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The Stages Of Fasting
Source: How And When To Be Your Own Doctor
The best way to understand what happens when we fast is to break up
the process into six stages: preparation for the fast, loss of
hunger, acidosis, normalization, healing, and breaking the fast.
A person that has consumed the typical American diet most of their
life and whose life is not in immediate danger would be very wise to
gently prepare their body for the fast. Two weeks would be a minimum
amount of time, and if the prospective faster wants an easier time
of it, they should allow a month or even two for preliminary
housecleaning. During this time, eliminate all meat, fish, dairy
products, eggs, coffee, black tea, salt, sugar, alcohol, drugs,
cigarettes, and greasy foods. This de-addiction will make the
process of fasting much more pleasant, and is strongly recommended.
However, eliminating all these harmful substances is withdrawal from
addictive substances and will not be easy for most. I have more to
say about this later when I talk about allergies and addictions.
The second stage, psychological hunger, usually is felt as an
intense desire for food. This passes within three or four days of
not eating anything. Psychological hunger usually begins with the
first missed meal. If the faster seems to be losing their resolve, I
have them drink unlimited quantities of good-tasting herb teas,
(sweetened--only if absolutely necessary--with nutrisweet). Salt-free
broths made from meatless instant powder (obtainable at the health
food store) can also fend off the desire to eat until the stage of
hunger has passed.
Acidosis, the third stage, usually begins a couple of days after the
last meal and lasts about one week. During acidosis the body
vigorously throws off acid waste products. Most people starting a
fast begin with an overly acid blood pH from the typical American
diet that contains a predominance of acid-forming foods. Switching
over to burning fat for fuel triggers the release of even more
acidic substances. Acidosis is usually accompanied by fatigue,
blurred vision, and possibly dizziness. The breath smells very bad,
the tongue is coated with bad-tasting dryish mucus, and the urine
may be concentrated and foul unless a good deal of water is taken
daily. Two to three quarts a day is a reasonable amount.
Mild states of acidosis are a common occurrence. While sleeping
after the last meal of the day is digested bodies normally work very
hard trying to detoxify from yesterday's abuses. So people routinely
awaken in a state of acidosis. Their tongue is coated, their breath
foul and they feel poorly. They end their brief overnight fast with
breakfast, bringing the detoxification process to a screeching halt
and feel much better. Many people think they awaken hungry and don't
feel well until they eat. They confuse acidosis with hunger when
most have never experienced real hunger in their entire lives. If
you typically awaken in acidosis, you are being given a strong sign
by your body that it would like to continue fasting far beyond
breakfast. In fact, it probably would enjoy fasting long beyond the
end of acidosis.
Most fasters feel much more comfortable by the end of the first
seven to ten days, when they enter the normalization phase; here the
acidic blood chemistry is gradually corrected. This sets the stage
for serious healing of body tissues and organs. Normalization may
take one or two more weeks depending on how badly the body was out
of balance. As the blood chemistry steadily approaches perfection,
the faster usually feels an increasing sense of well-being, broken
by short spells of discomfort that are usually healing crises or
The next stage, accelerated healing, can take one or many weeks
more, again depending on how badly the body has been damaged.
Healing proceeds rapidly after the blood chemistry has been
stabilized, the person is usually in a state of profound rest and
the maximum amount of vital force can be directed toward repair and
regeneration of tissues. This is a miraculous time when tumors are
metabolized as food for the body, when arthritic deposits dissolve,
when scar tissues tend to disappear, when damaged organs regain lost
function (if they can). Seriously ill people who never fast long
enough to get into this stage (usually it takes about ten days to
two weeks of water fasting to seriously begin healing) never find
out what fasting can really do for them.
Breaking the fast is equally or more important a stage than the fast
itself. It is the most dangerous time in the entire fast. If you
stop fasting prematurely, that is, before the body has completed
detoxification and healing, expect the body to reject food when you
try to make it eat, even if you introduce foods very gradually. The
faster, the spiritual being running the body, may have become bored
and want some action, but the faster's body hasn't finished. The
body wants to continue healing.
By rejection, I mean that food may not digest, may feel like a stone
in your stomach, make you feel terrible. If that happens and if,
despite that clear signal you refuse to return to fasting, you
should go on a juice diet, take as little as possible, sip it slowly
(almost chew it) and stay on juice until you find yourself digesting
it easily. Then and only then, reintroduce a little solid raw food
like a green salad.
Weaning yourself back on to food should last just as long as the
fast. Your first tentative meals should be dilute, raw juices. After
several days of slowly building up to solid raw fruit, small amounts
of raw vegetable foods should be added. If it has been a long fast,
say over three weeks, this reintroduction should be done gingerly
over a few weeks. If this stage is poorly managed or ignored you may
become acutely ill, and for someone who started fasting while
dangerously ill, loss of self control and impulsive eating could
prove fatal. Even for those fasting to cure non-life-threatening
illnesses it is pointless to go through the effort and discipline of
a long fast without carefully establishing a correct diet after the
fast ends, or the effort will have largely been wasted.
Next: Foods For Monodiet, Juice Or Broth Fasting
Previous: Exercise While Fasting