I fasted for the first time last week, for about 36 hours.
I didn’t eat anything from Thursday 8pm to Saturday at 10am.
But let’s back it up so I can tell you why I even considered doing it.
If you know my story, you know I had tons of digestive issues when I was younger. Through my obsessive study of nutrition and trying a hundred different things, I solved it. Or so I thought.
If you’ve been on this earth more than a few years, you know that things happen in cycles, and the universe likes to challenge you. Over, and over, and over.
Bloating and Acid Reflux (Heartburn)
For the last few months, I’ve fought with bloating and acid reflux (heartburn). Last year I thought I had it under control. I diligently used a food journal for a couple of weeks, and I was able to link late night meals to acid reflux the next day. I also identified a few foods that upset me almost every time I ate them. BOOM! A couple of new rules to follow, heartburn gone, easy peasy.
It was fine for a few weeks until it started coming back. I started to reintroduce some of those foods that bugged me, thinking maybe I had healed enough to have these “treats” every once in a while. But the heartburn came back despite eating very healthy for the following few days.
I recalled the book “Eating Alive” by John Matsen, where he describes how the stomach gets into a constant state of shock from eating foods that irritate it, at which point even healthy foods bother it. It isn’t until all of the irritating foods are eliminated for several months that the stomach will come out of shock and begin digesting properly again.
Now, the book doesn’t suggest fasting, but I felt like fasting would be a good way to give my stomach a break and ease it out of shock. Plus I’ve always been interested in the willpower it takes to not eat for an entire day.
Friday morning, I decided I will not eat today.
It was a lot easier than I thought. Skipping breakfast was fine, I usually do anyway. I had an urge to eat around 11 am, 3 pm, and 8 pm. All urges stifled with a big jar of water and something distracting. I was working and studying all day. If I had downtime I might have felt more tempted.
When you fast, it is proven that you are 10x more likely to see tasty food photos in your social media news feed, and 3x more likely that your favorite restaurant announces a new special.
I thought it would be hard to fall asleep on an empty stomach, however, I felt extremely tired and fell asleep instantly. The next morning, I woke up with lots of energy and surprisingly no hunger. I waited a few hours before I went to the grocery store, broke my fast with apple juice, and a smoothie a couple of hours after that.
I really enjoyed my experience of fasting for one day. With further reflection, I realized most of my “hunger” is actually cravings, whether it’s for a specific food, boredom, or timing, like if it’s noon. I also realized it is totally OK to be hungry! If you miss a meal, you won’t instantly lose every pound of muscle, contrary to popular belief. That is when your body is cleansing and repairing itself. Digesting takes a lot of energy, and if you eat as most people do in America, your body is pretty much always digesting.
I think the fast worked well. I haven’t experienced heartburn since before the fast. I feel like my digestion is a bit smoother, I am more easily differentiating cravings from hunger, and feeling more motivated to eat for good digestion instead of purely pleasure.
This is definitely not a guide to fasting, nor is it advice, it is simply my personal experience that I am sharing for educational purposes.
A not so surprising fact is when you search online for anything to do with fasting, 99% of the links are about weight loss, the one thing I don’t care about. I was more concerned of the health effects, especially on digestion, and curious about how it affects the mind and soul as I know fasting is a spiritual pratice for many.
Being Relatable Online
I know a lot of people feel like their health goals or having good digestion is completely out of reach – easy to assume when you see what most “health” influencers post about – their perfect bodies, tropical islands, and anything else unrelatable… So I want to give you guys something you can relate to, about a wellness professional who is on his own journey. Wellness is not about achieving a certain end goal. Rather, it is simply about which way you are moving. Are you moving towards wellness or away from it?
I have times when I feel great. I have times when I struggle with food. This is normal and you will not find one magic bullet that once you do it you will feel amazing forever. Even with “perfect” (if that was such a thing) nutrition and habits, you will still have struggles, down days, and illness. Everything comes in cycles and there is always a new challenge. Luckily for me, as a health coach and obsessive learner, I’m armed with tools and skills to quickly correct myself back on the wellness path. My goal, in my content and in my coaching, is to arm you with those same tools and skills to help you move towards wellness.
Tl;dr even professionals struggle. There is no magic bullet. There are tools and skills you can learn to weather any storm.
Leave a comment below with your thoughts and make sure to reach out if you need any help with your own health journey.
Cheers and thanks for reading!