Fasting

The first time I fasted was in 1985. I admit, I did it to loose the ten kilos I had gained during my year as an exchange student in Iowa, but I came away from the experience with more positive effects than just weightloss. After the initial difficult day or two, I became very energetic, mindful and calm. It felt as if I as a whole, mind and body, had been reset. I have since fasted many times, but not as long as the 14 days I did the first time.

In the 70´s and 80´s, fasting was made very popular by the various health farms that had been established all over Sweden (since re-cast as spas where you go to spend a lot of cash spoiling yourself with aromatic bubble baths, massages, wine and gourmet food, rather than deny yourself the excesses of modern life to promote longevity and health). One of these was Tallmogården, in the next village to where I grew up. Dr Karl-Otto Aly, who was also the local doctor, ran it and promoted fasting as the cure-all for the modern lifestyle. Other health farms had other ideas, like raw food, intestinal lavage, or herb therapy. More or less, they all built on the ideas of Are Waerland, a charismatic health profet who advocated lacto-vegetarianism and abstemiousness. I was very influenced by this and was a lacto-vegetarian for seven years, until I came to Luleå. I sometimes think it might do me good if I became one again. Or at least a pescetarian.

20150623_095248Anyway; you could, for years, buy fasting boxes in regular supermarkets, with teas and juices and some kind of mild laxative (in case the prune juice wouldn´t be enough) for a number of fasting days. Tallmogården had its own brand of fruit and vegetable juices. The trick was not to exceed a particular number of calories a day, about 200, as this would make you hungry. For later fasts, I mostly drank water (sometimes with a squirt of vinegar to spice it up), a small cup of coffee in the morning (no milk), a cup of herb tea for lunch and one in the afternoon, and half a litre of broth in the evening. It has been a few years now since I fasted, because of the rather physically demanding job I have, so I thought it was going to be interesting to see if the experience would be different.

In the end, I only fasted for two days. It felt oddly different this time, and perhaps it is to do with getting older and having a changing metabolism. Or perhaps it is about having a changed relationship with the body. I became frustratingly weak. Perhaps it is that I have grown used to being strong – that was hardly part of my self-perception as a younger woman. I don’t think I will do this again, but I will continue to look at how and what I eat. I am steadily gaining weight and have had a lot of rashes around the mouth – definitely food-related – this spring. I need to really look at this, to find a long-term solution.

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4 thoughts on “Fasting”

  1. I saw some news recently about a periodic fasting schedule in which one does a partial fast for 5 days a month, eating much less during those days (but not nearly as little as 200 calories). I’ve heard that the first 3 days of a fast are the hardest, but I think they are talking about a more total fast than I’m willing to undertake.

    I think some kind of mini-fast might make me more mindful of my eating. I’m not getting any younger and have picked up a few pounds these last few years. I’m holding onto them to stave off the weight loss I see among so many elderly women.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with this. It’s always helpful to me to hear what other people are doing along these lines.

    1. Yes, here we have the famous 5:2 diet, which is all the rage. Not a real fast, you more or less just restrict yourself to one meal for two days a week. Most people spread that meal out over the day. Nearly every one I know has tried it and it has gotten much attention from scientists in recent years, as it seems to work well for diabetics and such. Perhaps you are right and I should make peace with the kilos, see it as an investment for my old age. Not there yet, I’m afraid…

  2. I gained 60 lbs. (27.2 kilos) after I stopped working while going to school. Talk about the “freshman 10″ where freshman are supposed to gain 10 lbs when they start college, I had been going to school and working a very demanding job before I was admitted to a Ph.D. program at Wichita State University. I had to quit outside work, because they had me working as a GTA (graduate teaching assistant).

    Years later, I have finally lost about 35 lbs. (15.9 kilos), which mostly started when I got sick in mid-April of this year. I’m down from 145 to about 130 right now, which is FAT since I’m 4′ 11” tall. I now try to limit my diet to 500 calories or less each day, but there are days I go over that. Lately, I get hungry and grab food, rather than trying to restrain.

    I thought becoming a vegetarian would help, but so far (after about 5 years) it has not. Seems there’s as much junk food that doesn’t have meat in it as there is for carnivores.

    I don’t think I could completely fast, but I might try limiting the amount of half and half I put in my coffee and drink it black a few days. That would cut a lot out, I’m sure.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. A VERY interesting post.

    1. Ah, yes, that´s kind of what I am afraid of, returning to school this autumn after having a very physically demanding job for 15 years – and being nearly 50. I will need to watch it! I have so far just been 3 kilos up and down over the holidays, but they are getting harder to loose. But I try to focus on being healthy. However, one shouldn´t underestimate the willpower that comes from vanity! 😉
      I´m very sorry you have health problems, that is not the most desirable way to loose pounds. I do think 500 calories a day sounds an awful little to survive on. According to the charts, I need at least 1300 just to keep the body (and the brain) working, even if I´m not excercising. Usually, 1500 calories a day is weightloss level for me. Vegetarianism can lead to a high carb diet, unless one is careful with the the breads and fruits.
      Hope we both find our balance; I am likely to continue to post food and diet related stuff in future. Blogging is such a constructive way to handle frustrations. 😀

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