Intuitive Fasting

 

I have never been too enthusiastic about fasting, but in April of 2024 I completed a 3 day food fast. Prior to this experience, I didn’t think that I would ever willingly do an extended fast. And yet, I had a strong intuitive feeling that a 3 day fast would benefit my body and mind. When my students in the Beautiful Souls Academy learned about the fast, they had questions about it. Mainly they asked why. Therefore, I decided to write this blog, so that others might also learn more about fasting and what I mean when I say that this was an intuitive fast. 

 

Although this was the first time I had ever done a full 3 day fast, I have completed many one day fasts where I would consume only water and fruits for a 24 hour period. From May of 2022 until October of 2024 my husband and I were faithful in keeping our “Fruit Fast Fridays” as we called them. In October of 2024 we moved into a new home and in the chaos of that move, and all the work involved, we fell away from the habit of our Friday fasts. 

 

You might be wondering; why would anyone fast? Why deny yourself nutrition and pleasure? A lot of people assume that fasting is some sort of spiritual practice to strengthen your will-power and to teach you about sacrifice and discipline. For some people it may very well be all of those things, but for me it wasn’t about denial, it was about giving myself a gift, the gift of a break - a period of time where my body could rest from the constant process of digestion.

 

The idea of taking a break from food for 3 days was not something that I pondered long, or even planned, before doing. It was an intuitive hit, as we call it, where I just KNEW what my body needed. In that moment I felt certain that I would do a 3 day fast with the first day consuming only water. On the second day I would add fruit and on the third day I would add plain unsweetened yogurt, and milk. This is how intuition works; a chunk of information comes clearly all at once. I didn’t ponder, and I didn’t plan but rather the 3 day fasting “plan” came fully into my mind in an instant and the very next day I began it.

 

Before I continue sharing my experience with you and further discussing this idea of “intuitive fasting” I need to put a disclaimer here. The fast that I described above, I do not actually recommend to others. In fact, abruptly stopping your consumption of food can cause what is known as a “health crisis.” A health crisis is when your body is detoxing too quickly. When a flood of toxins is trying to leave your body all at once it can cause several unpleasant symptoms such as acne, diarrhea, bad breath, headaches, sinus congestion, fatigue, skin rashes and more. Therefore, unless you are already accustomed to healthy eating, adequate water consumption and reducing toxins in your body by avoiding processed foods containing preservatives and artificial ingredients, I DO NOT recommend a water fast. In fact, I do not recommend a full day fast for you at all. Start by taking a “fast” from junk food. Begin by reducing the amount of toxins in your body. When you feel ready to fast, consider just skipping your evening meal. Be sure to consult with your doctor before fasting, especially if you are on any medications that must be taken with food, or have any other food related health challenges such as diabetes. 

 

 

Fasting is a practice with many benefits for the body, mind and spirit. 

 

On a physical level, fasting gives your body a break from all of the constant work of digesting, processing and eliminating food. Think of it as giving your body some rest, a partial  vacation from its constant work. 

 

Mentally it is a great way to loosen or eliminate any negative attachments to food or what you would describe as unhealthy eating habits. It is a time to examine your relationship with food and an opportunity to start anew after wiping the slate clean. This is a time for you to examine if you are eating out of boredom or stress - a time to face the truth. Are you filling your belly to compensate for feelings of emptiness or low self worth? Think of it like stripping off a layer so that you can see yourself more clearly. Additionally, especially for meditation practitioners, it is a fabulous way to practice directing your thoughts. When you feel some hunger pangs during your fast, you have the opportunity to practice directing your thoughts away from food and onto something else. This is a skill that you can then transfer to other situations. For example, learning how to direct your thoughts away from anxious, sad, or angry thoughts and onto something more positive. 

 

Enhanced gratitude  is another wonderful benefit of fasting. You gain a renewed awareness of abundance and a greater appreciation for food. Most people are consuming three meals a day, every day. It becomes part of your routine and almost a chore, especially if you are the one shopping for the ingredients, preparing and cooking the food, and then cleaning up afterwards. Instead of being a joy in life, it becomes an obligation and the enjoyment is diminished. Additionally, overuse of certain foods, for example salt and sugar, can actually numb your taste buds and prevent you from being able to discern more subtle flavors in food. Therefore, after a fast, you will likely be more appreciative and mindful of what you choose to put into your body. In this way fasting can be a great benefit to you spiritually, because I believe that gratitude is one of the best, if not the very best, spiritual disciplines of all. Gratitude enhances all of your other spiritual practices. You become more thankful for everything including things you once took for granted, such as eating. Gratitude renews your joy for life and you are able to easily create happiness for yourself from all of the many small aspects of your daily life.

 

Now let us return to the idea of an “intuitive fast.”

 

You probably have some idea about intuition, and that it is something like your inner voice or your inner wisdom. But are you really in touch with your own intuition? How do you know for sure if you are listening to your intuition? Intuition gives you a direct message, like a factual piece of news, with no emotional energy attached to it. It is not the same as your inner thoughts, your worries, or your habit of overthinking. You might add emotional energy - your thoughts, feelings,and opinions - AFTER the intuitive hit arrives, but pay attention because in that initial moment of the intuitive thought arising, it comes as merely factual; a piece of information where in that moment you instantly feel that it is true and correct. After the intuitive thought arises, your mind might add to it with your opinions about fasts, your past experience with fasts, and all kinds of other thoughts that carry emotion with them. To tap into your intuition requires that you get to know your own mind very well so that you can distinguish between true intuition and not confuse it with anxiety, judgement, or other emotions. 

 

 

Whether you begin your fast based on intuition or upon thoughtful consideration, I feel strongly that your fast should be guided intuitively. A fast gives you an opportunity to enhance your skill of self awareness. Tune in and ask yourself questions such as;

 

  • How does my body feel after I consume ________ ?
  • What does my body really need right now?
  • Is my body asking for this food or is it my tongue? (The stomach wants to be nourished, but the tongue wants to be entertained.) 
  • How does my mind feel after I consume _______ ?

 

 

A fast can help you learn things about your own body. 

 

You start paying more attention to your physical and mental energy level, the focus of your mind, the condition of your skin, the feelings in your stomach. Do you really need to FILL your stomach or is that just a habit? Do you feel some kind of nourishing comfort in having a full belly? If so, could you find a better way to nourish yourself? In yogic teachings the advice is to think of your stomach as divided into 3 parts; fill one third with water, one third with food and leave one third open (air.) In this way, you can consider all four elements in your practice of nourishing yourself with water, earth, and air as the three parts of your stomach and the act of digesting - turning food into energy and then “burning” calories -  as the element of fire. 

 

Did you know that the natural size of your stomach organ is only about as big as your fist? 

However, the stomach can of course stretch and increase in size to accommodate larger portions. But over time, this constant stretching of your stomach will lead to a bigger size becoming your new normal. A fast can help you return to a more natural size of stomach which will help to reduce your food intake because when there is a lot of empty space in the stomach, your body sends you a message of hunger, so essentially, the more you eat, the more you will eat! A mindful fast can help you return to more reasonable portions of food. You will find that you start feeling more satisfied with smaller portions, and larger portions of food that you used to enjoy will begin to feel heavy and uncomfortable. Additionally, when you aim for “fist-sized” portions of food, then it becomes even more important to consume nutrient dense foods. You become much more mindful of the quality of food that you are consuming. This may not happen after your first fast, because mindfulness and self knowledge takes practice, but surely each time you fast and make more mindful choices you are taking another step towards a healthier body and mind. 

 

Now let me share with you my actual experience of this three day fast, which again I will say, was my first ever lengthy fast. 

 

Surprisingly, for me the first day was the easiest! Although I was only consuming water that day, I had no food cravings and felt no discomfort. Perhaps it was due to my conviction that this fast would be very beneficial to me. Mindset makes all the difference! If you begin your fast feeling that you are denying yourself and that you will suffer, then chances are that you will be uncomfortable and have a difficult time. But if you believe that you are giving yourself a gift, a break, a chance to increase your healthy habits, then you will have a much easier time of it. 

 

On the second day I added fruit to the fast. Most of the day went by easily until the evening. By around 5 o’clock I began feeling strong food cravings, and very oddly, the strongest craving was for potato chips! - which is SO WEIRD because I RARELY ever eat them. Therefore I understood that my body was just going through something, perhaps a craving for salt and fat, but I knew that I could outride this craving. So I drank more water and I ate more fruit, and I was able to sleep peacefully that night. 

 

By the third day the strange cravings were gone and it felt like a feast to add yogurt and milk to my fast. The day passed easily and I felt good. 

 

You might think that on the morning of the next day, when the fast was over, that I might wake up hungry and want to eat all kinds of food that I had “missed out on” during those 3 days. Truthfully, I felt good. I did not wake hungry. In the morning I took some lemon water first, and ate very light food that day. The thought of eating potato chips seemed utterly absurd and a little repulsive actually. There was not even the slightest hint of a craving for them. I felt happy with my accomplishment. Not only that I stayed true to my fast, but mostly that I stayed true to myself. I followed my intuition and listened to my body. 

 

Additional benefits of Fasting;

  • Strengthens the habit of consuming plenty of water daily
  • Eliminates cravings for salty/sweet
  • Contentment with smaller portions
  • Easily able to do “mini fasts” of skipping one daily meal
  • Enhances control over random food cravings
  • More nutritionally dense food choices
  • Greater appreciation for the body and the amazing work it does
  • More subtle awareness of the body
  • Fortitude of mind
  • Increases patience

 

Notice that I did not list “weight loss” as a benefit. Did I lose weight? Yes, of course I did, but in my opinion, weight loss should NOT be a motivating factor in fasting. The whole idea of denying yourself food in order to lose weight is not an act of kindness but of punishment. Love yourself. Love yourself for who you are right now. Vibrant health of body and mind is not maintained through denial and punishment, but through love and self-awareness. Fasting creates patience and gives you the ability to stay the course and understand that progress is made in mindful increments. As Milarepa said; “Slowly, slowly we make haste.” If you want to be healthier it will happen in time, by slowly shifting your habits towards your healthy intentions through kindness and patience. 

 

 

How did you feel while reading this blog? Did your opinion of fasting shift at all? Are you considering implementing some of my suggestions here? Well then let me make two other suggestions of how you can further develop body/mind awareness for your optimal health;

 

The practice of yoga and meditation combines beautifully with fasting 

Yoga increases your body awareness while meditation increases your mindfulness. In the same way that yoga and meditation can give you great support during your fast, a fast can also help you increase your body/mind awareness which will benefit your practice of yoga and meditation. If you are interested in taking steps towards a healthier and more vibrant life, I suggest that you consider making Yoga and Meditation a regular practice. 

 

I welcome you to explore my own online options for yoga and meditation including Yoga Club and the Inspired Souls Club. You can follow the two links above (Click on the names) to learn more about these fully online programs on the Beautiful Souls Academy

 

And please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions regarding what I offer on the Beautiful Souls Academy; jennifer@jenniferka.com 

 

 

Thank you for reading this blog. I wish you vibrant health and a peaceful mind. 

 

Much love, 

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

 

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