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Social/cultural/psychological Obstacles To Fasting
Source: How And When To Be Your Own Doctor
Numerous attitudes make it difficult to fast or to provide moral
support to friends or loved ones that are fasting. Many people
harbor fears of losing weight because they think that if times were
really tough, if there was a famine or they became ill and lost a
lot of weight they would have no reserves and would certainly
perish. These people have no idea how much fat can be concealed on
an even skinny body, nor of how slowly a skinny body loses weight
while fasting. Substantial fat reserves are helpful as
heat-retaining insulation in those rare accidents when someone is
dropped into a cold ocean and must survive until the rescue boat
arrives. Being fat might keep a person alive longer who is lost in
the wilderness awaiting rescue with no supplies, no means of
procuring food, and no means of keeping warm. On the other hand, fat
people would have a far harder time walking out of the wilderness.
And extensive fat deposits are merely fuel and do not contain
extensive nutritional reserves. An obese person fasting without
significant nutritional supplementation would begin starving long
before they became really skinny. On the balance, carrying excess
weight is a far greater liability than any potential prosurvival
aspects it might have.
There are other attitudes associated with weight loss that make it
difficult for people to fast. People hold rather stereotypical
notions about what constitutes an attractive person; usually it
involves having some meat on ones bones. Hollywood and Hugh Hefner
have both influenced the masses to think that women should have
hourglass figures with large, upthrust, firm breasts. Since breasts
are almost all useless fatty tissue supporting some milk-producing
glands that do not give a breast much volume except when engorged,
most women fasters loose a good percentage of their breast mass. If
the fast is extensive, there should also develop an impressive
showing of ribs and hip bones; these are not soft and cuddly.
Husbands, lovers, parents, and friends frequently point out that you
don't look good this way and exhort you to put on weight. Most
people think pleasantly plump is healthy.
Skinny men, especially those who had lost a lot of weight during an
illness, are pressured by associates to put on weight to prove that
they are healthy. I had a client who was formerly a college varsity
football player. Before his illness he had lifted weights and looked
like a hunk. His family and friends liked to see him that way and
justifiably so. Then he got seriously ill. On a long extended
healing diet he lost a significant amount of weight and seemed down
right skinny, causing all who knew him well and cared about him to
tempt him with all kinds of scrumptious delicacies from the best of
kitchens. But this case was like Luigi Cornaro, a man who never
again could look like a hunk. His "friends" made an absolutely
necessary change in life style and appearance far more difficult
than it was already. My client was torn between a desire to please
others, and a desire to regain and retain his health. This problem a
sick person doesn't need.
If you have the independence to consider following an alternative
medical program in a culture that highly values conformity and
agreement, you are also going to have to defend your own course of
self-determined action based on the best available data that you
have. But fasters are usually in fragile emotional condition, so I
advise my clients who are subjected to this kind of pressure to beg
their friends and associates to refrain from saying anything if they
can't support the course of action you have chosen. After this, if
friends or relatives are still incapable of saying nothing (even
non-verbally), it is important to exclude them from your life until
you have accomplished your health goals, have regained some weight
and have returned to eating a maintenance diet, rather than getting
skinnier on a healing one.
The very worst aspect of our culture's eating programming is that
people have been wrongfully taught that when ill they must eat to
keep up their strength. Inherent in this recommendation is an
unstated belief that when the body is weakened by a disease state,
the weakness can somehow be overcome with food, and that the body
needs this food to kill the virus, bacteria, or invading yeast, and
uses the protein to heal or rebuild tissue. Sadly, the exact
opposite is the case. Disease organisms feed and multiply on the
toxic waste products of misdigestion, and the body is unable to
digest well when it is weak or ill.
There's an old saying about this: "feed a cold, starve a fever."
Most people think this saying means you should eat when you have a
cold. What the saying really means is if you feed a cold then you
will soon have to starve a fever. Protein foods especially are not
digested by a diseased body, and as mentioned before, the waste
products of protein indigestion are especially poisonous. That is
all the body needs when it is already down, another load of poison
which it can't eliminate due to weakness and enervation.
Weight loss is usually associated with illness, as it should be! In
times of acute illness an otherwise healthy body loses its appetite
for food because it is prosurvival to stop eating. It is very hard
to coax a sick animal to eat. Their bodies, not controlled by a mind
full of complex learned responses and false ideas, automatically
know that fasting is nature's method of healing. Contrary to popular
understanding, digestion, assimilation, and elimination require the
expenditure of considerable energy. This fact may contradict the
reader's experience because everyone has become tired when they have
worked a long time without eating, and then experienced the lift
after eating. But an ill body cannot digest efficiently so instead
of providing energy extracted from foods, the body is further
burdened by yet another load of toxic material produced by fermented
and putrefied food. This adds insult to injury in a sick body that
is already drowning in its own garbage.
Worse, during illness most available vital force is already
redirected into healing; it is not available for digestion. It is
important to allow a sick body to proceed with healing and not to
obstruct the process with unnecessary digestion or suppress the
symptoms (which actually are the healing efforts) with drugs. If you
have an acute illness, and you stop all food intake except for pure
water and herb teas, and perhaps some vegetable broth, or dilute
non-sweet juice, you have relieved your body of an immense effort.
Instead of digesting, the body goes to work on catching up on
healing. The body can and will almost inevitably heal itself if the
sick person will have faith in it, cooperate with the body's efforts
by allowing the symptoms of healing to exist, reduce or eliminate
the intake of food to allow the body to marshal its energies,
maintain a positive mental attitude and otherwise stay out of the
Many people intensely dread missing even one meal. These folks
usually are and have been so toxic that their bodies had been
stashing uneliminated toxins in their fat for years. They are
usually so addicted to caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, and so forth,
that when they had fasted, even briefly, their bodies were forced to
dip into highly-polluted fat reserves while simultaneously the body
begins withdrawal. People like this who try to fast experience
highly unpleasant symptoms including headache, irritability,
inability to think or concentrate, blurred vision, profound fatigue,
aches, etc. Most of these symptoms come from low blood sugar, but
combined with the toxins being released from fat and combined with
going through multiple addictive withdrawals, the discomforts are
more than most people are willing to tolerate. Fasting on juice is
much more realistic for cases like this. It is little wonder that
when a hygienist suggests a fast to improve health, this type of
case asserts positively that fasting is quite impossible, they have
tried it, it is absolutely terrible and know that they can't do it.
This rejection is partly due to a cultural expectation (one
reinforced by western medicine) that all unpleasant symptoms should
be avoided or suppressed. To voluntarily experience unpleasant
sensations such as those mentioned above is more than the ordinary
timid person will subject themselves to, even in order to regain
health. They will allow surgery, drugs with violent and dangerous
side effects, painful and invasive testing procedures and
radiation--all unpleasant and sometimes extremely uncomfortable.
These therapies are accepted because someone else with authority is
doing it to them. And, they have been told that it they don't submit
they will not ever feel better and probably will die in the near
future. Also people think that they have no alternative, that the
expert in front of them knows what is best, so they feel relieved to
have been relieved of the responsibility for their own condition and
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