The Spiritual Dimension of Fasting

Day 3 has passed quietly but confession number 2 – last night my body felt strained, so I had an oatcake and I slept reasonably but woke around 5.30. My HRV showed sympathetic drive and historically I have struggled to go long periods without food, so I think my body is stressed. Stepping on to the scales I have lost 2kg and one cm around the middle which is good but my weight fluctuates and in previous fasts I only lose around 1.5kg which is curious. One thing I am learning is that the five day fast is not enough to get into a healthy BMI and I need to look after my diet in between fasts keeping to low carbohydrate foods as I can feel my body enjoying a flat sugar curve rather than sugar spikes.


As the day progresses with a busy day at work, I am not hungry and then have usual hunger around 12.45 and eat my soup and kale crackers. Coming home I feel the emptiness of no food and think of all the colours and fun of sharing a meal. My husband helps me hold hard as I gaze longingly at half an avocado – how fortunate we are to be able to eat all the colours of the rainbow and for food to be freely available. I get through the evening meal with my soup and a handful of rocket on the side to add some crunch and colour. Once the meal is over, I settle again into not eating, speaking to family and writing my blog.


This evening, I am reflecting on those that fast and the willpower that takes. At the moment people are fasting for Ramadan, no water or food in daylight hours which takes strength. Fasting can strengthen one’s connection to the divine and with other traditions like Ayurveda the body is also seen as divine and ancient traditions of fasting and cleansing are being researched and shared within the Integrative Medicine model. Setting up a masters in Integrative Healthcare I have learnt and continue to learn so much, fasting being just one element of the many different strands of healthcare we can employ to support our health and wellbeing and the emerging science. These whole system approaches to health like Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine see the body as energetic and connected across organs and cells and finding balance is important. Science is showing that a periodic prolonged fast can trigger the body to rejuvenate and those pathways are all there for us to benefit from. When we hit ketogenesis or fat burning and then trigger autophagy from day three onwards, the body in this protected fasting state starts replacing old and damaged cells – tapping into those ancient cycles of growth and repair feels good but isn’t easy. Being in the middle of the fast I still have three nights and two long days to go….



So, sorting for the positive and drinking my herb tea, todays spring cleansing herb is Dandelion a member of the daisy family. Taraxacum is mentioned in Arabic herbals from the 11th century and was used as a diuretic and liver support. Here is a link to Herbal Reality for more information.


Dandelion – Herbal Reality



Dr Elizabeth Thompson