Intro: Fasting is recommended by all major world religions, and is a repeated teaching of scripture. Surely this is something God intended us to do for both our spiritual and physical health. Those who fast know that with it there comes an increased ability to make better food choices in general, having seen that their bodies don’t need a constant flow of excessive or extravagant nutrients to be well.
-Full fast: no food, no water, done for anywhere from 12 hours to 3 days. The LDS Church instructs its members to do a full 24 hour fast without food or water at least once a month.
-Water fast: only water. This can easily be done for 3 days, that’s the most I’ve done to date. But I hear it’s easy after 5 days, and a 7 day water fast is popular. Some even water fast for a month or longer, but consult a physician when going long like that, and watch for warning signs of needing to stop. Water fasts are underrated and are very helpful.
-Bread & Water: Good old bread and water. And we mean good hardy wheat bread. Yes, this time tested diet is a good one to resort to on occasion, to teach simple living and willpower.
-Smoothies: These are popular and fun. Only smoothies of fruits and vegetables. There’s a fun documentary called “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead” of a guy who did this for a few months under the direction of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and the guy lots tons of weight and reclaimed his life. This isn’t something to do forever, but it can be a regular part of life. Some bag on this fasting method, but it’s clearly more healthy than most people’s lifestyles.
Note: You’ll want to not have unlimited smoothies when doing this fast, and you’ll want to put veggies not just fruits in them.
-Fruit fast: This is like the smoothie fast, but you’re eating whole foods, and it’s much harder to put down as many calories when eating whole foods rather than a smoothie. Try eating 14 bananas (the amount in some popular smoothies) and see how that goes for you.
-Breakfast fast (intermittent fast): Many recommend that if you’re going to skip a meal to stack up hours of your body not working to digest and instead working to detoxify, that you skip breakfast. You want to have that stream of hours building up. This is why skipping lunch would be the least effective. Skipping dinner is ok, but in my experience, it’s much easier to skip breakfast, as the body is already in a state of fasting by the time you wake up. Some say eating close to bed time is bad, the idea is that when you’re resting, you want your body to focus on repair rather than digestion.
-Rammadan: For a month, Muslims eat only when the sun is down. Surely this can teach self restraint, and helps the body to detoxify.
-“Fast all the time”: Hugh Nibley was known to say that we should be fasting all the time. By this he meant that we should live regularly on simple foods, and not make food a big part of life. He detested cooking. He also promoted the idea that those who refrained from meats would qualify for a special blessing, though it is not required.
Conclusion: I’m sure you could have other healthy fasts, I love the idea of making a decision about a limited spectrum of healthy foods you’re going to eat for 1 or more days, and sticking to it come hell or high water.
Cautionary Note: If you’re going to fast for a given time, have a firm commitment for a reasonable timeframe so you don’t cave and eat worse than you would in a typical day. It’s easy to fall into the trap of binge eating directly after a fast, so have a plan in place for what you’ll eat after.
Remember Isaiah 58:8 specifically says blessings of health will come from fasting, particularly as we do good things while we fast:
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
8 ¶ Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.