2. Easing Into A Varied Diet
Some people can be eased into a varied diet sooner than others—the fasting supervisor makes this decision, based on how the individual reacts. Most people are able to take only very small quantities of food for several days, and they should be given no more than they can comfortably handle. They are usually satisfied with small quantities of food at the outset, and, in truth, only small quantities are required.
The reason the faster is unable to take larger amounts is because the stomach has contracted during the fast. Some fasting supervisors serve four small meals daily for a week or more, to enable the individual to regain weight and strength somewhat faster: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a small evening fruit snack.
Dr. Shelton says that by the end of the first week, the faster should be able to take normal amounts of food.
2.1 Overeating After the Fast
Some people soon demand large quantities of food to compensate for previous restrictions. Those who have a tendency to overeat after the first few days of eating should, of course, be restrained. Constant overeating will again distend the stomach, after which the person does not feel satisfied unless he eats to fill the distended stomach. Those who are allowed to eat too much may find that the overeating may delay the restoration of the body’s normal ability to digest the food comfortably.
Most people have no digestive problems after a fast (if the fast is broken prudently)—some do have them, even if they have not been conscious of digestive problems in the past. Dr. Vetrano says that most people come for a fast with a slight inflammation of the digestive tract, whether or not they know it. Such people are well on the road to making themselves sick all over again, if they are allowed to overeat in the initial period following the termination of the fast.
Charles W. Johnson, Jr. (Fasting, Longevity and Immortality) says that if a “monster of appetite” is turned loose after the fast, it becomes very difficult to control, resulting in a loss of much of the fasting benefit, as well as the probability of significant harm. Listening to the appestat at this time may misguide you.
Those who are very thin and slow to gain weight should ignore their weight. Gaining strength and restoring efficiency of body function is much more important. They should not overeat and try to eat fattening foods. They should be satisfied and accept the gradual weight gain that will surely come at the proper time. Even if one is gaining only a pound a week, that is twenty-six pounds in six months. In any event, the weight will stabilize in time.
Dr. Shelton says, “After a fast of considerable length, there is a period of several days, lasting up to two weeks, during which the individual feels hungry most of the time. If not carefully guided, he is almost sure to overeat. If he will control his eating until this initial period of hunger has passed, he will settle down to a more normal appetite and the danger of overeating will pass.
“Uncontrolled, he may eat so much during this period that he loses much that he gained in the fast. One important advantage of fasting in an institution is that control continues until the normal eating level is stabilized. In such an institution the patient’s diet is carefully supervised; he is not permitted to overeat. At home, he must be a more self-disciplined man than the average if he is to avoid overeating.”
Dr. Shelton also says, “The animal breaks his fast on whatever food is available at the time he resumes eating. On the whole, animals seem to be better controlled than man. They are not inclined to glut themselves when they break a fast, but may take but a small portion of food in doing so. A dog that has fasted for nearly a month, for example, may take but a few sips of milk at a time and may refuse all flesh for the first four to six days, after he resumes eating. If man’s intuition was still as reliable a guide to eating as is that of the animal, I doubt that we would need to supervise the breaking of a fast.” If possible, one should try to stay at the fasting retreat long enough to gain enough weight to look “presentable”, to family and friends, if one is very thin. If not possible, it’ is best not to worry about it. The family and friends will gradually observe the new bloom of health as the months go by.
Many people who had been chronically underweight before, the fast experience such an improvement in assimilation after the fast that they achieve a more normal weight by the lime the weight stabilizes. This is due to the increased ability of the cells to take up and appropriate nutrients, which always results from fasting. Weight gain is often less effective after sickness, because of damages from toxins and drugs.
Upton Sinclair, in The Fasting Cure, maintains that after a fast we “bounce” back to our “ideal” weight, sometimes less and sometimes more than the prefasting weight. Upton Sinclair changed himself, after several fasts, from a very thin “ectomorph” to an athletic “mesomorph.”
On the other hand, people whose target is weight loss may be significantly benefited by fasting. Dr. Edgar S. Gordon of the University of Wisconsin Medical School, says that people who gain weight easily probably have a low metabolic rate. They convert glucose to fat much too rapidly and don’t produce enough available energy. Dr. Gordon’s experiments with animals suggest that a fast may “break the metabolic block,” producing subtle endocrine changes that make food assimilation more efficient. A report in Lancet, a British medical journal, supports the view that hormonal changes brought about by fasting may continue to promote weight loss even after eating is resumed.
This does not consistently happen in all cases of obesity, but it is an important potential benefit of fasting for weight loss. Of course, nothing in the world will keep weight off if the individual resumes gluttonous eating habits.
Fasting does lead to a new awareness of the difference between hunger and appetite, and reeducates the taste buds. If the faster can be helped over the initial critical period, he can achieve an alteration in his eating habits. Many people come off the fast with a passion for fresh fruits and vegetables. A 1976 British Medical Journal report says almost all fasting patients “admit to a radical change in previous eating habits.”
Although a fast does, for the most part, put appetite into alignment with the body’s real needs, Dr. Allan Cott says (Fasting As a Way of Life, p. 25), “The wise person eases into a sensible refeeding program. Easy does it if you want to continue feeling wonderful. … In effect, the body is reeducated by a fast. It ‘unlearns’ habits of overeating and ‘polluting.’ It is ‘born again.’ It inclines toward a natural state. It wants only as much food as is required for maintenance. It prefers the kinds of food that are natural to the taste and harmonious to the digestive system.” He cautions that you should adhere to a careful refeeding schedule for the same number of days you fasted. If you do this, “the likelihood is that, when you return to a regular eating pattern, you will be eating more selectively and austerely, which is all to the good.”
Alter about two weeks, or perhaps a little longer, the feeling of being hungry all the time tends to disappear, if the “monster of appetite” has been kept under control.
2.2 Permanent Control of the Eating Program
Dr. Cott says that after fasting, there is a much better chance for permanent control of the eating program than after any diet. He says, “The system now wants to reject food in excess of the needs of the body. You should now be able to gain a new perspective on food and a new relationship to food that can keep you from overeating or from eating undesirable foods. Fasting and a sensible refeeding program have led to this desideratum.”
Dr. Cott also says, “After a long fast the palate is restored to pristine purity. It prefers the taste of foods that are simple and whole and natural. It tends to reject processed and fragmented foods, as well as alcohol and tobacco.”
Dr. Shelton says that if fasting is being used for the alleviation of a chronic disease—even if the patient has undergone only a short fast (less than fourteen days)—it is usually desirable to utilize an eliminating diet for a period of time after the termination of the fast, perhaps for as long as a few weeks. An eliminating diet is a diet low in proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, which causes the cells to use stored reserves to meet their requirements. During such a diet, the body can eliminate toxic matters and accumulated wastes, but never as well as during a fast. Obviously, an eliminating diet would not be recommended if the person had previously fasted to completion.
2.3 Eat All-Raw Food As Long As Possible
When the individual progresses to a varied diet, a variety of uncooked foods may be eaten. Even if the person intends to return to the use of some cooked food, this should be postponed as long as possible.
Careful management of the food program should continue for at least two to three weeks after breaking the fast. The fragile situation in the body is only gradually eliminated, as the digestive system slowly returns to its normal efficiency.
Some extremely debilitated or anxious individuals are impatient with their slow and gradual regaining of strength and weight, and find it extremely difficult to stay on all-raw food. In such cases, it might be advisable to allow small amounts of cooked food, at the evening meal only.
But it is really much better to eat moderately of good, whole, raw food, and efforts should be made to allay the misgivings of the post-fasting individual. Adaptations are being made, and will be accelerated by the higher quality of the whole raw food.
During this period, it is extremely beneficial to stay on the all-raw-food diet, if at all possible. The longer the all-raw-food diet is maintained, the better start the person will have. One should refrain from polluting the relatively clean bloodstream with the pathogenic debris of cooked food indefinitely, if possible.
After the fast, the body needs whole, raw food, and will not welcome cooked food, in which all of the enzymes have been destroyed, along with many of the vitamins and minerals. In addition, the amino acids and fats have been changed and made less digestible and sometimes toxic, and the balance of nature has been altered.
An optimal diet of whole, unprocessed foods is especially important for the first, few weeks (or even months) after the fast, when the body is regaining normal weight, and new protoplasm is being built.
The body chemistry is basically determined by the foods that are eaten, though other factors, (exercise, sunshine, fresh air, etc.) have some influence. While the causes of disease include chemical, bacterial, mechanical, and mental factors, chemistry dominates the efficiency of the physiological functions of the organism, other factors being secondary to the chemical condition of the body.
The complex chemical balance of all food nutrients is altered by heating, and it has consistently been demonstrated that superior tissue, and superior health, result from a diet of uncooked food.
Remember that the nutrients available in raw food exceed those in cooked food by several hundred percent, and after a prolonged fast, this is a critical time to decide— with what quality of tissue will you replace the tissue you have discarded?
The faster and the fasting supervisor should make this decision cooperatively, always with the thought in mind that the faster has already made a tremendous investment, which can be either safeguarded or threatened by the post-fasting food program.
2.4 Protein Needs After the Fast
After a prolonged fast, a slightly greater amount of protein than usual may be necessary, if not in excess of the digestive capabilities of the body. Immediately after a prolonged fast, the body cannot handle a large quantity of protein foods.
Concentrated proteins are more difficult to digest than other foods, because they are the most complex of all the food elements, and their breakdown and utilization are most complicated. The body can utilize only a limited amount of protein in the immediate post-fasting period.
Dr. Shelton says, “Nothing is to be gained by overfeeding following a fast. The hurry to gain weight and strength causes many to demand excess quantities of protein, thinking that protein is utilized in direct proportion to the amount eaten. In The Nutrition of Man (1907) Professor Russell H. Chittenden of Yale University, detailing his experiments covering the establishment and maintenance of nitrogen balance at many levels of nitrogen intake tells us: ‘The fasting man having lost largely of his store of protein can replace the latter only slowly, even though he eats abundantly of protein food. … The human body does not readily store up protein and this is true no matter how greatly the tissues are in need of replenishment. Overfeeding with protein does not lead to corresponding results, owing primarily to the peculiar physiological properties of protein; its general stimulating effect on metabolism, the tendency of the body to establish nitrogenous equilibrium at different levels, and the fact emphasized by van Noorden that flesh deposition is primarily a function of the specific energy of developing cells. … It is generally considered as a settled fact, that in man it is impossible to accomplish any large permanent storing or deposition of flesh by overfeeding. Similarly, it is understood that the muscular strength of man cannot be greatly increased by an excessive intake of food. … We may call attention to the well-known fact that in feeding animals for food, while fat may be laid on in large amounts, flesh cannot be so increased by overfeeding.”
Shelton continues, “It is obvious that there is nothing to be gained by the excessive intake of protein, following a fast. The body can make use of only so much protein in the post-fasting period, and must excrete all unused protein. … Nitrogen retention is increased both by mineral and by carbohydrate intake and it is more important that the diet contain adequate quantities of these than that it contain an excess of protein.”
2.5 An Interesting Phenomenon
An interesting and probably significant observation made by Charles W. Johnson, Jr. in Fasting, Longevity and Immortality, page 26, pertains to a fact (which I have often observed) that, subsequent to a fast, more weight may be gained than can be accounted for or justified by the amount of food that had been eaten. It is usually maintained that it takes three thousand accumulated calories to gain or lose a pound, and I have observed that this is far from a consistent result, either when fasting or eating.
Johnson says, “My notes show that I broke my forty-day fast on March 28, 1964, but four days before, on the thirty-sixth day of fasting, I put in a hard day’s work getting the garden ready for planting. From March 22 to 28 my weight stayed at 135-136 pounds. This brings up what may be the most important mystery of fasting.
“We can calculate the energy that is needed to keep our heart, breathing mechanism, and brain functioning. Adding in a little for minimal physical activity, we can conclude that a moderately inactive faster should lose almost a pound of weight per day. That is, in the absence of food to burn for energy, the body must burn, or catabolize, almost a pound per day of its own weight to ‘keep going.’ During most of a fast this is a typical weight loss figure.
“Nevertheless, here I was, near the end of a forty-day fast, feeling more energetic than earlier in the fast, doing more physical work, and losing no weight! Impossible, of course, and I foolishly ignored the fact—the absence of weight loss—assuming it to be the result of faulty measurement or observation. (How often we scientists miss something important of this sort simply because we know it is impossible and therefore refuse to notice it.) Subsequently, however, I read that others had noted the same phenomenon, and in some cases with great concentration.
“There appears to be a clear-cut violation of a sacred law of physics here—the law of mass-energy conservation. Some mysterious source of energy is supplying its energy for our body’s use.”
Johnson says that after his forty-day fast, he realized that he was not eating and drinking enough to justify his weight gain. “The violation of mass-energy conservation, manifest in the last days of the fast by lack of weight loss, was continuing now that I was eating. It was now taking the form of greater weight gain than my food and water intake could justify … surely important research remains to be done here.”
Dr. Cott says, “Once you resume eating, some weight gain naturally occurs. The body retains fluid, which translates into weight because of the sodium content in food. For a time after any fast, this will be more weight than is metabolically balanced for the amount of calories being consumed.”
This may be a partial explanation for the phenomenon observed by Johnson (and others), but does not by any means completely account for the inconsistencies in weight loss and weight gain and their relationship, to the calories consumed.
2.6 Beware of Cooked Food and Other Compromises
For those who do eventually return to a varied diet which includes cooked food—be on your guard! Compromise may follow compromise and you may find yourself back on the same destructive path that led to your problem which necessitated the prolonged fast.
A return to your old habits may negate all you have done and start you back on the downward path. This is the time to reinforce your decision to persevere in Hygienic living, and experience even greater health improvement in the years to come.
It may be as much as a year before you consolidate your gains and evolve into the health and strength you envisioned when you undertook your fast. But it will surely come to pass if you continue to study Natural Hygiene and live in accord with your natural requirements.
Those who do use some cooked food must be ever wary of going too far. Once you cross over from nature’s most perfect foods (raw and unchanged), it is all too easy to make this exception and that—desserts, processed foods, etc.
If you will be eating some cooked foods, wait as long as possible after the fast to start, and then:
- Reserve at least some days for all-raw food.
- Never eat cooked food more than once in a day, as part of a meal starting with a large raw salad.
- Be certain that your overall diet includes no more than 20% of food that is not whole and raw—preferably no more than 10%.
- Be very strict with yourself—at least during the first year after a prolonged fast. If some of your symptoms return, be sure to immediately “back up” and keep as close to an all-raw-food diet as you can possibly manage.
- 1. The Great Day
- 2. Easing Into A Varied Diet
- 3. Symptoms After The Fast
- 4. Transition To Rational Living
- 5. Drugs And Other Poisons
- 6. Take It Easy!
- 7. Fasting Does Not Make The Body Disease-Proof
- 8. Compounding The Benefits Of The Fast
- 9. New Habits Must Be Formed
- 10. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Breaking the Fast By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Fasting Not a Cure By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #3: Breaking a Fast By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #4: When to Break the Fast