16. Fasting Fanaticism Vs. Rational Fasting
Most people are fearful of fasting, calling it a “starvation” diet, and are convinced they could never fast. At the opposite pole are those who become fanatically addicted to fasting, either because they believe it will control their weight, or that it will improve their health.
These people don’t really understand fasting at all. Fasting may, in general, be divided into three
- Therapeutic Fasting—Ten to thirty days, or longer, for relief of a pathological problem (or for weight reduction, in some cases)—in general, to be undertaken not more than once a year (if fifteen to thirty days or more), or twice yearly (if ten to fourteen days). Such fasts should be supervised. Some people believe that ten-to-fourteen-day fasts twice yearly are beneficial for almost everyone. Others believe such fasts should not be undertaken without reason. This is my opinion.
- Maintenance Fasts—For general health improvement, or for further progress between therapeutic fasts (three to five days, not more than once monthly, or perhaps bimonthly, in some cases). Might be useful for weight control for some people. Fasting for three days a month, without a reason, is really not advisable or necessary. If one is not experiencing any problem, there is no need to fast.
- Weekly or biweekly 36-hour fasts, as part of the regular program—a good idea for most people. I really do not regard this as fasting—more like a respite for the digestive system.
Dr. Vetrano (Dr. Shelton’s Hygienic Review, November 1979, p. 79) says, “For maximum health, one does not have to fast unless injured or unless there is an acute crisis of some sort. If you live genuinely Hygienically, all you need, because of a polluted environment, is a once-a-year rest and tune-up fast of about eight to fourteen days. It you live in the country, away from all types of pollution, you may not require a fast of that length.
“Fasting one day a week may be too much for some people. They may not be able to gain weight, or muscle, by fasting this often. Fasting three days a month, for no reason at all, is not necessary. When your hunger is absent, fast. As long as hunger is present, and there is no physical or mental problem, then there is no reason to fast. Just live Hygienically.”
Fasting fanatics sometimes fast every other day, or take a two- or three-day fast every week. They sometimes fast for longer periods—thirty or sixty days or more—when there is no therapeutic reason for doing so. They may fast a week or more at frequent intervals—every month or so (or oftener).
Some of these people embark on this type of fasting “program” in the hope that frequent fasting periods will gradually result in rejuvenation and optimal health (or in an effort to normalize their weight). They do this in the mistaken belief that such erratic fasting can achieve the same dramatic results as a prolonged fast.
Such capricious use of fasting may prove to be dangerous. Short fasts, taken at too frequent intervals, produce enervation and exhaustion, and create nutritional deficiencies. Serious problems cannot be corrected in this manner.
To a certain limited extent, well-planned, well-spaced short fasting periods do have a health-improvement potential, but, even in those cases where successful remission of a serious problem is achieved in this manner, it is infinitely slower than a supervised, prolonged fast, and not nearly as certain.
Much of the rejuvenating and therapeutic value of a prolonged fast (fourteen to thirty days, or longer) on distilled water only, may be attributed to the uninterrupted, orderly succession of phenomena initiated by the organism when continuously deprived of external food sources.
As the fast progresses, elimination of toxins is accelerated, and the body continues to explore its reserves for life-sustaining materials. Nutritional elements which have been stored in the body are released into the bloodstream, to be salvaged and absorbed by the cells. As the fast progresses, the utilization of available supplies is accomplished with increasing economy and efficiency.
Ideal conditions for maximum debris autolysis and healing are produced by prolonged abstinence from food, and there is a steady weight loss.
By contrast, erratic, frequent, short fasting periods are a drain on the organism, without a corresponding recompense. For each fasting period, the body must undergo the stresses of adapting to the fasting situation and readapting to the eating situation, with very little time in between to experience any benefits.
If you are trying to lose weight, this is a poor method, and apt to not only be unsuccessful, but also to be a threat to your health. You may lose a few pounds when you fast and gain it back between fasts—which is worse than not losing the weight at all. Such a practice will not only be self-defeating, but will result in weakness and malnutrition—even if you are overweight.
Utilizing planned, well-spaced fasting periods of from ten to thirty days is the easiest, quickest and most effective way to lose weight—for many people. Pounds quickly melt away, with a bonus of health improvement. In this type of fasting, the readjustment to eating is quite different than the constant seesawing between eating and fasting, which usually leads to gorging on the days you are eating.
After the weekly thirty-six hour fast, one has a keen appetite, but, as a rule, there is no tendency to overeat in order to compensate for the lost meals.
Even a monthly (or bimonthly) three-day fast is not usually followed by an uncontrollable desire to “eat everything in sight.”
Fasting ten to fourteen days twice a year, or thirty days once a year (if there is a therapeutic necessity for a thirty-day fast) is followed by a readjustment period, but, ordinarily, this infrequent situation does not lead to habitual overeating. In fact, in many instances, such prolonged fasting periods (under professional supervision, of course) seem to reduce eating capacity and cravings for frequent large meals and unwholesome foods.
Even those people whose prolonged fast results in an increased appetite will find the annual or semiannual readjustment to a moderate eating program manageable, even though some thought control will be necessary to “get over the hump.”
But people who are always “recovering from” the previous fast at the same time that they are within a few days of entering another fast are almost helpless to control the overeating and even bringing urges, since such compulsions are created by the body’s demands for more and more food to counteract the nutritional deficiencies produced by the unwise use of fasting as a modality to replace moderate and healthful eating and living habits on a daily basis.
Each time one fasts, vitamins and minerals are lost, and an expenditure of energy and a loss of reserves are experienced. These might be weighed against the anticipated beneficial effects of the fasting period.
- 1. Foreword
- 2. Quintessence
- 3. “Appetite” Is Not Hunger
- 4. Development Of The Habit Of Overeating
- 5. Overeating Undermines Health
- 6. The Remedy Mentality
- 7. How Overeating Vitiates The Body
- 8. If You Want To Eat More, Eat Less
- 9. Light Eaters Vs. Heavy Eaters
- 10. The General Rule
- 11. Building Health And Strength
- 12. Willpower Is Supported By Knowledge
- 13. Food Addiction
- 14. History
- 15. Fasting Fanaticism Vs. Rational Fasting
- 16. Special Problems
- 17. Diet Fanaticism
- 18. Bulimia
- 19. A Rational System Of Weight Control
- 20. Heroic Methods For Compulsive Eaters
- 21. Knowledge And Wisdom
- 22. Epilogue
- 23. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: It’s All In the State of Mind By Walter D. Wintle
- Article #2: How To Make Yourself Over by Self-Programming
- Article #3: Say Goodbye to Compulsive Eating By Mehl McDowell, M.D.
- Article #4: Well! You Wanted to Know By Vivian V. Vetrano
- Article #5: Why I Don’t Fast To Lose Weight By Marti Fry
- Article #6: Help! I Can’t Stop Eating