A common response I often get when I mention to people that I’m fasting is ‘I don’t know how you can do that. I can’t fast’. The battle is often lost at the words ‘I can’t’. Of course fasting is challenging but like many other challenges, a strong mental attitude and focussing on the goal are a couple of ways to complete a fast without crumbling as soon as your tummy first rumbles. There are a number of other methods you can use to help you successfully complete a fast though. Here are a few approaches that I’ve taken when fasting to keep me going when I really want to quit.
Don’t go all in straight away
If you’ve never fasted before it’s important that you don’t set yourself unrealistic goals. Instead of going full in for a 7 day fast, ease yourself into the process by starting with shorter fasts which are also beneficial for the body. Perhaps try a 16 hour fast to start with and each time you do a fast, go a little longer.
Don’t stock up
When it comes to fasting you might think it’s a good idea to stock up as much as you can beforehand. Filling yourself with food before you begin a fast is never a good idea. Often you’ll fill yourself will fatty, sugary foods and the first thing you’ll feel is a huge lull after the high. Why make it more difficult for yourself right at the start? Try not to overeat. Keep an attitude towards food the day before a fast like you would on a normal day. Remember, it’s not like you’re never going to be able to eat again. Fasting is a conscious choice and you can break it whenever you want to.
Remind yourself of why you’re doing it
Amongst the hunger pangs and constant thoughts about food, you’ll probably lose sight of why you’re doing a fast and be tempted to break it sooner than you planned. It’s important that you remind yourself of why you wanted to do a fast in the first place. Write it down on a piece of paper and stick it on a wall or your desk. Continually coming back to the reasons why you wanted to start a fast in the first place will help keep your goal in sight and encourage you to keep going.
Dedicate your fast
In Hindu culture a fast is often accompanied by a Vrata
, a Sanskrit word which translates into vow or devotion. You could dedicate your fast to the recovery of someone that’s sick, happiness for a loved one or for your own health and happiness. Whatever reason you choose, devote your energy for the fast to it and keep it in your mind. Dedicating your practice to something or someone in this way gives your fast a deeper meaning and more reason to complete it.
If you want to avoid thinking about food constantly you need to keep yourself distracted. Go for a walk, watch a movie (not about food!), read a book, start that hobby you’ve been meaning to! Not spending time preparing, cooking and eating food means you have more hours in the day to do other things. I personally find it easier to fast when I’m not at work but for some people, being at work keeps them busy and away from food.
Meditation helps to clear the mind of unnecessary thoughts and therefore away from those about food. Also, when the body is empty, it can be easier to get into a deeper state of meditation. You’ll find that will no food moving around in the digestive system, it’s quicker to get into a meditative flow and stay there for longer.
Hopefully these tips will keep you on track during your fast and help you to keep trying even if you don’t quite get there the first time or anytime thereafter. Good luck!
For the perfect way to start your fasting journey, join us at Kawai Purapura for our Detox Retreats where you’ll have all the support and guidance you’ll need every step of the way.
Blog post by Rina Deb