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Fasting - Chowhound Perspective

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I am looking for some Chowhound input on the subject of fasting. I just completed a 36 hour water fast and am planning on doing a 48 hour fast next week. I would eventually like to work up to a week.

Do any of you hounds have experience with fasting? What sorts of things do you eat to start your fast? What do you break fast with? Do you find that you appreciate food more after you have fasted?

  1. IMO,

    don't ask us.... Go see a _real_ MD.

    M.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      I am not asking whether or not I should fast or if there is a benefit to fasting. I am just asking hounds who have experience fasting what they eat before and after the fast; and if they appreciate what they eat after fasting.

      Not looking for advice, just opinions.

      1. re: jpc8015

        I think it depends on what foods you're used to, what your body is used to, how sensitive your stomach is, etc. Which is really why you should consult a doctor first? Obviously, he/she might try to discourage you, but if you really want to be careful, go for foods that are easy on the stomach like bananas and soft bread/toast with no dairy, Gatorade or something to replenish the electrolytes that you're sure to lose.

        I don't recommend fasting for non-religious/political/surgical purposes, though... In my mind, there's a hair-thin line between fasting for weight loss and an eating disorder.

    2. I've tried fasting once, with the intention of doing a couple of days only at first, but then after I decided to see how far I could go...the reason being, I had no food cravings.....third day was fine, but during the fourth day, I got the shakes. I held out for five.

      My stomach got smaller and I lost considerable weight.....but i did not feel right for two weeks after.

      Maximilien's advice is better than mine.

      1. You don't have to answer, but may I ask why? What's your goal? Detox or...?

        How do you deal with hunger? Doesn't it just sort of take over your psyche for awhile? I assume there are highs and lows...

        5 Replies
        1. re: tatamagouche

          I first got interested in fasting about two years ago. I read an article in Men's Health written by a guy who did a 36 hour fast every week. I believe that he was some sort of food critic and he just got bored with all of the food he was eating. He said that the fasting helped him to appreciate the food more.

          After a year or so of his weekly fasts he said that he was in better health. He noticed that while he was not fasting he would eat more reasonable portion sizes; obviously his weekly calorie intake was reduced dramatically.

          I started reading up on it and found all sorts of books written that claim fasting to be some cure for all that ails. Hocus pocus if you ask me. I am more interestred in the spiritual perspective and gaining a deeper appreciation for what I have.

          1. re: jpc8015

            How does it make you feel? I feel as though I'd get very anxious after about 8 hours...

            Just water, no tea?

            1. re: tatamagouche

              I actually had some tea at about the twelve hour mark. I think I would have been better off without it. I think the caffeine made me jittery.

            2. re: jpc8015

              If you're looking for a spiritual perspective, then why did you begin by asking for the chowhound's perspective?

              My opinion? A water fast "just because", especially pushing it to a week is dangerous and unhealthy.

              1. re: jpc8015

                I read that article, and I thought it was just 24 hours. I have to agree that trying to go a week without eating sounds like a really bad idea. Starvation mode isn't a myth-- your body adapts to the conditions you put it through.

            3. I'm currently doing a meatloaf fast. It works quite well.

              1. Having a severe case of crohns disease there have been numerous times when I havent been physically able to eat - including a 9 week span last year when I was very sick, hooked up to an IV 24/7.

                Let me offer this advice - if you are doing it for weight loss purposes this is the LAST way to lose the lbs. The cravings, the cooking shows, the commercials, the food eaten by those around you.....after my surgery I had a list of foods/restaurants I wanted to indulge in a page long. I lost about 35 lbs over that time span and the next 6 weeks of recovery, only to gain ALL of it back within the next 3 months.

                1. I eat one meal a day--usually dinner--and have for a couple of years so I basically do a 23 hour fast every day. Since my diet is mainly carnivorous and high-fat there's no hunger until it's time to eat the next day. If I'm not hungry at my usual time I don't eat until I am; I think my longest time was maybe 40 hours but that doesn't happen that often. Last night's dinner consisted of maybe 8 ounces of tilapia, about a cup of cooked cauliflower and half a cup of reduced heavy cream flavored with garlic. Tonight I'm having a ten-ounce ribeye with about two cups of buttered spinach (yay co-op greenhouse). As you can see they're not ridiculously huge portions. I have definitely learned to enjoy my food more and am so glad I've gotten out of the habit of mindlessly snacking all day, not to mention lose weight and gain good health. Google "intermittent fasting", you'll find a lot of interesting stuff.

                  1. My opinion, since you asked for CH opinions, is that fasting is very bad for you, just as the opposite would be - eating huge amounts constantly. Both upset the digestive system and wreak havoc on the metabolism. The less you eat, the more your metabolism slows down. If you don't put fuel in your car, it doesn't run. If you don't put fuel in your body, it won't work right. Eventually it will quit working completely. There is no medically necessary reason to fast, unless you are doing so prior to a procedure.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      Agree. Isn't fasting the antithesis of Chowhounding? JMO.

                      1. re: rockandroller1

                        Well, short term fasting isn't bad and it's something that most organisms are designed for. In fact, there are some professionals that actually recommends an alternating diet, though, it's not exactly fasting since you're still eating, just eating small amounts on odd days (still 800 minimum, 1.2k recommended) and going heavy on even days. If you're doing this for weight, go with that plan. It's still cutting calories, but it doesn't harm your body.

                        Fasting will put your body in a catabolic state, where it'll start going after your bones and muscles. Some will tout that it gets easier as you go on. There's a reason for that - Your nervous system isn't functioning properly.

                        If you're still going to do it, like with everything else, you have to ease back into what's normal. That is, start with electrolytes, followed by simple sugars. Before you go on it, load up on water solubles like vitamins B and C (meat and citrus).

                        Just remember that you don't get many do-overs with your body. Once you have a scar, you have it forever. With some things it may be worth it, but there isn't anything to be gained by fasting.

                        1. re: ediblover

                          "Some professionals", professional what? I'm a "professional" but I know nothing about medicine or nutrition.

                      2. Listen to what everyone is telling you. DO NOT do it! Many years ago my wife did it for 17 days and her digestive system has never been back to normal since. She has constant problems.

                        1. If you're interested in fasting for spiritual reasons, most religious/spiritual fasts are short term, such as fasting through the day and breaking the fast each night, or not eating after noon. Some people have claimed longer term fasts through "the power of God" but can't seem to be able to do it when under observation. That should tell you something.

                          1. When the Eagles sang "Life in the fast lane " they had something else in mind.

                            1. How did the water fast go for you jpc? I have fasted a few times, although not recently. I had a really nasty head cold and couldn't taste a darn thing. And it was my birthday too. I had been reading about fasting and realized I had been eating so little that I wanted to try it. Luckily for me I was living in Homestead FL at the time because fasting can make you feel very cold after awhile.
                              Fasting was very relaxing and I found that water worked best for me. I had some zero calorie mints and some zero calorie diet sodas at first to combat the bad breath I got, but they seemed to induce cravings so I stuck with water after that. When I was feeling cold I had warm water. The cravings went away after about three or four days. I went for lots of slow walks with a friend, and even went snorkeling in Pennecamp state park.
                              As I remember I did get tired easily and slept very well. I learned to move more slowly and especially not to stand up quickly because I did almost black out a couple of times. I drank a lot of water! I knew I could have gone longer but decided to stop after eight days. The book I was reading recommended a hard boiled egg white the first day, two the second day and three the third. I managed to get to the two egg whites but couldn't face three so I had a very lean and small broiled hamburger patty and some watered down juice on the third day.
                              I found the experience fun and calming and later fasted for eight days two more times and a few three and four day fasts. I really did appreciate food much more. I became more more deliberate in my choices as to what to put in my mouth and the act of eating took on greater significance and meaning for me.
                              Each fast felt different, the first one was the most exciting. After one fast the act of simply chewing was so pleasurable that I cried a little. I learned so much about food. Good luck and be careful. I was lucky to be living with someone who was supportive of my endeavors.
                              Oh one more unexpected benefit! I took very good care of my teeth and gums during the fast. I had freed up a lot of time and money from not having to shop for and prepare food so I took care of my body in other ways. Got the best dental check up of my life!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: givemecarbs

                                The fast was actually easier than I thought it would be. I stopped eating at 9:00 PM one night and when I woke up two mornings later I actually felt great. I think that I could have easily gone another twelve hours. But I had met my goal so I broke fast with an apple and a little sandwhich.

                              2. There is no religion I know of that requires a fast more much more than 24 hours for a very good reason: any doctor will tell you it is a BAD idea. You say you don't want opinions but advice, but do not ask a question if you do not want a real answer. (I've learned that on CH the hard way:} ) Forget the fact that your metabolism slows down significantly and actually stores fat after a severe lack of calories, but you can do serious damage to your digestive system, become extremely weak and could have potential risk for fainting, dizziness and even heart failure. An alternative suggestion- go on a "health fast"- eat only all natural, whole foods for a week. Nothing processed. This is a much safer and much tastier possibility.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                  Very solid advice Nicole. Plus concentrating on putting in only the best and purest is a really great way to refocus and get back on track after the debauchery (at least in my house) of pretty much all of November and December. When you fast you do not do that. You simply focus on deprivation and when it will end. I have never once had the clarity moment some swear they have had.

                                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                    I've never had that moment of "clarity" either- I've always counted the last moments for the end of Yom Kippur when I've observed:} However, as a side note I do find it fascinating that many religions have used fasting as a means to achieve enlightenment, or to see the "other side". Could it be the dizziness and hallucinations? :}

                                    1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                      This American Life had an episode about fasting and 'achieving enlightenment'.

                                      If you are a believer, you surely will feel something, even if it's just light-headedness. But hey, can't argue with faith.

                                  2. re: NicoleFriedman

                                    It is possible to cut portion size without fasting. You might want to eat from tapas dishes or small plates, and don't prepare enough (or heat up enough) for a second helping - eat slowly. Also remember fresh vegetables and salad - though some people with a touch of IBS will have to be careful with the salad.

                                    Sometimes if I'm not feeling very well I really have no appetite, but try to have some homemade chicken broth.

                                    1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                      I absolutely agree with you, Nicole!

                                      Here are some recipe collections that would lend themselves very well to a "health fast," courtesy of a link from Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop.com

                                      http://multimedia.reindeercompany.com...

                                      http://multimedia.reindeercompany.com...

                                    2. I went thru a fasting phase when I was young. I am not a doctor, but what I did was ate lightly on fresh veggies and chicken or fish the day before. Fasted with tea and water and the next day ate very lightly on fruit and veggies (well cooked) and same tea and water.

                                      I did what I thought was detoxing. Now I know that it is bunkum. My doctor said it is not such a good idea to do it. He said it is not healthy to put my body into starvation mode unnecessarily. But I am an obsessive sort of chick. He knows that.

                                      1. I fasted for 48 hours once in college based on a dare by my roommate.

                                        The first 24 hours, or at least the first 8 hours after I woke up from a night's sleep, were the toughest. After that initial shock to the system of no caloric intake for an extended period of time (i.e., no breakfast, lunch or dinner) your body just gets used to it. At least mine did. By the end of it, it just wasn't a big deal anymore. I probably easily could've done 72 hours.

                                        First thing I ate? A double-double, animal style.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Heh. Sounds yummy ipsedixit. For me it helped that I didn't drink coffee at the time. Now I'd have to deal with the caffeine withdrawal. I sipped water constantly and it really helped with the faster's breath.

                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                            LOL, I did this with tea, really gave me an accidental buzz I didn't need.

                                          2. re: ipsedixit

                                            I am enjoying the imagery of "animal style" even though I have no idea what you look like. I have my image of you.

                                            1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                              This is a double, Animal Style (no cheese) with added raw onions.

                                              Patties are sauteed in mustard, topped with grilled onions and pickles. Standard toppings of lettuce and tomato and a Thousand Island-like sauce.

                                               
                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                Yup, a great way to break a fast, or just for breakfast. :-)

                                                1. re: Cathy

                                                  That made me hungry. The tomato looks pretty darn good. Patties sauteed in mustard? I am intrigued.

                                                  I think I will go have a boca burger sauteed in mustard to try it out.

                                                  Not quite as yummy as your Animal Styler, but my jeans won't button after all the holiday piggery so - - . I better go trot off to my boca before I get any bright ideas.

                                                  edit -

                                                  just had my first bite (yep - that quick - I am very susseptible to suggestion!). It is pretty good! I let it saute a little long and the mustard coated to the pan and looked a little like plastic stuck to it, but- no harm! Pretty yummy. Wish I had that tomato.

                                            2. For 2 weeks straight I did nothing but medical grade protein shakes, under doctor supervision. The goal was weight loss, not "detox" or a "cleanse." The combination of exact portion control (6 shakes per day) and the stimuli-narrowing experience of basically forgetting about food for a while was an interesting experience.

                                              For the first couple days I was absolutely miserable. After that, it was easy. After one week, I didn't care about food anymore. I could watch people eat and be indifferent towards it. I was only able to do that strict of a program for 2 weeks because of muscle loss. After that I had to add in one meal per day of protein/veggies. I was actually disappointed when the doctor told me that. It was easy and somewhat liberating to not be thinking of food all the time. Combined, I did around 1.5 months total.

                                              I started traveling and quit the program/doctor's visits. It took a good 2 months for me to go back to my old ways of snacking and eating too many carbs, which is what had motivated me to go this strict route in the first place. I don't eat a lot in one sitting, I graze. For someone who constantly snacks to stop thinking or caring about food is a major feat, so I appreciated that. I haven't gained any of the 22 lbs I lost back, despite not watching what I eat. Of course, I am not losing weight anymore, but I plan to recommit to that program soon. It did teach me to value food more and how to use it appropriately.

                                              I'm not an expert, but a week sounds like a long time without nutrition. In a week of drinking protein shakes only, I still lost 7 lbs of muscle alone. That's not good, so if I were doing this just to re-set my palate, maybe a protein shake or very minimalist but nutritionally sound diet would be wiser.

                                              1. Fasting is not an endurance sport. "Working up" to a week-long fast sounds mightily like an utterly horrible foundation for this impulse. It's precisely the wrong way to think about fasting. In the spiritual disciplines, fasting is not an accomplishment to be worked-up. It is a reminder of dependence, of weakness, of limits, of humility; it's about solidarity with those who don't have the choice to fast; it's about many things, but it's not something that one "works up" to. In monasteries or convents that embraced an ascetic approach to food, if a member ever showed evidence of such a mentality, it would be considered evidence of pride (and even gluttony - gluttony is not only eating much more than one needs, it is also classically showing great particularity and control over one's food), and he or she would likely have been ordered to feast.

                                                You don't need to fast like this to regain appreciation for food. How about going without adding seasoning for a week instead? Much simpler, and healthier; and less likely to stroke self-regard.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                  Excellent point about "evidence of pride."

                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                    well said.

                                                  2. I have tried fasting for religious reasons, but never could get past the nausea and shakes. I concluded that there are other things one can fast from (certain foods, TV, sex, etc.) to achieve the same goals, which vary from person to person, I suppose. In my circles, fasting is usually a private affair, between the person and God, so I can't really ask my fellow Christians how they approach this. I only know that I am a miserable failure at it.

                                                    My husband has fasted for minor medical procedures and found that the easiest thing to eat when the fast was complete was mellow carbs, like oatcakes or just plain wheat bread. An hour or so later, he had a normal meal. And I know that many Muslims break their fasts during Ramadan with dates, so that might be a good choice for you.

                                                    But if this is a medical and not a spiritual thing, I agree that you should talk to your MD.

                                                    1. why?

                                                      1. I found when I fasted everything tasted good the next day. I would have eaten dirt, honestly. I stopped because it was so bad for my body but I do remember wanting things like a Big Mac and being unable to tell the difference between textures and tastes, just eating everything I could until my shrunken stomach hurt.

                                                        Don't do it because you think food will taste better. It might, but that's not because you're more sensitive, it's because ALL food will taste good.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Basiorana

                                                          hunger is the best sauce

                                                        2. I've always found that the best way to prep for a fast is a really balanced meal, one that includes protein (salmon or chicken are usually the best bets - nothing too heavy on the stomach), some sort of a pasta - but no heavy sauces, and a veggie of a kind. Water - lots of water - is a good idea, too. And some caffeine, to keep the lethargy that results in no food from kicking in.

                                                          1. Know your body. I have had to fast for spiritual reasons, and I found when I was younger sometimes it was too much (for even a day) then I could tell because my finger nails would get purple. If you sense that your body cannot handle it, then you need to stop.

                                                            Also the day before a fast, I also load up on protein. My former SO used to make me omelets with peanut butter on them. I know it sounds disgusting but I would eat them late at night the day before I needed to fast so that I would be 'ok' protein-wise for the next day.

                                                            Therefore, I would calculate how much protein you need for your body weight and activity level and make sure you 'make up' that protein the days surrounding the fast. Obviously I am not a doctor, but I was raised in a health-conscious household, and I know that if you don't get enough protein coming in then your body starts to seek it out within...

                                                            I would not agree with those that say 'fasting is bad'--it depends on why you are doing it, and if you are doing it in a mindful manner.

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: GraceW

                                                              It's odd, but I wonder if people who are against fasting for health reasons also never eat deep-fried foods, or fast foods, or anything with saturated fats, etc. Balance and moderation is key to just about everything in life.

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                Well said ipsedixit. What better place than chowhound, with it's bright and open-minded readership to discuss the complete absence of food?

                                                                1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                  LOL

                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                    I was just this once not being sarcastic. Having gone without voluntarily several times I am deeply appreciative and grateful for food. I certainly got a new perspective.
                                                                    Now drinking, and I do mean any beverage, has always had great significance for me personally. But that is another thread.

                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  Yes, fasting in moderation (i.e. a day) here and there will probably not be harmful. But the OP stated they would like to work up to a week. That is NOT moderation.

                                                                  1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                    It's not usually dangerous either, at least not for those with fat stores to burn, who maintain hydration. Not that it's necessarily a great idea, but it doesn't warrant all the hand waving dire warnings, either.

                                                                    1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                      Moderation is a matter of perspective.

                                                                      For you, a day is moderate.

                                                                      For others, an hour might be moderate.

                                                                      For others still, a week or more may be moderate.

                                                                      I used to think running a marathon was pretty extreme. Then I learned about those extreme runners who run from Death Valley to the top of Mt. Wilson, over a hundred miles with thousands of feet in elevation gain. Now, I think a marathon is not only not moderate, but sort of wimpy.

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                        There is a summer bicycle race in west Texas called "The hotter'n Hell 100". You don't get your T-shirt until you finish the course.

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          Moderation is a matter of perspective.

                                                                          For you, a day is moderate.

                                                                          For others, an hour might be moderate.

                                                                          For others still, a week or more may be moderate.
                                                                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                          Steve Martin will tell you that 20 minutes is moderate. have you seen the dieting comments he was posting on Twitter during the holidays? good stuff.

                                                                          http://truthinslimming.com/diet/steve...

                                                                  2. I've fasted for 36 hours before. Just got busy and forgot about eating.

                                                                    I typically eat 2 meals a day, a brunch 4 hours after waking and a dinner. I don't often fell hungry. I eat when my energy ebbs--that's how I know I should eat. Then there are weeks when I AM hungry, and it seems like nothing fills me up. And I know it's some sort of somatic thing and restrict myself to 3 meals and a couple of snacks and make sure I don't pack on more than a pound! (I'm in the healthy weight range but far from the bottom end.)

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Henny Penny

                                                                      I have never forgotten to eat. When people tell me they have, it confounds me. And for 36 hours? I marvel!

                                                                      1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                        Me, neither. Most of my waking (heck, and sleeping) hours are all about what I am going to cook/eat next. However, I am on a medical 48-hour fast and am famished! Only 30 hours to go...

                                                                    2. I once accidentally fasted for 36 hours (too busy to eat) and for unconnected reasons then gave a hefty blood sample - well at that point my body decided it was time to shut down, and I went into a kind of low blood-sugar shock. After fully regaining conciousness about 45 minutes later I then slept for about 16 hours and woke up feeling fine. But I'll never forget to eat again, it is NOT a good thing to do.

                                                                      1. I fast occasionally for a day at a tme (sun rise to sun down). I started our doing it for religious reasons and I liked how my body and mind felt, so I now do it sometimes at other times.

                                                                        I would never advise fasting for more than a day, certainly not for a week. That sounds like a recipe for severe medical problems.

                                                                        Here is some advice on fasting you might find interesting:
                                                                        http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to...

                                                                        Obviously, not everyone will agree with this and you have to see what works with your body.

                                                                        1. I have a family member who "fasts" once a week, but on my observation, what she really does is severely restrict calorie intake. I've observed her eat an apple, while saying that sometimes she eats a "small piece of chocolate just to take the focus off food." I've tried to talk to her about alternatives, like doing food combining for quick transit one day a week, or perhaps juice fasting. (She doesn't have any family history of diabetes, or I wouldn't even talk with her about juicing.) She's of the belief that this sort of once a week ritual is of benefit. I am doubtful, but there's no real use taking up such arguments. In my experience, where food is concerned, people are generally steadfast in their beliefs and habits.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: amyzan

                                                                            Yes...and discussions around others' habits of eating, eating being a matter of making decisions for (and sometimes controlling) one's own body, can get very emotional very quickly.

                                                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                              Yeah, that's pretty much why it's best to make suggestions or ask questions, and go no further. But, I will say that if she wanted to "work up to a week" without eating, I couldn't help but widen my eyes and exhale at least. That would truly concern me.

                                                                            2. re: amyzan

                                                                              Oh my gosh amyzan, I tried a juice fast once and for me it was very annoying and frustrating. But interesting. I got really hungry about every twenty minutes. Perhaps there is a better version than the one I tried but I had an awful time of it.

                                                                              1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                Yeah, I think juicing is vastly overrated. I don't really get why a person wouldn't just eat their veggies, but I try to meet family members where they are in their understanding of nutrition and health. Hence, the discussion with this particular person about alternatives to the Master Cleanser and to water fasting, which if you aren't familiar with, I recommend you stay that way. JMHO, of course.

                                                                            3. i fast every year, "daylong" (sunrise to sunset) for religious reasons, if i can (having a job preparing food which needs to be tasted, plus long hours of very physical work is not necessarily conducive to being able to pull off a fast in the strictest sense). i was under the perhaps erroneous impression that real fasting means not drinking diet sodas and coffee/tea, or sugar-free candy to get you through, like folks are talking about in this thread? nothing but small amounts of water, if that. anyway apparently it's an eye of the beholder deal and sugar free gum is fine while "fasting" but a piece of fruit or bread is not. . . whatever, ymmv.

                                                                              i once also "observed" the fast of ramadan (at least the eating habits), even though i am not muslim, while i happened to be staying with an observant muslim family in south india for that whole period of time-- since nobody was eating or preparing food during the daylight hours, i wasn't going to ask for food or eat in front of my hosts, either-- it was a "when in rome" deal, and i didn't really find it difficult. actually i even put on weight over the month, because the sundown fast-breaking meal was typically so huge and delicious and full of rich holiday-type foods that you could anticipate all day during the fasting period. the family also woke before dawn and ate a heavy breakfast, and then slept in. muslim businesses in the area had altered hours and the pace of life seemed to just kinda slow down during ramadan, as everyone was "in" the same experience wrt fasting. during the month, i did allow myself to drink water, since i was in an unfamiliar country and climate and didn't want to get sick. my hosts did not drink any water from sunrise to sunset. i think religious fasting from sunup to sundown can be fine, & for short (less than 24 hours) periods of time it *can* be a good mental exercise ***for people who are otherwise physically and mentally healthy***.

                                                                              let me be really clear here though: it isn't appropriate for everybody, or folks with health issues-- any health issues at all really. it also isn't a normal thing to want to do on your own while your family, friends and community are going about their lives, eating and living normally-- this is at best antisocial and at worst a form of eating disorder or an early red flag, imo. it actually doesn't take that long for normal metabolic and neurologic processes to shut down, and i don't think it's smart to mess around with fasting for the periods of time the op is talking about, because of the possibility of doing real and lasting, even irreparable, damage to one's own body. i understand the impulse to be disciplined, to get in tune with one's own bodily rhythms, with sense of spirituality and connection, and learning an enhanced appreciation for food. i just think that fasting is the exact opposite way one should go about trying to achieve any of this, and an individual stands to lose much more than s/he stands to gain by voluntarily choosing a course of self-deprivation-- in food as in all other things. a moderate, balanced path would seem to be the most successful route to take.

                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                Anyone with a real health issue including pregnancy should not fast, even for religious reasons. Period. Even healthy people can put themselves at risk. A few years ago, a young student at my school had been observing Ramadan. As you stated, she ate a large breakfast before sun-up. As my school has late sessions, she left in the late afternoon having not eaten or drinking all day. She got hit by a car and died. Since then, my school offers snacks and drinks throughout the month of Ramadan. Again, even if your fast is for religious reasons, listen to your body. If you're dizzy or light headed, please eat or drink something. Putting your body in harms way is not doing anyone or God any services.

                                                                                1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                  Pregnant and nursing women and pre-pubescent children are not required to fast for Ramadan. Essentially a Ramadan fast consists of skipping lunch and since the rule for fasting is between dawn and sunset when it takes place in the winter (Islam's calendar is lunar-based so Ramadan jumps back eleven days every year) the fast is pretty short. You don't say in your post what age level your school handles. And was it proven that the girl's fasting was the direct cause of her getting hit by a car? Had she complained of not feeling well or did someone see that she was acting dizzy or light-headed? The latter is pretty tough to hide. To me the incident seems like an unfortunate accident that just happened to take place during Ramadan--or maybe your school dropped the ball if the girl did complain about not feeling good and did the CYA thing with the drinks and snacks.

                                                                                  1. re: MandalayVA

                                                                                    Interesting comments Mandalay. When I did my fasting I didn't do much else. I did get some bad advice from one of the (older) books I read but luckily I saw it for the very bad idea it was right away. The book said that sunbathing was a great thing to do while fasting. No way in hell for many reasons. My main concern at the time was dehydration. But boy did I back away from that one.

                                                                                    1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                      Sun in small doses is good for you--vitamin D. That might be why it was suggested during fasting.

                                                                                      As I said previously I generally only eat once a day. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me it was unhealthy, that I needed to eat frequent small meals, etc. I'd be rich. I do drink a lot of water--I get my 64 ounces easy--but what it's taught me is to eat when I'm hungry and don't eat when I'm not.

                                                                                      1. re: MandalayVA

                                                                                        Makes sense Mandalay. I was also afraid that I would doze off in the sun and my one friend had a horrific story for me about someone suffering severe dehydration that way, and she wasn't even fasting.
                                                                                        Folks do so love to give advice don't they? My dad is Irish and my mom was Welsh and there was a folk song they used to play with the lyrics "I'll eat when I'm hungry, I'll drink when I'm dry, if you don't like it then leave me alone!" I was so surprised to come across the same sentiment recently in a parable from Eastern culture as well

                                                                                        1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                          <"I'll eat when I'm hungry, I'll drink when I'm dry, if you don't like it then leave me alone!">

                                                                                          You're mixing up the lines, there. The song goes (more or less) like this: I eat when I'm hungry, I drink when I'm dry, and if whiskey don't kill me, I'll live 'til I die.

                                                                                          http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/iri...

                                                                                    2. re: MandalayVA

                                                                                      The student was approximately 14 years old. As I have only heard the story second hand I cannot be 100% sure of the details. Of course the accident may have happened whether it was Ramadan or not. However, I am glad that our school is being more preventative. Yes, a car accident can happen to anyone. But obviously if you have not eaten or drunk anything for most of the day, your body may not be able to respond as effectively in such a situation as if you had given it fuel. Either way, this was a tragedy. I'm not saying that people should avoid fasting for Ramadan, just to do it safely.

                                                                                      1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                        Excuse me, did you not read the part above about the fact that children aren't supposed to fast at that time?

                                                                                        When was the last time the OP was part of this thread. I personally don't like the idea of non-religious fasting but ya know what, that's not what s/he asked about. This thread is more judgmental than not. She asked about food pre and post fast. Sheesh. We're neither her doctor nor her confessor nor her shrink.

                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                          Was thinking that also c.oliver. Hate to see the OP get dog-piled on by hounds. This thread is fascinated to read and I am learning a lot. With all the topics and threads here on chowhound it says a lot about the community that we never run out of interesting things to talk about. And thanks again to the mods who keep things running without threads turning into toxic waste dumps as I have seen in other online communities. Could this possibly be the first thread ever about fasting on Chowhound? Seems to me fasting has been around for awhile. Jpc if you haven't headed for sanctuary somewhere, it was brave of you to start this thread and unleash the hounds! Sorry I couldn't resist. :)

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            Pre-pubescent children. Nicole stated the girl was 14, and most 14-year-old girls have gone through puberty so I would imagine she would have been required to fast. That being said, since Nicole admits she heard this story second-hand it sounds very much like the school was somehow aware that the girl wasn't feeling well but dismissed it, and now pulls the CYA move with the food. JMHO.

                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              Thank you for saying it. I do think this thread is due for a visit from the Thread Coroner.

                                                                                              As a child, I was hit and knocked unconscious by a car while running to a Mr. Softee truck for ice cream after lunch. I'm pretty sure this first hand account doesn't mean that lunch or Mr. Softee are both to be avoided due to undue harm that might come from them. :-)

                                                                                        2. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                          Mandalay is correct, there are provisions for people who are ill, the elderly, pregnant and nursing women, and children during ramadan. even folks who are traveling during ramadan are advised to eat and drink normally during their trip so as not to unduly stress their systems. nobody is forcing anyone else to observe a fast, and each individual is accountable to her/his own body during the duration. it's common for folks who may not feel well on one or two days of ramadan to skip fasting for those days, eat and drink what they need to to regain/maintain their strength, and then they can essentially "make up" the days they missed in their own fast after ramadan is over. the religious rules and cultural norms are very clear that the fast is not supposed to be any stress on one's health or well-being. folks who may see the act of fasting as some sort of self-sacrifice just for the sake of it are missing the point-- religious fasting is not supposed to be self-sacrifice, for "god" or anyone else, and if a person's health or well-being is in danger, folks in any culture which observes fasts are supposed to stop. others in the community are around to assist and advise and support people during a religious fast, and to look for signs that someone is pushing themselves too far physically. people visit and check in with their entire extended family during ramadan, and give food and monetary gifts to less fortunate relatives, charities, and neighbors and acquaintances without family members to care for them. part of the tradition is about making sure people in the entire community are in good health and have the food and money they need. if someone's health is poor, they don't fast-- simple as that. the idea that someone's forcing ill people, children or pregnant women to starve themselves for a month is way off-base, if that's what you are implying-- it just does not happen that way.

                                                                                          it was a very cool experience for me to observe a large community with hundreds of years of experience doing this long fast as a cohesive unit. there were a lot of checks and balances. it was low-key, people went easy on one another.

                                                                                          i would really contrast the phenomenon of religious fasting (in manageable less than 24 time chunks) within a large community who look out for one another, change their habits, and check in with one another on an ongoing basis during the duration, to the current trend or phenomenon of inexperienced folks deciding individually to fast for days at a time, while not anticipating potential problems or attempting to change their daily habits during their fast. to me they are completely different balls of wax, the second being a recipe with a potentially disastrous outcome.

                                                                                          attempting to go through a fast by oneself, with no support system is inadvisable-- for the same reasons that going through solo labor and child delivery, or a solo jog across a desert, or a solo sailing venture around the world are inadvisable. stuff can and will go wrong, you need experienced people around for support and in the event that there is an emergency, and sometimes to head off an emergency before it happens and say to you "i think you need to stop now." i also don't think self-destructive behavior is anything to mess around with, whether it's fasting/eating disorder, drug abuse, cutting oneself, etc. these behaviors are very similar and they can quickly spiral out of control, and since the folks who are in the behavior pattern tend to withdraw from other people and hide what they are doing, their antisocial behavior often results in other folks not realizing there is a serious problem until there is a medical emergency or death.

                                                                                          i think any religious leader from a community which fasts would try to dissuade the op from her/his present intention, and any medical or mental health practitioner would probably join in. if i were feeling the urge to go without eating for several days just to see how long i could go or whether i could "work up" to a week or two without food, i would hope my friends would suggest counseling to explore the personal reasons i'd want to go there. i'm not a shrink, but i was a bartender for 10 years ;-P and i hope the op seeks out a professional's advice before going forward with any long-term fasting plans.

                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                            As usual, very well written and good info, soupkitten. Thanks.

                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                              very excellent post.