People fast for spiritual reasons and at times they feel by doing so, they enhance their physical health. Fasting improves one’s will power, gives relief to the digestive system and teaches one to be patient and not be self-indulgent. Many religions expect their devotees to fast like among the Muslims in the month of Ramadan devotees fast throughout the day. Similarly, Hindus also fast during several festivals and also for personal salvation.
Fasting needs to be performed in a particular prescribed way as otherwise it would affect one’s health. Just fasting the way one wants to is not recommended. Be it a juice fasting or water, there is a procedure to be followed.
What Procedure to Follow While Fasting?
- People go on short and long term fasts. Some go on a 2 cycle program or a 14 day cycle program. In both the cases, the initial period of fasting lasts for 7 days.
- Before beginning one’s fast one must be clear as to why one is fasting? Is it for spiritual reasons or dietary reasons or for guidance or for God’s help in a crisis?
- Then one has to decide the method of fasting, whether one wants to fast for a few days or for several weeks or for 40 days.
- One initially can begin with few days of fasting and then slowly stretch it to more days.
- One has to be clear as to what type of fasting one will undertake, will it be juice fasting? Water fasting? Or fruit diet. In case it is juice fasting, then one must decide how many times one would like to drink? And how much?
- Then one has to decide upon which cycle to follow- 7 day cycle or 14 day cycle.
7 day cycle – One has to prepare one’s body three days in advance. In case you are on medication or suffering from a chronic ailment then it is better to consult your physician. Prepare the body to eat small amounts and avoid sugary food foods and those high in fats. For 2 days before the fast, eat raw vegetables and fruits . After the 7 day cycle is over then again prepare your body so that it is in position again to have normal diet intake.
14 day cycle – Make sure all your clinical tests are over such as blood test, urine test etc. Once the cycle has been completed then the tests are conducted again
Preparation for the Fast
2 weeks before one starts to fast, one must avoid taking meat, white bread and sweets. One must limit the intake of dairy products as well. Drink only herbal tea, non-carbonated drinks, juices and avoid drinking coffee, tea, carbonated beverages and alcohol.
2 days before fasting one needs to eat fresh vegetables and fruits, drink plenty of vegetable juices as well as fruit juice. One can take non-carbonated drinks and low mineralized water. In case of constipation one can take salt.
While fasting for 7 days one must stick to low mineralized water, non-carbonated drinks as well as herbal tea. One must avoid alcohol.
Kind of intake to be taken
While on fast one must take an 8-ounce glass of steam distilled water during the day and juices and 2 cups of herbal tea per day. All the juices must be diluted with water adding about 1 part water to 3 parts of juices. Avoid orange and tomato juices and do not take juices with sweeteners or other kinds of additives. These will upset your stomach or cause headaches.
Cabbage and carrot juices are very good. The best form of juice is lemon juice. Add juice of 1 lemon to some warm water. “Green drinks” such celery, grape juice, beet and apple juices are also very good. They are very good detoxifiers. Raw cabbage juice is very good for cancer, colon problems and ulcers. The cabbage juice must be drunk as soon as it is prepared. If it sits too long, it looses out on its vitamin content.
The first meal after the fast must be a small meal. Also, before fasting one must not go on a binge. Cooked foods need to be avoided immediately after the fast as the desired effect of the fast would be negated.
Fasting in different religions
Procedures vary in different religions with regard to fasting Among the Muslims, the holy month of Ramdan is auspicious for fasting. One whole month, the devotees fast throughout the day without taking any water. Only in the early hours of the morning they eat. They break the fast for the day in the evening. They break their fast by eating dates and plenty of fruits.
Among the Hindus, Shivaratri is an auspicious day for fasting. Many women fast the whole day. In fact, on other occasions also they fast. Many unmarried girls fast in praise of Jai Santhoshi Maa to secure a good husband or wives fast in praise of her to protect their husbands from any evil. Karva Chauth fast is very popular in the North of India, when married Hindu women keep fasts in order to ensure long life for their husbands. After seeing the moon in water they break the fast.
Fasting should not be done in light heart manner. One must do it according to prescribed procedures as it may affect one’s health. It is very therapeutic in nature and makes one feel rejuvenated.