There is a lot of false information that is spread about fasting, which makes it difficult to understand when and how to fast properly. Fasting is believed to be a state of deprivation; however, you need to consider fasting as a brief break from the constant barrage of foods and experience that you consume.
According to Ayurveda, regular fasting will help you maintain your health
Ayurveda defines fasting as your choice while consuming anything, be it food, a breath of air or even thoughts and sensory experiences. While choosing to avoid what can be potentially harmful, we are opening ourselves to receive what can be beneficial and improve our mind and body.
Ayurveda does not define fasting as going without any food, however, it proposes a lighter and cleaner food intake, based on our natural constitution.
Why do we need to fast?
We often overfeed ourselves, but we are still undernourished.
Our foods are laced with many pesticides, preservatives or chemical additives. An abundant consumption of these foods can cause disease and health imbalance.
Ayurveda states that you are not only what you eat, but also whatever you digest.
If our digestive energy, or agni is low, we tend to decrease our digestive process. This leads to the accumulation of a lot of toxic waste food matter in our intestines. Over a period of time, these toxins cause mood swings, fatigue, fogginess, sluggishness, anxiety, etc. It is important to periodically cleanse our body of these toxins by dofsating.
Benefits of fasting:
Our digestive system is one of the biggest systems in the body and uses up a majority of our energy. During a fast, our digestive system is allowed to rest, which helps our body to use the free energy for healing. Fasting helps in eliminating the toxic waste and cleanses our body.
Our body is quite capable of healing itself, provided it is offered the right type of nutrition.
With a fresh burst of energy, we can become more focused and make good decisions.
Ancient Ayurvedic practitioners proposed fasting as a means to derive spiritual knowledge and growth.
An Ayurvedic Fast:
During the fast, we must eliminate all types of refined sugars or carbs, gluten, processed foods, commercial meats and dairy products, fast foods, leftovers, caffeine and alcohol. One must always fast based on their constitution. Always initiate a fast under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner
When to fast?
If you generally wake up in the morning with a coating on your tongue, are feeling sluggish and dull, then you need to fast according to your constitution. This could include a water fast or a general fast till the coating is cleared.
Also, if you experience burping, bloating, acidity or a burning sensation, then it is your body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong
Allow your digestive system to rest and clear off the accumulated toxins.
It is best to fast if you are fatigued and are unable to concentrate or focus on your work
What to eat during the fast?
According to Ayurveda, a short and regular fasting is ideal. Extended fasting can harm your digestive system. A cooked mixture of a handful of rice, split green lentils, cumin, turmeric and salt (called kichari) is suitable for every constitution during the fast. Also, you can have a monodiet of easy to digest fruits or vegetables, juices
A water fast or having no water or food is not recommended
General tips for improving your digestive health:
• Select the length of your fast appropriately. During your fast you should not be painfully hungry, irritated or experience weakness. If you experience any of these symptoms, please consume something solid.
• Eat only if you are hungry
• Lunch must be your biggest meal, since your digestive strength is highest during the day
• Triphala is a gentle detoxifier which helps you get rid of toxic waste during the fast
• If you wish to fast every week, select the same day each week
• Decrease your daily activities and exercise during the fast and allow your body to rest to ensure proper healing
• After ending your fast, do not jump into your daily diet. Gently ease into your regular routine by initially consuming easy to digest meals. A successful fast will reduce your food cravings and you will be attracted to the natural foods which are beneficial for your body
• Pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating women, or the elderly and very young individuals must avoid fasting