We often don’t think too much about how many times we eat in a day. I don’t just mean our 3 daily meals. How about snacks? Or those delicious bits of chocolate we sneak in our mouths throughout the day to get through those low points?
I didn’t even realize how much time goes into thinking about food, preparing it, and going to the grocery store until it had come to a complete stop.
Why did we fast? It has been 20 years since I’ve gone to church. This summer I was compelled to try it because I wasn’t sure how to teach my children about spirituality. It was very important to me that my children learn how to connect with their souls, Universe, God, whatever you want to call it. I just didn’t know how to put it in to words for them.
Since going back to church I felt that every time the pastor spoke he was speaking to me about what was happening in my life. So when the church began talking about fasting, we decided we would too. The fast would go on for 21 days. Each family would choose to fast what they would like. My husband said that he would try and go as long as possible without any food, only drinking water. I thought he was crazy and I decided I would just fast from sugar, caffeine, meats, and processed foods; pretty much go plant based vegan for 21 days.
The Saturday before the fast would begin we got some very crushing news. I was distraught, my whole life was about to change. We would have to have to start making plans to move from The Outer banks. The following Sunday I went to church and it was the day the fast would begin. The pastor shared that he was going to fast for 21 days only on water. I was blown away and thought, ” if he is going to go without food for 21 days, I can do it for at least 3 days.”
The Fast. We started our fast the following Monday. I skipped breakfast entirely. Then lunch. Then dinner. I was shocked how easy it was not to eat. Anytime I felt hungry I would drink a class of water. I realized that I wasn’t even really hungry. My brain was just telling me to eat during certain activities where I normally do, like, watching TV, scanning my phone, meal times, or after a nap.
The hard part was the withdrawals from sugars and carbs. I had pressure in my head, not quite a headache but an uncomfortable hazy feeling. I drank almost a gallon of water the first day. I was irritable and slow. But I set my goal to three days even though I thought about food constantly. I didn’t want to ruin how far I had come. Honestly the first day was easy to miss, it was the second, and it wasn’t hunger that got me, it was my mind.
My second morning without food I woke up feeling empty. My stomach was tight but not in a bad way. During breakfast I was very uncomfortable and had to sit on the floor and close my eyes. I breathed through it as I had learned in yoga. I grounded myself and felt really great afterwards. I was feeling pretty calm and loosing the pressure in my head. I was still moving pretty slow and felt heavy and fatigued. I took a nap when Piper slept because I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Day three I was elated, cleared minded, and very energetic. I wasn’t even hungry which I thought was so strange. I was very attuned to my children needs and less distracted. No dishes to wash, and very little food preparation since the kids were the only ones eating. I had so much extra time I began to complete task around the house that I had been avoiding. I even tried to nap with Piper but I had so much energy I couldn’t fall asleep.
Breaking our fast. During my fast I didn’t want to leave the house. I was worried I may pass out, or wouldn’t be able to function normal. This was not entirely true, I performed fine, but at a much slower rate (more conscious) than I would with food. By the evening I was mentally exhausted trying not to think of food. The cravings were intense. Sometimes I could even taste certain foods like a warm pancake coming off of a buttery skillet. I was ready to eat again and get back to a normal routine.
It was such a strange feeling to let go of something that I allowed to comfort me emotionally and in a habitual state of mind. My best friend would be a box of chocolate mini donuts I would happily scarf down on a bad day.
I decided when I broke my fast I would eat something I really dislike, and that was oatmeal. I wanted to reintroduce it to myself and really appreciate it. Let me tell you it was the most amazing bowl of oatmeal I have ever had topped with strawberries, flax seeds, chia seeds, figs, and unsweetened coconut flakes.
We decided we would continue the rest of our fast eating only fruits, vegetables, nuts and oats.
The pros of fasting.
- My skin was clear and supple after day two
- My body was detoxing from processed foods
- My eczema had cleared up
- My mind gained clarity after day two
- Day three my energy sky rocketed
- My PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) symptoms lessened
- So much extra time
- Less dishes
- Saved a lot of money on food
- Reset my taste buds (bananas and figs are sweet enough now)
- Appreciated natural tasting foods
- Learned that food is for nourishment
- My appetite is smaller
- Less portion sizes now
- Drink a lot more water now
- I felt proud of myself
- I felt more receptive to the Universe
- I didn’t want to be on social media (so much food there!)
- I learned that I use food as a comfort and can refrain from it
- I learned how to tell if I’m really hungry
- The love of cooking has returned (because cooking the same way for 15 years gets kind of repetitive)
- No more rewarding ourselves with food
- No more watching TV while eating (even snacking)
The cons of fasting.
- It was uncomfortable and different for my mind to wrap around
- Less energy in the first two days
- Headache in the beginning
- Waking up thinking I had to struggle another day sucked
Really, if you think about it, people use to go off alone into the forest or desert as a way to come into manhood. Some would go with nothing but a knife, or some would go with little food. Other tribes would go wander the desert on peyote to seek spiritual guidance. What do we do now? Netflix binge with a bag of sour cream and onion chips and french onion dip. Oh that’s just me?
How often do we really challenge ourselves, or our body for a long period of time that disconnects from humanity? Everyone is eating all the time and it isn’t even real food. Damn that’s scary.
My first trip to the grocery store was shocking. Every single aisle is filled with processed and unnatural food. Even our produce is poisoned with chemicals!
The best part. I didn’t think about how this would impact my children. My eldest has always been a nail biter. No matter what we did to try to get her to stop she wouldn’t and finally we just accepted it. During our fast she had overheard me and my husband talking about how long it takes to break a habit. She took it open herself to try and stop biting her nails. She didn’t even mention it to us. One night I noticed that her nails had the whites on them again. I asked if she’d seen biting her nails and she replied she hadn’t. She told me that she wanted to break her habit of biting her nails and that she learned it from us fasting. Wow! That was such an amazing feeling!
Not only did we positively impact our children but we received clarity on the bad news we had received. It wasn’t a concrete answer – you should do “B” rather than “C”. But it was an understanding that the challenge we are facing can’t be fixed easily. That we are getting ready to walk into a part of our life that will be hard and that we need to accept what is coming. As long as we move forward together as a family we will be okay. That gave us a lot of relief.
Who knew that not eating food could make so many positive impacts? Not only have we began eating again but we are continuing to eat plant based vegan for the rest of our 21 days and have included the children on the last leg of our fasting journey. I’m not sure what will happen after the 21 days but I’m excited to finally shift our family’s mindset about food.
A few notes. If you are thinking about fasting you should make sure to clear it with your doctor. Fasting can have great health benefits if done correctly. It can also be very harmful if done incorrectly. Please be safe and do your research. Everyone’s body is different. What works for us may not work for you.
Remember to live simply, so you can really live.
Sophie & The Fam
– Salt Hippy