Monday, July 04, 2011

40 Day Fast: some excellent reasons not to fast

Tomorrow we'll start a series here at BHR about my experience in trying to do a 40 day fast.

After six hamburgers he decided to fast until morning.
One thing I noticed during my fast was that a lot of people feel guilty about fasting. That is, when they heard I was on a fast, they would look down at their shoes and say, "I should do that." Then they would try to think of some excuses as to why they aren't able to fast.

So I thought I would kick things off with a post full of reasons that you shouldn't fast.

One of them would include: food is good and good for you.

Listen, there's nothing that says that you should or must fast. There are people out there who will tell you that you are more spiritual if you fast, or that it's the greatest experience ever, but that's simply not true. It CAN be a tool for spiritual discipline, but it can just as easily be an exercise in pride. It CAN be a physical help in certain situations, but it can just as easily be dangerous or even fatal, especially for people with certain medical conditions.

So, let's just get this out of the way up front. Here's a list of people who really should not be fasting from food for any appreciable length of time (i.e. their longest fast should probably be while they are sleeping at night):

People with eating disorders or a history of eating disorders.
Very thin or emaciated people.
People with certain medical conditions (i.e. diabetes, hypoglycemia, anemia, bleeding tumors, heart disease, chronic organ issues, etc.).
Women who are pregnant or nursing.

There are many chemical and physiological changes during a long fast that can have long term ill effects, and it would be wise to talk to a medical professional if this is something you are considering.

Also... FASTING IS A TERRIBLE WEIGHT LOSS PLAN. Although you lose weight quickly, after the fast your body will do everything it can to put that weight back on. Your metabolism will slow considerably and every time you eat a dry crust of bread your body will do its best to turn that into a jiggly, storable, bread-shaped piece of fat to slap onto your thighs. I mean it. Eating right and exercising is a much better plan.

Anyway, if fasting (as a spiritual exercise) is something you are considering for any length of time, particularly if you are inexperienced in this, here's a helpful set of articles that can help you think that through and prepare for it.