No matter how great our intentions are, the truth is, sometimes when we set out to start a fast…..we fail. Hard.
I remember a few years back, starting a fast and I was so excited, I just dove right in. But on day 3, I don’t know what came over me, but by 4pm, I’d had 2 cupcakes, a snickers bar and a cheeseburger. Ever had that happen to you? It’s okay. We’ve all done it. Don’t sweat it. Don’t beat yourself up. Just dust yourself off and get back up again. But here’s one of the things I’ve discovered. The times I have stumbled, it’s because I didn’t do this prior to starting my fast:
Step #4: Start cutting meats, sugars and heavy carbs out of your diet at least 1-2 weeks prior.
I don’t do well with going “cold-turkey” on anything. Whenever I’m trying to make a change in my life that is a drastic change from where I am to where I want to be, I need steps. I need increments and degrees of measurable change. It’s kind of the same concept when kicking off a fast. Maybe it’s different for you and you’re great with just flipping the switch. But I have found that the worst thing I can do is continue having a huge, savory, delectable meals leading up to the fast – and especially the couple of days before. I mean, seriously, you’re just setting yourself up for a brutal transition period with some viciously angry withdrawals!
Whenever I’m fasting, I typically do so because I want to make room to hear God more clearly. I spend more time in prayer, worship, and reading / studying my Bible. And I want to be able to do that with a clear mind. I don’t want to be distracted or just down right “hangry”. Now of course, any fast is going to cause us to fight with our flesh, but I’ve discovered my fasts are much more enjoyable and sustainable when I start preparing my body gently ahead of time instead of shocking it into a brutal sudden detox. So for me, I might start by:
- Cutting down on the portions of meats, sugars and heavy carbs I eat at least a week or two in advance. I’ll cut down on portion sizes, but I’ll also have them fewer days of the week.
- Adding in an extra helping of vegetables to my plates, or even substitute full meals with them.
- Incorporating juices into my diet more regularly.
- And if I want to eliminate coffee/caffeine on my fast, I’ll start by cutting down my intake slowly. (Depending on how much caffeine you’re used to having, this could be the most brutal of withdrawals you’ll experience). So, instead, I’ll go from 2 cups down to 1 and then down to 3/4 and then down to 1/2. You get the picture. I’ll also start out by substituting my grounds with 1/4 decaf, followed by 1/2 decaf, etc. In other words, instead of cutting caffeine out completely on day one of my fast, I focus more on doing it gradually. And my goal is cutting it out completely by the time I’m half way into my fast.
There are lots of other similar things you can do to set yourself up for greater success. Whatever type of fast you choose – and especially if you’re juicing – the point I’m trying to make is – don’t shock yourself into detox. Gently prepare your body (and your mind) and you’ll be much more likely to stick with it once you start. And if you’re not used to juicing, be sure to experiment with any new recipes beforehand and incorporate some juices into your diet before you start your actual fast. Don’t wait until day one to try new recipes. You’ll want to already have an idea of what you like and what your body responds well to. And as always, water – water – water. There’s probably nothing better than drinking plenty of water before, during and after your fast to help cleanse and purge out all those toxins.
Here’s to your health and seeing it all the way through to the finish line!
Linda G. Riddle