope I am able to sustain these habits for a long time now.
© Copyright 2008—2018, Gurmeet Manku.