It all started with a meme.
i saw this meme and for some reason, felt offended. First thoughts “that’s not true!” I felt so triggered. But i knew enough to know that you cant feel triggered by something that has no truth for you, so i decided to look a little deeper. Why would that bother me so much? Well probably because it’s suggesting that if you can’t control what you eat, you’re missing a very base and key element to personal growth and self control. I knew that recently I had fallen wayyy off the wagon I’ve been on for the past 6 years and I was eating very much like the “old me.” If i was honest with myself i knew that my eating was out of control. (i was going to explain here but decided it probably needs its own blog post, so look out for that.) But at the same time my eating was out of control, i was making huge leaps and healing major issues that I’d buried deeply for many many years. This made me feel like i did have a grasp on things, and in some sense, i was doing great. but in another sense I was a had lost complete control of my eating and i knew it was effecting my emotions and energy and more importantly, allowing me to continue masking some of the feelings that were coming up. My new favorite saying is “you cannot heal what you do note feel” (came up with it myself! *pats self on back*) and if i am suppressing an emotion with food, I am not getting any closer to healing it.
I want to eat for nourishment again. I want to eat for energy again. I want to relearn my relationship with food, with hunger, and with “dieting.” I have avoided fad diets for so long but what has been true for me is that if i am not counting calories or macros or SOMETHING, i stop losing or start gaining. It’s like i need to record every single thing i eat for accountability so i know when to stop. My gut instinct tells me this is not the way it has to be though. My ancestors didn’t do this. They ate real food simply when they were hungry and avoided obesity related disease as simple as that. I want to be able to do that SO BAD.
Why i decided to fast:
In the past i had considered fasting for the healing benefits. The body uses so much energy and resources digesting food and when it doesn’t have to worry about the constant break down (and often times, toxin removal with the kind of foods we eat today) of food, it can use those resources to repair other areas of the body. In nature, there are no animals that eat when they are sick. They all fast to get well. I had also briefly considered fasting for the spiritual benefit. I had also read about people who fasted and meditated for days on end and had all of these epiphanies and awakenings along the way. I read this one post about a woman who literally dreamed about herself breaking up with her binge eating disorder on the 9th day of her fast. I had lots of reasons to want to try out a fast, but realizing i was triggered by a meme was definitely the straw that broke my back.
My plan going in was that i would fast for only two days. I planned to drink water, continue to take my multivitamin and b12, and to allow myself 4oz of kombucha and a glass of tea each day. I’d also read it’s a good idea to take some sea salt so you don’t become mineral deficient, so i licked a bit off the back of my hand once or twice as well.
My fast started at midnight either Tuesday night, or technically Wednesday morning. I woke up feeling fine Wednesday as I hadn’t fasted any longer than i normally do overnight. That morning I had to go to Walmart and as soon as i pulled into the parking lot i was stressed out. My first thought was “I’m going to buy chips.” This may not have even stood out to me the day before, but because I wasn’t taking in any food, it really stood out that at the first sign of stress my FIRST thought was chips? I did not buy any chips. Later that evening I had some really bad period cramps (i had started the night before) and again, my first thought was “i should probably eat something.” What?? Literally my belly is hurting me and i am thinking food is in the answer? Nothing about eating any type of food cures cramps…why would i be thinking like this? Well there’s not a single food that actually cures stress but I am also using food for that. I guess you could say this was my first epiphany of the fast. These weren’t thoughts i was having because I was fasting. They are thoughts I have often and more often than not recently, act on. The only difference was that I actually noticed and gave real thought to the idea before acting on impulse without thinking twice. In addition to this realization and the mental shift that came with it, I had a great day 1. I went for a two mile walk on the beach and honestly didn’t ever really feel very hungry. I drank a ton of water and when i sipped on kombucha in the evening it tasted better than it ever had before. (to be honest i am not in love with kombucha but i know how good it is for me so ive been trying to love it.)
On the afternoon of day 2, when i hit the 36 hours of fasting mark, I was surprised I was still pooping. That was mind blowing to me, that 36 hours after consuming my last bite of food and my body is still pushing left over junk out of my intestines and colon. On the second day i had SUPER high energy- like as much energy as my best days eating food. I worked doing hair all day and sipped on my water every chance I got. For my workout I did yoga and was THRILLED to realize that when i saw a commercial for BUY ONE GET ONE FREE PIZZA (pizza is my weakness) I didn’t even consider breaking the fast or look deeper into the deal to find out how long it was going on for. It was just in one ear, out the other, with the exception of realizing what a huge deal it was that i wasn’t tempted by it. Historically, if i even see a picture of pizza, chips, french fries or sweets, i begin to crave it. This felt like MAJOR progress. I also began to realize that although i didnt actually feel any kind of weak or hungry, i did keep noticing my stomach was growling. I decided to look up WHY our stomachs growl and was blown away to learn that a growling stomach doesnt mean that we are hungry. It is the sound we hear when food or gas is being moved through our stomach and intestines. the sound echos in an empty stomach so we generally only hear it when our stomach is empty. However, and empty stomach does NOT mean the body is hungry. The body is hungry when it has depleted its nutrition sources. Hunger is not about food volume, its about nutritional value. This is why when we eat junk food we can feel like a bottomless pit that is never satisfied- why it makes it so easy for so many of us to binge. Eating nutritionally inadequate poison doesnt signal being full as much as ‘eat more!’ because the body is still missing the nutrients it needed before the meal was consumed. FASCINATING.
On the morning of day 3 I decided to keep going. I didn’t feel like my body was telling me it NEEDED food yet, and i still managed to poop a tiny bit. I did not feel the energy i had felt on the two previous days and sometime after noon it finally happened, it could not stop thinking about food. Not unhealthy food, though. I wanted greens and sesame oil, oddly enough. I felt like i couldnt get anything done because my mind was so distracted so i decided to have a glass of almond milk finally, around 6pm. It really did not help as i continued to obsesses over whether my body was telling me to break the fast or not. At 8:30pm (68 hours into fasting) I broke the fast with a handful of baby carrots. They tasted amazing. I wondered if i should just eat a meal since i had “fucked up the fast anyways” but thats when i caught myself in an old familiar thought pattern again. How many times in life had i been eating “on track” and had one thing that was “off track” and decided fuck it! im just eating junk for the rest of the day! TOO MANY TIMES. no, i wasnt considering eating junk, i didnt even have the desire to eat junk, but why does it have to be all or nothing for me? I realized this is a theme in my life, especially with food. I give up sugar for 3 months, eat one item with sugar and say ‘fuck it’ and go on a sugar binge. i eat dairy free for 4 years and eat 1 piece of milk chocolate and say ‘fuck it’ and go on a milk chocolate binge. I can’t say i have ever fully realized this pattern in myself before, which is kind of odd since i am one to quote Bob Harper and say “throwing in the towel over one bad meal is like getting a flat tire so you slash the other three.” for a long time, i even lived by that quote. But somewhere in my struggle of the past year I had forgotten it. It felt good to finally be truly reminded. The good news is, i didn’t do that this time. I ate the carrots and felt a bit satisfied before i even finished them all, so get this. I STOPPED EATING. Not only did i not binge but i stopped eating when my stomach was full. I continued to fast overnight and began eating the next day.
The Day After
The next day i started with a green juice and worked my way into a smoothie and eventually a salad with brussel sprouts for dinner. I can’t say I felt any more or less energy than my normal days and when i went for a run, my workout wasn’t more or less hard. However, I did see some amazing looking donuts on my instagram feed (thanks to Ads SMH- i dont follow any accounts that post junk food so that i can have a “safe space” on the internet) and again- no temptation! I thought for sure once i started eating again i would want to stuff my face with everyyyyything but it really wasn’t the case.
Here are my physical results of the fast:
According to my body analyzer (usecode SCALEGOALS to get it for $50) I lost 4.8lbs of my weight. My body fat decreased by .9 and my muscle mass increased by .5. However, what was really weird to me (and i got on and off 4x to make sure it was right) was that my bone mass went down by .2lbs….. I didn’t think it was healthy to lose bone mass during a fast and i wondered if there had ever been any research about it so i was relieved to see there has been: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2015/628740/ In the future, when i fast again and for longer, I will be paying a LOT of attention to this, as well as seeing if that .2lbs returns when i start taking food again.
Reasons I Stopped Fasting
The biggest reason i stopped was because I didn’t trust my body or the process. I had read that a person with adewuate body fat (trust me, i got it) can often fast safely for up to 40 days, but i kept wondering if my body was eating my muscles i worked so hard for or it was somehow and someway hurting me. I also did a lot more reading DURING the fast and found that it is best to eat super healthy to prep for a fast so that your body has reserves of nutrition to start with. I had been eating like junk for 2 months straight pretty much, i am sure i didnt have a ton of nutritional reserves. I also stopped because i am taking a plant medicine this weekend and was specifically instructed NOT to fast on those days, so i knew i needed to stop within the week.
Initially i thought i would just do it for two days, so i am thrilled that i lasted three! I am also thrilled with my lack of desire to junk and my ability to stop eating when i am full, so far. Yesterday was the 2nd day post fast and i met a friend for brunch. I had vegan chicken and waffles and thought i would be SCREAMING for sugar afterward and potentially have to battle the desire to binge. But i didnt. I ate the waffles and only used half of the syrup and half of the whipped cream! I didnt decide to do this as a diet choice, that was just all i needed. It felt SO GOOD to not use the extra syrup just because it was there or be tempted to lick the residue out of the whipped cream bowl. Not only was brunch a success but i had no desire to binge after. I didn’t eat until dinner time and was happy with a salad with some quinoa and beans. I FELT LIKE MY OLD SELF AGAIN!!! not like my old old self, who stuffed her face with poison to the point of crashing and literally needing a nap before i could do anything else, but like my old self that I have lost this past year. The self i have become over the last 7 years and was in LOVE with. The self that ran a marathon and felt healthy and strong and fit and wasnt controlled by food. I felt like HER again and it felt DAMN good.
With that said, i think it is pretty obvious i will fast again. Next time i will better prepare by eating clean and whole food beforehand. Next time i will not choose a length of the fast, but truly dive into listening to my body telling me when it is depleted. I can’t imagine what i could work through with a week or even weeks where i dont have food to mask my feelings or to occupy my mind. I can’t imagine what i could get to the root of or break free from without my food crutch.
At the end of this post i will share all of the sources i dove into to become educated about how to fast properly but first i want to make sure to point out what may be ovbvious to some but not so much to others, and is not something i want to be overlooked by anyone. Regularly binging and eating junk food, followed by fasting, is not a healthy habit but rather, the beginning of an eating disorder. Please use this information to heal your body. Please do not use this information to inspire a habit of binging and starving. Fasts are not punishments. We do not do this because we have “been bad.” Therefore, a fast should always be planned. Don’t decide “I am going to fast tomorrow because i ate like shit all weekend.” Fasting is NOT a punishment or consequence of binge eating. Please read up on the process, be honest with yourself, be self aware and journal your thoughts to notice patterns or unhealthy correlations, and always remember an eating disorder is never a healthy option to reach your goals.
10 Reasons I’m Fasting Regularly
How To Know If It’s Time To Break The Fast
Important Fasting Facts
20 Benefits of Fasting
Your Keys To Safe Fasting
Fasting to Overcome Compulsive Eating