Fasting has become all the rage in the last couple of years. Whether it’s intermittent fasting, juice fasting or some other type of fast, everywhere you turn, someone is trying it. However, it’s not an easy thing for a lot of people.
I first started fasting in my thirties when I was busy working a lot. I remember the first time I tried to fast, I freaked out and seemed to get even hungrier than I would have on a normal day, so I only lasted about an hour past the normal time I usually ate my first meal. I realized at that time that my mind and my stress response had something to do with how much I could tolerate not eating. I simply couldn’t cope with it, so for the next few times I tried to fast, I didn’t attempt to skip a meal. Instead, I did what we call in Ayurveda a monofast.
With a monofast, you can get a lot of the benefits that you would get from fasting, but it’s a little more tolerable for a busy, stressed-out (and hungry) person to tolerate. Here’s how it works.
In monofasting, you take a break from what you normally eat, and choose something else to eat during each meal for a period of time – maybe one day or a whole weekend. Eating only one food can be a de-stressor, simply because you don’t have to think about what you are going to cook or eat, and then you can decide if you are going to eat less frequently than you normally do.
In Ayurvedic monofasting, we typically eat a type of rice and bean porridge known as kitchari because it contains basic nutrition, including healthy oils and digestive spices, but it’s easy to digest. It’s a lighter food and the spices promote a very mild cleansing action on the body. Its easy digestion allows your body to focus energy on other biological tasks that need to take place throughout the day instead of spending energy breaking down food that is complicated, raw or heavy.
A juice fast is also an example of a monofast. Juice can be a little lighter than kitchari, but depending on the type of juice, the body’s energy levels and metabolism might destabilize more quickly than with something like kitchari. Sweet juices, like those from most fruits, increase blood sugar. Bitter juices, like from kale, increase peristaltic movement in the digestive tract, and can reduce inflammation.
Monofasts are not technically fasting because you may still be eating as frequently as you normally do, but you are replacing your normal diet with a food that can help your mind and body lighten up and give your digestive system the good rest it deserves after working so hard all the time. Once you get comfortable with monofasting, then going without eating for longer periods of time can be more tolerable.
Heather Grzych, MA (Ayurveda), CAP, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500 is an Ayurvedic practitioner, yoga therapist, writer and consultant, and a Red Pantz guest contributor. This blog post contains her views and opinions.
Heather bridges the worlds of conventional and alternative medicine. She offers one-on-one and group healing programs and has consulted with doctors, governments, hospitals and insurance companies to make healthcare more available and meaningful. Heather is one of a handful of Americans with a master’s degree in ayurveda, and loves to make it easy for people to understand and integrate into their daily lives. Check out her site.
Image by Davison Oliveira de Silva, Pexels