This is not because of one single account, but after hearing story after story of a "fast gone bad," I no longer agree with fasting.
Firstly, some conditions WORSEN!! That's right, they don't just not go away, but they get bad.
Secondly I believe that the mindset you have to be in, in order to fast is kind of nuts - what animal would knowingly not eat unless they actually couldn't.
Recently I had a fever and felt nauseated (my immunity is low due to a staph infection and possible flu) and I didn't want to eat for about 24 hours. So I didn't. But when I wanted to eat again...I ate!!
Just because fasting has cured an ailment, doesn't make it safe. Any eliminative practice will "cure" things caused by toxins in the diet because it eliminates them. And fasting definitely eliminates all of 'em.
Lastly, I have now heard of way way way too many deaths related to fasting for it to merit doing, except perhaps in rare cases or in a medical facility with all the equipment available if something did happen.
I agree with Harley when he discourages fasting and fully support his strong views in this regard.
maybe only healthy people should fast:
Fasting for too long, or when the body is so fragile that the added detox may be enough to kill you, is dangerous.
Briefly, I had been raw vegan for 2 years, and perfectly 811rv for a year, before I fasted in the Spring of 2008 for 23 days on water alone. My symptoms before the fast included:
Thinking about all of it now, it is bringing back some serious memories and feelings regarding how terribly difficult it was like to live with such health problems. I basically put my life on hold. My parents constantly questioned what I was doing WRT my diet (811) and lifestyle. It was very, very painful. I was not then nearly as mature and able to deal with adversity as I am now, so in hindsight if my mind were in my body then, I'd handle the situation much more gracefully, but still, I'd be in a very sick body. I mean, I felt so exhausted and terrible most of the time that I spent many of my days in bed. It was no joke.
So I was desperate, and I fasted after 6 months or so of planning. I fasted at a friend's, who had interned with Doug and had some experience, and I spoke with my mentor and chosen teacher, Elchanan (www.PathOfHealth.org) over the phone daily, relaying my physical symptoms as well as what was going on in my mind (which was equally important, I would learn). With his help, I did a lot of subconscious work during that time, and basically just retreated inward. I kept my eyes closed and earplugs in the entire time. My friend took care of my water, and all the standard stuff that needed to happen to make sure the fast was going well happened.
I broke the fast after 23 days on watermelon. I had dropped from 140 lbs to 115. During the first week, I had so much energy that I overdid it physically (did 40 pushups one night and was very sore the next day but kept active), and ended up tearing the intercostal muscles in my ribcage, which left me bedridden and barely able to move for a good 2 months, and still sensitive for a couple more. I mono-ed on watermelon for 5 weeks after that time, eating nothing else besides 1-2 large heads of lettuce at night. I ate about 2000 calories a day, and gained about 10 lbs in that period. After that, my ribs were starting to get a bit better, and I moved around a bit more. I then introduced bananas first, and then a few days later, mangoes. A few days after that, acid fruits (tomatoes and citrus) and about a week after that, avocado. Keep in mind that I was doing this specifically because my body was not ready to jump back into normal eating. I was coming from ridiculously severe digestive issues.
This was all very traumatic. I was very skinny, and was prevented by injury from being physically active. I could not eat very much as anything pushing against my ribs would cause me excruciating pain. But somewhere during this time, I made a profound switch from a state of victimhood to becoming responsible for my own life. It is a transformation which I hope everyone can experience at some point in their life. All that being said…
I then proceeded to start my own business, and Taylor's Tropicals (www.TaylorsTropicals.org, www.youtube.com/taylorstropicals) was born. I re-enrolled in the University of Miami for the Fall 09 semester, and I had a 3.5 GPA while running said business. I biked everywhere, and was very physically active, and functionally quite healthy. I broke my arm over Christmas, and broke both of my arms 3 months later (early March), both times skateboarding. I never let it stop me, I stayed in my classes (okay, I dropped Physics and Calc lol), continued to run my business (with much help), stayed active (walked 5-10 miles a day), and was declared "clinically healed" 3 weeks 6 days after a 5-hour surgery under general anesthesia. 9 days after surgery, my physical therapist was positively shocked that my wound had completely closed itself with NO scabbing whatsoever. He had just assumed that I was a MONTH or 2 out of surgery!
Last August (2010) I transferred Taylor's Tropicals to my friend Jourdan Gray (www.JourdansBeautifulFood.com) and moved out to California. I now spend my days in pursuit of a Mechanical Engineering degree, and surf for 15 hours a week, on average, though in the month of January I surfed around 130 hours (roughly 4 hours a day).
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I live my life to the fullest, and am a very capable, functional, happy, and healthy human being. If you were to ask anyone who knew me before and after (such as my parents, brothers, close friends, etc), you would likely hear much regarding a radical transformation that has taken place. Indeed, I am truly a different person, responsible for my life and no longer a victim of, well, anything. Health issues are but a distant memory, I am a shining example of healthful living, and am now able to help others reach their goals through my own experience.
I am confident that I would not be where I am now if it weren't for a) Elchanan's continual guidance and support, as well as the subconscious reprogramming work I do with him b) the financial and moral support of my parents during those times, and c) my 23 day water fast in the Spring of 2009.
My point in saying all of that is this: I was severely limited by my health before the fast. Certain health issues are just beyond the scope of living healthfully, at least within a reasonable time frame. While I made plenty of mistakes after the fast (in the refeeding stage mainly), moreso than I have told here, it was still quite beneficial. I would absolutely recommend people fast under supervision for at least the first time--fasting is serious business, and this is your life we are talking about here. And still, I would NOT recommend that most people fast. It is simply not necessary for most. In my case, it was. I had a long health history to deal with. I was incapacitated almost beyond my ability to comprehend from my current vantage point, and it was MY body lol.
Could I have done it better? Sure. Was it pretty stupid to fast at a friend's house given my health issues? Probably. Would I do it over again? Of course. Would I recommend it to a friend. Absolutely NOT. Fast with Doug, or at True North, or somewhere else respectable, with people who know what they are doing. At least for your first fast. If you're a rock solid raw fooder and wanna fast after 5 years of perfect living, you're probably going to be fine. But as someone on this diet for just a couple years or so, it's not worth it. There's so much to understand about the process, and when breaking the fast, you truly are so very, very fragile. It is an incredibly vulnerable place to be in.
Based on my experience, fasting can be an absolutely beautiful and amazing process, a reconnection with Nature, with one's body, and with one's self. It truly is Nature's operating table. But unless you truly need it, unless you are truly incapable of functioning , unless you have put together a solid health program (perfect eating, sleeping, activity, sunlight, mental and emotional work, etc) for at least a year or 2 and are not seeing results, I'd recommend just continuing to live healthfully. For Harley and Freelee (and others) are absolutely right when they say that the habits you live by before the fast are, by and large, what you will live by after the fast. Build good habits, they'll avail you in the long-term far more than any quick fixes ever will.
I hope this is helpful to some. Feel free to comment or ask questions, or to write me privately, if you wish.
All my best,
Beautifully put Taylor.Very inspirational.
I stopped on day 23 for a few reasons. The main I experienced a certain set of symptoms related to digestion for the entirety of the fast, and they stopped around day 20 or so. So Elchanan recommended I wait a few days, so that I could break the fast outside of a major healing/cleansing episode.
I also was ready to go back into the world. 3 weeks in silence, in full retreat like that is a long time. I had a business plan in my head, and wanted to get to life!
As for breaking the fast, I started off my breaking day with watermelon first, before water. It was the tiniest sliver, like maybe one full bite's worth. I savored it. I then ate a meal from an hour after the end of each meal, stopping at around 6 each day. I think the first day I ate 10 meals, and the watermelon slices got a little bigger each time. The second day, the slices got a bit bigger, and were spaced out to 2 hours apart. The next day, a bit bigger, and bit more space between them. I actually over-ate on the 3rd day (it was painful), which set me back a bit. But in general, I got to about 5 meals a day, and slowly increased the calories to 2000 (took about 10 days, probably influenced largely by the over eating on day 3), and brought the meals down to 4, and then finally, 5 weeks later, 3 meals a day.
I also walked for 30 minutes in the morning before my first meal, rebounded increasingly longer, more intense sets for about an hour each day (before a meal), and started some pushups after the 3rd day. Like I said, I did too many pushups and severely injured myself, so be careful. Too slow is FAR more healthful than too fast. The LAST thing you want is a setback.
As far as sweet fruits go, yes, nothing compares to watermelon. I have spoken with people who only fasted for a week or so, who ate sub-acid fruit on the 3rd or 4th day of breaking, describing the experience as incredibly uncomfortable. I cannot stress it highly enough. GET WATERMELON. I'd stick to watermelon alone for the first week at least, and after that the 2nd or 3rd day, around an hour after your last meal, start SLOWLY eating greens. Really try to "become" the leaf. The first day only needs to be one or 2 leaves, the day after that maybe twice that, up until a week or so later when you're eating a full amount. But still around an hour after your last meal, and still in mono meals.
And I CANNOT stress enough, DO NOT stuff yourself. You can always eat more in a little bit, you are coming out of this with the digestive system of a baby. Whenever you wish to make a rash or impulsive decision (such as acting on a kiwi craving, date craving, or worse, a cooked food or nut craving), stop, breathe, contact someone (like me) if you need, but whatever you do, DO NOT act on the impulse. Of course you might get really hungry, and in a larger sense, of course you need the calories, but stuffing your face so soon is only going to strongly hurt you.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why fasts go wrong. People are not mature enough for the barrage of intense feelings, emotions, and experiences, and end up making terrible choices during the re-feeding. They then blame fasting, when they are the ones who are responsible for the poor results.
I will say it again, I do not encourage that most people fast. Tereza here is fasting, and so I am helping her, but people, there's plenty of time to get healthy. And nothing is worth having that is easy to come by. Earn your health. You'll take much better care of it if you do.
All my best,
One more thing, re: breaking the fast. I must once again strongly against consuming acidic, sub-acidic, or highly enzymatic fruits for at least a week after your fast. I can basically guarantee you that pineapple, kiwi, papaya, and even cantaloupe and honeydew, will cut your mouth and severely aggravate your insides. Pineapple and kiwi will undoubtedly cut you to the point of bleeding. Breaking a 3-4 week fast on those would be unwise to the Nth degree.
Watermelon is your friend. I cannot stress this highly enough. It is highly alkaline, is high in water and low in fiber... it truly is far and away the best food to break a fast. No other fruit begins to compare.
There will be plenty of time for you to eat other fruits. I implore you, have patience.
As for the 2000 cals a day, well, I left the fast at 115 lbs. And I was not active for a period of about 2 months while my ribs were healing. But now, I eat 2500-4000 cals a day, depending on how active I am. In January, it was 4-5k cals a day, as I was surfing 6-8 hours a day.
Hope this sheds a bit more clarity on the issue.
I totally agree with Adams posts on this. I'm already amazed at some of the early results of my 35 day fast (still in re-feeding) bu think the level of supervision and safety nets it's inadequate in most fasting centers. True North sounds like the only option.
As for whether animals fast, is it just me as most animal doco's I see show at least one example of an animal that has no food supply end up emaciated and waiting for the change of season for the food to be available. Large predators waiting for the migrating herds or primates waiting for the fruit to ripen? Migrating flocks of birds almost dying without food our water to get the their next food source? Is that not fasting when one would prefer to be eating? Nature never consistently supplies food to wild animals all year round so I disagree that they only fast when sick.
Just my two cents!
primates don't wait for food to ripen all the time, they will just eat it under-ripe. there are seasons where they eat A LOT of unripe fruit. they are always eating. i have a study (on my other computer) which says that they actually consume almost the same amount of calories on the off-season as they do on the on-season of fruit...just a lot less ripe fruit.
plus, i just want to point out that animals don't have someone supplying them with jugs of water for 30 days at a time. they mostly dry fast. we invented water fasting, it's not something seen in nature.
stop eating if you really don't want it, otherwise eliminate the problems by taking things out of the diet.
I think that a comparison to animals neglects how much we as humans subject our bodies to, which our animal friends do not. The processed food, caffeine, alcohol, stresses of work (not that animals don't stress), drugs (both recreational and medicated), lack of sleep and exercise.....
We put out bodies through a hell of a lot and for some people simply eating well and changing the environmental factors may not work quickly enough to heal us before the damage hits critical.
I believe what Adam has said that there is a time and a place for fasting, and that it must be done correctly. Otherwise, as you and others have said, it can be dangerous.
Quite ironic that the fact raw fooders tend to lean towards to fasts while the people who really need to are the SAD consumers who actually are the ones putting in gunk in their their bodies...