DIETING is a form of fasting — whether on “carbs” (carbohydrates), sweets, or red meat, to name a few. As with dieting, fasting has various forms. It is more commonly associated with its roots in spiritual/religious practices, which continues to be observed to this day, particularly during Holy Week or Lenten Season for Christians.
For Christians, fasting is a biblical discipline that involves abstinence from a particular indulgence — usually food — for a certain period of time. However, as mentioned above, fasting can have many variations. Aside from the most common practice of abstinence from pork on Fridays for Roman Catholics, fasting can include abstinence from other or all kinds of food and even particular activities, such as watching your favorite TV series or going online on social media.
Oftentimes, one fasts for a purpose. In the religious sense, most people do this as a practice of setting aside one’s selfish desires to seek a deeper connection with God or when they have earnest, serious requests. In a more general spiritual sense, it is believed that fasting brings clarity of mind and creates a deeper sense of self-awareness, which then brings one to realizations.
Beyond the Lenten season, fasting has recently been catching on as a trend, known by the term Intermittent Fasting. Personally, the concept of this type of dietary modification is still subject to much discussion between the health care professions. And just as I’ve been emphasizing in my previous articles, there is no single diet that should be recommended for the general public because of our biological uniqueness. I’m not against Intermittent Fasting but diet modifications like this need to be undertaken with caution.
Whether you’re fasting for spiritual or non-spiritual reasons, it is important to be well-informed and guided, especially with the fact that it involves altering a basic necessity that greatly affects one’s wellbeing.
Fasting on food is a serious matter because this is depriving oneself of a basic need that is essential in sustaining one’s wellbeing. Remember, subjecting yourself to something drastic is never a good idea, especially when it comes to your diet. That’s why crash diets are never recommended by the real dietitians.
So, when deciding to fast on food, whether entirely or on certain food items only, be guided with the following information:
One step at a time. Allow your body to adjust to your fasting by gradually decreasing your food intake. So, this could mean beginning your fast at an earlier date than your target date to allow for an adjustment period.
Start with changing one meal into a soup and then two meals, until you have totally shifted to a liquid diet, having smoothies and soups. You may maintain that modification or you may progress to having just water. Each progression will need two to three days before shifting to further modification.
Bottoms up… on water! Keep yourself hydrated! Man can survive without food for weeks but dehydrating yourself can cause serious health conditions, even death. Remember to drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water daily!
Ease back in. Like how you started your fast, gradually get back to your normal eating habits. Start with smoothies for at most two days and progress to salads and light meals until you can tolerate full meals again. Like the beginning, you will need a week or two to adjust.
Note: Do not attempt to fast entirely on food if you are:
• Below 18 years old
• Have any chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, kidney failure, liver failure, thyroid diseases
• Have known micronutrient deficiencies
Have a fruitful and insightful fasting!
(Justinne Lou P. Go is a licensed Nutritionist-Dietitian and shares her expertise at the LifeScience Center for Health and Wellness in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Metro Manila.)