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Social/cultural/psychological Obstacles To Fasting

Categories: Fasting
Sources: 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

its treatment.