Things To Know Before Fasting For The First Time
There are a number of reasons people fast, ranging from religious traditions to preparations for a surgery to wanting to drop those last two pounds before slipping into a wedding dress. But fasting shouldn’t be taken lightly or gone into without any guidance. Your body is used to taking in nutrients from food and beverages every day, and cutting it off completely comes as a shock to your system. Some people are surprised by just how much fasting interferes with their ability to carry out their everyday tasks. Others are surprised that fasting doesn’t help them achieve the results they wanted. You’ll be more satisfied with the experience if you’re doing it for religious reasons, and at least less tortured if you’re doing it for physical reasons, if you’re prepared. Here are things to know before fasting for the first time.
It can boost your immune system
When your body is hungry, it turns to white blood cells to make up for the missing calories. This gives your body’s immune system a little boost, so fasting could be a good idea right before a time you may be exposed to colds or flu.
Eat at odd times leading up to it
While you should typically eat on a regular schedule, that regular schedule will be a curse when you fast. You don’t want your body to prepare itself to digest foods at certain hours each day because on fasting day, it will send those signals to your brain, making fasting harder. Confuse your body by eating at varied and odd times leading up to the fast.
You can fast with liquids
You don’t have to go your entire fast without consuming anything at all. A fast that allows you to consume water, juice, and broth is still a fast that will offer plenty of benefits. This may even be the best fast for someone who is new to fasting.
Set aside the time for it
Don’t try to fast during your busiest week at work or when you have friends in town who want you to show them around. You need to try to reserve your energy when you fast, so choose a time when you won’t be expending it.
Let people you live with know
Do yourself a favor and let the people you live with know you’re going too fast. They may help you out and not cook the giant stew they planned on making, the smell of which would have had you salivating.
Stop coffee early
If you consider yourself a coffee addict then remove the substance from your life at least three days before fasting. You don’t want to contend with a caffeine-deprivation headache and hunger pangs at the same time.
Choose your entertainment wisely
You’re best off avoiding cable television since you never know when a food commercial will come on. Do yourself a favor and watch something that takes your appetite away, like a crime recreation show.
Have a substantial meal before
Even if you normally eat light, the day before a fast is not the time to be concerned with dieting. Have a substantial, wholesome meal near the start of your fast (but don’t overeat). Start that meal early enough so you have time to eat at a natural pace, and don’t gorge—that will leave you nauseous.
Avoid high fiber food
High fiber food like vegetables and certain grains are usually a good thing because they keep you regular, but before a fast, you want food that moves through you slowly.
Have a carb-heavy meal
While you may typically avoid carbohydrates, they are your friends before a fast. Because foods like potatoes, rice and pasta actually bond to H2O, they can provide your body with water while you’re fasting.
Consume healthy fats
Things like olive oil, fish, avocado and nuts contain healthy fats and oils. These actually slow down the process of your stomach emptying its contents, which can help you stay full longer.
If you’re avoiding water
If your fast doesn’t allow liquids of any kind, then you need to do what you can to hydrate the day before. So have beverages high in electrolytes and eat hydrating foods like soup and watermelon leading up to the fast.
Avoid dehydrating items
You should also stay away from things high in sodium and soda, and avoid alcohol entirely the day leading up to a fast since that is deeply dehydrating.
Limit sugar as much as possible. Consuming sugar will lead to a blood sugar crash, possibly in the middle of your fast. You don’t need that energy drop on top of the one you’re already experiencing.
Try not to sweat
Try not to sweat during your fast. If ever there were a time to blast the air conditioning, this is it. Sweating causes you to lose the water you need in your body right now.
Don’t have the post-fast talk
You know the one—the conversation you have with your friend about all of the things you’re going to munch on once this fast is over. This will send hunger signals to your brain and stomach.
Make yourself tired
One of the best ways to pass the hours during a fast is by sleeping. So if you can, find ways to ensure you’ll be sleepy the day of.
Ease out of it
Even though you’ll want to eat everything in sight once the fast is over, don’t. Eating too quickly after a fast can cause nausea. Your stomach is a muscle and that muscle isn’t at its pique performance after a fast.
Drink water before eating
A good way to keep yourself from overeating after the fast is to make a giant glass of water the first thing you consume. This will make you feel full without overwhelming your stomach with food.
Prepare to be creative
Fasting opens up certain pathways in the brain that really let your creative side out. Whatever you need to be creative—whether that’s an easel and some pencils or some instruments—have those things around during the fast.